Queen Sugar: Closure And Turmoil In ‘Freedom’s Plow’ (Season 2, Episode 8)

by Rachel Bellwoar


Considering what a hot topic the will was last episode, it’s a relief to see the subject cool down in the midseason finale. The fighting’s not over, and the fallout isn’t settled, yet the air is out of the bag. Aunt Violet shared her story, about being willing to give up her part of the farm for Ernest with Nova, but it’s Charley who clears up the most important point: she’s not willing to lose her big brother over land. Once that option’s eliminated, everything else isn’t gravy, but it’s the next best thing.

To the opposite extreme, nothing about what happened to Micah is ok. Affirming one of the most destructive outcomes of his arrest at the beginning of the season, Queen Sugar refuses to soften the blow. Before the last commercial break, we learn Micah was taken to an alley by a cop, that a gun was put in his mouth, and that the cop pulled the trigger.

Racists don’t need a reason to be racist but he was targeted because his family dared to be successful. It goes back to Charley arguing with Remy in episode four, about what black success means, and a cop, who’s supposed to be a trusted figure of authority, feeling entitled to not just think that Micah’s race should hold him back in life, but to threaten that teenager’s life because the world has told him he can do so without consequences.

The storyline leaves off there, knowing viewers will want to tackle it all at once later on. Micah has been dealing with this trauma on his own, and the urgency of finding some way to help him, to hold this cop accountable, is overwhelming. There’s a feeling of helplessness, because these are the fears that manifest every time a young, black man is arrested. It’s why Micah and his friends feel the need to stay and make sure another arrest transpires legally. This storyline is bigger than TV, and it’s because it’s so serious that it has to be left unfinished.

With deliberateness, “Freedom’s Plow” ends on a hopeful note. Ralph Angel asks Darla to marry him and, wiping the tears away from his eyes, she says “Yes”. The same day as Darla’s two-year anniversary of being sober, Darla’s sponsor talks to Ralph Angel at the ceremony and doesn’t sugar coat what Darla needs, and whether Ralph Angel’s up for it. Charley, who attends the ceremony, too, was similarly blunt with Darla about their working relationship. Darla needs that honesty, because instead of letting problems fester and get worse, they address them so they’re out in the open. These are two, smart women who are able to communicate and, barring any unforeseen changes, you’re left feeling confident that they’ll be able to work things out.

What’s powerful is that Darla and Ralph Angel use the same words in addressing these situations. To Charley, Darla eloquently responds, “I’m going to keep doing my best here, until you tell me not to. I hope that day doesn’t come.”, and to Darla, Ralph Angel promises, “…I’ll do my best to help you do your best, always.” That’s a deep bond, when they reach the same answers without meaning to, and between that proposal and their earlier coming together to explain to Blue, in terms he can understand, why Darla has to stick to a strict schedule, this couple can conquer the world together.

A few other thoughts on this week’s episode:

  • The tradition of sitting around a table to hash out decisions is a long one. It’s not enough to gather, but food must be shared, and the importance of that setting for Queen Sugar should already be apparent. Somehow, though, Charley meeting with the farmers in that manner, after the turmoil of the will dinner, is important for seeing the setting in coinciding terms of being both upsetting and constructive.
  • That fall Violet takes at the diner feels deeply concerning, no matter what light she makes of it. Nova’s foot massage later in the episode is no substitute for the doctor’s visit Hollywood suggested.
  • As passionate as Nova is about her causes, last week’s Bordelon blowup felt significant because of how mad she became during it. Nova is a fighter, who stays and argues her truth, but her response to personal trial was to run away. What that means, besides showing us a complexly drawn character, is unclear but complicated.
  • Not sure if I missed something, but the backtracking on the divorce statement appearing in Charley’s interview, with she and Davis agreeing to make a joint statement again, feels wishy washy. On the other hand, Charley leaving her hair natural, after the cover photo for her interview featured the word “authentic,” was a beautiful, visual statement that traced her personal journey over the course of this season.

What did you think of the midseason finale?

Queen Sugar returns with new episodes on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) in October 2017.