Last week’s episode served as a turning point for the Bordelon clan. Davis’s secret child became national news, Nova and Remy put their relationship on ice, and Ralph Angel and Darla had a major blowup. In this week’s episode, “Study War No More,” a family secret is brought to light, and the role of the farming land is front and center.
Violet is ruminating over the offer from the grocer about Vi’s Prize Pies. The grocer wants a 60 percent cut which would leave Violet with only 40 percent in her own business — this deal is a clear short end of the stick if there ever was one. Violet plans to counter and present him with a pitch to open up her own storefront. She has worked too hard to become a minor partner in her own pie business and she has no plans to step out of the limelight now.
Charley is still reeling from the fallout with West and she is wearing her distress on her face. Relatedly, Jacob Boudreaux is still barking up Charley’s tree but she finally shuts him down. Their relationship will be business only for the foreseeable future. Charley still has to get to the bottom of what the Landrys are up to and Boudreaux is still a Landry first, regardless of whatever romantic interest he may have in Charley.
Darla and Ralph Angel have yet to sort out how they will co-parent Blue. It’s clear that whatever agreement they had in the past will not serve their needs going forward, but Ralph Angel seems hesitant to create a formal plan. What does it mean for Darla and Ralph Angel not to have an official visitation agreement? I imagine that this issue will be revisited in the future — it seems like a breaking point is near.
At Prosper’s farm, Nova learns a bit of family history that disturbs her for the rest of the episode. Prosper relays that working the land had become overwhelming for Ernest Bordelon. In the face of the death of his wife, money troubles, and a bad patch with the crop, his despair got so bad that he wandered the farm with a gun one night. This revelation that her father was once suicidal under the weight of the land rocks Nova. “But he was strong,” she reasons with Prosper. “There’s stuff only God and the land knows,” Prosper tells her.
Violet’s 60th birthday party serves as a backdrop for various family drama. Micah and Keke finally address his new friend group and why Keke doesn’t spend time with them. Ralph Angel brings Trinh and it’s clear that their relationship might make it to the next level — if Ralph Angel can bring himself to stop referring to her as a “work friend.” Nova is still brooding over the revelation that her father was once suicidal — that information seems to shake a core truth she thought she knew about her father and her family’s relationship to the land. Nova and Remy were supposedly over, but now it looks like their love affair is blooming again. It will surely be public knowledge soon as secrets are never kept for long in St. Josephine.
Away from the festivities, Hollywood’s mother asks him to start thinking about himself — Violet is an established woman, what can he offer her while staying true to himself is his mother’s concern. Later that night, Hollywood is sure that the one thing he can give Violet is his name after they’re married. He isn’t prepared for Violet to be adamant about keeping her maiden name. His concerns are mitigated by his mother, who lets him know that the fight over their surname isn’t worth ruining the relationship.
Charley is also hanging back from the party and her distress is clear. Prosper, who has been dispensing life advice this entire episode, tells her, “You can stay distracted by your past or focused on your future.” As an aside, I like that the Prosper has been given a larger role in the narrative. He serves as a conduit of sorts for Ernest Bordelon.
After a meeting with her investigator friend, Charley and the family now know what devious plans the Landrys have for the black farmers’ land. The Landry family is working with the government to build a private prison on the farm land they own and the Bordelon family farm is directly in the path. This means that the Bordelons will have to fight to keep their land. The Landrys seem hellbent on taking it one way or the other, and with a government deal on their side, they may have the upper hand this time.
The disrespect of taking away land for black farmers to build a private prison — one that will surely house an disportionate amount of black prisoners — is not lost on me. Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the country and nationally, and private prisons are expanding. We also know that there is a long history of black farmers losing their land as a result of decades of deliberate government discrimination. This story line is where the writers do a good job of incorporating the realities of black farmers and prison-industrial complex into the story line. What does it mean for a parish like St. Josephine to house a new private prison — especially on the backs of many black community members? White supremacy and capitalism working hand-in-hand to take away the livelihood of a significant amount St. Josephine’s black population in order to build a prison is aligned with what is happening in reality, and I applaud the writers for taking this turn.
The Bordelons are positioned to fight for their land and this battle may take all they have. What other Molotov cocktails do the Landrys have up their sleeve and how far are they willing to go to take back the Bordelon land?