“I No Longer Imagine,” the second episode of the fourth season of Queen Sugar, opens right where the premiere left off.
After reading preview copies of Nova Bordelon’s (Rutina Wesley) memoir, both of her siblings, Charley (Dawn-Lyen Gardner) and Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe), are absolutely gutted that their sister has willingly and eagerly spilled their personal pain and secrets onto the page for the world to see. Though she’s shaken, Charley goes into fixer mode, something she has mastered well following the implosion of her marriage to her NBA baller ex-husband Davis (Timon Kyle Durrett). As she frantically tries to gather the forces she needs to prevent the memoir from going to print, she’s also avoiding a confrontation with her big sis.
Ralph Angel, on the other hand, has turned to rage. Nova, the sibling he was closest to, has put his darkest humiliation on display for the world to see, exposing not just him, but also his son Blue (Ethan Hutchison) and his ex, Darla (Bianca Lawson), who is recovering from addiction and just now finding her footing. Never one to back down from a fight, Ralph Angel confronts his eldest sister. But instead of the woman who has been there to embrace him and soothe his ailments as she has so many times before, what he finds his indignation and self-righteousness.
Aunt Vi’s (Tina Lifford) focus is on her new business, Vi’s Prized Pies & Diner. She is oblivious to the storms that are barreling right towards her. She is stable and content for the first time in her life, with a man so profoundly devoted to her that he tries to shield her from Blessing & Blood. However, Aunt Vi has never been a fool. After seeing the haunted looks on Hollywood (Omar J. Dorsey), Charley and Ralph Angel’s faces, she knows that whatever ugly secrets of her own that Nova has decided to serve up to the masses are going to be gut-wrenching.
What is so profound about “I No Longer Imagine,” is that as her siblings confront her, their hurt and anger visible and raw, Nova remains steadfast and unyielding in her choices. Though it’s clear she’s deeply conflicted by her choice to lay the blood and sweat of her family bare, she refuses to apologize for it, claiming that she’s “searching for truth.”
Along with Nova-gate, the Bordelons are trying to manage other situations in their lives. Charley’s son Micah (Nicholas L. Ashe) has returned home after a summer abroad, living lavishly with his father. In the months he’s been away, he’s matured, with newly locked hair and a self-assuredness that wasn’t there when he left Louisiana. Micah has stepped firmly into manhood and the decisions he makes almost as soon as he lands—getting into a fight with a white boy from his old school–put Charley on edge immediately. Her son’s connection with Nova and the things that are revealed in Blessing & Blood are also bound to agitate their relationship. If Micah does choose Nova’s guidance over his mother’s, it might be the thing that brings Charley to her knees.
Elsewhere, Ralph Angel and Darla are trying to navigate their co-parenting relationship while opening their hearts to new people. Darla is seeing a man she met in her group (whose actions were a bit fresh for a first date) and Ralph Angel finds himself seeking the company of one of the moms from Blue’s class. Both Darla and Ralph Angel seem to be teetering on the line of cautious optimism, but with Nova’s book publication date looming it could snatch all of that away from them.
Though Charley has read the book cover to cover, neither Ralph Angel, Hollywood nor Aunt Vi have churned through all 300-pages of Blessing & Blood. With Vi’s abusive ex-husband Jimmy Dale (David Alan Grier) making his way toward St. Josephine county, something tells me that this is only the beginning of the rain for the Bordelons. The hurricane is still looming.
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