Poet Warsan Shire said, “With you, intimacy colors my voice. Even ‘hello’ sounds like, ‘come here.’” After a possible near-death incident at the rig in “To Usward,” Hollywood (Omar J. Dorsey) and Aunt Vi (Tina Lifford) are entangled in the bed sheets at a hotel, feeding each other strawberries. They lovingly tease one another in between smiles and kisses when Hollywood breaks the bliss to express the challenge of their situation, saying, “One day away from you is one day too long. Don’t give up on us again. I need you.”
The rekindling of their love is short-lived, however, when Hollywood receives a phone call saying he must report back to the rig in 48 hours to work for the next five months. In “What Do I Care For Morning,” Queen Sugar explores coming to terms with the people you’re in love with—or, in Charley’s (Dawn Lyen Gardner) case, falling out of love with—and who you are in the midst of it. Are second chances worth a try to salvage what’s become tarnished?
Hollywood and Aunt Vi, for those two days, savor the time they have together, and ultimately come to terms with where they are in their relationship: Can they withstand being apart… again? They need to rebuild their relationship by coming back to St. Josephine, and at a candlelit dinner by the pool, Hollywood makes a choice that shows the essence of the man Vi fell in love with: He chooses her.
“Baby, I ain’t never been so sure about something in my whole life. You matter most. This thing—me and you—we gotta make it right. I don’t need to be going nowhere. We are too important.” —Hollywood
On the other side, Charley continues to battle with Davis (Timon Kyle Durrett) over custody of their son, Micah (Nicholas L. Ashe). She remains unforgiving: The weight of the humiliation she endured is still raw, fueling her anger. Catching her off guard, Davis reveals that he knows that she forged his signature on her mill contracts at the end of the season premiere after being alerted by his lawyer. But using this as leverage, threatening to jeopardize the fate of Queen Sugar Mills in exchange for being in his son’s life, is a mistake. She’s fully aware of her actions, but her biting clap back swiftly shifts the fault back to Davis:
“I may have forged your name, but you were the team pimp. You wanna go to court? I’ll wear a new suit every day. Let’s see who wins when it’s all out in the open.” —Charley
Charley’s inner lioness, menacing and fierce, still emerges when someone steps onto her territory. Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe) tells her that Blue (Ethan Hutcherson) found a drone flying over their farm, which leads Ralph Angel to confront a farmer, Henry Lee, who he catches stealing sugarcane in the middle of the night. (Seeing Ralph Angel shoot warning shots in the air—epic). Lee confides that he went through Sam Landry instead of moving forward with Charley’s mill, and that he was used by Landry to see how the Bordelons planned to operate their business. She’s angry, but Ralph Angel is more forgiving: He, too, has been desperate to provide for his son despite the risks.
Ralph Angel, with whom Charley’s been at odds with since Season One, challenges the stubborn Charley in an area she falls short: forgiveness. “I just think sometimes people deserve a second chance.”
“This is how we shame the Landries, in public. Let everybody know what they’re doing and let Landry and Jacob know they’re going to be watchers like they’re watching us.” —Charley
Ultimately, what happens in the dark comes to light, and when Charley confronts the Landrys face-to-face with Ralph Angel by her side, she proves she’s bold enough to do it in the light of day and “not at night, like cowards do.” Like a badass, she laughs in their face when they display the haughtiness of a family untouchable during much of their 100-year reign in the sugarcane business. Charley, not to be intimidated nor threatened, is a dynamic, flawed, moving character, one slowly learning that there’s a time and place for her to exert control.
Ralph Angel, ever so briefly but sincerely, stands by his nephew Micah outside and supports him as Charley watches. He knows all too well from his past experience with law enforcement as a black man that Micah’s innocence has been lost. And for once, Charley sees her brother for what he’s striving to be for the sake of his father’s legacy, himself and his son. His words from the prior night—the power of second chances—resonating anew, she decides to sign his loan to help him earn money for the farm and later gives Davis a chance to be a father to their son.
Queen Sugar shows the power of the Bordelon siblings when they form a united front, instead of letting their divisions (or egos) distract them from what’s important: the land that their family has literally died to protect. And each other. As Charley says in protection of her brother, “If you come after one of us again, you come after all of us. You don’t want that.”
Ashley G. Terrell is a freelance entertainment writer based in Michigan. Her work has appeared in Ebony Magazine, The Huffington Post, Black Girl Nerds, and more. She is currently working on her first novel and is the creator of the blog, The Carefree Black Girl Chronicles of ASHLEMONADE. You can follow her on Twitter.