Season 4 episode 3 of Queen Sugar, “Where My Body Stops or Begins,” chronicles the continued of the fallout over Nova’s (Rutina Wesley) forthcoming memoir, Blessing & Blood, which drags up all of her family’s secrets without permission. Her sister Charley (Dawn-Lyen Gardner) and brother Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe) were devastated by Nova sharing their lowest moments with the world in last week’s episode, and this week, it’s Aunt Violet’s (Tina Lifford) turn to feel destroyed and betrayed by Nova’s words. Without considering her aunt’s feelings, Nova has drudged up Vi’s past as a domestic violence survivor at the hands of Vi’s ex-husband, Jimmy Dale (David Alan Grier). Vi buried that past some 30 years ago–and that’s not Nova’s dug up for her aunt, but we’ll get to that later.
After spending the entire night reading Blessing & Blood cover to cover, despite Hollywood (Omar J. Dorsey) urging her not to, Vi is unsettled and exhausted. Not to mention, Nova hasn’t returned any of her phone calls. Though Aunt Vi heads to Vi’s Prized Pies & Diner, determined to press onward, her day is quickly cut short when she encounters the one person she wants to see least in the world, Jimmy Dale. He’s come to town for who knows what and Vi is so terrified, she faints in his arms.
In the West/Bordelon household, Micah (Nicholas L. Ashe) and Charley are at odds. Micah has immersed himself into his aunt’s book, and with the attitude that he’s brought home with him from Paris, he and Charley can’t seem to find any middle ground. All of Charley’s worst fears about her son, especially his turning to Nova for guidance instead of her, are coming to fruition.
Though her family is crumbling under the weight of her so-called “truth” Nova’s professional life is soaring. Her book has not yet hit the shelves, but she’s already received a glowing review from the New York Times, and she’s booked and busy with helping other families come together. Unfortunately, her success is at the expense and well-being of her own kin. While she may have seemed uneasy about her book’s release in last week’s episode, this week she’s basking in the praise.
In the middle of the harvest season, while dealing with a sick worker, Ralph Angel is still trying to grapple with Nova’s revelations about Blue (Ethan Hutchison) in her book. However, instead of lashing out (something he may have done in the past), Ralph Angel pours his heart out to the one person who understands what he’s going through, Mr. Prosper (Henry G. Sanders). Prosper reveals his own complicated blood ties with his father, reassuring Ralph Angel that blood isn’t the only thing that bonds us. Later, Ralph Angel finds comfort in the words of his new lady friend, the defense attorney who has read his criminal record but sees him as more than a previously incarcerated person. There’s potential here, and we like it.
Back in the safety of their home, a still shaken Vi tells Hollywood the truth about Jimmy Dale popping up at the diner. Immediately enraged, Wood goes into protective husband mode (you know he doesn’t play about Vi). The worst part about all of this is how the book and Jimmy Dale’s appearance have forced Vi to shrink into herself. What Nova’s done is truly unforgivable.
Meanwhile, Charley isn’t the only person that Micah is at odds with. At school, his girlfriend, KeKe (Tanyell Waivers) is paying him dust by ignoring him. Micah might think his mother only cares about money but the way KeKe sees it, Micah only cares about his anger. Not willing to deal with a hot-headed man, she tells him he needs to get his rage under control. Later, Micah discovers that his mother might not be the villain he’s painted her out to be. He’s been getting death threats since he began to protest about police brutality and injustice, and it was Charley who has protected him from it. She made sure that he never felt exposed. Perhaps this experience can be a new entry point for both mother and son. After all, Micah might look like a man but he’s still very much a boy.
Per usual, Charley is juggling 10,000 different things at once. While dealing with her son’s abrasiveness towards her, Nova’s book, and harvest season, it’s become more and more apparent that the Boudreaux and the Landrys are cooking up yet another scheme. Though she’s been warned to stay away from it, we know that Charley has never backed down from a fight. Thankfully, her relationship with Romero (Walter Perez) is going well for the moment, but trouble will stir up there soon enough. Romero knows about the farmers who died on Charley’s farm some years back though he doesn’t know Charley played a role in it. She tries to assuage her guilt by gifting him the old barracks behind Queen Sugar Mill to open his pop-up clinic to help migrants, but we all know that the information is bound to come out in the end.
In the midst of this, Ralph Angel turns Darla’s (Bianca Lawson) world into one of upheaval. He shares with her the things that Nova revealed in her book about Blue’s parentage. However, neither one of them knows that the very worst versions of themselves have been put on paper, permanently for all the world to gawk at. Darla and Ralph Angel have a tenuous truce when it comes to co-parenting so far, but Blessing & Blood could surely blow that all up.
The episode ends with a bang. Though Hollywood has warned Jimmy Dale to get out of town, abusers and sadistic people hardly ever know what’s good for them. Therefore, Jimmy Dale boldly shows up to Vi’s house, further traumatizing her by fake apologizing for his horrendous abuses and past behaviors. When Nova shows up in the midst of their confrontation, more revelations come to the surface. Nova went to see Jimmy Dale to get his side of the story of Vi’s abuse as research for her book. That’s what enticed Jimmy Dale to darken Vi’s doorstep once again. As the episode ends, Jimmy Dale and Hollywood come to blows, with Wood getting the best of the older man and Jimmy Dale showing his true colors.
But it’s really Nova who gets stuck out in the cold. Violet banishes her niece, one of the daughters she never had, from her home and life forever. But Vi’s still holding onto one more ominous secret that could impact them all.
Has Nova gone too far?
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