by Angelica Jade Bastién | via Vulture
The second season of Queen Sugar sees the series digging deeper into what made its debut such a blistering work of art — trenchantly exploring of the thorny politics, kinship, and excellence of what it means to be black in America today — while also being one of the most expertly framed and breathtakingly shot series on TV. There are certain moments, like when Nova flirts with a new love interest toward the end of “What Do I Care For Morning,” that are so gorgeous they deserve to be printed and framed. But balancing the various constraints of this series needs a steady hand. After all, Queen Sugar isn’t only about politics. At its core, the show is about the wondrous and prickly nature of family itself.
At first glance, “What Do I Care For Morning” seems a bit scattershot as if the various constraints of the series force it into too many directions. Each of the Bordelon siblings are wrestling with personal dramas and interpersonal conflicts: Nova finds herself at a symposium in Atlanta discussing mass incarceration, Charley continues to fight with Davis over custody of Micah, Ralph Angel tries to manage the farm as new threats emerge, all while Charley undermines his ability to make the hard decisions. But upon closer examination, these narratives weave a tale about the desire to heal in the face of how black bodies are considered disposable by society. It’s an incisive portrait of the ways this pain reverberates through families.
This theme crystallized for me watching Nova at the Atlanta symposium. Although I find Nova a fascinating character, actress Rutina Wesley has the unfortunate task of handling a lot of heady, political dialogue that lacks the subtlety Queen Sugar cultivates elsewhere. The dialogue works here because it isn’t just a vehicle to get a point across about the politics and racism that shapes black lives. (Even though I agree with Nova’s politics, you’ve got to admit her dialogue veers toward the heavy-handed.) Part of this is thanks to her newly introduced, soon-to-be love interest, Dr. Robert Dubois (Alimi Ballard), an epidemiologist who is on the panel. The two may share an end goal, but their approaches are vastly different. Robert looks at the bigger picture and bristles when Nova condemns mass incarceration as a form of “genocide.” She believes he’s simplifying certain issues and perhaps putting the weight on black people to rise above when it isn’t that simple.
“Who does society say is disposable?” Nova asks, unafraid to attack Robert’s points head-on. Watching their rapport, it doesn’t come across as combative but lively. It’s like political talk as foreplay. This dynamic only becomes more apparent as Robert trips over his words in obvious awe of Nova and calls her work “beautiful.” The next day, they share a few more moments together, conversing at a coffee shop and along a long stroll. Nova leaves Atlanta obviously smitten with Robert in ways she hasn’t been with any of her paramours since Calvin. That undoubtedly means we’ll see him again.
Queen Sugar is a swooningly romantic series. Its intimacy is what sets it apart from other shows, so it shouldn’t surprise that Nova isn’t the only Bordelon to find luck in the romance department this week. Violet and Hollywood are officially back together; the episode even opens on them post-coital in a hotel. They indulge each other with long dips in hot tubs, wine coolers, good food, and a lot of sex. It’s an obvious ploy to stave off the reality that Hollywood will have to return to the rig. Unfortunately, that moment comes sooner than they hoped when Hollywood gets a call notifying him he only has 48 hours before he needs to go back to work. So, he makes a startling suggestion to Violet: He’ll temporarily leave his job in order to return to St. Josephine with her. It’s a stunning reversal, given it’s usually women who must give up something crucial to let love flourish in pop culture. It’s a heartening gesture that cements the dedication between these two, even though Violet seems apprehensive about such a dramatic shift.
To read the rest of the recap, “What Do I Care for Morning,” click HERE!!!