TV Series Greenleaf: Season 3/ Episode 9 "Runaway Train" - Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
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Greenleaf: Season 3/ Episode 9 “Runaway Train” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

With Greenleaf being an ensemble show, rarely does any character get an episode which hones in on just them. Making Keith David (James) taking on this one solo such a treat.

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Network
OWN
Director(s) Clement Virgo
Writer(s) Craig Wright
Air Date 10/24/2018

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Just Trying To Find A Happy Ending: Grace, James, Charity, Aaron, Kevin

After disappearing for a bit, Kevin and Aaron return and, as usual, Charity is salty about them being all happy while she has nothing but her voice. It’s especially bad at this point because those two are talking about getting married. Yet, in his first triumph of the episode, James helps ease his daughter’s envy and relates to her. Takes note that, in all their years together, it took the potential of being free to allow Mae to find fulfillment, some kind of happiness she hasn’t had in all this time.

And with talk of happiness, naturally, Grace swoops in and has people questioning the meaning of the situation they’re in. Specifically, Grace brings up Rochelle and of course James ain’t trying to hear all that. Especially since Grace is working with her so it looks hypocritical. However, with her making it seem like an investigation, she attempts to give herself a pass. While also noting, if and when Mae leaves, she, Grace, isn’t likely to take up what she puts down.

Commentary

Charity in her feelings as she watches Kevin and Aaron be cute, much less deal with the fact they are talking marriage.

Sometimes I really do wonder why everybody is ready to blame Grace but then comes moments in episodes like this. One in which you see Grace, not really taking note of where someone’s head is at, adding gunk to their vibe. Whether they are at a high or low, Grace doesn’t often come with good news, blessing, and joy. At best, she brings you the truth and at worse, her ignorance which she believes is the truth. Making her a holy Debbie Downer.

Though maybe not on the level Charity is because it seems she has dug her a spot in the mud and has taken root. I thought with her bringing peace to mourners she was on her way out of feeling sorry for herself but clearly, she is not. But maybe not seeing Kevin was what allowed her to feel better. To not see him move on, move up, and get the kind of blessings Charity thinks should be in her life.

Maybe presenting why she isn’t getting blessed. Like her parents, she makes too much seem like a competition and while they aren’t’ actively competing, she can’t take the thought of losing. So, like a stubborn child, she has decided to sit, arms crossed, mad at the world. Thus making it so any blessing that could come her way either can’t find her, for she is up in her room, or feels like she doesn’t wish to be approached. Well, unless that person’s name is Percy who apparently doesn’t really partake in shame, among other things.

Jealousy, Envy, Lies, and Forgiveness: Lionel, James, Percy, Rochelle

Let’s get to the point: Percy pays for sex workers. Only on a weekly basis, since that is what his budget allows. Hence why he’s been trying to get Charity’s company since, even if just a friend, it’s better than paying for someone’s time and attention. Also, in case you’ve ever seen Percy as a dirty old man, the truth is he is just a lonely one. The kind who, let’s be real, is a bit envious of James having the attention of a younger woman like Rochelle for he knows he can’t pull that off. That’s even with a lucrative business, a house, and seemingly no kids. At least any active ones in his life.

But, with noting age, and James’ Parkinson’s flaring up, so comes the need for him to question why Rochelle would want him? Leading you to believe James may see clearly now for the lust is gone. This young thing is no longer clouding the light of God. Yet, as always, Rochelle flips the scenario, talks about being used, since she got Bishop some money it appears, and he is begging for forgiveness.

Speaking of forgiveness, Lionel has been ringing up James trying to get some from him. You see, the man has pancreatic cancer and it seems to be at the point where Lionel is just counting his days. Yet, being a man of faith, who did his friend wrong, naturally, he doesn’t want to leave this Earth with that guilt on his head. So, taking note the man is dying, James forgives him. Probably won’t see him again after the one visit he does, but at least lets go.

Commentary

Rochelle manipulating James.

James was doing so well this episode but then Rochelle showed him, yeah you might be a veteran in this game but I got some tricks you ain’t never see. Funny thing is, it ain’t like she hasn’t shown that she only knows a handful of tricks! Though, let’s step back for a second and suspend disbelief. What if Rochelle, who we haven’t seen talking about a plot or plan since the beginning of the season, has perhaps let all that go? Maybe has gotten some kind of feelings and wants to move on?

I don’t believe that happened either but it’s nice to pretend. It might produce some kind of shock down the line. Sort of like the semi-shock of Lionel returning. If only because, with him dying, asking for forgiveness, so begins this idea that the show is trying to clean up drama that has been going on for a while. Not that Mae has talked about Lionel, sought him out or anything, which I’m surprised she didn’t, but we must recognize this show is all about generational trauma and pain. What Grace once went through, Sophia is. The pain Mae was going through when it came to James and Rochelle, that is what Charity is under. James cheated on his wife just as Jacob did, and so on and so forth.

But, there has to be someone who pursues breaking the cycle. Which, so it appears, might be James. For while Jacob wants to pretend nothing happened with Tasha, James rather address the truth and let it be free. Admit to Charity he wasn’t the best husband or what Mae may have needed. Take note that Rochelle has no real reason to love him, even with him being a smooth old man. Following that, he tries to break the cycle of his children losing faith. For he lost Grace once, Charity is on her way there, and then there is Sophia.

And though I’d hate to ruin a good segue, I almost forgot Percy. Can I just say I feel bad for the man? He finally gained a sense of maturity and appreciation for what life could offer only when he could recognize his mortality. Now, just for some company, he has to pay for it and pretend they are there for him and not the cash. It really makes me hope, even if just companionship, nothing more, maybe Charity may continue to heal through Percy’s work and he may get to, in some way, feel less alone. It won’t help with that lust but, maybe he can lessen his visits to every two weeks or once a month.

Let’s Talk About Runaway Trains: Sophia, James, Mae

While Greenleaf, like Queen Sugar, is well acted, in each season there is usually that defining moment which makes you question why in the world does this show not get more attention? Why is it that, amongst OWN watchers, we know its worth but it doesn’t get the accolades and praise it should outside of our beloved circle? Earlier this season, when Mae went off the rails, Lynn Whitfield delivered the first knockout punch. Not to be outdone, Keith David follows that up this episode with two pivotal moments.

The first, and probably the one which will affect you the most, is James trying to reassure Sophia about life and the state of her faith. He uses a train analogy to represent going through life, being scared at times, and God being the engineer who is in control but is always willing to listen to your concerns. It’s a beautiful scene which likely will have you tearing up like Sophia.

Then, following that, we have James serving Mae divorce papers and each scene when he brings up that divorce, you can see in Whitfield and David’s eyes that all they want is the other person to set aside their ego. Their final scene especially when it is like a game of chicken. Each one is waiting for the other to call it off, maybe ask for one more chance, something, but both are too stubborn to not be the one who wins in the long run. For that is where they both are at now.

But right after that standoff, that leads them to both lose, James realizes he has also failed his granddaughter. For despite his word, his embrace, and trying to represent and explain the love of God, Sophia returns her bible. Meaning she may not be lost to him, but she is definitely without faith at this time.

Commentary

Sophia crying.

I didn’t cry but I felt the pain and emotion of these scenes. Especially since we focused just on James and got to see a build up. Things were good with Charity, he convinced Sophia to comes to his jubilee, which honestly was underwhelming, tried to get Jacob to tell the truth, and felt convinced Rochelle wasn’t being conniving. He even seemed to break through to his granddaughter who once had a faith unlike anyone in the family. Even cried when she heard what her grandfather said. Yet, then, within the span of maybe 15 minutes, it was like he was back where he started.

That is, questioning if he has done and said the right thing and did he make things better? Which, for Sophia and Mae, it seems the answer is no. Perhaps pushing the need to question, when it comes to all the other conversations, did he really say what was needed to be said or put a small bandage on an open wound. Maybe said something which made him feel better and was just humored by the other party? If not, ultimately, is still very much lost and going towards heat, thinking it’s the light of God, when really he is just heading towards the flames of hell. More so personal, but maybe biblical as well.

Collected Quote(s) & .Gifs

Happiness isn’t the absence of sadness. It’s living and it’s being in the mystery and the adventure of this life in God’s world with others, with God.
— Bishop James

Highlights

  1. This episode really makes you wonder what this show would be like if, on occasion, it just focused on one character’s day and what they experience.
  2. Whitfield and David continue to show, whether facing off in an argument or, with minimal words, just sharing a scene and just looking at one another, why they are veterans in the entertainment business.
  3. Grace’s thing with Coralee not being in the episode.
  4. No signs or word of Zora, thus allowing that situation to heat up and come to a boil.
  5. Percy seeming less like a dirty old man and more so a lonely one. Even wise in some ways.
  6. Sophia’s faith not being magically restored, after what’s she been through, thanks to one, albeit powerful, message that doesn’t change what happened to her.

On The Fence

  1. The Lionel apology seemed a bit overdue and, to be honest, I forgot all about Lionel so I didn’t get much out of his apology.
  2. James’ Parkinson disease deciding to just flare up now after all that has been going on. Almost like the writers wanted to say, “We didn’t forget. It just didn’t seem all that important anymore.”


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Amari Allahhttps://wherever-i-look.com
I started Wherever I Look back in 2011 and from movies, TV, the occasional book, play, and Broadway show, have been trying to bridge the gap between a critic and an avid lover of various forms of media.

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