By Nichole Perkins | via Vulture
Throughout the first season of Queen Sugar, I’ve given Charley a hard time. She’s a frustrating character because she seems to be the only one who hasn’t grown.
She keeps doing things her way without consulting anyone, while outright ignoring advice from people who can help. In “Give Us This Day,” Charley finally earns my grudging admiration, calling to mind what New Orleans bounce artist Big Freedia announced in Beyoncé’s “Formation.” She did not come to play, and neither did Charley.
But before we get to Charley, there’s no way I can avoid talking about the episode’s opening shower scene with Ralph Angel and Darla. Damon Young of Very Smart Brothas wrote a sharp piece about the revolutionary ways that Insecure portrays sex between young black adults. “Black people having sex — and having that sex run the gamut from mundane and matter-of-fact to explicit and explosive — has remained somewhat taboo in mainstream media,” Young writes. If Insecure covers the athletic thrusting of making the beast with two backs, Queen Sugar highlights the intimacy and sensuality of sex, especially when love is an essential part of a couple’s dynamic. Ralph Angel and Darla have quite a history, and we see it as she leans against him. Yes, they are naked in a shower together, but he’s got her back. She’s warm under the full spray of the shower, while he’s warmed by her. The camera’s soft focus gives us glances at the complementary curves of waists, shoulders, necks, and eyelashes. In that quiet space, we see the beautiful variances of black skin, and it’s breathtaking.
Okay, whew. Back to the drama. Remy accidentally tells Ralph Angel about the mill Charley hopes to purchase, and of course, Ralph Angel is upset. During the family farm meeting, he lets Charley have it, telling her that their father wasn’t interested in building an empire. He simply wanted to work the land and keep passing it down. Charley refuses to accept that. She wants to beat the Landrys and Boudreauxs at their own game, but Ralph Angel knows it’s not a game. He refuses to participate in the community farm meeting, where Charley and Remy hope to convince the farmers to invest. Charley reminds them that their ancestors took risks to get them to the present day. Why won’t they do the same? Her speechifying works and the farmers agree to the plan.
Charley then makes moves to get Davis to sign with the Stingers. While playing dutiful wife in front of Rovner, Davis misreads the signals. He wants a second chance, and if Charley doesn’t come see him, he won’t sign. Unfortunately, she was about to go over to Remy’s place. She tells Remy she’ll come by later, but he says no. He’s not stupid. He knows what Davis is up to. Devastated, Charley visits Davis but refuses to let him touch her. When he claims he’s going to sign with New York, Charley calls him the old man in the club: He thinks he’s cool for playing the field, but everyone’s laughing at him. Charley knows her husband. It shames him enough that he signs with the Stingers.
Charley isn’t finished, even though it looks like she and Remy are. She finds Davis’s teammate Felix at a strip club, where he’s getting a lap dance. She interrupts and demands he sign with the Stingers or else she’ll get other sex workers to come forward about the things he’s done. Melina may not be able to talk about what happened because of the settlement agreement, but other women can. Mimicking the moves of a stripper, Charley bends to put her face close to his. She threatens him against making anymore attacks against sex workers. When a person gets a lap dance, although the stripper may be standing, she’s not necessarily in control. She’s serving the needs of the person seated. In this case, however, Charley is in total control, flipping the power to ensure Felix knows he’s caught. In order to keep Charley quiet, he has to sign to the Stingers and send her $5 million. Meanwhile, Rovner sends Charley another $5 million because Davis signed his contract. She also asks that he send $1 million to a nonprofit called Sex Workers Outreach Project, donated in Melina’s name.
To read the rest of the recap, “Give Us This Day,” click HERE!!!