Wednesday, May 30, 2018

REVIEW: 'Queen Sugar' - Aunt Vi and Nova Feel the Pressure of Their Careers in 'Of Their Sojourn Here'

OWN's Queen Sugar - Episode 3.02 "Of Their Sojourn Here"

Violet receives a business proposition that she cannot refuse. Nova faces a difficult career decision. Micah asks his parents to transfer schools. Charley learns shocking information about Sam Landry.

The third season of Queen Sugar got off to a strong start with its premiere. And now, it's settling into its rhythms for the season in "Of Their Sojourn Here." That doesn't make this a bad episode. It's just one that is continuing to set up a lot of the stories for the year. It doesn't quite have the same emotional impact as the premiere - except in that scene at the grocery store with Aunt Vi. It's a perfectly okay episode of the show. One that even has a number of entertaining and compelling qualities to it as well. It should be very fascinating to see how a number of these stories will develop - Ralph Angel having a reduced parole if he also decides to hire former convicts for the farm, Charley having three men as love interests, Micah transferring to a public school, etc. But the overwhelming quality of this episode is the desire to stand up and take what one deserves. These are characters who have always been fighting for their worth. They have had to push back against a world that is perfectly fine oppressing them. Aunt Vi has spent a lifetime working for other people instead of pursuing her dreams. Nova works for a newspaper that is perfectly fine with throwing her well-intentioned and important article away without telling her. Charley wanted to make Queen Sugar Mill work in its first season to stand against the corrupt and greedy business of this area. And now, they are all standing up and demanding to be heard as they actually are. They don't want to sit on the sidelines just hoping that everything will work itself out eventually. That's simply not who they are. They are a strong and independent family that needs to stand up and fight for their morals. It's important to them. They are so supportive of each other. They will be there to pick each other up when they fall. It's so crucial to see that love and support. And now, it's invigorating to watch as they each become involved in these new stories for the season.

It's immediately overwhelming to Vi that her pies have been such a successful hit for the grocery store she made a deal with. She delivered her product to them for a trial run. It was just an initial order. She was able to meet the demand for them. But they've proven to be so popular and sold out quickly. That's such rewarding news for her to hear. It means that she is successful in this new business of hers. It is going well for her. She puts herself out there and it has worked out for the best. She is finally building a life for herself that affords her and Hollywood a new sense of comfort and luxury. Hollywood can now go to the store and treat himself to something nice. He even wants to do the same for Blue. But there's also an immediate problem once the grocery store asks Vi to double the order. There's the worry that she may not be able to meet that demand because she's still the one largely baking these pies by herself. Yes, she has assistants now that she is still training. But she is doing all of this baking at home with her own oven. As such, things become uncertain when the oven no longer is working for her. It means she has to find somewhere else to do this baking. She doesn't like the solution that she finds because it means giving away a portion of her profits. And yet, it's what's necessary in order to complete the order. She does that too. Yes, she is tired when it is all done. But that's just exhaustion from a day of hard work and not from her lupus. She continues to feel like she accomplished something meaningful and important to her. That's what makes it so devastating when she discovers that the store doesn't have her pies proudly displayed like they discussed with her. She was so happy to share this happy occasion with her family. Instead, they are the ones who decide to put the pies on the prominent display showcase. It's then ensuring that this business continues to work out for Vi. But it also leaves Vi so devastated because she's finally doing what she wants to do and doesn't want anyone to take it away from her for some silly or frivolous reason.

Vi's story inspires Nova to take action as well. She was so eager and happy to write a story about the student protest at the basketball game. It was a cause she understands and is completely willing to help spread the message to a larger audience. She sat down with the kids to understand their strength and willingness to do this not knowing the response they would get from the community. She put in that effort. Then, she opens up the paper to find that her article is no where to be found. Instead, it is replaced with a passing mention in the deep pages with a very different take on the event. The new writer conveyed it as this scandal that interrupted this event and tarnished the wholesome rivalry between the two schools. These students were politicizing an event that people just wanted to attend for the fun. That's so heartbreaking and shows just how powerful word choice can be in the media. Nova has always been very careful about the way she expresses herself and her message. She has always been the activist of the family. She has their support. But now, she believes she has to leave her job at the paper in order to take this book deal. She has the opportunity to work with people who want to nurture her talent instead of trying to silence her because she is too controversial to their advertisers. That's the nature of the business at the paper. They need to sell ads in order to be profitable. It's an aspect of the business that ultimately has an affect on the content as well. The people in charge of the money can veto any story that they don't like. Sure, it's such a huge risk for Nova to quit her job. She has security with it. She would be jumping into the unknown not knowing what to expect. Her book may not become a bestseller like the publishers believe it could be. It could be a flop. And yet, Nova is inspired by Vi to take that chance. She can't just sit around hoping that things will become easier at the paper. She needs to create that change herself by actually speaking out and making a difference in the world.

Meanwhile, Charley actually took action in order to take down the police officer who hurt her son. She leaked a tape of that officer beating another unarmed black teen to the media. It stirs up a whole additional controversy in this community. The media has to decide if this man being suspended from duty is ultimately enough as his punishment. Is the community right to demand even more reform of the police department? If the precinct could allow this type of behavior to fester for years and go unnoticed, then is that a system that anyone can trust whenever something does go wrong? Charley sees this as the best way to make a difference and get justice for her son. She believes she's doing the right thing. It doesn't even cross her mind that she could be traumatizing Micah all over again by seeing that footage on the news. He didn't run into that officer during the basketball game. That officer didn't show up in any of the pictures that Micah was taking. And yet, it also seemed inevitable and tragic that Micah would have to continue seeing this guy. Now, the officer is just all over the news. It makes Charley more understanding to Micah's appeal to transfer schools. She sees a private school education as the best thing for Micah. She can give him the opportunities that the generation before him didn't have. It's her way of ensuring that he gets the best education and has the potential to make anything of his life. She sees the private school system as simply better than the public schools in this area. But it has been so isolating to Micah as well. Yes, he has made friends at school. He is still dating Keke. But he was also horrified to realize that this school was proud to show off Civil War memorabilia from the Confederacy. He wants to be in an environment of like minded people. He wants to be surrounded by a group of his peers. He believes that will afford him the best education and opportunities in this world. Or it would at least provide him a different perspective that will make him more appreciative of everything he already has.

And finally, Ralph Angel is truly questioning whether or not he is the best influence on Blue right now. Ralph Angel is lashing out at the world because there has been so much charge and turmoil as of late. Blue is doing the exact same thing as well. It's a significant change to their dynamic. Blue has always been a good and sweet kid. Ralph Angel has always been a great father too. No matter what happened he could always do right by his son. And now, the truth about Blue's parentage has been discovered. Ralph Angel is not his biological father. He is now worried that Blue would be much better if he was just living with Darla as they tried to make a new life for themselves in D.C. He loves Blue so much. It takes Charley actually stepping up and saying that Ralph Angel is the best thing that has ever happened to Blue for him to truly believe it. Ralph Angel has been stern with Blue as of late. He believes he needs to be because Blue hasn't been listening to him since Darla left. Hollywood attributes it to Blue simply pushing the boundaries of his world. He's seeing how far he can go before his dad reacts. It's the same thing that Ralph Angel and every child does at that age. It's normal. But Ralph Angel worries that it's too far and he must be even more of a disciplinarian now. He is once again a single parent trying to do what's right for his son. And that's what makes it so special when this story ends with the two of them finding a new sense of compassion and understanding once more. Yes, Blue needed to be punished with a time out. But it's nice to see him walk back into the kitchen ready to apologize and step up as the helpful and good son Ralph Angel knows him to be. Ralph Angel needs to welcome and be enthusiastic about that too. It shows that he is a good parent after all.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Of Their Sojourn Here" was written by Anthony Sparks and directed by Patricia Cardoso.
  • Charley is really asking a lot of her private investigator right now. She goes from leaking the footage of the corrupt cop to digging through the financials of Sam Landry's company. She is able to make the huge discovery that the company is in massive amounts of debt at the moment. That only makes Charley more curious about why they would buy her mill and agree to a locked rate for the farmers if they are pressed for cash right now.
  • It also seems pretty clear that there is a scandal brewing within the Landry company. All of this research is just the beginning of the investigation into the company. Not much has been uncovered yet. But the company also has many lawyers on its payroll that it is ready to send out at a moment's notice. So, that's an intriguing tease that there is something scandalous to uncover there.
  • Of course, Charley is only getting this access to the Landry company because she is continuing to flirt with Jacob Boudreaux. She doesn't wish to act on it in anyway. She's just teasing him in order to nurture this new business deal. But he genuinely wants to seduce her. He is even showing off his boat to her. Charley better act extremely carefully though. It won't take much for this to all explode in her face and cause only more pain.
  • It's also just so much fun and exciting to see Charley and Ralph Angel enjoy a night out together. They so rarely get to do that. Most of the time they are too busy stressing about the business. But now, they have smoothed things over with the farmers. Now, they can relax and share a drink together. That also leads to Charley having a flirtatious encounter with a man who helps her once her car battery dies.
  • In the premiere, I had to note that Henry G. Sanders had been promoted to series regular for the third season. And yet, I failed to notice that Timon Kyle Durrett had been demoted to a recurring guest star. I don't really expect that to change his amount of screen time though. The character will still be present in Charley and Micah's lives. Davis is the one who even points out to Charley that the leaked footage could ultimately hurt Micah again.