Wednesday, June 13, 2018

REVIEW: 'Queen Sugar' - The Family Honors Ernest on the Anniversary of His Death in 'No Haven in My Shadow'

OWN's Queen Sugar - Episode 3.04 "No Haven in My Shadow"

Darla and Ralph Angel come face-to-face. Hollywood offers Violet a business solution. Charley learns more about the Landry and Boudreaux families. Davis reveals a hidden secret to Micah. Nova reveals something personal to Remy.

Finding out the best way to honor Ernest's legacy has been a key motivation throughout every episode of Queen Sugar. He died in the very first episode of the show. As such, it could be lame for the show to still be focusing too much on his life and the impact he had on the community three seasons later. And yet, it still resonants in a deeply personal way. This has always been a show about family. It just took the death of their patriarch in order to bring them together. The siblings didn't initially want to change their lives in order to run this farm. They didn't see it as something they could succeed in doing considering their father struggled for many years. And yet, they did and they thrived. They had their fair share of difficulties in their first harvest together. But the family is still able to come together and celebrate all of the good things that have worked out in their lives as of late. They are now all completely committed to this community. They have planted their roots here and are determined to make their best lives no matter what as a way to honor Ernest. And now, the family is celebrating the one year anniversary of Ernest's death. So much has changed for them in the past year. They've dealt with so many personal issues. They are still dealing with a lot considering Charley and Nova aren't really talking at the moment. There is animosity within the family because they don't completely understand or respect each other's current decisions. And yet, they still recognize the importance of this day and the need to be together. It's a mournful time not just because it's a reminder that Ernest died on Blue's birthday. This day will forever be shaped by that memory. But it's also just a way to celebrate the life that was lived and the need to deliver the messages the family wants Ernest to hear right now. They each need to tell him how grateful they are and that they will continue to fight for him. Their story together really is just getting started. They are preparing for another harvest and another year of moving forward with their lives exploring and creating new opportunities for themselves and their family.

It's important for the show to reflect back on the reason why this family came together in the first place. They do need that reminder every once in awhile about the history of this community and the need to preserve it. That has always been such a rich storyline throughout this entire series. The black farmers respected Ernest and are proud of the work his children are doing to keep his legacy going. They are so grateful to the good work that Charley, Nova and Ralph Angel are bringing back to the community. They understand the importance of being allies in a business that hasn't always been nice to people of color. It's still very oppressive. Remy can state all of the statistics about the discrimination against people of color in this profession. And yet, he's very hopeful about the future. He is happy to see so many students in his class willing to listen and put in the hard work so that they too can be just like the Bordelon family and build something as farmers. Nova is surprised by how beloved Remy is as a teacher and just how much he knows about the subject. It shouldn't be surprising because he has always been coming up with the best solution whenever a problem arises on the farm. But he's also less needed now because Ralph Angel and Charley know what they are doing with their businesses. They no longer need those connections from Remy. He is still around in their lives though because he is a part of this community. He will speak up when something isn't right. He has passed those values along to the siblings as well. He helped mold them into the family that they are today. He's proud of just how smart and responsible Ralph Angel has become with tending the farm. He was eager to help Charley start Queen Sugar Mill even though her current decisions destroyed their relationship. But it's important to note that he is simply a member of the community who needs to be represented by the Bordelons when they go out into the world and share their story.

Charley and Nova have the connections to bring even more focus and attention to St. Joe's and the way that the community is affected by the current business practices. They just have remarkably different ways of achieving that goal. Charley has formed a business relationship with Sam Landry and Jacob Boudreaux. She did so with the intention of taking down the company from the inside. She has hired a private investigator to dig up all the dirt that she can find about their illegal dealings and amoral actions. And yes, she has quickly found out that the company is in debt and that many of the men in this family are absolutely horrible. They are such despicable people who should be taken out of the business world. But they remain protected as well because they have influence and respect in this community. It's a solid start for Charley but it's not enough. She is feeling the pressure to find a way to attack the Landry company soon because there is already an impact on the farmers in St. Joe's. She is seeing all of these eviction notices about people being removed from their farming properties because they were just leasing the land from the Landrys. That could be tied closely into the debt the company is currently experiencing and a way to cut back in order to make up the profits somewhere else. But it feels like something much more nefarious is going on. They are kicking Prosper out of his home after so many years and a lifetime of experiences. He has no where else to go and it is so depressing. He needs someone like Charley to fight for him and ensure that he is protected and respected in this community. Sure, he has a daughter who should be able to do that for him. But he's also a very proud man who doesn't want to ask for help until he really needs it. He holds onto his secrets because he's afraid. And Charley is furious that he has to worry about this at all without knowing the true reason behind it. Jacob says there was environmental damage because of the hurricanes last year. That does calm Charley down a little bit. But it also sends the message that this company isn't interested in caring for these workers after something like this happens.

Meanwhile, Nova wants to shine a spotlight on this community through her words. She has this opportunity with her book to talk about an incredibly personal story for her. She hasn't been as involved with the farm as Charley and Ralph Angel have. They are the ones making all of the decisions. Nova has an ownership stake in it. But she understands that it's not her calling to work the land. She has much grander aspirations. She wants to speak out and ensure that the injustices of the world are actually addressed. She has seen oppression and discrimination for so many years. She understands just how vile and destructive the world can be. She saw it firsthand when she and Ernest were going on a fishing trip and three white men beat him up. She was only 10 years old and that memory has had a lasting effect on her. It made her passionate about fighting against the system that has allowed this behavior to continue for so many decades. She wants equality and to speak out against the corruption. She understands the Landry company to be especially cruel to this community by squeezing as much money from the farmers as possible. She has learned so much about her family's own history after Ernest's death as well. She has a better understanding of the world and feels confident in writing this book. It just takes time for the ideas to start flowing for her. She is questioning if she knows how to tell this story in the right way. She isn't armed with the statistics like Remy is. She doesn't know if her perspective is personal enough. And yet, she needs that encouragement from her family and remembering her father to understand that she is a talented writer and the only person capable of shining a light on the issues that plague St. Joe's.

And finally, Darla returns to Ralph Angel and Blue's lives. Her exit from the family was so destructive to Blue. Ralph Angel couldn't forgive her after she told him that Blue wasn't his biological son. They are still a family. They are the family they want to be. And yet, there's also no hope for Ralph Angel and Darla being able to reconcile. Right now, Darla has returned in order to continue being a part of Blue's life. She doesn't want to be the absent parent again. She had to leave in order to get her life straight after this huge revelation. She knows that Ralph Angel won't forgive her. This isn't a relationship that can be fixed right now. And yet, they still need to work together in order to be a good influence on Blue. Their son still might be hoping for the ideal of his parents being happy together and them being a family. That doesn't seem likely any time soon. As such, he may still be plagued with problems and turmoil this season. Darla's presence will hopefully curb some of these new issues. But it also means that Ralph Angel and Darla have to figure out how to be co-parents to their child. They both want to do what's best for Blue. Ralph Angel believes he is always right because he has been the parent who has always been around for Blue. He has made promises that he intends to keep. He won't let anything destroy this bond. But Darla isn't trying to rip Blue away from Ralph Angel. She sees him as Blue's father even if the test doesn't confirm that. She wants to share him with him. As such, Ralph Angel has to be willing to allow Darla back into their lives. It's just one simple action. But it's important to do so. Blue is a bright young boy who needs both of his parents right now. He has lost so much already. He should have the benefit of being with both Ralph Angel and Darla right now.

Some more thoughts:
  • "No Haven in My Shadow" was written by Mike Flynn and directed by Maria Govan.
  • Prosper has been given a 30-day eviction notice. As such, Charley will have to do something quick in order to ensure that Prosper is able to stay in his home for the foreseeable future. He will still need someone to care for him after his upcoming surgery. His daughter may do that. But right now, it seems like the Bordelons will have to do more and more to care for him. That's something they are willing to do though because he has been such an immense help during the harvest.
  • Aunt Vi wants her pie business to be her own thing completely. She doesn't want to accept help from others. She just wants to do things a certain way. She explains that for so long her first husband lorded things over her by saying that they were his and he was allowing her to use them. As such, it's difficult for her to accept Hollywood buying a truck to help with the deliveries. And yet, it's the understandable next step to grow this business as well.
  • Ralph Angel may ultimately make the decision to let Darla back into his life because of hearing Blue talk about how much he missed her every day that she was gone. They are simply talking with Nova about the deaths of their parents. They miss their father and mother every single day. Blue got the chance to know Ernest and be such a joy in his life. But it wasn't enough time either. As such, Ralph Angel needs to ensure he isn't depriving Blue of what he needs right now.
  • The anniversary of Ernest's death also marks the anniversary of Davis' big sex scandal that completely destroyed Charley and Micah's lives. They have been able to move on after that entire situation. They have managed to find a new normal that allows Davis to still be Micah's father. And now, he is potentially putting them through that all over again by saying that he has a 13-year-old daughter who now has to be living with him after the death of her mother. Micah is visibly upset by that betrayal.
  • When Charley takes Prosper to his doctor's apartment, she runs into the guy who helped her fix her car in the parking lot. She hasn't called him back so far. She hasn't done so because she's busy with work. She wasn't expecting him to show up as Prosper's nurse. And yet, the sheer amount of time spent with these two means that the show is preparing to feature a real romance between them as well.