This week’s Queen Sugar episode ‘Caroling Dusk’ is the TV show version of Jay Z’s 4:44 album. Why? Because it allows viewers to see the emotional complexity of the show’s men. While that shouldn’t have to be a special thing, in pop culture, it’s something rarely seen. Black men are usually portrayed as either victims or victimizers, so it’s refreshing to see them shown as multifaceted as they really are.
Hollywood (Omar Dorsey) certainly doesn’t mind that the world knows how much he loves Aunt Vl (Tina Lifford.) While he figures out what to do with himself off the rig, he’s available for loving up Auntie. And she needs it right now, because she’s about to embark on a new venture selling her delicious pies. When her first day of pitching ends without a sale, she’s devastated. But Hollywood is there to build her back up, and his HVAC skills come in handy too, when she’s pitching a business owner whose AC has gone out. Gotta love these two.
Dr. Dubois (Alimi Ballard) has a thing for Nova (Rutina Wesley) and he’s not afraid to show it. He comes to New Orleans in answer to Nova’s tweet about volunteering for Habitat For Humanity. (Dang, dawg, that’s a 7 hour drive). It looks like Nova, surprisingly, is feeling him, too. We can’t say we weren’t intrigued by her rotating United Nations of men, but it’s also nice to see her really liking someone. But what did happen to married cop Calvin, (Greg Vaughn) a.k.a. White Kang? He was so abruptly discarded, so maybe that’s it. Or maybe he’ll be back.
Micah’s (Nicholas Ashe) helping out Auntie Nova and he seems like he’s doing better. But he’s forgotten to show up at a therapy appointment with his mom, Charley (Dawn-Lyen Gardner). The therapist suggests she stay anyway and some interesting things are revealed when Charley opens up a little. Charley’s mother, who it seems we’ll be meeting soon, had high expectations of her. In fact, in little Charley’s household, perfection was expected. I hope they get into the back story of how Charley’s mother, who is white, ended up creating Charley with a Black farmer. I have a feeling that will be interesting.
Micah and his dad meet up at the Habitat site. While briefly there, Davis (Timon Kyle Durrett) meets a singer who catches his eye. Oh, boy, I can see a few people having issues with a new romance there. Micah and Davis head to a gym, which is where they do their father/son bonding. It’s kind of cute. Davis says they can ask each other any question once each of them hits a shot. I see what you’re doing there, Davis. Micah finally does open up about the night he was arrested. No, he wasn’t messed with, he just had his bubble of a privileged life popped by the reality of being a Black man in America.
Back at the farm, Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe) has his issues with Darla (Bianca Lawson). She wants a new job, but he feels he can take care of her. She has already told her sponsor she wants to take care of herself. Ralph Angel seems like he’s stuck in another era with that, but maybe he just wants to protect Darla from a world that led her to escape in drugs. He’s so sexy when he’s intense. Darla is more worried about Blue (Ethan Hutchinson) than what Ralph Angel’s talking about. She thinks his attachment to the Barbie doll is about her being away for so long. So she decides to throw the doll away.
If you can remember back to when your kid was attached to a favorite something, you understand what happens next. Blue is inconsolable and Ralph Angel is pissed when Darla confesses that she’s tossed Kenya. Ralph Angel is so protective of his baby boy that he wants to know where, so he can find the doll. When Darla tells him, he heads off to the city dumpster. While he’s tearing through it, a police car arrives.
The world stops, for RA at least, and for the viewers, too, because it doesn’t look good. Why in the world would a Black man be tearing through a damn dumpster in broad daylight? But fortunately, one of the cops knows Ralph Angel. Whew.
What transpires next, though, is the emotional center of this episode and a surprising character reveal. We’ve seen a lot of complexity from Ralph Angel so far this season as he navigates manhood without his biggest supporter, his father. By turn he’s been fierce, angry, hurt, stubborn and fearful, sometimes all at the same time. But in this scene he shows his compassionate side. Turns out, the cop, Twan Williams, (Brian Michael) who knows him is a childhood friend that RA protected from bullies. The cop is a trans man in the closet. Not only did RA protect him in school, he said nothing when he saw him again years later when he was heading to jail.
That’s why, in what is the episode’s biggest reveal, he understands that Blue’s doll playing is not about his mother but about whatever it is that he’s going to be as a man down the line. While we don’t fully know how a 5-year-old will evolve, Ralph Angel doesn’t care. He just wants his son to know that he loves him, regardless. While Darla finds this a little challenging to accept, that’s not about to be her biggest challenge this episode. She went to see Charley to ask if her resume needed any upgrades. Instead, Charley offers her a job. And guess what? Ralph Angel ain’t too happy about that.
This was a stellar episode in a stellar second season thus far. But Queen Sugar does face a dilemma. All these men are amazing and it’s great to see them grow in beautiful ways as time goes on. That this is a family who loves each other no matter what is evident. But every family has its issues and at some point, some tension has to happen to keep people invested in the show. Queen Sugar can’t always be so sweet. That means some favorites have to show their ass, and some of the men – and women – are going to have to be at odds.
Queen Sugar has laid the track for some intriguing potential storylines in this episode, so let’s see where these revelations end up.
What do you think is next for the characters on Queen Sugar?
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