When Life Isn’t Cherries in Queen Sugar’s “On These I Stand”

(Episode 2.14)

TV Reviews Queen Sugar
When Life Isn’t Cherries in Queen Sugar’s “On These I Stand”

Tonight’s episode, written by Jason Wilborn and Anthony Sparks, deals with the aftermath of Darla’s (Bianca Lawson) devastating revelation in “Heritage”: that Blue (Ethan Hutchinson) may not be Ralph Angel’s (Kofi Siriboe) son.

The development caused a buzz on social media, with the reaction from Queen Sugar fans ranging from anger and heartbreak to “I knew it”—including a debate as to whether Ralph Angel will remain a father to Blue or walk away from Blue and Darla altogether. That remains to be seen. (For the record, I reacted by mimicking Cookie Lyon making a cross with her cell phone—for Lawson’s Twitter mentions.)

“I don’t understand what you’re saying to me. Don’t do this to me,” Ralph Angel says before walking to his truck and driving off. Later, Darla calls Ralph Angel, who answers in silence, and pleads with him to respond, even if it’s in (justifiable) anger—but he’s immediately grown numb.

Darla: Please come home.
Ralph Angel: What home?

Meanwhile, Hollywood’s (Omar J. Dorsey) early return from his deposition (from the oil rig explosion earlier in the season) startles Aunt Vi (Tina Lifford), who walks in with a white bag of prescriptions she passes off as vitamins. Her lukewarm reaction throws him, and the bag doesn’t go unnoticed—she later catches him going through her bag to find the medication. “There’s something you’re not telling me,” he says, before Vi reveals her lupus diagnosis to him. His reaction is simply heartbreaking to watch. Afraid to be a burden to him and the family, Vi declares she’ll face this on her own, with much protest from Hollywood, who refuses to leave her, and reminds her that quitting his job was an act of dedication to her, period.

Believe in that. In us. You said you don’t wanna be LeeAnn, Vi. Well, I ain’t Jimmy Dale. I’m Hollywood. You Vi. We us and they don’t matter in here. I ain’t going nowhere. —Hollywood

Assuring her that the entire family will stand by her despite her fear of worrying them, he adds that they need to know, “Cause we done already seen what secrets can do to this family.”

I love the intention this season of bringing parents into the fold to give clarity to the characters, as Lorna (Sharon Lawrence) does for Charley and as Darlene (Michael Michele) and Quincy (Roger Guenveur Smith) do for Darla. Darlene returns (without Quincy) to the house to speak with Darla about what occurred with Ralph Angel as they watch Blue play on the swing. Worrying that Ralph Angel will give up on her, Darlene assures her that he will come around, telling Darla she is blessed regardless because of how far she has come.

Blessed doesn’t mean your life is cherries. It means even when it isn’t, you keep at it, even after you mess up bad. —Darlene

Darlene reveals, to her daughter’s surprise, that the nine attempts to find her around New Orleans triggered her to drink after 23 years of sobriety because “I saw and imagined too much.” With the common ground between them, later in the episode Darlene affirms Darla about her demons, offering her and Blue a fresh start and support in Washington D.C. while giving Ralph Angel space. Just then, across town, Hollywood carries a drunken Ralph Angel to Aunt Vi’s house, telling her he was hanging at a bar with friends (after crying at his father’s grave). It’s clear Ralph Angel is going to need time to process his heartbreak.

Another standout in this episode were the farmers ending their ties with Charley after Sam Landry threatened to take back their land. It’s a sad reality of the struggling black farmers’ hands being tied and Charley’s business being sabotaged at every turn. Desperate, she contacts Martin Bennington, a sugarcane land owner and distant relative to the Landry family that her mother introduced her to in “Fruit of the Flower.” Her attempts to “poach a Landry with a Landry,” as Remy (Dondre L. Whitfield) puts it, felt sticky to me as well and proved to be true. During their initial meeting and subsequent tour of the mill, Bennington’s flirtatious energy towards Charley moves him to ask her to dinner to “get to know each other better [and] date.”

When Remy sees the gift of expensive drinks Bennington sends to Charley, he warns her that she’s playing with fire—in the form of an undercover Landry—and not to put her trust in him. He also hits her with a backhanded compliment, but she stands her ground. Something tells me that this alliance may come back to bite her. “That mind of yours,” Remy marvels. “It’s actually one of the things that I admire most about you, cause you’re always thinking five steps ahead and you’re also willing to do the unexpected. It’s how you’re built.”

“I know,” Charley replies, “how to deal with men like Bennington.”

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.

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