As Queen Sugar Season 4 Episode 2 dove into the difficult subjects of racism and rape culture, it did so with such compelling family drama that we couldn't look away even if we wanted to.
Because this is about how the Bordelon family relates to one another and the world around them, and it's frequently messy and uncomfortable.
Especially with Nova putting every personal, painful detail out there for perfect strangers to read and judge through their own lens.
What was most shocking was that Nova was so naive, or willfully blind, to what she's about to put her family through.
Nova: This story is going to help so many people.
Ralph Angel: I don’t give a damn about so many people, Nova! And my life ain’t no story. I care about my son.
How can she possibly think that Blue won't get ridiculed at school once this book comes out and people start talking about it?
She not only reveals that Ralph Angel isn't Blue's biological father, but that Darla was a junkie who doesn't even know the identity of her son's birth father.
Those aren't things that Blue should have to deal with at his age and it should be up to his parents how many of the details should be shared and when.
Nova took that power away from them.
Why would Nova put all that in there? The night I found Darla and Blue when Ra was locked up, that’s a story that should never be told. I cannot believe that Nova would do that, to all of us.Hollywood
Not only will the stress of this story coming out affect Blue, but it could compromise Darla's sobriety.
And what if, heaven forbid, someone comes forward claiming to be Blue's real father?
Just the thought of it put a knot in the pit of my stomach because Ralph Angel and Darla are in such a good place right now.
They're successfully co-parenting Blue and they're being kind and honest with one another. They're even acknowledging that they're both dating other people, even if they aren't ready to talk about it just yet.
Darla: I don’t think we should talk about these things because if I tell you about who I’m dating then that means that I’d have to hear about who you’re dating and I don’t think I’m ready for that.
Ralph Angel: To be honest, I don’t think I’m ready either. I wish you happiness, Darla, that I do.
Darla: As I do you.
If I could hug Ralph Angel and Darla I would because what they're doing isn't easy and they are doing it well.
Then there was Micah's return.
Micah's growing up and learning to stand up for himself but at what cost?
Micah wasn't wrong to stand up to that kid and not back away, but if he attempts to beat down every hateful idiot who throws racists insults his way, he will either end up in prison or dead.
You know the night I was in jail. After I got out, you know who it was who saw that I had pissed my pants because I was so scared? Tied her sweater around my waist so that I wouldn’t be ashamed? Who wasn’t across the parking lot screaming at Dad? Who gave a damn that night about how I felt? Aunt Nova.Micah
I couldn't believe that Nova proudly handed over her book to Micah, knowing what she has written about his mother in it.
Micah is in an unusual place. He's beginning to figure out who he is and wants to be, awakening to the world around him and how he can change it, yet still wrapped in a bubble of privilege that has him taking European vacations and flying home on chartered jets.
Is Nova consciously prodding Micah to pull away from Charley? I don't think it's quite that insidious, but Charley and Nova see the world in very different ways, and Nova is clearly having an effect on Micah's outlook on the world.
Micah: I should live my life by making white people feel comfortable.
Charley: If wearing a belt on your pants or cutting your hair is a millisecond difference between you being dead or alive, that’s a compromise I’m willing to live with.
Micah: I’m not. I’m not going to twist myself into knots trying to fit into a box that doesn’t promise me a damn thing. Mom, I’m gonna do me.
Charley's ultimate goal is to protect her son, and I don't think Nova completely understands that.
Charley's heartache is coming from two directions right now. First, she's trying not to let Micah slip away, and then she's dealing with learning what her sister really thinks of her.
Charley: [reading what Nova wrote about her in her novel] “My sister, born to privilege, raised in wealth and half bathed in whiteness, used her light skin as her shield and her sword, weapons in every room she entered, every deal she made with every woman she sacrificed and for every man she protected. Her honey skin kept her safe, all the while keeping her complicit in the continued oppression of black bodies.” Is this what you think of me?
Nova: I was writing about privilege.
Charley: You can shove your themes up your pretentious ass. Call it what you want but this, this is 300 pages of you telling the world how much you hate your only sister.
Nova: Charley, I love you.
Charley: This isn’t love! This is betrayal disguised as pulp fiction trying to pass itself off as literature.
I've always been a bit baffled by the strange layers that racism takes on. If someone is a light-skinned black, white people still see them as black, but black culture doesn't see them as black enough.
It's as though humanity is always searching for something to further divide us just to make all of our lives more difficult.
As for Charley encourging rape culture, that gets even more complicated.
It's true that women frequently protect or enable a patriarchal system that promotes mens' power over women and in turn, rape culture.
They do it for a variety of reasons, including because it's always been that way which makes it feel normal, because for centuries a woman's safety and stability has been tied to a man she's related to having power, and because they seek to protect their own family.
Although Charley was certainly looking to protect her family, her story isn't that simplistic.
Charley didn't believe that Davis raped Malina Galoudian. She agreed to pay the $3 million because that's what Malina came to them and said she wanted to make the court case disappear.
Charley didn't know that Davis had been paying Malina to have sex with him when he was on the road. She didn't know that Davis had told his teammates that they could have sex with Malina, against her will, because he had paid for it until Malina played that recording of Davis after she'd signed the agreement.
As Charley told Davis back in Queen Sugar Season 1 Episode 6...
You're a monster, Davis. You turned me into a monster too.Charley
If Nova wanted to tell her story about how she was complicit in what happened to Too Sweet, that was her story to tell, but dredging up the worst moments of her family's lives without their consent for her book was not her right, no matter how many unknown people she believes will benefit from it.
Nova could have written a book of fiction, inspired by the stories of her family but still giving them a bit of anonymity and it would have sold because Nova was related to a famous couple.
Of course, it wouldn't have sold nearly as many books as using the actual names of her famous brother-in-law and sister and their salacious real-life scandal.
Dress it up however you want but at the end of the day, you wrote about your evil, light-skinned sister and her famous philandering husband.Charley
I spent most of this installment waiting for Aunt Violet to confront Nova, but that was a moment that never came.
Hollywood protected Vi for as long as he could, but he had to let her read the book, so she could protect herself from the fallout that's headed her way.
Violet was concerned that Nova would write about Ernest's secrets, she had no idea that her niece would lay bare her humiliation and abuse for all the world to see.
The moment Violet read the name Jimmy Dale on the page, I knew exactly what mystery man was headed to St Josephine.
The Bordelon family has just started to pull their lives together only for Nova to take a wrecking ball to them.
It may not be fair, but I can't stop myself from watching what comes next.
Check back in for my review of Queen Sugar Season 4 Episode 3 and until then, you can watch Queen Sugar online here at TV Fanatic.
C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.