After the blowup in last week’s episode with Micah (Nicholas L. Ashe) telling his mother Charley (Dawn-Lyen Gardner) that he will be attending Xavier University instead of Harvard University, things are tense in their home. Micah apologizes for telling her the news the way that he did and Charley apologizes for her reaction, citing the stress of the city council election. She also tells Micah that she needs more time to process his choice. As she watches her only child exit the room, someone bangs loudly on the front door.
As Charley opens the door, several St. Josephine deputies burst inside with a warrant for her arrest. Charley is being arrested for arson and intent to defraud. This is connected to the fire at Queen Sugar Mill. Whew, these people get bolder every single day.
The entire Bordelon family has gathered at the police station to await news on Charley. Micah is on the phone with his mother’s lawyer while Aunt Vi (Tina Lifford) and Nova (Rutina Wesley) sit anxiously in the waiting room. Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe) isn’t anxious, he’s pissed. He’s ready to pick a fight with anyone who tries him, including the police officers or Nova. Before things descend into total chaos, Charley is released and mostly unruffled. Charley’s lawyer is able to get her released on a fixed bail. As the Bordelons go to exit the police station, Nova warns Charley that reporters are waiting outside.
After using Aunt Vi’s compact to get her face together, Charley holds her head high and confronts the reporters. She labels her arrest a shame while also calling out the corrupt sheriff by name and warns everyone who will listen that if they are going to come for her and her people, they should be certain they aren’t going to miss.
At Vi’s Prized Pies & Diner, Vi is waiting as Sam Landry (David Jensen) enters the establishment. If you recall, several episodes ago she told him she was calling in a decades-long favor he owes her. It looks like Sam is FINALLY coming through. He has a stack of papers that prove his sister Frances Boudreaux (Annalee Jefferies) has been up to no good. It turns out Sam’s secret is that he has a Black daughter. Back in the day when his father found out he’d fallen for a Black woman, he tried to kill Sam. Vi stepped in and helped the woman and child escape St. Josephine unscathed. Though Vi hasn’t spoken to the mother of Sam’s child for 15 years, she does inform Sam that his daughter is a Spelman College and Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania graduate.
Back at Charley’s, she and Nova are hanging out when Vi comes over to deliver the papers that Sam has just given her. It turns out Vi has the financial books from Landry Enterprises. The documents name Parker Campbell, the person behind Old World Energies who wants to bring the highway and fracking into St. Josephine’s, as having received payments from Landry Enterprises. There are also emails between Frances and whomever she hired to set fire to Queen Sugar Mill and set the ICE raid in motion at Romero’s (Walter Perez) clinic. When Charley and Nova question Vi on her source, she tells them she has history on her side.
Later, Vi returns home to find Hollywood (Omar J. Dorsey) cooking up a storm in the kitchen. She asks Wood if he’s still thinking about opening up his safe space for men, dedicated to their mental health and suggests attaching a wing spot to the joint if he’s serious.
Over at the family’s farm, Blue (Ethan Hutchison) has just finished his chores when Darla (Bianca Lawson) pulls up to the house. She’s brought groceries with her, intending to cook as a way of thanking Ralph Angel who has been by her side as she works to recover from her recent relapse. But first, RA and Darla give Blue the gift from his departed grandpa Ernest that Ralph Angel found. When Blue opens the massive box, he becomes elated at the sight of the beach ball. However, the little boy is quickly saddened because his Papa isn’t present to see his joy.
Later, after soothing Blue and bringing in the groceries, Ralph Angel and Darla finish the conversation they were having last week about their feelings for one another. Ralph Angel tells Darla that he’s in love with her. Darla, after confirming that RA doesn’t see her as some broken woman, tells RA she loves him too.
In New Orleans, Calvin (Greg Vaughan) shows Nova his new place as a way of demonstrating his seriousness about moving back from Baton Rouge. However, this house is big enough for two and has two parking spaces and two offices. Though Nova looks terrified, she seems excited about the prospect of living with her boo. Calvin is equally excited about meeting Nova’s family later that evening.
That evening at Vi’s diner, the election is in full swing. Nova and Calvin arrive hand in hand, much to the shock of the entire Bordelon clan. However, everyone, except for Ralph Angel, welcomes Calvin with open arms. Nova is still on RA’s sh*t list and, therefore, so is her man.
Even later in the evening, the final votes are being counted and people are getting anxious because Charley is trailing Jacob Boudreaux by three percent. However, in the end, Charley does come out victorious. She becomes a councilwoman in St. Josephine. However, this joyful moment isn’t where Season 4 of Queen Sugar ends.
The next day, dressed in a fresh suit and with her win in the bag, Charley stalks into the country club to meet Frances. Frances is resigned to Charley’s win but she still thinks she can convince her to vote “with the council’s interests.” She really thinks she can bribe Charley into doing what she wants. However, Charley has quite a surprise for Frances. As the women sit at their table, policemen enter the country club. They’re there to arrest Frances for conspiracy to commit arson and bribery. Bloop! As Charley watches the arrest, she gets a text informing her that the elusive Parker Campbell wants to set a meeting with her.
At the farm, Ralph Angel is on his porch when he gets an unwelcome visitor, Nova. She’s there to try and apologize to him again for Blessing & Blood and everything else she’s done. RA isn’t trying to hear it until Nova informs him that their mother, Trudy, is buried on the farm.
Nova tells her baby brother about meeting their mama’s cousin and she pulls out their mama’s journal to prove it. In the journal, Trudy left a prayer for her children’s bond to stay strong. Nova begs Ralph Angel to try and let her fix things and Ralph Angel agrees, even if only to find the spot where their mama is buried.
Later the siblings talk to Mr. Prosper (Henry G. Sanders) about where their father used to walk on the land. They are then able to determine where Trudy might be buried.
Charley finally comes face to face with the elusive Parker Cambell (Amirah Vann) and she’s not at all who Charley expected her to be. It turns out that Sam is a bit more slippery and conniving than expected. Parker is his “long lost” Black daughter who isn’t as lost as it appeared. Parker is the community relations lead for the Beckington Group, which is the parent company to the fracking company that’s building a highway through St. Jo’s. Charley is legitimately shook and it appears that she should be. Parker has her own agenda and though she may be Black, she’s definitely on her daddy’s side. Charley may have met her match.
After telling Parker she won’t be backing down from getting the highway plans banned from St. Josephine, Parker informs Charley that if she doesn’t yield she will take the Bordelon’s land.
Though Parker is out for war, the Bordelons aren’t about to let that stop their joy. As the season closes, Nova has moved in with Calvin and she starts True Papers, named after her mama. Micah and Keke (Tanyell Waivers) are blissful to be near one another at their prospective colleges. Vi and Hollywood are hugged up at home, enjoying the comfort of having each other. Charley proudly unwraps her councilwoman portrait, basking in the moment. And Ralph Angel and Darla are teaching Blue to swim with the beach ball Ernest left for him.
As the episode closes, the entire family gathers dressed in white to honor Trudy with a headstone on her gravesite. The season may be over, but the Bordelons are still standing and still together–stronger than ever.
At the time of publishing Queen Sugar has not yet been renewed for Season 5.
Aramide A. Tinubu is a film critic and entertainment editor. As a journalist, her work has been published in EBONY, JET, ESSENCE, Bustle, The Daily Mail, IndieWire and Blavity. She wrote her master’s thesis on Black Girlhood and Parental Loss in Contemporary Black American Cinema. She’s a cinephile, bookworm, blogger and NYU + Columbia University alum. You can find her reviews on Rotten Tomatoes or A Word With Aramide or tweet her @wordwitharamide