There are spoilers in this piece. Consider yourself warned.
Last year I binge-watched the television show This Is Us because I wanted to be in my feelings. I got tired of looking at my Facebook feed and seeing everybody and their mama having a good cry together and me not having any idea what they were talking about. Granted, I didn’t think that I was going to be as emotional as I got, but overall, I really enjoyed the show’s first season and enjoyed feeling all of the things.
So, of course, when the second season premiered, I was ready to give up all of the tears, even going so far as to make sure that I had a fully stocked home full of tissue. I was ready. Except, so far, This Is Us has been light on the emo moments. To date, I have only come close to shedding tears once, and that was the episode where they focused on Jack getting out of his drinking problem and we see what killed him, but not how. Other than that, my thug has been intact.
Well, it seems that Queen Sugar was like, “You want feelings? We got feelings, b.” This whole damn season has been so heavy and full of feelings. And feelings for different reasons to boot.
For instance (and there are really several instances this season), on the “Fruit of the Flower” episode, we get treated to Ralph Angel (who is trying to do better at life) sitting in a class being taught by Remy Newell, where, to Ralph Angel, Remy belittled him in front of all these folks he didn’t know. Now, we all know that Remy was treating Ra like a student and asking him to dig into his answers, but to Ra it felt personal.
Well, later on in the episode, Remy pulls Ra aside at the High Yellow and explains to him that, basically, he needs to put down some of his baggage (Ralph Angel has a lot of baggage), but if he can’t, then Remy would help him carry it.
Hold my mule. I need to go shed a tear right now. In a world where so many people think that black men don’t really talk about feelings or acknowledge that we have them, that was a very real scene that plays out among groups of men who call each other brothers, even if not by blood, all the time. When we see one of our brothers struggling, many of us try to help him pick up the slack because we know we can all go further together than apart.
They embraced and I was like, “Dammit, I need to go find a struggle so I can make sure my brothers got my back!” I know they do. But watching a black man who has gone through so much, and who has so many walls up, have somebody offer to help break them down for him, well, that was touching. Moving. Hold my mule again.
Don’t even get me started on the midseason finale, the “Freedom’s Plow” episode, where Micah tells his father, Davis, what happened to him with the police officer. Water. Works. Even watching Davis have to sit there and listen and be helpless. As a father, seeing your kids in any kind of pain is one of the most difficult things to deal with. Even your babies being sick and you can’t take the sickness can frustrate you. I cannot imagine what it would feel like to listen to my son tell me how a police officer put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger to put me in my place. I pray that I never have to.
Or also in the “Fruit of the Flower” episode, where we learn the true backstory of Earnest Bordelon and the women in his life. I shed tears right along with Nova and Charley.
In the last episode (“Heritage”), though, Ava an’ ’nem REALLY came for me. For starters, Nova and Calvin see each other and have to deal with the fact that they’re not over each other. But Nova also realizes that while she may love this man, this white police officer man, she cannot be her true self with him. She can’t fight the social justice battles she fights and want what she wants and come home to a police officer. It doesn’t work. It was heartbreaking watching the logical side of love have to rear its head. The scene and dialogue from Nova was performed both beautifully and sadly at the same time. It was what ACTUAL closure looks like: realization of the end and having to accept it. I sniffled.
But then. But then.
I have to admit I’ve taken a few things on Queen Sugar for granted. There is SO much drama in so many arenas involving every character that I just figured MOST of the points of tension had already been exposed even if not fully explored. Ralph Angel and Darla’s relationship has evolved, and they’re planning on getting married. Darla’s parents, as far as we know, have disowned her. She calls them to come meet both Ralph Angel and Blue and they oblige. They show up and meet their grandson, Blue, for the first time and meet Ralph Angel.
Turns out Darla hasn’t been very forthcoming. She’s been implying that her parents quit her, when the truth is, her parents have been put through the wringer behind her drug use. We find out that Vi and her mother have a “grandmotherly” relationship, and Darla’s mother puts the brakes to her about the fact that what Darla feels (abandoned) is nothing more than bullshit. They had to do what was best for them because she was a junkie acting like a junkie with and toward them. They didn’t abandon her; she made life hell for them until they couldn’t take it any more. And they also know something that she needs to come clean about.
It turns out that it’s possible that Blue MIGHT NOT BE RALPH ANGEL’S SON. Shit. Damn. Motherfucker. This is what I mean about taking things for granted. Sure, Blue is the same color as Darla (very, very fair-skinned) and Ralph Angel is sun-kissed-level dark, but that happens in black families. I personally know a family where the husband is like Ralph Angel and the wife is like Darla and one of their kids is super dark and one is super light-skinned. Again, it happens in black families.
So for two whole damn seasons and through all of Ralph Angel and Darla’s shit, I’ve been minding my business watching Ralph Angel be as good a father to Blue as he could be, watching Darla get over her demons and watching their family unit take more of a stable shape, JUST FOR AVA TO BE LIKE, NAH BISH ... WE GON’ BRING THE PAIN.
Listen and listen good: When Darla says she has to tell him something, I promise you my naive ass was STILL like, “Darla been cheating, that trollop!” It never even dawned on me that she was about to drop the hammer on Ra. As she started confessing, my jaw dropped to the ground and it sat there for the entirety of the scene.
I was crushed. I was crushed for Ralph Angel. I can’t IMAGINE THE EMOTIONS coursing through his soul at that moment. His son, his pride and joy, might not be his? Again, this happens. But shit, man!!! I wasn’t prepared. I’d taken that for granted because Lord, Ava, how you gonna possibly take the one thing near and dear to Ralph Angel that he’s willing to live for? I’m still crushed. Ralph Angel’s face said a million words and no words at the same time.
Again, I wasn’t prepared. And now I’m over here sitting in a glass case of emotions about fictional characters again. I said a prayer for Ralph Angel and Darla the other day because as mad as I was, I can’t imagine what it feels for her, either, to sit with that type of secret for that long in front of a man who wants to put it all on the line for you and yours forever. He is dedicated to her, and while he’s growing in the process, he’s committed. They gon’ need ALL THE COUNSELING. I want them to win, but MAN, CUT ME SOME SLACK HERE!
So thank you, Queen Sugar, Ava and ’nem, for making sure that I feel human. You wanted my emotions, you got them. Good job.