The season so far is wrought by the impact of Nova’s (Rutina Wesley) book that the family didn’t see coming.
The episode starts with Micah (Nicholas L. Ashe) returning from vacation with Nova’s book in hand, in which his mother Charley (Dawn-Lyen Gardner) is questioned about why she paid her ex-husband’s mistress millions to keep quiet and working for the sugarcane company ran by descendants of the owners of the Bordelon family’s ancestors. Tough questions indeed.
In the next scene, Nova is asking her agent what to wear for an interview with an audience of psychologists when she gets word of The New York Times review for book that’s called “a love letter” on race, culture, and identity. The critics love the book putting a microscope on the Bordelons.
Nova is soon sitting on a talk show similar to OWN’s Iyanla, Fix My Life with a family asking for guidance on how to mend a sisterly relationship. They want advice on how Nova and Charley became closer. Of course, that relationship is strained over the contents in the book yet the general public doesn’t know it yet…
Meanwhile, Charley is arguing over her shareholder voting status at the company. Again, the company Nova criticized her for being a part of because of their family’s slavery history. And Charley is given the how-you-should-be-grateful-to-be-in-the-room-since-you’re-a-black-woman speech by her colleague about her dividends.
Violet’s shadow-lurking surprise guest, who gave her such a fright that she fainted in her restaurant, appears to be her abusive ex-husband named Jimmy (David Alan Grier). Elsewhere, Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe) tells Darla (Bianca Lawson) that the revelation of him not being Blue’s (Ethan Hutchison) biological father is in Nova’s book. “I didn’t read much after that part. I couldn’t,” he tells her as Darla gets teary about the thought of little Blue discovering the truth.
Jimmy comes back to Violet’s house later and demands to talk to her. He says he wants them to get on the right track, and Violet is hypnotized (in a bad way) by the sight of him. She shrinks, then speaks up. “You’re the last person who can talk about dignity, Jimmy Dale,” she yells. “Get out of my house!”
Nova appears and asks Jimmy why he’s there. Jimmy says it’s nice to see Nova again, which has Violet questioning if they had spoken recently.
“Whatever you did to bring this to my doorstep, it cannot be explained,” Violet tells Nova. Then Nova shoves Jimmy away from Violet until the women are pushing him out the door. But luckily Hollywood, Violet’s new husband, approaches from the driveway and repeatedly punches Jimmy on the lawn.
Nova says she had visited Jimmy for her book to get his point-of-view on his marriage to Violet. “My intention wasn’t to hurt anyone” is her pathetic excuse.
Violet tells Nova that her late parents would be ashamed and told her to leave her home. “I don’t want to look at you. I don’t want to talk to you. Not right now, not tomorrow, what I’m feeling in 10 years can’t put enough distance between us… This is the last time I let you in this house, Nova Bordelon.”
Nova leaves the house. But the greed to craft that Ta-Nehisi Coates-like memoir and using her family as a prop to fetch the fame and status as a culturally woke critic is so overpowering in this episode. Nova brought back someone who obviously was abusive to her beloved aunt. Maybe she didn’t think Jimmy would show up at Violet’s door, but the traumatizing fear a woman may have over an abusive partner returning from the grave she mentally placed him in was shown brilliantly in those scenes.
Another matter was how Blue, who’s about 7 years old, will learn maybe before he should about his true paternity that could send him into a tailspin, questioning the only family he’s ever known. While on the other hand, Micah is a teenager, so him finding out about his mother’s actions against his father’s indiscretions sure would leave a bad taste in his mouth but he’s mature enough to understand the product of the NBA world his family had been in for so long.
This season is wonderfully showing how one’s memoir could ignite a fire with the power to destroy a family. When a memoir is written, do we later see the aftermath from others who are in the story? Is there a sufficient post-memoir describing the interactions between friends and family during the memoir’s release? It’s an interesting concept that writers may not take into consideration because they own their stories, but others may feel violated by that ownership.