“Face Speckled” opens with Nova (Rutina Wesley) in New York for her book tour. As she has spilled everyone else’s tea except her own, she is still being haunted by her past. She’s been dreaming of her mama, her teenage self and the regal white outfit she wore to her father’s funeral. Since her family has iced her out, Nova is going to be forced to deal with herself–one way or another. Startled awake by her dreams–Nova makes a record of what she remembers on her bedside tape recorder. It appears that the eldest Bordelon sibling is also working on another project.
Back in St. Joseph parish–Darla (Bianca Lawson) is stricken by the horrors that Nova revealed in Blessing & Blood. She’s barely functioning, ignoring her new bae, and allowing Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe) to do the heavy lifting when it comes to parenting Blue (Ethan Hutchison). At the last hour, Darla begins to pray feverishly for a way forward.
At Vi’s Prized Pies & Diner–Violet (Tina Lifford) seems to be getting a handle on things again. Though she’s not quite back to her old self–her euphoric spirit is slowly seeping through. She’s further delighted when Remy (Dondré T. Whitfield) comes sliding through her new place of business. (High-key we almost forgot he existed.) After his less than gentlemanly behavior with Nova and Charley (Dawn-Lyen Gardner) last season, Remy has had to do some real soul searching. He tells Vi and Hollywood (Omar J. Dorsey) that his time in St. Joesph has run its course. With a packed lunch from Vi Remy looks like he’s ready to embark on a new path.
Meanwhile, Charley is at home working when Davis (Timon Kyle Durrett) brings his BS to her front door. Blessing & Blood has brought up his past behaviors and the assault allegations that he and Charley buried in Season 1. Students are boycotting at the university where he’s just been hired to coach, and Davis is panicked–begging the woman who used to “fix” his life to help him again. Because Micah’s (Nicholas L. Ashe) world is also entangled with his father’s legacy, Charley agrees to meet Davis and hear him out. Amid Davis’ begging and pleading, Romero (Walter Perez) drops by offering lunch and romance. As much as we want this for Charley we just don’t see it working out. Life isn’t a fairytale.
In New York City, Nova’s book signing is going well until it’s time for Q&A. A woman who identifies herself as Dr. Octavia Laurent (Cree Summer) takes Nova to task about her “self-serving, tell-all book.” She insists that she doesn’t know how to receive Blessing & Blood and that the book is full of anecdotes without data to back them up. The pair have an intense and very public spat which ends with Dr. Octavia calling Nova an amateur. But we’ll get back to these two.
Back in Lousiana, Micah goes to see his friend Anthony who is still imprisoned for accidental arson. Anthony looks worse for the wear though he’s trying to remain positive and keep his head down. Micah leaves the visit spooked. He heads to his other friend’s house where he drinks a bottle of Jack Daniels while getting a tattoo as a way to pay homage to Anthony. Ya boy is going through it.
In the midst of this, Charley and Davis are face-to-face, having a frank discussion about Blessing & Blood and how Davis should deal with the fallout. Charley emplores her ex-husband to be honest and apologize for his wrongdoings. She suggests that he truly think about the pain he’s inflicted. Clearly, Sir. Davis didn’t get the memo about moving on and doing better because though he does apologize to Charley for blowing up their life, he also tries to kiss her. Thankfully Charley swats him away with a quickness.
It turns out Nova and Dr. Octavia have a very intense and long history. It appears that the professor was both Nova’s teacher at Tulane University and her lover. Though she doesn’t agree with Blessing & Blood’s abstract, Octavia’s real gripe is that she was a mere sentence in Nova’s entire memoir. Whatever these two have is super toxic, which becomes more apparent after they have sex and decide that Octavia will accompany Nova on her next book tour stop. It’s incredible how Nova can lay everyone else’s ish bare while throwing a black sheet over her own skeletons.
Meanwhile, Ralph Angel is actively working to impress his new lady friend. He’s got flowers and a picnic full of Aunt Vi’s cooking. Their date is going very well until he receives a frantic call from Darla about Blue. As it turns out, children hear and see everything. Blue’s little playground friend (without malice) informs Blue that he doesn’t have a real daddy which leaves our beloved little boy inconsolable. When Darla and Ralph Angel try to get Blue to talk about why he’s so upset, he just cries himself to sleep.
After catering her first repast, Vi is ready to talk about her emotional state and why seeing Jimmy Dale (David Alan Grier) again shattered her. She tells Hollywood that thinking about her past life and the constant state of fear she lived in was too much to bear. She’s upset that the fear still lives inside of her, and she’s disgusted with Nova for bringing it to her doorstep again. For Vi, Nova is as good as dead.
After her run-in with Davis–Charley goes to the mill to visit the clinic and Romero. It’s briefly joyful until ICE runs in the place and begins making arrests. When the dust settles, several workers are arrested and Charley learns that getting the prison shut down in Season 3 has earned her more enemies than she could have ever imagined. At home, she also has a very drunk and sullen 17-year old son to deal with.
Whew, Charley deserves a break.
Later, Charley meets with the city councilwoman who is stepping down. She decides (in a very Charley-like fashion) to run for City council against Jacob Boudreaux. Her goal is to get the highway built five miles away in St. Thomas’ parish, therefore saving her family’s land and the land of a majority of the other farmers.
This episode of Queen Sugar ends with a very small boy coming to grips with family, genetics and biology. Sitting Blue down, Darla and Ralph Angel tell their son as gently and as plainly as they know how that Ralph Angel isn’t his biological father. Blue asks, “Is that why I look different from you?” They explain to him that souls often have more ties than blood and despite DNA they are his parents–who would choose him over and over again.
Truly, what Nova has done is unforgivable.
Queen Sugar airs Wednesdays at 9 PM ET on OWN. New episodes return July 24.
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