Crowning this week’s top three Queen Sugar moments:
Nova answers her phone
It doesn’t get more exciting than not knowing what a character’s thinking, which is why Nova answering Charley’s call is the breakout scene of “Caroling Dusk.” Angry that Micah missed his therapy appointment, Charley starts the call by looking at her sister as an accomplice. Both react so perfectly, however, that the conversation folds back on itself. Nova doesn’t take offense but is sorry she didn’t know. Charley realizes she made a mistake but that Nova had her back anyway. Instead of trying to pretend the conversation didn’t happen, Charley verbally recognizes Nova’s apology while making her own ‘sorry’s. It’s a quick call that goes at a ferocious pace but encapsulates sisterhood, and afterwards Nova goes to Charley’s without being asked, knowing that she needs her.
Would Nova had gone to Charley’s, though, if she wasn’t looking for a polite way to walk out of a heavy conversation with her love interest, Dr. DuBois? That is where the scene gets fascinating because Nova is a good sister, but Dr. DuBois pursued her from Georgia. It’s a lot, and Nova could’ve used Charley as an excuse to leave and then go home, but she doesn’t. Does that mean visiting Charley would’ve been her decision all along, or are her motivations too entangled?
This isn’t Nova running. Having given herself time to think she can return to Dr. DuBois later and tell him that she likes him, too. She doesn’t leave it to chance but uses clear words so there’s no second-guessing her feelings. Nova’s patience with Charlie is returned by Dr. DuBois’s patience with her, and instead of forcing her hand her answer is allowed to form organically so it’s concrete.
Unplanned Therapy Sessions
It would’ve been easy for Micah’s story this week to revolve around the fact that he lied and mislead Nova about missing school, when it was therapy he was skipping. Helping his aunt with a community service project is an unusual cry for discipline, but the timing’s too convenient and he never gave therapy a chance.
What makes this plot line tick, however, is the impromptu therapy it produces. Charley gets caught in a solo session after Micah doesn’t show up. She won’t be a hypocrite so stays past discomfort but, as much as she wants to see therapy help her son, she can understand the impulse to resist it.
Micah, meanwhile, has an unofficial therapy session with his dad on the basketball court. This should be a positive development, because it means Micah’s found somebody to talk to, but when that somebody is Davis it’s a struggle to trust in the results. Davis doesn’t evade Micah’s questions, after promising to answer them, but he doesn’t come across as the most self-aware person, and while his answers are honest, it’s his truth.
Darla vs. Blue’s Doll, Kenya
If Darla wanted to wean Blue off of playing with his doll, that’s her parental right, but Ralph Angel should’ve been part of the decision. That’s not what happened or why she acted. Darla took the doll without notice and when Blue got upset about it, she wasn’t there. Besides taking the doll, Darla threw Kenya out, and not in her trash can but a dumpster. Darla designed the separation to be permanent and Ralph Angel immediately lands on why this is frustrating: Blue’s attachment to Kenya had nothing to do with Darla.
Darla’s issue with Kenya is that she believes Blue sees the doll as a replacement for when she isn’t around. You can understand how Darla’s interpretation of the doll would lead her to respond this way, but it’s a reaction based on a false premise that Darla can’t go back on, no matter how much she tries to rough up a new doll in Kenya’s stead. It’s infuriating while you can understand Darla’s position, and maybe “infuriating” is the wrong word so much as “regrettable”.
Ralph Angel stays cool. He could’ve gotten upset, but he gives this one to Darla, and doesn’t resort to low blows, but here’s the Queen Sugar question: would it have been better for Ralph Angel to pick a fight over Kenya, where he had reason to lodge some complaints, or for the episode to end on the reaction it did: his obvious dissatisfaction with Darla getting hired as Charley’s office assistant.
It wasn’t easy for Darla to go to Charley with her resume, but she did, and not with the expectation that she would come out with a job, but in hopes that Charley could give her advice on how to present her job history. It’s an incredible scene of female empowerment and woman helping woman, through marketing and giving each other a chance, on a show that hires all female directors. It acknowledges Charley’s impressive business experience. It acknowledges how hard Darla’s working to take an active role in her job search, and Ralph Angel’s insecurities over needing Charley’s help prevents his first reaction from being happy for Darla. Besides his problem with Darla getting this job, in that moment, it’s clear he intends to go forward with his claim on the farm, and Darla working for Charley complicates the fallout.
Additional thoughts about “Caroling Dusk:”
- Ways Violet and Hollywood are the best couple this week:
- Tag team pie salesmen. When Violet isn’t able to convince any shops to take a chance on her pies, Hollywood comes with her the next day. It’s not treated like bringing a man to a car dealership. Violet doesn’t need Hollywood because her gender holds her back from selling her wares. Hollywood’s contribution is to disrupt the owner’s excuses. He can’t say it’s the heat when Hollywood’s fixing his air conditioner and actress, Tina Lifford’s, decision not to turn around during this scene, but keep looking at the store owner, adds so much. You know she appreciates what Hollywood’s doing but the moment isn’t about that, and he doesn’t need to be assured about their relationship. She’s going to sell this owner on her pies.
- New character alert: Ralph Angel’s friend, Antoine Wilkins, played by transgender actor, Brian Michael. A beautiful scene that’s a big deal because it’s not a big deal, the episode isn’t meant to be about Ralph Angel’s childhood friendship and his being trans doesn’t change that. Ralph Angel’s acceptance of people for who they are gets a history.
- A visual punch: the sign addressing tourists who visit New Orleans
- Last week I mentioned Charley’s mother, forgetting that she had a different mom from Nova and Ralph Angel. This week includes another bad memory from Charley’s childhood, as the path is further paved for us meeting her mom this season.
What did everyone else think?