Tonight’s “Heritage,” written by Monica Macer and Davita Scarlett and directed by Liesl Tommy, may go down as one of the most heartbreaking episodes of Queen Sugar. After much speculation over Aunt Vi’s (Tina Lifford) condition—which she believed to be fibromyalgia—she receives a devastating diagnosis: lupus. Quietly enduring this news, she calls Darla (Bianca Lawson) to tell her that she cannot host her parents’ dinner party due to a large pie order, both of them silently disappointed. With three episodes left, it’s only so much longer she can hide this from everyone, especially Hollywood (Omar J. Dorsey), who has continuously voiced his concern.
The Bordelons have come to terms with their pasts, starting with Nova (Rutina Wesley), fresh off her break-up with Dr. Robert DuBois (Alimi Ballard). While having drinks with her friend Sierra (Deja Dee) and discussing him molding her into someone she’s not, she notices Calvin (Greg Vaughan), the white cop she was having an affair with in Season One. The intensity of their chemistry is strong, so strong Sierra tries to excuse herself. Since the season premiere, we’ve seen Nova’s ill attempts to move on, and she and Calvin later talk about their separation. Many Queen Sugar fans online believe that Calvin is truly the love of her life and her reunion with him is inevitable. As they kiss and say their I love yous, he pours his heart out to her, declaring her his choice, one far removed from a life of living to please others. In an unpredictable (yet so Nova) moment, she says to him, “For you, I’m freedom. For me, you’re a person.”
In an instant, she finds closure, acknowledging that they’re not meant to be despite their love for each other. The complications between them outweigh that.
“I can’t be all of myself when I’m with you. I can’t fight for my people every day and come home and have to explain it. I can’t cry over a brother slain by cops in the streets, and no one ever pays… and then come home to a cop.” —Nova
Just like that, an old chapter is closed.
The core of the episode revolves around Darla, bringing clarity to her past in her post-addiction evolution, though there are still parts of her that are a mystery. It also features her reunion with her estranged parents, Quincy (Roger Guenveur Smith) and Darlene Mitchell (Michael Michele), after six years of silence (and pain) due to her drug use. When they arrive at Ralph Angel’s (Kofi Siriboe) home for dinner, the energy is incredibly heavy and emotional. Didn’t Quincy fighting back tears when Blue (Ethan Hutchinson) hugged him pull at your heartstrings?
The disappointment in Darla’s past actions is evident in Quincy’s praise of Nova and Charley (Dawn-Lyen Gardner) for their respected careers, measuring them against his daughter. It’s as if the pride he wishes he could have for her had she finished college and made a life for herself is showered upon the two of them. Despite Charley praising Darla for her “invaluable” assistance to her at the sugar mill, Quincy still sees her shortcomings.
Quincy: “Yes, I’m sure that Darla can learn a lot from the both of you.”
Ralph Angel: “Well, Darla can teach a lot, too. She damn near rebuilt her whole life from the ground up.”
Darla has a heart-to-heart with Darlene about her attempts for communication going unanswered, and the distance her parents placed for the sake of their peace of mind. Darla is not the victim. Not only is she held accountable for the hurt she caused her family for years, but for not being fully honest with herself (and others) about the whole story. “Just because you say the words doesn’t make it true,” Darlene says. “I’m not trying to scold you, but don’t act as if we’ve shunned you.”
Seeing her mother’s pain for herself, she makes amends, assuring her she is clean. For once, Darla is validated with her mother’s love and forgiveness.
When she extends that same olive branch to her father, he accepts and sees the good in her, yet says that the foundation of a strong marriage is truth and honesty. He then urges her to make amends with Ralph Angel, saying he’ll understand if she tells the truth.
The energy becomes so heavy that it almost made me sick with anxiety to watch her shatter him. (The way he smiles at her as she watches him: overwhelming). Cushioning the blows with “I love you” and “please don’t hate me,” Darla describes a drug escapade in Washington, D.C. six years prior, which involved her sleeping with another man. The instant she utters “Blue,” it’s as if she’s shot him in the heart: “He might not be yours. Ralph Angel, I’m sorry.”
From the glimpse of Hollywood carrying an intoxicated Ralph Angel from the trailer, it’s safe to assume the revelation devastates him. Although Darla has come so far, you can only imagine where she’ll stand with the family once they learn the truth. Most importantly, where will Ralph Angel stand with Blue?
Ashley G. Terrell is a freelance entertainment writer based in Michigan. Her work has appeared in Ebony Magazine, The Huffington Post, Black Girl Nerds, and more. She is currently working on her first novel and is the creator of the blog, The Carefree Black Girl Chronicles of ASHLEMONADE. You can follow her on Twitter.