‘Queen Sugar’ TV Review: Skin Transparent

The fallout from Nova’s (Rutina Wesley) memoir is still stirring up drama, but in this episode we get more insight on another family secret unbeknownst to most family members.

The episode starts with Nova’s nephew and her sister Charley’s (Dawn-­Lyen Gardner) son Micah (Nicholas L. Ashe) going to stay with Nova with plans to attend her upcoming book-signing. Sitting with his mother, Micah wonders how long the silent treatment will stay enforced among the Bordelons.

The family matriarch and aunt Violet (Tina Lifford) can’t sleep, claiming recipes are running through her head, but Hollywood pushes for her to talk about the situation with Jimmy Dale (guest star David Alan Grier), her abusive ex-husband who reappeared after communicating with Nova on her book.

Nova creeps around Violet’s restaurant since she had been banned from being around her aunt, but is turned away by an employee. Nova then calls her brother Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe), who doesn’t pick up. News comes about her getting a six-week book tour due to her glowing The New York Times review. That news, of course, moves her attention away from the family and back on her success.

Charley tries to team up with the other female shareholder to go against the Landrys, the sugar cane empire family that had once owned her ancestors. But the shareholder tells Charley to back off because the Landrys are too powerful. So Charley sashays into a country club to approach a Landry about a highway proposal that would gut Bordelon land. The woman tells Charley that she had read Nova’s book with Charley clapping back on the book with a comparison to “sentimental dribble.”

While Charley recovers from her business-heavy moves, she gets home only to meet her ex-husband’s daughter from an extramarital affair. These affairs are described in Nova’s book with Charley paying off another mistress, so that drama haunts her with the publicity from the book and now a breathing part of evidence from an affair is right in her home.

At the book-signing for Blessing and Blood, Nova reads from a recently added chapter called “Buried Memories” about her father being beaten by three white men at a fishing trip to protect his daughter. She read she would wander the sugarcane fields at night, and on one night, she saw her father bury something into the ground. This is an addition to the book. Her ex-girlfriend comes up to her during the book-signing session and asks about Nova’s family not being there, visible with the empty chairs in the front. She gives Nova a kiss on the lips.

Darla (Bianca Lawson), Ralph Angel’s ex-fiancee and mother of their son Blue (Ethan Hutchison), receives Nova’s book and reads the details of her drug-fueled prostituting nights with baby Blue sitting in the corner. In a flash, she bursts into Nova’s door describing her shock that her past life is in those pages. Nova tries to clean it up; Darla’s name and identifying marks have been changed. This doesn’t sit well with Darla, who keeps telling Nova that she didn’t think of Blue’s feelings since he will eventually read about his mother’s past life.

Charley tells Violet and Ralph Angel at the restaurant that Micah asked about the added chapter in Nova’s book. Violet said she doesn’t know what her brother did that night Nova recalled when she was younger, but he had been worried about Nova getting sexually assaulted by those three white men until that night. Vehemently, Violet defends her brother about him and everyone else having the right to keep a secret between themselves and God.

Darla is hysterically crying on her porch about having to tell Blue the truth while Violet is doing the same in her bathroom with Hollywood hearing the muffled cries as the bathwater runs. As the family falls apart, Nova carries her heavy suitcases out the door for her book tour.

The depth of the secrets are felt in this episode. And Nova switches from concern about the book’s aftermath on her family to excitement when she receives good news from her literary agent and publisher. She still looks bad for unveiling her family’s secrets for money and success, yet she’s torn on what to do about it since her family blocks her apologies. More secrets will be revealed, or at least, there will be more coming out of the secrets we know now.

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