by Nichole Perkins | via Vulture
If the first episode of Queen Sugar left you wondering whether Nova was a force to be reckoned with, “Evergreen” will remove any lingering doubt.
Although this episode focuses on Charley being a fish out of water, we also get a clearer picture of Nova’s ethics, both as a journalist and as a southern woman.
At Ernest’s house, Charley finds several letters from a man named Remy Newell (Dondre Whitfield). He and Ernest were close, so Charley wants to reach out to him to learn how her father’s farm wound up in such trouble. Before she leaves, a group of white men arrive and begin inspecting the land uninvited. The very sketchy Samuel Landry (David Jensen) approaches, calling her “Ernest’s California Girl,” to talk about potentially selling the farm. When Charley finally meets with Remy and recovers from the shock of finding him both young and good-looking, she tries to ask him about Landry, but he gently shuts her down. He doesn’t want to talk about that man in public. Landry looks shadier and shadier by the moment.
When it comes to funeral planning, however, Charley is a little out of her depth. When the siblings go to the funeral home to make arrangements, Nova negotiates a more economical package, which Charley insists on paying for. The three argue about how to cover the costs. Even though Ralph Angel doesn’t have any money, he resents them for acting like he can’t contribute. They settle on a compromise: Charley will pay half, and they’ll pick a white casket for Ernest because Nova wants to “let light send him back to the light.” It’s the first thing they all agree on instantly.
When Nova moves to sew a mysterious pouch in the lining of the casket, the funeral home director steps in, insisting it’s a floor model and his is a Christian establishment. Both sisters shoot him a death glare. Ralph Angel walks forward, the muscle of the crew, and the funeral director backs down.
The Bordelon siblings are still learning how to come together as a family, but they don’t hesitate to unite when an outsider stands in their way. We see this when Nova’s editor pushes her to abandon an exposé about environmental racism and lead poisoning so she can write about Davis West’s alleged rape scandal. Nova refuses to be a source. She will not break her family’s trust to score eyes for the local paper. This type of unity will serve them well, especially as people like Landry try to sink their claws into Bordelon land.
Charley and Nova pick out fresh seafood for the repast, and Nova is surprised that her sister can’t remember how to pick the best fish. Back at Violet’s, a group of servers arrive; Charley hired them to pass out food, and it’s all too much for Nova to handle. She’s tired of Charley throwing money around to soothe grief. Beyond the accents, the slang, and the show’s geographical location, Nova’s rant encapsulates a significant part of black southern life:
“We don’t honor our father by serving friends and family outside at fancy tables. We don’t honor our father by having strangers serve those grieving. We serve comfort food for those who need comfort and we do it with our own hands.”
In other words, grief is personal and intimate. Inviting strangers to witness the homegoing of someone they never knew in life is almost insulting. Charley thinks she’s being helpful by removing the burden of service from Ernest’s loved ones, but she’s also taking away their chance to honor his life, an opportunity for the bereaved to be of service.
To read the rest of the recap, “Evergreen,” please click HERE!!!