Queen of Sugar starts with the reading of Earnest Bordelon’s last will in testament. Three grown children sit around a table and hear their father has left them the Bordelon farm.
Charley, Nova, and Ralph Angel, three very different people react to the news in different ways. For Ralph sees this as the chance to breath energy into life, he’s been struggling since prison and the farm is a chance for him and Blue to start life afresh.
His sisters view the problem more pragmatically, free-spirited Nova never wanted to be a farmer, she left as soon as she could and prefers to occupy her time with more nobel pursuits. Charley’s mind is in L.A where her husband has been accused of sexual assault, the idea of selling the farm to Landry.
Landry lives on a former plantation that looks like something out of the 18th century and it’s heavily implied that’s where his values live as well. Landry presents them with an undercutting offer for the Bordelon farm. Charley, obviously distracted looks to be close to taking it before Ralph Angel cuts in. He knows the land, he knows what it’s worth and it’s potential. However Landry refutes his claims and gives the Bordelon siblings two days to make a decision.
Ralph Angel is unravelling as he can’t seem to land a job and needs a pay stub for his parol. Frustrated and at the end of it, the final straw comes when two men from the bank come to take away his father’s tractor. Feeling his birthright slip away from him, he points his gun at the men daring them to take away what his father spent his life working for.
The man from the bank gets out a gun as well, probably not the first time someone is ready to intimidate them to keep their possessions. But after seeing Ralph Angel be shit on again and again by a world that doesn’t want him to succeed, it’s only when Blue comes calling for his dad does he relent and let his sister take the gun. In that moment you’ve got to wonder, is this the first time the young child has seen his father do something he might regret.
In Charely’s world, Remy counsels her on the potential sale, warning her that Landry has a habit of undercutting black farmers in desperate situations. And Davis returns to the family house amid the rape allegations, he assures Charley that he didn’t rape the woman but rather that she was an escort he had consensual sex with once. In testament to the actresses talent you can see her world quietly crumble as she realises that he’s only admitting too it because he got caught.
Ralph Angel goes to the interview his parol officer told him about beaten down and broken. When the man interviewing him makes a snide comment that he’s probably ‘innocent just like the rest’ a tired Ralph admits he did it but he isn’t about that life anymore. Life finally cuts him a break and the manager gives him a job starting immediately.
There’s an obvious change in Ralph Angel as we see him at the end of his shift, this is a man who wants to work and who can work as he stubs his time card, it’s practically a changed man.
At the end the Bordelon sisters have a plan, realising what this means to their brother and the potential behind what their father built Blue and Ralph Angel will live in the house and the three of them will give it a year to create something.
A flicker of hope, something tangible to look forward too.