Sometimes it’s not about what gets said but when. Such is Queen Sugar Season 2, Episode 6: ‘Line of Our Elders’ in a nutshell.
- The same day the mill opens (the first in the state of Louisiana to be owned by a black woman), Ernest’s gravestone arrives and the family go to pay their respects. For Violet, who’s not ready to stop being angry at her brother for leaving the farm to Ralph Angel, this isn’t good timing and the seating arrangements at the mill’s opening play into the tension. Charley gets to the part in her speech where she says, “the land he left us,” and the camera cuts to Violet’s reaction. Later we see that Violet’s sitting next to Ralph Angel and Nova’s sitting at another table. Before we get to the end of the episode we’re already struck by the elephant in the room and Charley and Nova have no idea they’re about to be disinherited.
- For Charley, the timing of the mill’s opening goes back to why she wanted to start the mill in the first place: her father. The reporter sent to cover the story won’t believe her spin but Charley’s not giving a line. It’s ‘boring’, but the truth, and when Charley offers to give him the scoop on her divorce (so he won’t write she panicked when the mill briefly choked) it’s not a defeat. Let him believe what he will but it’s a move of empowerment galvanized by his prodding. Davis’ scandal is why she didn’t see her father before he died. Charley needs to distance herself from her ex. Going public, announcing this divorce for herself, is such a cool way of breaking news that would’ve come out anyway. This way it’s freeing.
- Speaking of relationships, Ralph Angel continues to be a good co-parent but makes Darla feel bad again for taking the assistant job with Charley. A joke won’t land if you believe it’s possible the person could be serious and, paired with Ralph Angel’s poker face, Darla is stung by his comment about her employment not being enough. She’s wearing Charley’s clothes now. It’s especially not funny knowing how Darla stared at herself in the mirror considering that dress earlier. Interrupted at the time by a rare scene with Micah (that relationship’s ripe for exploration), she immediately goes back to the mirror when the coast is clear–that’s how important it is for her to be the woman who wears those dresses now. She’s good at this job (like her kicking the reporter out when he’s ready to invade Charley’s privacy) and she hasn’t had it long enough to find it humorous.
- Her job’s in jeopardy, too. Running into the same cashier he held up in the pilot, Ralph Angel is accused of lying in front of Blue. Later, Blue recognizes Kenya’s not the same doll and Ralph Angel comes clean about her fate. How much Blue realizes, and how much is projection, is difficult to say but his next question is pregnant with meaning, as he asks Ralph Angel why the cashier called him a liar earlier. Blue’s a little boy but Ralph Angel respected him with the truth (and because Blue made the discovery at Ernest’s grave, you have the added weight of Kenya’s loss feeling like a death, in no way trivialized). But Ralph Angel does lie when he tells Blue he doesn’t know what the cashier meant. He’s not that liar anymore but he’s telling a lie, and while Blue probably doesn’t need to know about the robbery (at least not yet), discretion leads to awkward timing, and Ralph Angel choosing that dinner to announce Ernest’s amended will.
- A torrent of held back grievances, ‘Line of Elders’ leaves the dinner unfinished, but one of Nova’s lines says it all. She made a discovery that day, too, about Ernest moonlighting, but hadn’t told Charley, because she “didn’t want to rain on [her] day.” This was Charley’s day and they all saw the pressure she put herself under to make it go well (Nova taking her headband off to clean Charley’s hands is the epitome visualization). Ralph Angel had months to drop this news. He shouldn’t have chosen Charley’s day.
What did you think of ‘Line of Elders” use of timing, and do you think Ralph Angel should’ve come forward with the will?