Tuesday, October 3, 2017

REVIEW: 'Queen Sugar' - Ralph Angel and Darla Share Their News as Charley's Mother Visits in 'Yet Do I Marvel'

OWN's Queen Sugar - Episode 2.09 "Yet Do I Marvel"

Darla reaches out to her family to share her engagement news. Violet's condition worsens. Nova's Zika story causes concern in the community. Micah finally comes to term with his emotions. Charley receives an unexpected visit from her mother, and the two have an honest conversation about Charley's upbringing.

The first half of this season of Queen Sugar was building to the reveal that Ernest left the farm solely to Ralph Angel. It was this big, emotional reveal that threatened to tear the entire family apart. The way that Ralph Angel told his sisters the truth was absolutely brutal and destructive. The three siblings are still finding their way through this new status quo. They actually haven't had that sit down where they actually hash things out and determine what they are going to do. That's still a lingering concern that they need to be aware of in the immediate future. Right now, they would rather focus on their own lives and what they can control. They just want to be happy. When it comes to their personal lives, the family is still able to come together and celebrate good news. This second half of the season could be building to Ralph Angel and Darla's wedding. I still have concerns about their relationship as it relates to how Ralph Angel deals with problems. And yet, it's also easy to understand why people wish the two of them all the happiness in the world with this huge step in their relationship. They've had their concerns in the past. They have their concerns right now as well. And yet, they still fundamentally trust their judgment. They trust that if the two of them are ready to commit to this next step together then they shouldn't stand in their way. That's a nice hopeful note to start the season on. Things are still incredibly complicated when it comes to the business aspect of this family. But they still stand united ready to face whatever life may throw at them next. That's a nice aspirational quality that makes for a nice re-entry into the season.

Of course, things are still complicated when it comes to Ralph Angel and Darla's engagement announcement. At first, it seems like the most important person to bless this union is Aunt Vi. She's had her concerns about Darla for a long time. Her judgment has always been deeply clouded by what used to happen when Darla was high. And yet, her opinion has grown because she has seen the work Darla is willing to do in order to ensure her sobriety in the future. She will always have the worry that Ralph Angel is making a mistake. She's there to support him and Blue no matter what happens even when she's incredibly tired. But she still is ultimately happy for this family. She throws an engagement party and just wants to live in that moment of pure happiness. She wants to ignore all of her own problems and focus on what's going right in her loved ones' lives. The true uncertainty will more than likely come from Darla's own family. Not a lot is actually known about her relatives. It's easy to understand that she has a strained relationship with them because of her addiction problems. That destroys every relationship one has. She's been able to win over the Bordelons again. They trust her as a part of this family. But she hasn't really reached out to her own family yet. She does so at the end of this premiere. It's just a voicemail updating them on everything that is happening in her life. But it's also a tease that those family connections are bound to be an important focus of this season.

Darla's parents aren't the only relatives making their debut in the series in "Yet Do I Marvel" either. Those two aren't actually seen on the screen. It's just easy to infer that they'll pop up soon. Meanwhile, Charley's mother actually does arrive in town for the first time. A lot has been said about her. There's certainly a strained relationship there as well. There is so much past history with her and this family. Charley has been able to bond with Ralph Angel, Nova and Aunt Vi. She was raised on this farm for a few months every year. Meanwhile, Lorna isn't really welcomed here at all. She is seen as the white woman who lured Ernest away for a little bit. She and Aunt Vi don't get along at all. Charley knows better than to stoke those flames. And yet, she also needs to be accommodating to her mother because she's finally in town to help her deal with the aftermath of her divorce. She presents herself as a potential shoulder for Charley to cry on while also knowing all of the tricks. Sure, she also comes across as a broad and familiar archetype instead of a fully dimensional character. She's the type of woman obsessed with material things and status while always commenting on how Charley's new career doesn't seem genuine or lasting enough to her. That gets tiring very quickly. And yet, the show smartly pivots away from that in order to embrace a real sincere connection between the two.

It's all framed in the context of Charley learning what truly happened to Micah the night he got arrested. Micah has only told the truth to Davis. He carried that secret for a long time. And now, Davis is stepping up as a smart and reasonable parent who knows that Charley needs to know the truth as well. Micah just wants to put all of this behind him already. He wants to continue moving forward with his life. He doesn't want to re-live that experience over and over again. But Charley does deserve to know what actually happened. Sure, her reaction may not be the best in the moment. She's determined to find something to do in order to find justice for her son. She's a warrior who is fiercely protective of Micah. She wants to do right by him. But she also needs to recognize that the best thing she can do right now is be supportive of what he wants to do. She needs to be emotionally available for him and whatever actions he chooses to take because of this. And yet, Charley internalizes all of this and views it as her failing as a mother. She failed to warn him of the dangers of this community. She failed to protect him in that moment. That then fosters a really healthy conversation between her and her mother. She doesn't believe that Lorna could ever understand the world she experiences every day because she's a white woman. And now, she has actually expressed that belief. Lorna may not be able to understand. But she's at least present now. She's ensuring that Charley remains strong for Micah while telling her she has done the best she could do in raising him. That's a very rich and emotionally earned moment at the end of this episode.

"Yet Do I Marvel" does a nice job in establishing Ralph Angel, Charley and Aunt Vi's stories for the remainder of the season. Things are a little less clear when it comes to Nova. She is thrown into a completely new story that doesn't seem to have much to it right now. She writes a story about Zika and the potential complications it will have in the community. So much has been made about her love for the community. She always wants to stay true to her roots and help the people around her with the platform that she has. It's a fascinating idea to see the harsh side effects of the work she does in trying to benefit her community. Instead, she scares them by making them fear something that may not actually be true at the moment. Her tone isn't quite right which may be a way of saying how her judgment is compromised now that she is dating Robert. He has become a prominent part of her life. And yet, no one in the family knows that she is dating him. Robert meets Ralph Angel and Blue but Nova introduces him as her friend only. That's a telling moment that could signal something more with this story. It could be that Nova is currently just enjoying this new dynamic and wanting to live in this small bubble with him without including the rest of her family. But his influence isn't a good thing in her actual story here. This season could be forcing her to confront the impact of her words. That's potentially very interesting. It's just a little too formulaic and lame throughout this episode.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Yet Do I Marvel" was written by Jason Wilborn and directed by Julie Dash.
  • Hollywood has gotten a new job running his own construction crew. It was a job he was only planning on doing for a couple of weeks. But now, his boss wants him on a full-time basis. That's good because he was looking for more work. And yet, it's potentially awkward because one of the rivals of the farm is an associate in this business as well.
  • Throughout this entire episode, there was the fear that something bad was about to happen to Aunt Vi. It's clear that there is something medically wrong with her. The show is just slowly teasing it out and showing just how stubborn she is. However, she doesn't faint again. Nothing bad happens to her. She sees a doctor before anything more goes wrong. I'm still just really nervous as to what's going on with her though.
  • It's a really lame and manipulative moment when the camera makes the audience believe that the older black woman in the restaurant is Charley's mother while Sharon Lawrence is out of focus in the foreground. It would only fool people if they didn't know that Charley's mother was white. That's been established before as well. So it's just a forced twist for a cheap thrill.
  • The entire world now knows about Charley and Davis' divorce. She is sent multiple links to a CBS This Morning segment about it. But mostly, it's a freeing experience for Charley as she now gets to go out into the world with Remy and actually enjoy it. She can laugh at his desire to become a chef - in addition to everything else he is already doing.
  • Charley and Darla's parents are clearly going to be big parts of the season moving forward. And yet, Ralph Angel and Nova have a solid moment where they get to reflect on their own mother. She died long before the show started. And now, they both realize that Nova looks like her. Of course, it's not a connection the audience gets to see to confirm. It's just a nice sentiment that conveys their own sense of longing.