How That Devastating ‘Queen Sugar’ Break-Up Actually Strengthened An Untraditional Family
Season 2 of OWN's family drama Queen Sugar ended on Nov. 15. And what's left in its wake are plenty of questions about what's going to happen with Charley and the mill, Aunt Violet's engagement to Hollywood, and most importantly: what's next for Ralph Angel and Blue? Although his relationship with Darla is seemingly over, Ralph Angel steps up in the season finale in a way fans have never seen before.
Ralph Angel has always been sort of black sheep in the Bordelon family. He's the one who seems to do everything wrong. He's the one no one trusts or listens to. He's an ex-con desperately trying to rebuild his life while fighting against prejudice from both the community and his own siblings. In Season 1, his pleas to be seen, heard, and respected came across a little immature. He constantly failed to hold himself accountable for anything and his short fuse only contributed to his sisters Charley and Nova not taking him seriously.
But after learning that his late father left the family sugar cane farm to him at the end of Season 1, he spent Season 2 working hard to get ready for the annual harvest and to change his family's opinion of him, while also striving to be a good father to Blue and partner to his girlfriend-then-fiancée Darla. Ralph Angel's decision to propose to Darla marked what seemed like a new beginning for both the ex-con and former addict. Unfortunately, their bliss was quickly shattered with the arrival of Darla's estranged parents.
Darla was forced to confront her past and it was revealed that the son Ralph Angel cared for for the last seven years while Darla was away, might not be his biological child. And understandably Ralph Angel lost it. Almost instantly, all of the progress he made was thrown out the window. It isn’t a coincidence that Ralph Angel avoided Blue and chose not to talk to Darla for the next few episodes after that. Instead of talking he threw his soul into his work in order to soften the pain. But the tears that constantly streamed down his cheeks let viewers know that he was hurting deeply on the inside.
Few shows on television today portray characters with as many layers — both bad and good — as Queen Sugar does, especially when it comes to Black men. This is unfortunate, especially since a 2011 study conducted by The Opportunity Agenda found that negative mass media portrayals were strongly linked with lower life expectations among this demographic. This is what makes Ralph Angel's character transformation this season worthy of celebration.
When talking to Ralph Angel about the future of the mill in the finale, Charley makes it known that she fired Darla immediately after hearing about Blue's paternity situation. And it's in that moment viewers see Ralph Angel's attitude towards Darla shift. He doesn't say anything, but the look in his eyes hints at a change — a change that becomes clear when he decides to finally break his silence and goes to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting in search of Darla. After her sponsor mentions that Darla never showed up to the meeting and that she was worried about her, Ralph Angel's nurturing side shows up. He searches high and low for Darla, afraid that she's had a relapse. Fortunately, he finds her swimming safely in a pool.
The two talk about Darla's lies. Ralph Angel respectfully articulates how hurt he is. And after a devastating breakup — because fans were definitely rooting for them — Darla shares that she hopes Ralph Angel will continue to be there for Blue no matter what happens between the two of them. Ralph Angel sweetly responds: "Blue is the blood in my veins even if I'm not in his."
The finale ends with Ralph Angel picking up Blue and talking to him about the origin of his name, deciding that biology doesn’t matter in the face of his great love for the child. Aunt Violet once said to Nova, it is “like Blue made up for all the wrong Ralph Angel did in the past," and fans like me couldn't agree more. Blue has been the most pure thing about Ralph Angel and the child has finally helped shape him into the man his family always knew he could be, even if they all forgot sometimes.
Queen Sugar fans will have to wait until 2018 when Season 3 returns to find out just how his relationships with Blue and Darla play out. But after all the growth Ralph Angel had this season, I'm confident that everything will be alright.