by Diamond Sharp | via Vulture
“They lie, cheat, and bleed black people dry. They take everything and I’ll be damned if I sit by while they do it again,” Charley says of the Landrys in “The Tree and Stone Were One.” The season’s ninth episode lays bare the impending battles facing each Bordelon.
The Landry’s plan to use eminent domain to reclaim all of the farmland needed to build the private prison. It should be noted that eminent-domain laws have been used to bulldoze through black neighborhoods in the name of progress throughout the last century. It’s no mistake that the Landrys’ payoff is intrinsically tied to the destruction of black lives and livelihoods. It’s a familiar tale that’s steeped in the very soil the Bordelons and Landrys are fighting over.
I’ve always admired that throughout Queen Sugar, the land operates as more than just a setting or a plot point — it is like an inanimate character. The land is everything: It is freedom, it is refuge, it is a provider. What happens if it is taken away? I haven’t spoken specifically about this season’s cinematography, but Queen Sugar’s team of directors always pay close attention to the details of the land and this episode is no different.
The Boudreauxs extend an invitation to Charley for dinner and a discussion about other options for the land. At the Boudreaux’s home, Jacob’s mother is clearly the grand dame of the family. She holds court as she tells Charley that she will do everything in her power to prevent her brother Sam from building a prison for thugs and criminals on their family’s land. Her casual racism prompts Charley to tell her that she sounds just like her brother. “What difference does it make what I sound like as long as we both want the same thing,” Mrs. Boudreaux says, curtly and knowingly.
If the Boudreauxs and Charley fail to work together, the Bordelon’s only recourse will be the courts, and eventually, Sam Landry will be victorious with his plan to take the land and build the prison. Working together allows both sides to prevent the prison from even being approved by the local board — effectively killing the plan forever. “I understand that anyone willing to betray their own flesh and blood is someone I need to be wary of,” Charley tells Jacob and his mother. It seems that for this side of the Landry clan, blood is in fact not thicker than water — nor is blood more important than preserving the family’s honor. What the Boudreauxs want is for Charley to acquire the company shares of Colton Landry, Sam’s son. Charley leaves the Boudreaux family home with a dossier on presumably everything she needs to know about Colton and how to procure the company shares needed to stop the building of the prison. The old adage that the enemy of your enemy is your friend seems to apply here, but nothing with the Landry family is ever as it seems.
At the diner, Darla and Blue continue their conversation about custody, and this time, Darla has paperwork and a request for 70 percent custody. Ralph Angel is unwilling to concede that much time to Darla and is even more uninterested in attending the arbitration she requests: He vows to fight her every step of the way. What will happen if Darla and Ralph Angel continue this fight in court and the issue of Blue’s paternity comes up?
Click HERE to read the rest of the recap, “The Tree and Stone Were One.”