Truth And Betrayal Have The Same Face In The Season 4 Premiere of ‘Queen Sugar’

June 12th 2019

In the Season four premiere of Ava DuVernay's critically acclaimed, family drama Queen Sugar, under the ruse of revealing her truths—Nova Bordelon (Rutina Wesley) betrays her loved ones, shattering the safe, familial space that she’s been building with her brother Ralph-Angel (Kofi Siriboe), half-sister Charley (Dawn-Lyen Gardner) and Aunt Vi (Tina Lifford) for the past several years, in the wake of her father’s sudden death.

Titled, "Pleasure Is Black," the premiere shows the Bordelons all in very different spaces than we've seen them previously. No longer weighed down by the pain of loss, struggle, or suffering, they are a thriving family with a sugar cane farm and mill, on the cusp of harvest season. Charley in particular, who has carried the weight of the world on her shoulders since season one seems lighter. Back at the helm of the Queen Sugar Mill, Charley is glowing from her summer romance with Romero (Walter Perez). Dewy and carefree, Romero and Charley have returned to St. Josephine from summer vacation, and they are teetering on the cusp of a full-blown love affair.

Photo by Skip Bolen © 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. / Courtesy of OWN.

Photo by Skip Bolen © 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. / Courtesy of OWN.

Aunt Violet and Hollywood (Omar J. Dorsey) have also returned home from their Thailand honeymoon. With an expanded palette and a slew of ideas running through her head, Vi is eager to open Vi’s Prized Pies & Diner. Her new business is a culmination of everything she’s worked so tirelessly for her entire life. Like his middle sister and aunt, Ralph Angel is also in a space of hope and anticipation, celebrating the end of his lengthy parole and the return of his freedom. RA and Darla (Bianca Lawson) have also found their rhythm when it comes to co-parenting their son, Blue (Ethan Hutchison).

Unfortunately, Nova brings a reckoning to them all. Having stayed quiet about the imminent release of her memoir, Blessing & Blood and the contents of it—Nova looks increasingly sick to her stomach as the book release date approaches, and her press tour begins. Though she sees her memoir as triumphant, she knows that her family won’t feel the same. Instead of offering her siblings and her aunt the opportunity to read her words prior to releasing the manuscript, Nova cowers, allowing the people she claims to love most in the world to be taken by surprise and thrust into a humiliating firestorm. For Charley, Ralph Angel, and Aunt Vi—Nova’s truth looks a lot like betrayal.

[caption id="attachment_314516" align="alignnone" width="1200"]Hollywood overhears a conversation about Nova’s book, and Nova’s evasive response sparks Hollywood’s suspicion. Photo by Skip Bolen © 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. / Courtesy of OWN Hollywood overhears a conversation about Nova’s book, and Nova’s evasive response sparks Hollywood’s suspicion.
Photo by Skip Bolen © 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. / Courtesy of OWN[/caption]

Everyone has a right to tell their story and set themselves free. However, as we learn in "Pleasure Is Black," there is a line, and it must be heeded. The details surrounding the demise of Charley's marriage, Blue's paternity and Aunt Vi's past, among other things, weren't Nova's truths to tell. Instead, it felt a lot more like exposure and profiting off of the pain and blood of kin. Seeing her reluctance even to discuss her book with her family, it's Hollywood who shames Nova into finally sharing Blessing & Blood. Though she does so by dropping off copies like a thief in the night.

After a beautiful summer of peace, pleasure, and contentment, Nova opens season four of Queen Sugar by dragging all of her family's pain and darkness to their front porch. Though she tries to absolve herself of her sins under the covering of her late father, Ernest, as the old saying goes, she's going to have to pay for her candor. You pay on the front end or the back, but either way, you're gonna pay.

Queen Sugar airs Wednesdays at 9PM 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

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Photo by Skip Bolen © 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. / Courtesy of OWN.

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