Queen Sugar Season 4 Episode 1 Review: Pleasure is Black

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Is offering the truth a real sacrifice when it isn't your truth to tell?

On Queen Sugar Season 4 Episode 1 we got the gut wrenching reveal of what's really in Nova's memoir, and what's both scary and intriguing is that we may have only seen the tip of the iceburg. 

The anticipation of discovering what was in Nova's book lent an edge of foreboding to all of those smiling faces at the grand opening of Vi's Prized Pies and Diner.

Grand Opening - Queen Sugar

Speaking of which, having an actual parade for Vi was magnificent. 

Just a few short years ago, Violet was a waitress at the Hi Yellow, and now she's a business owner and entrepreneur. 

If anyone deserves those accolades, it's Vi. She's worked hard taking care of others and now she's happily married, traveling the world, and running her own restaurant. 

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That's what made the Queen Sugar quote from Nova's book so hard to take.

America’s curse is its thin sense of freedom that demands we all pretend to be free. We lie. This is what we do. In Blessing and Blood, the lies I have lived are laid bare. The lies and shame that have shackled my family are dragged into the light of truth because what is real can heal. We see this clearly in the life of my Aunt Violet. A strong, black woman who lived much of her life as anything but that.


To say that Violet has lived her life up to this point as anything but strong is an insult. She left an abusive marriage; she helped raise her nephew's son, she worked for years to support herself and was always there for her family. 

No, Violet may not have been living her dream all of those years but that certainly didn't mean she was weak. 

Darla and Ralph Angel - Queen Sugar Season 4 Episode 1

Of course, that doesn't make Vi right about everything either. She was dead wrong in her assessment of Ralph Angel and Darla as parents. 

I understand that having stepped up and taken care of Blue when Darla and Ralph Angel couldn't gives Vi leeway in sharing her opinions on how they're raising their boy, but what more does she want them to do?

Ralph Angel: C’mon, Aunt Vi. You ain’t have to do her like that.
Violet: What, I didn’t do nothing to that child. I said Hi, took her gift, and offered her a plate. What else you want?
Ralph Angel: She’s trying, and we’re doing alright trying to raise Blue together. Good even.
Violet: Well, you all need to raise your standards ‘cause passing Blue between you like a plate of day old bread every weekend ain’t gonna win you any parenting awards.

Ralph Angel and Darla are successfully co-parenting their child, like many couples who are no longer together, and it's great to see them both acting like adults once again. 

Darla is clean, Ralph Angel is off parole, and they're even being open and supportive about starting to date other people.

Best of all, Blue looks happy and secure. 

Every Right To Be Proud - Queen Sugar Season 4 Episode 1

Yes, I'll always hold out hope that perhaps these two will find their way back to one another, but even if they don't, that doesn't make them bad people or bad parents. 

For once, Vi should keep her opinions to herself. 

One of the best scenes was Ralph Angel getting the letter saying that his parole period had officially ended. That's a huge accomplishment. 

Let's just hope that that chapter of his life has been closed for good and that he and Blue never have to worry about any of those P words again: prison, parole, or police.

That Ralph Angel was being encouraged to extend more outreach to other parolees wasn't a surprise, but that can be a rocky road.

Chatting With Friends - Queen Sugar Season 4 Episode 1

Benny certainly had his ups and downs in the beginning, and it had the potential to send Ralph Angel back to prison, so I hope if Ralph Angel proceeds in this direction that Mr. Jarvis is there to help smooth over any potential rough patches and keep everyone in check. 

Violet and Ralph Angel weren't the only ones riding a high. Charley looked as happy as we've ever seen her.

Queen Sugar Season 3 Trailer: The Bordelons Are Back

Romero is kind and thoughtful and seems to enjoy Charley being in control as much as he does being able to whisk her away on a romantic vacation. 

He's even considerate of his place in her life when it comes to Micah and it's wonderful that Charley has finally found someone who not only loves her but respects her too.

Hollywood Overhears a Conversation - Queen Sugar Season 4 Episode 1

Which leads us back to Nova's book. 

Hollywood nailed it when he called out Nova on her hesitance to share her book, or even talk about when it was going to be released.

Nova, you’ve never been shy about nothing you ever did, but you ain’t even gonna tell me about a book I’m in. Now I gotta hear it from other folks. Something ain’t right about that book.


During Queen Sugar season 3, I thought the secrets that Nova was considering adding into her book were about her, such as her affair with a married, white, police officer, or perhaps about her father.

Naively, I never expected that she'd spill the secrets that aren't hers to tell.

How could Nova think it was okay to reveal that Ralph Angel isn't Blue's biological father to the entire world? 

That's a secret that has nothing to do with Nova, but could have serious adverse effects on Blue if other kids, or even perfect strangers, feel they have the right to bring up the subject because they read about it in Nova's book.

That was incredibly personal information and the only people who had the right to reveal it were Darla and Ralph Angel. Nova took that away from them. 

Charley Enjoys Her Time - Queen Sugar Season 4 Episode 1

And then there's what she did to Charley. 

Not only did Nova take the details of one of the worst moments of Charley's life and make it public knowledge, but she waited until the last minute to give her sister a heads up that it was coming, and she waited until it was too late. 

[to Charley] Nova Bordelon calls you, and I quote, “A tragic example of the American woman’s unwitting but still complicit role in perpetuating gender inequality and rape culture as the price of full participation in patriarchal capitalism.”


I won't defend what Charley did but I won't ridicule her either. Davis shattered their family and Charley was thrown into survival mode, and when Charley feels her family is threatened, the claws come out. 

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Charley shared all of those details with Nova believing she could trust her sister. 

It turns out she couldn't have been more wrong.

I can't say I blame Charley for trying to stop the book from being published but it's probably already too late. If a reporter has those quotes, it's clear that someone at the publishing company leaked them to generate buzz. 

It’s important folks know that I didn’t write this to just gossip rag my famous sister or kick my brother when he’s just getting on his feet.


Maybe Nova should have considered that before she decided to tell the world all the gory details about her famous sister's marriage, details that will surely turn up as a headline on every gossip rag in the country.

Revealing all of these "truths" as though it will somehow help the greater good seems either naive or selfish, but then again, we don't know what else Nova has written about in this book.

Nova is Nervous - Queen Sugar Season 4 Episode 1

And that definitely makes me nervous.

So what do you think Queen Sugar fans? Has Nova destroyed her relationship with her family for fame or will all of these intensely personal revelations benefit something other than book sales?

No doubt we're in for an absorbing, thought-provoking, and entertaining new season with the Bordelons and I can't wait to experience every gripping minute.

Check back for my review of Queen Sugar Season 4 Episode 2 and until then, you can watch Queen Sugar online here at TV Fanatic.

Pleasure is Black Review

Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (32 Votes)

C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.

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Queen Sugar Season 4 Episode 1 Quotes

Hollywood: You know your dream is just now starting.
Violet: Goodbye, Hi Yellow. Hello, Vi’s Prized Pies and Diner.

It’s important folks know that I didn’t write this to just gossip rag my famous sister or kick my brother when he’s just getting on his feet.