As “All the Borders” opens, it’s clear that Charley (Dawn-Lyen Gardner) has faded into herself. She, along with Ralph Angel (Kofi Sirobie), Romero (Walter Perez) and Micah (Nicholas L. Ashe), sit helplessly as the fire department finally gets the fire at Queen Sugar mill under control. Keke (Tanyell Waivers) even comes running up desperate to see if Micha is OK. The fire has devastated the building. The structure is unstable, and to add insult to injury, it took the firemen 30 mins to get to the scene. The Fire Chief claims they never received the alarm. He also informs Charley that the fire was an arson–and that she should key herself up for a criminal investigation.
In the midst of this Nova (Rutina Wesley) runs up on her family out of nowhere asking about the mill and their wellbeing. Unfortunately, she can’t help but make the moment about her. Amid the destruction, she begs her siblings to meet her halfway. Ralph Angel simply looks at her uninterested while Charley reads her for filth. Charley and RA leave Nova standing there with the burnt mill in the background as they get into RA’s truck.
At Vi’s Prized Pies & Diner, Vi (Tina Lifford) has much of her fire back. As she eats her breakfast, Sam Landry walks through the doors like he owns the place. The two trade a few barbs back and forth and Vi tells Sam that he’s crossed the line with the mill fire. Sam insists that it wasn’t him but Vi has had enough–these two have a history. She tells him that she’s calling in the favor he owes her and that he must end this war with her family. Sam looks shook.
In the midst of this, Charley and RA have made a stop of their own. With RA as lookout Charley runs into Frances Boudreaux’s estate. The women have a screaming match where racial slurs are thrown out. Frances calls Charley a trashy mulatto who should’ve stayed in her place and Charley calls the older woman irrelevant. Frances doesn’t outright deny burning the mill but she doesn’t admit it either. Later we find out RA has the whole thing on tape. In the car going home, Charley starts to unravel emotionally. RA is mostly emotionless.
Nova is determined to make poor decisions because she rolls into Vi’s Diner unannounced. We’re pretty sure Vi banned her from her presence. Vi isn’t there, but Mr. Proctor (Henry G. Sanders) is. Proctor wants to talk to Nova about Blessing & Blood, specifically the chapter about her father and the alleged “dead white men.” Proctor informs Nova that she has her facts all wrong. Ernest never killed anyone. Whew, chillay. Nova is starting to see that her version of “the truth” has cracks in it.
At home, Darla (Bianca Lawson) sees the report about the burned mill on the news and when Ralph Angel doesn’t answer his phone she rushes to his house. She’s eager to see that he’s OK and to hear about the rest of the Bordelons but she doesn’t expect RA to have a visitor. Deesha (I finally learned lawyer bae’s name!) is at his side. They’re going over the testimony that he’s set to give to the county about the status of his re-entry program. Darla was clearly not ready to see another woman with Ralph Angel.
Later, RA though prepared for his meeting with the board is not prepared for the pushback that he gets now that the mill has burned. The committee asks him how he will make payroll with this setback and though RA seems determined to make things work the parole board doesn’t seem convinced. As he awaits their decision about his program RA knows that he will have to let go of several employees to keep the lights on. Later he tells his employees that he will have to let a good chunk of them go until the program is out of the review. It’s a gutting experience for him.
Charley is also having a rough time. She’s meeting with the farmers at Vi’s to talk about the status of the mill. With mouths to feed and harvest season to get through nearly all of the farmers immediately go AWOL. Though Proctor promises to talk with them on Charley’s behalf it all seems like a lost cause.
At Vi’s house Hollywood (Omar J. Dorsey) comes home. YESSS we stan a real solid man. Vi looks besotted to see her hubby. It’s like an entire weight has lifted off of her shoulders. Wood begins to step into superhero mode but then Vi informs him that she’s got this. She’s going to cook up a family dinner so that everyone can have a moment of peace.
At family dinner, Deesha has an invite, and Charley is talking about the next legal steps. Though everyone else seems exhausted by the events of the last 24 hours, Charley’s wheels are spinning. She’s determined to prove a criminal conspiracy to commit arson. Watching her niece spiral into a panic attack Vi urges Charley to take a breather, which only seems to defeat her.
While her family is at dinner, Nova is at home alone. Instead of holding it in she reaches out to Calvin (Greg Vaughan) and they have a very vulnerable conversation that ends with Nova weeping and confessing to Calvin that she thinks she’ s lost her family for good. After all, at the mill, Charley and Ralph Angel looked at her like she was their enemy.
Later that evening Aunt Vi says her prayers. She thanks the Lord for her family and she asks him to help soften her toward Nova in time. She also prays that God reveals Nova to herself. Perhaps all is not lost.
The next day Calvin comes to St. Joesphine from Baton Rouge to see about Nova. She’s delighted that hs’s made the journey. However, amid their reunion, Micah knocks on Nova’s door. He’s there to welcome her home properly and to return her house keys. However, Micah is not too pleased to see Calvin, and he makes no move to hide it. He begins to question Nova about her boo’s cop past, asking questions that Nova herself never thought to ask. Or was too afraid to.
At her house, Charley is trying to relax, but it’s not in her nature. Instead, she heads to the mill, or what’s left of it too access the damage and try to dig for clues. The state of her business nearly breaks her and she falls to her knees weeping only to be found later by Sam Landry of all people. Sam reminds Charley that he warned her about all of this. He also informs her that he had nothing to do with it.
Though RA’s mind seems to be elsewhere, he and Deesha are having a date night–he’s cooked. With all of the free legal advice she’s given him she deserves it. Deesh tells RA that he’s only here for now but to keep looking forward. She tells him to let fear be his driving force. A tearful RA clings onto her and her words. Later they have epic sex. Don’t worry, Blue (Ethan Hutchison) is at Aunt Vi’s for the night.
As he’s cuddled up in bed with Deeshsa a tearful Darla calls Ralph Angel to check on him, again. They have a heart to heart, and Darla seems thrilled to have a human connection. What happened to Leo?! This is interesting.
On their own little date night, Keke and Micah are all lips and hands in Michas’s car. They confess their love for one another though they still haven’t analyzed their rocky relationship. They discuss prom, and Keke informs her beau that she’s ready to begin talking about taking their relationship to the next level. Micah seems slightly overwhelmed. They think they’re grown, grown.
On her couch, Charley has just poured herself a massive glass of wine. She gets a knock on the door and it’s Romero. Though she’s delighted to see him, he’s not thrilled to see her. He angrily asks her about the migrant workers who died on her farm during the hurricane. Charley, worn down and defeated admits it all. Romera asks her if this is who she really is and she replies, “I guess it is.”
In New Orleans, Calvin and Nova have finished dinner. Nova is still spiraling about the questions Micah asked her about Calvin’s time as a cop. Though he’s never used excessive force, Calvin admits to standing by cowardly watching his fellow officers attack brown and Black people. Nova seems unable to stomach this info, but in some ways, I think she always knew this was Calvin’s truth.
Queen Sugar airs Wednesdays at 9 PM ET on OWN.
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