Yesssssssss. After a long offseason wait, Queen Sugar has returned and we are so ready for it. This year’s season has expanded to 16 episodes so it should be amazing. As you know, last season introduced the Bordelon family of Louisiana and the siblings Charley (Dawn Lyen Gardner) Nova (Rutina Wesley) and Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe). After losing their father Ernest (Glynn Turman) the family inherits a sugarcane farm in St. Josephine, a (fictional) parish not far from New Orleans.
As it predictably happens in real-life families, the siblings battle over how to work the farm. During that process, we get to know the family, including Aunt Vi (Tina Lifford) and her younger boyfriend Hollywood (Omar Dorsey) as well as Remy (Dondre Whitfield) a farmer and Charley’s potential love interest after she breaks up with her NBA husband Davis (Timon Kyle Durrett).
In Season 2, we are reintroduced to the family. Everyone seems to be coping despite their various issues. Ralph Angel, who found out last season that his father left him the farm, has concealed it so far (maybe because it was written on a piece of paper) and is trying to earn the respect of his family, particularly Charley, who is bankrolling the farm and her sugar mill, Queen Sugar.
She’s also going through a divorce from Davis, which affects her relationship with both her son, Micah (Nicholas Ashe) and her possible future lover, Remy. Nova is reeling from what must be a breakup with her cop lover, which is implied but not shown. She’s getting over it by getting under a few dudes. Gotta love Nova, she doesn’t discriminate. Black, white, women, men, she’s good with it all
Vi is still missing Hollywood, but these two haven’t quite yet found a way back to each other. Micah is navigating the relationship with his father and Keke (Tanyell Waivers) and seemingly both are going well – Keke is joyriding with him in the expensive drop top that’s Davis’ 16th birthday present to his son.
In Episode 1, a festive family dinner is interrupted by news that Micah is missing. He left his father hours ago. A panicked Charley and Nova head to one of the possible routes that leads from New Orleans and they find Micah’s abandoned car. Nova quickly finds out, as we viewers already know, that Micah has been arrested for whatever dumb shit the police made up.
Davis, Nova and Charley head to the jail where Micah has been brutalized not by the police or other inmates but by the reality of what his life as a Black man could be if he wasn’t a rich NBA player’s son. Davis, for his part, wisely puts his pride aside and plays the celebrity card to free his son.
Charley finds out that she can’t get the loan for the mill without Davis’ help. No problem, she just signs his name. Oh, Charley, here we go. She also takes Ralph Angel to task for fixing a tractor it would have been better in her business-minded opinion to replace. Ralph wants to break out that piece of paper, but fears his sisters won’t take it seriously. Darla, Blue’s mama and RA’s lover, is still finding her place in the family after her troubled past.
She goes to an NA meeting to make sure she stays on track, which Ralph doesn’t understand. Why dwell on that past? But Darla, in another one of actress Bianca Lawson‘s quietly compelling moments onscreen, explains that staying on track as an addict is a lifelong journey. And she tells RA that they need to take a step back. He just wants to make sure it’s not all the way back.
Vi calls Hollywood during the panic over Micah and he picks up. Thank God, we need these two to be happy. They talk and agree they miss each other. Finally. Remy and Charley are at an impasse. He wants to keep things platonic until Charley’s divorce is final. Seems like we are stuck with Davis, but in his scenes with Micah this week, he finally does show up as a father. On to Episode 2.
Micah may have only spent a few hours in jail but the kid is messed up. His privileged life so far hasn’t prepared him for moments he can’t control. He blows off summer school and walks around the city of New Orleans in a daze. Charley and Davis have a meeting to finalize their divorce. It’s really just a formality, but Davis, after asking to talk alone, drops a bombshell. He wants joint custody of Micah and to make it worse, he’s talked to Micah and Micah’s agreed.
Charley is completely thrown and runs out of the meeting. She heads to Micah’s school, but he’s not there. He’s wandering. To her credit, she understands his need to clear his head, and lets him roam. But when he hangs up, she starts bawling in the school parking lot. Also, Charley’s mother, who will be played by veteran white actress Sharon Lawrence, is introduced, if only by phone when Charley calls her looking for some hopeful words.
Nova is on her community grind, raising money for community bail and getting people out to a rally to encourage more donations. Gotta love Nova. And her cool girl outfits. We find out Nova has a local barber sweet on her, but Nova’s too much of a free spirit to settle down. Ralph Angel finds out how expensive soybean planting is, but figures he can just use the farm account to pay for the seed. Nope. Charley has to sign off on all purchases. Fortunately, RA has a friend and supporter in Remy. He tells him about a farmer microlending program. Sounds good.
Still reeling from his Micah bombshell, Charley finds herself at Remy’s. Bad timing. It’s the anniversary of his first wife’s death. He still lets her in. Actor Dondre Whitfield said at ABFF that Remy would be dirtied up a little bit this season. Oh boy. But as much as we want him to be a good guy, nobody’s a saint. They share a nice, platonic moment.
Ralph Angel and Darla have a cute date with Blue in tow. It’s a sweet night but for two things – the waiter subtly suggests that Blue’s doll is not appropriate and when Blue gets a little too busy at the table, Darla shuts him down. Is it just me or is there something about Darla when she speaks up that strikes you as much more fierce than she seems on the surface? I think we’ve seen the Darla who wants back in the family. I don’t yet think we’ve seen the real Darla. As I said last season, I sense a storm on the horizon for these two and not the kind that comes during hurricane season.
Uh-oh. We’re back at the High Yellow and waitress Roberta, of all people, looks upset. When Vi asks her what’s up, she doesn’t want to say. We find out why. There’s been an explosion on the rig. Hollywood’s not picking up. Does this mean these two won’t get their reunion? Vi’s going to the rig to find out. There is a nice sequence where she’s waiting for him to get off the transport bus and Remy is simultaneously detailing what happened to his wife, who was in the military and killed by an IED.
Will Vi have to deal with that kind of grief? Although I knew Hollywood was OK, my heart was in my throat as people got off the bus who looked like Hollywood but weren’t. When he finally does get off the bus, I was ready to cheer cause Vi and Hollywood ran towards each other like an old-time romance movie. Ahhh, don’t make me cry, dammit!
Micah has finished wandering the streets and ends up at Auntie Nova’s rally. He can’t always talk to Charley but Auntie Nova gets him. And that’s a wrap on Episodes 1 and 2.
Despite a new showrunner, Queen Sugar retains the same leisurely pace and beautifully nuanced portrait of Black life. It’s not a show chock-full of twists and rapid cuts and action. The strength of Queen Sugar is its quiet moments. I’m a fan not only of the show, but the actors that make it sing. Welcome back, Bordelons, welcome back.
So Sugar babies, these are my questions for Season 2 – We know Hollywood and Vi are going to work it out. But this delayed West divorce is interesting. Does Davis have any shot of getting Charley back? What are we going to find out about Remy? What surprises does Darla have in store? Will Ralph Angel reveal his father wanted him to have the farm? Who’s Nola going to settle down with – if anyone? Will Micah be OK? And since we figure Charley’s mama will show up this year, what is that dynamic like?
PHOTOS: Tonya Pendleton/OWN
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