In the two-hour finale “Dream Variations,” written by series creator Ava DuVernay and directed by Kat Candler, it’s the end to a complex season of highs and lows. The actors were bold, vulnerable and authentic in their portrayals of their characters, leaving open to imagination where they’ll go in Season Three.
My mother always said, “Never underestimate the mind of a child,” which proves to be true when Blue (Ethan Hutchinson) plays in the garden. Whispering to his beloved doll, Kenya, he tells her a secret, “I heard someone say, ‘That damn girl.’ I think they were talking about mommy.”
Outside of his intuition is the ugly truth that the family holds, unbeknownst to him. Darla (Bianca Lawson) experiences more fallout with the Bordelons in a confrontation with Nova (Rutina Wesley) about how she has hurt Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe). Blocking her from entering his house, she suggests she return only when Ralph Angel is home, instead of sneaking around. Darla is on the outside looking in as she sits in her car watching Blue from afar—screaming out loud—and drives away. Where she’s going is unclear, and her vulnerability triggering her when she’s alone is a scary possibility.
With her back against the wall, Charley (Dawn-Lyen Gardner) has lost a swelling number of farmers, and she’s now down to three farms to mill after confronting Boudreaux. Her business is suffering under his “audacity of privilege,” but she warns that their end is coming. Talking to Ralph Angel, she has an unbelievable request for him: Mill his cane at Boudreaux’s. Her plan is to use this as a silent chess move to ignite an internal fight with Landry and Boudreaux in order to come out on top. She assures him that she’s not new to using any means necessary, saying, “I’ve done it before and I know how to win,” showing her darker, hardened side. Ralph Angel agrees.
Charley: “It’ll be brutal. It’ll be a slaughter they’ll never come back from. I promise you, on Daddy’s name.”
Ralph Angel: “You on some Godfather shit.”
When Charley mentions to him that she fired Darla as a sign of her loyalty, he’s quietly shocked and worried. He arrives at a sobriety meeting to speak with her sponsor, Marlene, who reveals that she didn’t come because she wanted to be alone, noting that losing her job left her shaken. Afraid for her, he searches for her in every drug den and whorehouse around the city, just as her parents did, but she’s nowhere to be found. He is led to an indoor pool where Blue gets his swimming lessons, and finds her swimming—a new coping mechanism. The two of them come face-to-face for the first time since “On These I Stand; and he challenges her to tell the truth about why she kept this secret that Blue may not be his son for seven years. He acknowledges all of his flaws, but despite his baggage, he values truth and can’t be in a relationship with someone he can’t trust. “You say, ‘I’m pregnant and I don’t know if it’s yours,’” he tells her. “Just like that, from the jump.”
Saying his view of her is tarnished, she tearfully pleads with him not to leave their son as they both cry. “Hate me but not him. He loves you so much… please, love Blue.”
“Blue is blood in my veins even if mine ain’t in his.” —Ralph Angel
It’s the closing of this chapter for Darla and Ralph Angel: They’ll tell Blue that she became sick to cover up her choice to move back to Washington, D.C. to be with her parents. She promises her son that she’ll be back to take him swimming—an activity she used to bond with him. The question of whether Ralph Angel would still be a father despite the truth is sincerely answered when he picks Blue up from Aunt Vi’s (Tina Lifford). Blue’s visible sadness over being separated from Ralph Angel, the thought of him feeling abandoned, saddens Ralph Angel as well. He tells him a story about how he received his unique name. He says the story of Aunt Vi (whose full name is Violet) discovering her name was a color as a little girl when she saw her name on a crayon was inspiration. Honoring her and his late mother, Trudy, whose nickname was True, he wanted to interweave a beautiful color that also rhymed with his mother’s name: Blue. Not only does the moment show the heart of Ralph Angel—it’s a sentimental way to give hope for what’s to come.
“I could name you after the two ladies in my life who always believed in me no matter what. Just like I believe in you no matter what. Blue is the sky, blue is the ocean. It’s everything good. That’s you son, everything good.” —Ralph Angel
In the midst of the paternity saga, the show beautifully celebrates the love between Hollywood (Omar J. Dorsey) and Aunt Vi—he pops the question to her after coming out on top in his deposition. But as we look forward to a new wedding, the finale also sparks new questions. What was that energy between Remy (Dondre L. Whitfield) and Nova after the engagement dinner—and will they act on it? Will Charley and Nova’s sisterly bond get shattered Remy? And just how deep will Charley go with Boudreaux, who gave a glimpse of his sexual attraction to her, to reclaim and gain what she sees as hers next season?
Ashley G. Terrell is a freelance entertainment writer based in Michigan. Her work has appeared in Ebony Magazine, The Huffington Post, Black Girl Nerds, and more. She is currently working on her first novel and is the creator of the blog, The Carefree Black Girl Chronicles of ASHLEMONADE. You can follow her on Twitter.