This season of Queen Sugar has been both moving and frustrating as one good episode is often followed by another that doesn’t live up to the show’s full potential. As many of you know, the showrunner was changed this season and it has felt at times as though she is trying to find a rhythm.
In this week’s episode, there are some truly moving moments and at times, Episode 10 “Here Beside The River“ is on point with what we love about the show in the first place – the ways in which families can both love and hurt each other.
But the storylines and the way that they’ve played out have either been ones no wanted to see in the first place (Blue’s paternity, Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe) and Trinh (Vivien Ngô) Nova (Rutina Wesley) and Remy’s budding romance) or ones that played out disappointingly (Nova and Remy). Nova, in particular, has been failed by the writers this season, as the once fiery activist has instead been mooning over her ill-advised relationship with Remy (Dondre Whitfield).
The thing that made Nova interesting was her passion and her self-righteousness in the face of her own failings, which has been muted this season in favor of a storyline that stops short of allowing Nova to fully be her complex self.
It’s as though, and I’ve said this before, Queen Sugar, in its desire to show Black people in a literal and figurative good light, is afraid to allow people their full humanity, which would allow them to do the kinds of things people do – be messy, petty, self-serving and cowardly. That doesn’t mean they are bad people. It means they are human. Omar Dorsey’s Hollywood and Dondre Whitfield’s Remy have also been failed this season to the point that I can only assume Whitfield’s character is being written off the show.
Charley (Dawn Lyen Gardner) is once again the cavalry for so many this week. She has to rescue Prosper (Henry G. Sanders) from her bathroom floor because he’s literally fallen and can’t get up. Turns out, he’s cancelled needed surgery in fear that he won’t make it off the operating table.
As if that’s not enough to contend with, Charley also has to deal with Colton Landry (Cullen Moss) to get the shares she needs to wrest the Landry company from Jacob so his sister can take control. She lets Colton know she has the goods on how he uses his percentage of the company to clean up money for his friends. That would be a federal crime. Colton’s handing them shares over.
Aunt Vi (Tina Lifford) has to go toe to toe with Darla’s (Bianca Lawson) mother, Darlene (Micheal Michele) as it turns out that she, not Darla as we all thought, including Ralph Angel, has called social services. The nerve of her. I wanted to stand up and cheer with Vi said Blue is a Bordelon regardless of any DNA results. Ralph Angel shows some maturity as he manages to calm down after a CPS visit to his house, a well-played scene that moves from the reality of social workers having to do their due diligence to the truth of a father doing the best he can and still having to justify it.
Ralph Angel’s visit to the parole office doesn’t go much better when his usual probation officer is out and he has to deal with a new, unsympathetic one to get his question asked about how the CPS inquiry may impact his early parole.
The woman he talks to is so short with him that I could believe she actually worked there. If not, kudos to that actress for a truly realistic job. (As they say, no scene is too small to be memorable). But finally, Darla does something right by her son and his father, yes, father, when she asks her mother to leave when she’s questioned by CPS.
That is more of what I expect from Darla. It’s fine that she wanted a formal custody arrangement. But the way she went about it really deviated from the nuanced character she has been who never did anything that wasn’t based on trying to keep her family together. In the long run, even telling Ralph Angel the truth made sense so she and Ra could live in integrity. But Darla this year has just been a bitch.
Aunt Vi also has to tell off Nova after the article based on her father’s life comes out. Aunt Vi ain’t feeling the spilling of family secrets and she lets Nova have it. I don’t know that I agree, as she is a writer and her father’s story is her story. But Tina Lifford puts in some amazing work this episode.
A chastened Nova heads to Remy and promptly ends their relationship.