The season finale of Greenleaf aired last night and many of the secrets that were boiling under the surface were revealed during the pivotal episode but more importantly, the one character that was so unfairly maligned for most of the season got her day in the sun.
The saga of the all-powerful Greenleaf family, led by Bishop James Greenleaf (Keith David) and his influential wife, First Lady Mae Greenleaf (Lynn Whitfield) struggled all season with the ‘truth bomb’ detonated by prodigal daughter, Pastor Grace “Gigi” Greenleaf (Meryl Dandridge) in the pilot episode of the season. The allegation of sexual abuse and who knew what and when they knew it cast a huge shadow of the show the entire season and will have repercussions throughout the entire run of the show.
While the matter of the sexual scandal hung over the story like a thick cloud all season, there were plenty of other subplots that also found some form of resolution. After being removed from the pulpit and later getting his father’s blessing to preach at a rival church, Jacob (Lamann Rucker) was placed in charge of a multi-million dollar community center . . . across from his father’s church. His admission to his father hinted at what plan the Bishop may have for his son – and it will almost certainly fuel trouble in the season to come.
After weeks of sleeping on a couch for not coming clean with his wife over his same-sex urges, Kevin’s (Tye White) admission to his wife, Charity (Deborah Joy Winans) in the penultimate episode stressed her out to the point that their unborn twins were in danger. His admission of his love for his wife as well as inviting her to participate in his recovery was a welcome step but came with certain conditions that will be explored moving forward. The struggle certainly continues for Kevin and his marriage.
Weeks after Noah (Benjamin Patterson) humiliated his beautiful fiance, Isabel (Anna Diop) with his brief fling with Gigi, First Lady’s stirring address during the Women’s Day luncheon made the spurned bride-to-be have a change of heart. In their previous incarnation, the two were celibate on the path to matrimony but wasted little time consummating their love as the two climb back on the road to reconciliation. While she may not fully trust Noah moving forward, it will probably be a long time, if ever, until she has kind thoughts of her bitter rival.
Speaking of the Woman’s luncheon, Mae’s powerful address to the “virtuous women,” shed very valuable insight on her thoughts and actions dealing with all of the strong men in her life. After sharing her wisdom with the ladies, she unexpectantly opened up a door for the transition of her much-despised daughter (still, don’t why there is SO much hate), Gigi to ascend to the pulpit. The Bishop and his favorite daughter didn’t necessarily bury the hatchet but found a semblance of peace moving forward. Gigi responded with another stirring message that will make the powers that be satisfied that her much-needed energy will galvanize Calvary’s parishioners.
But the final bombshell of the show was the long-hinted meeting between Mae and Mavis (Oprah Winfrey). The estranged sisters have fired salvos at each other afar during the entire season and their showdown was as explosive as expected. Still harboring ill feelings toward both James and her sister, Mavis remained defiant that despite Gigi’s explanations over the past twenty years, Mae failed to protect her daughter from sexual predator Mac. “I didn’t know,” was uttered, initially in defiance and later as a whimpering plea, by the disgraced First Lady. It probably doesn’t help that Mac has some secret that he is holding over James’ head, one that found him free at the episode conclusion, much to the stunned look from both Gigi and Mae. The shot of James peering out of the upper bedroom window foreshadows that something evil this way comes and we won’t find out how it gets settled into next season.
Created by Craig Wright, Greenleaf is a deliciously devilish brew of soap opera megachurch mayhem with a very attractive cast and strong production values previously unseen on OWN. Paired with the upcoming Queen Sugar, Winfrey and her team at the network clearly, have higher aspirations for OWN. With so many talented directors helming episodes (Charles Stone III, Regina King, Clement Virgo, Charles Randolph-Wright and others), and the fact that the show has already been picked up for a second season, Greenleaf has plenty of momentum going into its second season. While the foundation isn’t perfect, there is plenty to like about this Memphis-based drama that audiences can look forward to next season.