Queen Sugar Review: ‘My Soul’s High Song’ (Season 2, Episode 4)

 

My Soul’s High Song” starts with Charley getting ready for her talk with local farmers about choosing Queen Sugar mill to harvest their sugar cane. Charley is wearing a power suit and power hair, the farmers are in plaid and jeans, and it’s the tee off for an episode that has Charley being called out for privilege throughout.

These are accusations she’s heard before (her ex was a professional basketball player) but this time the remarkers feel like they’ve synced up their watches. It’s not one person’s opinion but a consensus. Charley wants to be held to high standards, where people expect things from her and can be disappointed if she doesn’t come through. Instead, expectations are low and she has to continuously prove herself. Her time in New Orleans hasn’t adjusted that and it’s this great juxtaposition between the show being so giving, and acknowledging, of character growth, while these same characters are more set in their opinions, which is real life. Charley’s confident but nothing is assured, and with the farm facing white flies and the vengeful Boudreaux’s this episode alone (trying to catch Ralph Angel on a parole violation, no less), their crop still has a long way to go.

Charley is hearing loud and clear that this is what people think of her, and it’s because the show comes at subjects from so many levels that you have the timing of Charley being called out for privilege falling right after she’s been calling out her ex, Davis, for the same thing. Particularly after their son, Micah, was pulled over at the start of the season, driving the flashy car Davis gave him as a birthday present, Charley has had enough of his using money to solve his problems. Charley is privileged but Davis’ reliance and continued existence around privilege is more in your face. It’s about context and for Charley she’s given a lot of that world up. For the rest of New Orleans, she’s still ahead of the game.

Remy is able to tell Charley this and they have a conversation. He’s seen the kind of apartment she wants to rent and tells her what people will think, and they hear each other out, as they disagree. This is a discussion that encompasses what it means to be a black role model, and white versus black success, and it’s all taking place at a table at Violet’s restaurant. The publicness of the setting reflects the size of the debate, which is larger than the two of them.

Until it gets interrupted. Hollywood walks in and says hello, and the scene follows him to the counter to talk with Charley’s Aunt Violet (Hollywood’s girlfriend). We never know if Remy and Charley pick up the conversation again, and it’s not a conversation that can ever really reach a conclusion, but it’s still a choice to have it cut off–maybe returned to, maybe not–instead of fizzling out on screen. You don’t get to sit in that moment yet it weighs with you when the episode’s done, and makes you itch to know what happened after the camera turned away.

When Ralph Angel talks to Charley it’s a confrontation, and she and Davis are to blame for Micah being “messed up” lately. It’s not Micah’s arrest but how he was raised, and, if finalizing her divorce wasn’t already meeting enough snags, Charley finds herself once again unable to lose her association with Davis. Nobody is allowed to have the upperhand on Queen Sugar, because everyone has a point, and coming after Ralph Angel pushed Micah against the wall, for accidentally hitting his son, Blue, there’s a lot of ways to shelter people. Parents are guilty of it all the time.

Which is why the last person to call Charley out on her privilege is the most interesting–Micah. Earlier the farmers laughed off a bet they had made that she wouldn’t be part of the leaf scrubbing in the fields. The camera lingered on her and you could see how the truth behind the laughs was taken seriously. With Micah the situation repeats itself, this time with him calling a bet that his mom won’t last long in their new digs at the mill (which, nice foreshadowing by having Charley say the room had potential earlier with Remy).

You can argue she’s projecting her wants on Micah, when she initially wants to buy a place that is closer to his school, but there’s not a person whose opinion matters more, and he bets against her. This is the moment the privilege callouts peak and, instead of being the worst thing that could’ve happened, Charley finds the humor everyone else has been seeing. It’s her son, and she can’t take what he says as an affront. This time the love of the people around her shines through and, without letting Charley off the hook, the tension is lifted. It’s an ending that’s earned without drastically changing anybody’s opinions and continues the show’s signature seal of believability.

Other things that happened this week:

  • I could be wrong but I think this is the first time we learn Blue’s doll’s name is Kenya.
  • About Darla losing her job: Darla never told Ralph Angel she couldn’t leave work but there’s no reason he shouldn’t have known she was busy when he called. She was going to have a chance to pay for swimming lessons for Blue. Now she doesn’t have a paycheck.
  • We still don’t know exactly what happened to Micah when he was arrested, and nothing special had to have happened for it to be traumatic, but Micah’s silence feels like there’s something more to it. The question is if he’ll be ready to talk about it, and with who.
  • Nova has some great storylines this week, as well, with a new editor wanting her to cover more positive stories. Nova needs the paper’s platform as an advocate, and an employee, but if Nova plays along will that be enough, or does compromise ring the death keel for her style of journalism? We also get to watch her perform a ritual for her friends’ twins, which brings up what family might mean to her in the long run.
  • Ways Violet and Hollywood are the best couple this week:
    • Violet takes over pie making duties from Hollywood but, where other shows would have this be her way of saying she’s the better cook, there’s no competition. His filling’s delicious.
    • Hollywood and Violet never tell each other what to do but encourage each other to be their best selves. That’s how you get Hollywood asking Violet to consider starting her own business, and Violet, not telling Hollywood never to work again, but to take a second before jumping into the next job out of anxiousness to keep busy.
  • Charley, Nova, and Ralph Angel’s mother gets another mention this week, with Micah finding a good luck charm she had given Charley from Egypt. Excited to see if this means we might be meeting her down the road.

What did you think of Wednesday night’s Queen Sugar, and who would you like to see cast as Mrs. Bordelon?

Queen Sugar airs Wednesday’s at 10 PM EST on OWN.