The Queen Sugar trailer for its seventh and final season dropped last week with a big surprise. Absent in the trailer is Dawn-Lyen Gardner’s character Charley, who had been a focal point of the series up until now. The show, which revolves around the Bordelon family, featured Charley and her siblings Nova and Ralph Angel saving their family land and protecting their farming legacy. Last season, Charley and her estranged ex-husband and one-time superstar basketball player Davis West had begun rekindling their romance. When Queen Sugar first premiered, a sex scandal involving Davis memorably resulted in Charley taking the court during a basketball game and attacking Davis. His betrayal, along with her father Ernest Bordelon’s (Glynn Turman) failing health and eventual death, resulted in she and her only child Micah relocating to the family’s home in rural St. Josephine, Louisiana.

Davis, however, wasn’t far behind. But, over the series, Charley and Davis had a contentious relationship. Charley also dated several men. Most importantly, she began to shine on her own outside of Davis’ superstar status, eventually owning her own mill to process sugarcane during harvest as well as successfully running for office. Her political career was so bright that the Democratic National Convention began eying her for a senate run. At the same time, she was falling back in love with Davis, who appeared to be a changed man. This presented complications for her political ambitions, particularly because of her very public breakdown in season one. As the initial excitement wore off, Charley began questioning whether she really wanted to continue her political career. Consequently, she agrees to marry Davis and move back to California, where he is coaching.   

Although the presumption would be that Charley and Davis would pursue their relationship in the show’s seventh and final season, premiering September 6, the trailer shows otherwise. As noted earlier, both Charley and Davis are missing from the sneak peek at the final season, with Variety confirming “that Gardner will not be a series regular in the upcoming episodes,” while also reporting that “her storyline will be tracked in a number of episodes of across the season.”

For now, Gardner has not spoken publicly about her step back from the show, especially in its seventh and final season. Given the huge role she has played in the show up until this point, it is more than safe to say that her absence will be felt.