Sweet sugar daddy
His father’s gift helps Ralph Angel fight back against limiting ideas of who he is.
Queen Sugar Season 2 Tuesdays (from 29 August) Vuzu AMP (*103) 20:00
Unknown to Queen Sugar’s (2016- current) Bordelon sisters Nova (Rutina Wesley) and Charley (Dawn-Lyen Gardner), their younger brother Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe) holds the future of their family’s struggling 800acre sugar- cane farm in his hands, in the form of the revised will from his father Ernest (Glynn Turman) that he found in the season 1 finale in December 2016. It leaves Ralph Angel the sole inheritor of the land as season 2 starts on Tuesday 29 August. This wasn’t a father’s gesture to spite the Bordelon women, but a vital offer of support to his prodigal son.
LEGACY OF LOVE
Ralph Angel could twirl his moustache, laugh demonically and boot his sisters off the farm. But Queen Sugar is not that show and Ralph Angel never was that man, despite the fact that he once checked all the boxes on popular culture’s “bad black man” sheet: the prisoner, the small-time criminal, drug addict and the deadbeat dad. “The world has this vivid image of who Ralph Angel is and that transferred over to his family. A lot of his brief in season 1 was trying to prove to his family that he wasn’t his past,” says Kofi. “In season 2 I feel that the transformation is that it’s not about proving to anybody who he isn’t, but it’s for him coming to terms with who he is and actually identifying that. That search for identity becomes this slow transformation. I don’t think he’s aware of it.” The words of his father’s letter will be hugely significant as Ralph Angel strives to find his true self: “You, Ralph Angel, are more than you know. You and your sisters are the moon and the sky and the stars to me, each of you. But this land is yours. Whatever has happened, whatever you’ve done in the past, never forget that. You are better than you think. You’re smarter than you think. You are stronger than you think. Take this land. Build a home here. Build a family for you and Blue here. Build our cane here, stalk by stalk. Build a good life here, Ralph Angel, so when you get to the end, you can look back and be proud of your days on this Earth.”
THE BETTER ANGELS
Ralph Angel has two goals this season: to love his son Blue (Ethan Hutchison) with every beat of his heart, and to cherish the land his father gave him. He’s already making progress but his struggle is clear between episodes 1 and 2 (on Tuesday 5 September). In episode 1, he is violently unsympathetic at first when his “soft”, sensitive nephew Micah (Nicholas L Ashe) is arrested in a racial profiling incident. But Ralph Angel later sits down to discuss the roots of his aggression with Micah. And in Ralph Angel’s open, expressive and gently loving relationship with his beloved son there’s clearly hope for the future.
WHAT MAKES A MAN
In episode 2, viewers will see Ralph Angel rise to Blue’s defence when a busybody waiter suggests that Blue play with a Transformer (instead of his doll) because “those are really cool”. While this makes Blue sad in a simple childish way, it infuriates Ralph Angel who sees the grown up message that playing with a doll is not cool specifically for boys. Ralph Angel supports Blue’s choice by pointedly ordering two ice creams – one for Blue and one for his doll. And that waiter had better not be expecting a tip. If nobody is going to tell Ralph Angel’s son to deny the things he loves just so he can fit into some limited and limiting definition of manhood, perhaps Ralph Angel can break out of that box too!
Ralph Angel, his son Blue and Blue’s mom Darla (Bianca Lawson).