Wednesday, October 5, 2016

REVIEW: 'Queen Sugar' - More Shocking Details are Released About Davis' Scandal in 'As Promised'

OWN's Queen Sugar - Episode 1.06 "As Promised"

Nova and Charley clash when Nova makes public comments about Charley's marriage. Ralph Angel struggles to exit an illegal arrangement, which leads to issues at work. Charley and Davis form a united front to face his accuser, but things take an unexpected turn when she reveals shocking information about what really happened during the night in question.

After weeks of setbacks and family tension, the Bordelons have finally planted their first crop. It's such a rewarding achievement when it happens in "As Promised." Charley, Nova and Ralph Angel don't know what they're doing. They've tried to manage this farm and continue to live their lives as well. It hasn't worked out so far. They've made mistakes because they didn't know any better. They've fallen further and further behind schedule. Their lives aren't just stopping because they've decided to take on this new responsibility. Things are only getting more chaotic and complicated for all of them. And yet, they still are able to finally come together and plant that first crop. The family doesn't have any big ambitions to grow sugarcane beyond this first year. They are still operating under the assumption that they'll sell the farm after the season is done. That's the deal that Prosper strikes with them when he agrees to manage the farm for them. It's unlikely that will actually happen. But it's still so rewarding when they finally get this major victory. There's still a lot of work ahead for all of them. At least now though, they are on the right path.

With Prosper taking over as manager, that means the family may have more time to focus on the problems in their own lives as well. "As Promised" does juggle a lot of story and makes each of the siblings hit an emotional breaking point with their respective plots. And yet, it is still very effective. This episode builds to such an effective final moment. Davis' scandal has been such a major story for this entire season. It's the reason why Charley wasn't at the hospital when her father was dying. It's the reason why she felt comfortable escaping to Louisiana. However, she has remained with Davis. She still supports him and is hoping to get this entire case thrown out of their lives. She believes him when he says he didn't rape this woman. She believes this woman will just take their money and leave them alone. It's a privilege given to her because she has money. This story has been very interesting this season because it pains a powerful picture of privilege and elitism within the black community. Charley isn't afraid to get her hands dirty and work herself. She's there to help plant the crops on the farm. She's there in the room when the deal is being made between Davis and his accuser. But she has been just as mean and corrupt as he has throughout this whole process.

Charley was operating under the believe that the night in question was the only time Davis has ever been with this woman. It was a team thing where they collectively are to blame. Davis has been singled out because he's team caption and is the most famous player on the team. His life has the most to lose. But now, it's revealed that he truly is to blame for all of this. This wasn't just some random woman the team hired from a service. Davis has been with her for three years. She believed they had an actual relationship. He didn't pay her for his services. However, he did pay her. He claims that was for discretion. But when his teammates saw him give her the money, they saw that as a sign that she was paid for for the night. They could enjoy the benefits after Davis had to leave. That wasn't the case at all. It's because Davis wasn't clear to both this woman and his teammates that he is to blame. He didn't technically assault her. But he did create the circumstances for all of this to happen. Charley had just agreed to stand by him. And now, she's done. She wants to walk away and never see him again. This is a stunning revelation that packs a big, emotional wallop at the end of the episode. It's one of the most effective sequences of the series so far.

Meanwhile, Ralph Angel's new criminal operation at his new job is a story that was just introduced recently. His co-workers and boss are shady - though for different reasons. He needed to take this job to meet the requirements for his parole. Working on the farm wouldn't do that for him. He still has over a year left to meet these requirements. He needs to be there for Blue. He can't go back to prison now. But he's still pulled into a new smuggling operation. He wants nothing to do with it but he still took that backpack of stolen goods last week. And now, it's suppose to be a big deal that he wants out. It's not a story that hits as effectively as Charley's does. Both his boss and his co-worker are just too one-dimensional. They are obstacles in his way of being able to do an honest job that doesn't take his focus away from his family. Instead, they are temptations to him. His co-worker tries to lure him into this operation. It's appealing to Ralph Angel because he appreciates the money it would give him. That sets off the appropriate red flags for Aunt Vi. But the boss isn't so much better. He wants to fire Ralph Angel just because he doesn't want to work with these people anymore. Ralph Angel can play the game too. He knows just how damning it would be if the truth about how this business pays its employees gets out. And yet, this story derives too much tension out of the police coming to the house searching for stolen property. The audience knows it's there in the shed. But it just takes so long to get to the reveal that Aunt Vi moved it and Ralph Angel won't be in any trouble. He's just out of a job now.

Things aren't going so well for Nova either. Her article exposing the corruption in the police force is still making a lot of waves. It's gotten a lot of attention. She's on the radio discussing these issues with an activist from the Black Lives Matter movement. Sure, it's a little silly that they are talking about this stuff on a shock jock radio show. It's largely just an excuse to get Charley and Nova in conflict. The hosts just want to talk about the Davis scandal while Nova wants to get back to the main issue. She makes a silly comment off the cuff that Charley is offended by. It's essentially meaningless in the grand scheme of things. It doesn't really affect their relationship for very long. It's important for a few scenes but that's it. It's much more important that things haven't changed too much because of Nova's article. Too Sweet is still in jail on trumped up charges. He still doesn't have a public defender. He's on a waiting list to get fair representation. He doesn't have the money for bail. He will more than likely die in prison too. He's heading back to the general population soon. Nova cares for him but things haven't gotten any better. He's still falling victim to the corruption of the system. He got beat up in the first place because the guards didn't care enough to intervene. On top of all of this, Davis tries to suggest that he can relate to the stories in Nova's article. That's not true at all. He has money. He can pay his accuser to go away. Too Sweet doesn't have that kind of money. It's a fantastic moment when Nova really lets Davis have it about his privilege. He can't relate because he's a celebrity caught in a sex scandal. It's a rousing moment for Nova. And yet, she makes a very precarious decision in taking money out of the family account to post bail for Too Sweet. The family knows how important this case and kid is to her. But this money could cause problems for them.

Some more thoughts:
  • "As Promised" was written by Melissa Carter and directed by Tanya Hamilton.
  • The other woman on the radio show immediately starts flirting with Nova as soon as the interview is done. It's not a surprising development at all. The show set up Nova's sexual fluidity last week. That scene was still a little too awkward and unexpected for her though. So, it was definitely a surprise.
  • Ralph Angel hopes that Charley or Nova will be able to help convince his parole officer that the farm will meet the job requirements for his parole. He'll really need their help now since he's out of a job too.
  • Davis and Remy finally met. It's just as tense as everyone thought it would be. Remy has been flirting with Charley. Nothing's happened. But things have felt more genuine and real for Charley with Remy than they have with Davis.
  • Apparently, it's a surprise to everyone that Charley is actually helping plant the first crop. Everyone in the family steps up and helps out. But Charley's inclusion is the most surprising considering most of these people see her as a California girl who has never worked with her hands.
  • Aunt Vi's new hair looks fantastic. No explanation is given for why she did it. It could be a new look for a new life after quitting her job. But damn, she looks good. I wonder what Hollywood's reaction will be.
  • Charley and Davis don't know if the other players on the team have already cut a deal with their accuser. Plus, Charley walks out before the check is handed over. So, it's clear this story is far from over.