As is the theme with this season of Queen Sugar, “Of Several Centuries” opens with Nova (Rutina Wesley). This time the eldest Bordelon sibling is in Philadelphia to discuss her book and to be a guest on a Finding Your Roots-type television program called Legacies. Caught up in the whirlwind of pseudo-celebrity, a revelation completely jolts Nova. Legacies producers have uncovered something so shocking in the Bordelon family tree that Nova refuses to let it be publicly disclosed. However, she does discover rather happily, that her late mother has a living first cousin.
In St. Josephine, Charley (Dawn-Lyen Gardner) is chatting with a St. Thomas councilwoman named Joyce. Joyce is the only woman on the city council and she ‘s not too keen on trusting or throwing her support behind Charley after reading Blessing & Blood. With plans for the highway still firmly in St.Josephine, Joyce knows that St. Thomas is bound to become a ghost town and tasks Charley with figuring out why the highway plans were moved from St. Thomas to St. Joesphine in the first place.
As for Ralph Angel (Kofi Sirobie), the Boudreauxes and Landrys are doing everything in their power to shutter RA’s re-entry program. After planting drugs in RA’s friend Benny’s car, a police officer tampers with the cameras on the farm and threatens Ralph Angel’s freedom. Later, RA calls his lawyer friend to try and help Benny.
Back in Philly, riding the high of discovering a new maternal relative, Nova runs into the one person she least expects–Calvin (Greg Vaughan). As the pair stop to make small talk the electricity between them is palpable. Calvin informs Nova that he is officially divorced and living in Baton Rogue. He also tells her that he read Blessing & Blood, and he loved it. Calvin is the first person in Nova’s life that she loves to praise her book. They agree to meet the next day for lunch.
In Louisiana, Hollywood (Omar J. Dorsey) is off visiting his mama, giving Vi (Tina Lifford) the space she asked for. Shortly after she and Rhonda close Vi’s Prized Pies & Diner for the evening, a vandal breaks in destroying the dining room. Walking in on the destruction the next morning Vi looks exhausted. After instructing Rhonda to call the police, she pulls out her phone to call Wood but something stops her.
Aunt Vi and Ralph Angel aren’t the only ones having a rough time. Blessing & Blood has reached Darla’s (Bianca Lawson) place of employment. She walks in one morning to see the book on her desk with her co-workers snickering behind her back. Though she holds her head high at the moment she later calls Ralph Angel with shaking hands. Unfortunately, he doesn’t answer.
Later, Darla is seen with her very large man friend Leo who listens to her anguish about the book. Though he’s a shoulder to cry on, Leo also suggests that Darla call her sponsor. She refuses, saying she’s upset, but she’s still strong.
Whew, I’m nervous.
At Aunt Vi’s diner, Micah (Nicholas L. Ashe) and Charley arrive to survey the damage. Before she can even assess the situation well, Charley’s wheels are turning. She asks Aunti Vi about Hollywood’s reaction to the break-in, and she’s immediately suspicious about her aunt’s nonchalant response. However, she does promise Vi that they will find out who is behind the vandalism.
Ready to reveal her truth, Aunt Vi tells Charley that she has PTSD from seeing Jimmy Dale (David Alan Grier) again. She explains that Hollywood is giving her space. She also opens up about her past, letting a shocked Charley know that Jimmy Dale destroyed her house when she finally left him. Though the truth is out there, Vi is still determined to be “strong.”
Just as Ralph Angel arrives at the diner to give Aunt Vi his condolence and offer a helping hand Charley gets a call from her private investigator. Mama Charley does not play. The PI informs RA and Charley that Hank Miller, Jacob Boudreaux’s business manager, has been spying on Vi’s diner. They also learn that the vandal’s name is Joaquin, the youngest son, and brother of the two cane workers who were illegally detained by ICE. Charley immediately knows something isn’t right.
In Philadelphia, when Calvin and Nova are catching up over lunch we learn that Calvin has left the police force and has opened up a private security firm and he thinks Nova’s book was brave. Nova informs him that no one in her family is speaking to her, and she’s terrified they never will again. It’s clear that these two aren’t over each other as they move on from lunch to playing pool. As their day together winds down, they offer each other heartfelt apologies before saying lingering goodbyes.
At Charley’s house, Pastor Martinez sits with Joaquin and his mother. The teen confesses that he was forced to throw the brick into Charley’s campaign headquarters and that he is responsible for vandalizing Vi’s diner. He tells Charley that Hank Miller threatened to deport his mama if he refused, Pastor Martinez has some info of his own and informs Charley that Hank is in bed with Old World Energy, a fracking company that has been lurking around trying to buy land for cheap in St. Joe’s so they can drill for natural gas.
Putting on her hostess face, Charley goes to Jacob Boudreaux with her findings, and he basically sings like a canary. He informs Charley of the master plan to turn St. Joesphine into a wasteland so that the rich families can get richer. Since he’s not very bright, it takes a moment for Jacob to realize he’s spilled the beans, but when he des he’s enraged that Charley has outwitted him, yet again. He threatens her about not making him look stupid as she puts him out.
Back at Vi’s Dinner, Charley has invited Joaquin to apologize to Vi. The young man does so sincerely and in exchange, Vi tells him he will be working at her diner three days a week plus weekends to pay his debt. As she enters into the dining room later, Vi is touched to see that several people have come over to help her get her place back in working order.
The next day, residents of St. Joesphine and St. Thomas gather at Charley’s campaign headquarters to openly protest Old World Energy. The press is there, and the cat is officially out of the bag. It all seems like a win, at least for now.
In Philly, Nova is packing her suitcase to head to the airport for her redeye when she gets a knock on her door. Surprise, surprise it’s Calvin. He tells her he wants another chance with her. Nova is uncertain but agrees only if they can put their passion and physical relationship on the backburner. They both agree that they must be on the same page mentally if they are really going to do this for real.
At home, Charley and Micah are looking at photos from the protest when the house phone and Charley’s cell phone begin to ring. As she answers, Charley’s face crumples in despair, alarming Micah.
The Queen Sugar mill is on fire.
We never find out the family secret that almost shattered Nova’s composure.
Queen Sugar airs Wednesdays at 9 PM ET on OWN.
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
Photo by Skip Bolen © 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. / Courtesy of OWN