Wednesday, June 20, 2018

REVIEW: 'Queen Sugar' - Charley, Nova and Ralph Angel Explore New Romances in 'A Little Lower Than Angels'

OWN's Queen Sugar - Episode 3.05 "A Little Lower Than Angels"

Remy and Nova act on their feelings. Ralph Angel bonds with his boss' daughter. Davis discloses his secret to Charley. Micah and his new friends stumble upon something disturbing. Darla and Ralph Angel clarify their relationship to Blue.

This appears to be the season of new romantic pairings for the main characters. Yes, Vi and Hollywood are still strong as the main couple of the family. Their stability and love for each other is so inspiring to watch even though they face their own challenges as well - this week it's Vi needing to find the right dosage for her lupus medication to avoid any of the side effects. But Charley, Nova and Ralph Angel are all exploring new relationships this season. That's fascinating considering they had some pretty major breakups at the end of the second season. Nova no longer wanted to be with Robert because he was trying to force her into becoming someone she had no interest in being. Remy could no longer be with Charley because of the tactics she was willing to use to take down Sam Landry's company from within. Ralph Angel and Darla broke off their engagement after news came out that Blue wasn't his biological son. It was such a tense time for all of them. And yes, they are still dealing with many personal hurdles as well. Just because some of these relationships are over doesn't mean that the other person is now completely out of the Bordelon siblings' lives. They still have to co-parent in a lot of instances. As such, "A Little Lower Than Angels" serves as a way to bring the siblings into the future to explore new relationships and possibilities while also being a painful reminder of the emotions in the past and the mistakes they have made along the way. It seems like the past is the most constant form of heartbreak and pain for the characters this week. They all still want to believe in the promises and lives they once lived. They wanted things to end up a certain way for a long time. Charley was happy in her marriage to Davis. Ralph Angel was ready to be a family with Darla and Blue. And now, so much has changed. But that only further points out how these relationships still have the ability to hurt the Bordelon siblings in some deeply personal ways. That's what makes this episode resonate in some fascinating ways. Yes, it's refreshing to see new character pairings. But it's also important to remember the past and how it is now shaping the actions of so many characters.

Charley and Davis had gotten into a good place in their relationship again. She was no longer having to cover up all of his various scandals and indiscretions. She was supportive of him having a relationship with Micah. That was all that they had to talk about as well. They no longer had to be a family but they were figuring out how to keep these dynamics open. Both Charley and Davis were able to help Micah following his arrest and being racially profiled by the police. They could support him. They were passionate about finding justice for their son. Micah could count on both of them. Their relationship had reached that stage. And now, it seems like the show is creating this new personal drama as a way to write Davis off of the show. Again, that's not surprising because Timon Kyle Durrett is no longer a series regular. He's just a recurring guest star with this episode possibly being his last appearance for awhile. But it still shows the power that he can wield over this family. He can still rock Charley's entire world with one admission of his past sins. Up to this point, Charley always believed that Davis only cheated on her when he was on the road. And now, she learns that he actually had an affair while they were all living in Los Angeles. Their family was never perfect as Charley has come to accept. But now, it has only been corrupted more. She feels like she is losing control which is never a position she wants to be in. She is angry with Davis because he told Micah without telling her first. He is moving away to be with his daughter. He believes he's doing the right thing because he has always been a good parent. But now, it means turning away from one family in order to care for another. That's so absolutely destructive to Charley.

It's also so tragic that Charley has no one she can confide in about all of this either. The rest of her family are all dealing with their own busy days. She can't get ahold of Micah, Nova, Ralph Angel or Vi. They aren't answering their phones. Micah at least sends a text message back saying that he loves her and will be back later that night. He knows what this conversation was going to be between his parents. But he still chose to hang out with his friends instead. That's brutal because it leaves Charley all alone crying on her floor after she kicks Davis out of her house once more. As such, the rest of her day is determined by whomever is the next to call or text her. That person just happens to be Jacob Boudreaux. Their story together has been very flirtatious. Charley has been getting close to him in the hopes of finding out more personal secrets about the family that she can use to take down the company. But right now, she just wants company as she drinks her sorrows away. In fact, the two of them get in a competition over who had the more opinionated and difficult parent. It's still presented as a way for Charley to learn more information about his family and their secrets. She wants to know more about this brother of his who was at college with him at the same time in Houston. But more importantly, the story is bringing Charley and Jacob together in a romantic sense. They slow dance together and it's such a rush of emotions for Charley. She genuinely feels compassion and support from a guy who works for a company she wants to destroy. She is grateful for that while also knowing just how twisted all of it is. It becomes even more complicated once they kiss. It could be her further compromising herself for this investigation. Or it could be the start of an even more twisted story that will only create more destruction for the family.

Meanwhile, it's fascinating to see Nova and Remy get closer because there is so many potential complications from them pursuing an actual relationship. Charley and Remy were treated as this big, important romance throughout the first two seasons. It only ended because Remy could no longer stomach what Charley was doing in order to succeed. He wasn't trying to change her but he did want to reign her in. He is a vocal activist in this community as well who is trying to teach and inspire the next generation to do better than how the current system is playing out. He thinks it's so inspiring to show his students a black farmer in Ralph Angel who actually owns the land he is working on. It's a glimpse of a reality they could have one day. But it's also sweet to see Remy help Nova embrace her past and not be afraid of it. She gave up fishing with her father after one racist encounter. This is the first time she has been back out there since she was a child. Remy does things so differently as well. And yet, that's not inherently bad. In fact, it's easy to see the appeal and attraction between the two of them. Yes, it is different because of all the time spent between them and Charley. It could only further add to this rift between Charley and Nova. They aren't getting along at the moment. But right now, Remy may actually represent a relationship that is actually beneficial for Nova because he isn't trying to get her to change. He has seen what she has done for the community. He wants her to keep doing that however she sees best. He doesn't want to craft her into something she's not. And yet, there's also the inevitability of drama with this relationship because of Charley as well as the fact that Nova doesn't want any children and Remy may still have those dreams for his life.

However, it's important to note that these complex relationships for Charley and Nova were introduced at the end of last season. The show was already playing around with these dynamics to see if there were sparks worth pursuing. Ralph Angel's new love interest has mostly come out of nowhere. She is the daughter of a family that runs a seafood plant where he apparently did some work between seasons. It's hard to be invested in these deep relationships he has formed with this family because they have never been seen before this season. Yes, it's fascinating to see a new experience depicted for people of color in this community. But right now, it's still largely being introduced. Ralph Angel's story is much more effective and emotional when it comes to him and Darla needing to tell Blue the truth about their relationship. Blue is still operating under the assumption that his parents are going to get married and they will be a family forever. That was the promise they made to him when they first broke the news about their engagement. He spent so much of his life being divided by the two of them. He never had both of them in his life at the same time. And then, things were magically solved for him with the mere suggestion of them being a family for as long as they live. That's what makes it difficult for him to grapple with why that's not going to occur. He feels betrayed because his parents lied to him. They are so sorry for that. It's heartbreaking listening to Ralph Angel tell his son that he's sorry that he broke him for life. Ralph Angel and Darla are trying to do what's best for Blue. They will co-parent together. But they also have to find the routine in their new living arrangements so that they all have the potential of being happy in their lives once more. It just hits Blue the hardest because of his hopes and dreams for this family.

Some more thoughts:
  • "A Little Lower Than Angels" was written by Chlo√© Hung and directed by Shaz Bennett.
  • Seriously though, Ralph Angel is just now fully immersed with Trinh's family. Yes, there's some vague explanation for the work that he did for them. And yet, it doesn't feel earned when he just suddenly shows up at their home for some big dinner. That scene mostly serves as exposition for Trinh's backstory and the plight her family took in order to settle in this country while also remembering the past.
  • Ralph Angel is also helping Benny after he just shows up at the farm needing a place to crash for the night. Ralph Angel can connect with his story and the idea that they no longer belong in the world after being inside prison. Ralph Angel is stern with Benny in saying that the farm can't be a permanent solution to his housing problems. But he also has enough sympathy to leave the door open until he finds something better to ensure that he stays out of trouble. That will either be very good or very bad.
  • So far, Nova has only written the proposal for her novel. She still doesn't have a title just yet. But Ralph Angel and Remy can see just how hard she is working. She is passionate about what she is typing now. That's very encouraging to see. And yet, it's also ridiculous when she believes she'll be able to take her computer out on the boat with her so that she can take notes. She was just asking to lose all of that hard work.
  • Micah and his new friends visit a planation that has been turned into a historic site. They mostly see it as an excuse for white people to embrace their heritage and be allowed to be openly racist once more. It's a place that connects these young teenagers to the horrors of their ancestors. But they are still made to feel unwelcomed as well. This piece of society may want nothing from them except putting them all in jails for minor offenses. That's what gets these kids so passionate with their anger.
  • Hollywood and Vi's story this week is mostly just silly. She is making a bunch of new food in order to fit the new diet that Nova apparently has her on. No one in the family really likes it though - with Blue and Hollywood sneaking off for another meal. But it's also just a broad story that doesn't really connect with the light-headedness she is currently feeling from her new medication.