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

Bishop James thinking about his day.
100% (2)

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.


 

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

Images and text in this post may contain affiliate links which, if a purchase is made from those sites, I may earn money or products from the company. Most affiliate links contain an upward facing, superscript, arrow.

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.”


Follow Wherever I Look on Twitter, Like us on Facebook and Subscribe to the YouTube Channel.


Check Out Other TV Recaps


Greenleaf Show Directory

Creator

Craig Wright

Character Guide

Not Created

Collected Quotes

Not Created

Current Status

Active

Buy a TV Pass From Amazon To Watch The Entire Series.

Season Reviews

Season 3
Check Out The TV Series & Specials Page

Season/ EpisodeSynopsisEpisode InformationStorylines & Characters
Season 4, Episode 6 “The Stranger”Nearly everyone acts messy, stupid, or sets aside things they said in the past for some form of comfort in episode 6, “The Stranger.”
Director(s) Lisa Leone
Writer(s) Erica Michelle Butler
Air Date 10/8/2019
Introduced This Episode
Detective Ellis Paul Rolfes
  • But What About Me?: Kerissa, Fernando, Jacob
  • All You Need To Know: Charity, AJ, Detective Ellis, Mae, Grace, James
  • I Believe In You And Me: AJ, Grace, Phil, Charity, Mae, James, Jacob
Season 4, Episode 7 “Reunited”Mae may have finally found a way to earn a prominent place in the church! However, with so many fools and backstabbers around her, is it too late?
Director(s) Ayoka Chenzira
Writer(s) Craig Wright, Nick Kilgore
Air Date 10/15/2019
Introduced This Episode
Vida Andrea Laing
  • Was It For Love Or For You?: Nikki, Zora, Dante, Kerissa, Fernando, Charity, Jacob, Phil, Grace
  • The Secrets Eating At You: Vida, Mae, AJ, Sophia
  • When All Is Revealed, What Can Be Done Next?: Grace, Mae, James, Sophia
Season 4, Episode 5 “Unwanted”AJ presents himself as a possible lost cause as Kerissa shows her whole ass to Lady Mae. Also, Charity gets to know Phil and sees whether it is worth being on his side.
Director(s) Allan Kroeker
Writer(s) Jenna Wycoff, Steven Fulcher
Air Date 10/1/2019
  • There Is More To Me Than Petty Schemes: Charity, Phil
  • The Rattling Of Bones In The Closest: Grace, AJ, Aaron
  • You Shouldn’t Have Shown Your Ass: Jacob, Zora, Dante, Nikki, James, Mae, Kerissa
Season 4, Episode 4 “A Common Enemy”Bob and Grace begin to clash, so he checks her. However, he ain’t the only one checking people this episode.
Director(s) Crystle Roberson
Writer(s) Craig Wright
Air Date 9/24/2019
Introduced This Episode
Cal Jason Davis
Judee Valerie Jane Parker
Fernando Dave Baez
  • You Could Have Done The Right Thing: Kerissa, Fernando, Jacob, Phil, Mae
  • Assumptions Lead To Dumb Asses: AJ, Grace, Sophia, Zora, Noah, Charity, Karine
  • We’re Losing The Church: Cal, Bob, Grace, Mae, James
Season 4, Episode 3 “Visions and Dreams”Grace spends some time in Phoenix which allows Phil to make a move and Mae to learn why Calgary will never be hers. Also, Zora may have made a friend.
Director(s) Charles Randolph-Wright
Writer(s) David Ehrman, Ivy Mariel Pruss
Air Date 9/18/2019
Introduced This Episode
Nikki Kadianne Whyte
  • Kerissa Wants To Move Out – NOW! | James, Kerissa, Jacob
  • Grace Trying To Make Up For Lost Time & Zora Making A New Friend | AJ, Dante, Jacob, Nikki, Grace
  • Mae Learns Why She’ll Likely Never Become Head Pastor At Calgary | Misty, Grace, Mae, James, Charity, Phil
Season 4, Episode 2 “Did I Lose You?”Grace and Noah’s son is introduced, as Jacob finds himself back in Cavalry drama and trying to work with an antsy Kerissa.
Director(s) Rachel Raimist
Writer(s) Kriss Turner Towner
Air Date 9/10/2019
Introduced This Episode
AJ Delajae Jacob Gibson
Dante Shane Paul McGhie
Cameron Aaron Lamont
  • Heed Not Into Temptation | Jacob, Kerissa, Phil, Charity, Grace, James, Dante, Cameron
  • The Child I Left Behind | Noah, Grace, AJ, Sophia, Zora
  • A Steady March To Holiness Or Hell | Mae, James, Karine, Charity
Season 3/ Episode 13 “The New Life” [Season Finale]The season comes to an end by having a soft reboot. One which allows a new threat to get every Greenleaf’s undivided attention.
Director(s) Clement Virgo
Writer(s) Craig Wright
Air Date 11/21/2018
Introduced This Episode
Phil Demars Sean Blakemore
Bob Whitmore Beau Bridges
  • Out With The Old: Basie, Tasha, Rochelle, James
  • A New Adversary, And A Old One: Connie, Phil Demars, Bob Whitmore, Grace, James, Mae
  • Gather Together In My Name As We Face The Storm Together: Kerissa, Zora, Sophia, James, Mae, Grace, Lionel, Kevin, Charity, Jacob, Aaron, Kevin
Season 3/ Episode 12 “Day of Reckoning”It is said God always has a plan. One could argue all we’ve seen, especially in terms of Basie and Rochelle, was part of the lord’s plan to correct the path of each Greenleaf family member. Blood or otherwise.
Director(s) Charles Randolph-Wright
Writer(s) Kriss Turner Towner
Air Date 11/14/2018
  • Out With The Old: Tasha, Basie, Rochelle, Grace, Jacob, Coralie
  • Enough Is Enough: Isiah, Zora, Kerissa, Jacob
  • A Day of Reckoning: Aaron, Grace, Mae, Basie, James
Season 4, Episode 1 "Original Sin"The season has barely begun, and the Greenleaf family ends up with their own personal Judas and the first sets of battles with Bob and his ambitious house negro.
Director(s) Clement Virgo
Writer(s) Craig Wright
Air Date 9/3/2019
Introduced This Episode
Doris Diane Sellers
Perry Mark Taylor
  • Life Outside The Church: Zora, Sophia, Kerissa, Mae, James, Doris, Perry, Jacob
  • Testing The Waters: Grace, Phil, Bob, Charity, Jacob, Mae, James, Connie, Kerissa
  • From The Ashes, Many Things Can Rise: Phil, Charity, Grace, Noah, Bob

Season 3/ Episode 11 “The End Is Near”

The s*** officially hits the fan and it is so much it may clog up the gears and stop everything people have long been working towards.

Director(s) Rose Troche
Writer(s) David Ehrman, Casey Vandeventer
Air Date 11/7/2018

Featuring: Rochelle, James, Charity, Mae, Grace, Connie, Tasha, Basie, Jacob, Kerissa, Maxine, Lionel, and Aaron

Season 3/ Episode 10 “The Promised Land”

So many surprises jump out at us you’d think this episode of Greenleaf was a haunted house attraction.

Director(s) Allan Kroeker
Writer(s) Karen Corneille
Air Date 10/31/2018
Introduced This Episode
Michael Stephen Bishop

Featuring: Rochelle, Coralie, Grace, Isiah, Zora, Kerissa, Jacob, Tasha, Michael, Charity, Lionel, Mae, Basie, Maxine, and James

Season 3/ Episode 9 “Runaway Train”

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.

Season 3/ Episode 8 “Dea Abscondita”

Zora deciding to leave leads to all hell breaking loose but with her dramatic exit, that might be the catalyst to the healing many need.

Season 3/ Episode 7 “That Was Then”

It seems like history is repeating itself on Greenleaf for some characters as others press on forward despite many an obstacle in their way.

Season 3/ Episode 5 “Closing Doors”

Charity hits rock bottom, something huge happens with Sophia, and Tasha and Rochelle take additional steps in their plan.

Season 3/ Episode 6 “She Changes Everything”

As Sophia loses her faith, and Charity finds Iyanla Vanzant visiting her, James and Mae’s plans may have resulted in mutually assured destruction.

Season 3/ Episode 4 “The Underdog”

There are many last-ditch efforts to salvage, sometimes, selfish plans, and when they don’t come through? Well, people get nasty. 

Season 3/ Episode 3 “Chain of Command

It’s an episode of facing the inevitable on Greenleaf. Especially if your name is Mae or Charity who both get serious wake-up calls.

Season 2/ Episode 13 “Silence and Loneliness”

Guilt and insecurities are the focus of this episode. Especially as people expose their soft under belly to those who can, or have, hurt them the most.

Season 2/ Episode 14 “The Father’s Will”

What Basie Skanks started, bringing up homosexuals during that church meeting, comes to a head as Lionel and Aaron come to Cavalry and dig up old and new skeletons.

Season 2/ Episode 15 “Two by Two”

Faith, money, morals, and understanding. Four words which are the themes as temptation lurks about and few can say they are truly holier than thou on Greenleaf.

Season 2/ Episode 16 “The Pearl”

From the beginning, I’d like to believe Greenleaf has always been about how those in the pulpit aren’t necessarily holier than thou and in the season 2 finale, with a few exceptions, everyone gets a glimpse of their own personal hell.

Season 1/ Episode 1 "A Time to Heal"

Despite all the programs currently on OWN, for the most part, if it didn’t have Oprah’s name on it, if she wasn’t interviewing someone, I honestly felt it wasn’t worth watching. Yes, there are a million and one Tyler Perry shows on the network, but there is something about his brand that I just don’t feel compliments, Oprah. However, Greenleaf, as messy as it is, as religious as it is, and as much as this seems to be something Shonda Rhimes would advise the writing of, it seems to fit what you’d expect from OWN. Which may not make much sense in hindsight, but considering Oprah’s acting choices and what her brand is, it comes to make sense with time.

Season 1/ Episode 13 "What Are You Doing Here?"

“What Are You Doing Here” is not solely the episode’s title, but a phrase repeated throughout. One which will join the thought of “What are they referencing?”

Season 2/ Episode 1 “A House Divided”

Let me be straight up – Thanks to Tyler Perry, when OWN started having scripted shows without his name on it, I did not for a second think they would be good. Granted, they were under the Oprah umbrella, and she was giving us the rare opportunity to see her act, but I was skeptical. However, Greenleaf opened the doors to the type of brilliance I still, to this day, wish BET would reach for. Now, I covered the first and last episode of season one and with me buying a season pass. 

Season 2/ Episode 2 “Strange Bedfellows”

As Jacob leaves the house and transitions to becoming a member of the Triumph community, he leaves a church and home still reeling from scandal and seemingly not bouncing back anytime soon. 

Season 2/ Episode 3 “A Mother’s Love”

Poor Lady Mae. All her children, in some form or another, make it seem that she only thinks of herself. Of her reputation. But really, with one son working for the competition, a daughter who nearly brought the whole family to their knees, and the youngest’s marriage seeming suspect, can you blame her for being worried? It isn’t like what they do doesn’t reflect on her.

Season 2/ Episode 4 “Revival”

While “Revival” reminds you of the importance and beauty of the church, at the same time it makes you want to shout Mac’s line “And you call yourself a Christian!”

Season 2/ Episode 5 “Point of No Return”

Jacob and Kerissa, after spending most of the season, and Kerissa’s case the show, in the background, have the type of performances that will leave you shook and will explain why this episode is called “Point of No Return.”

Season 2/ Episode 6 “The Royal Family”

How Triumph stays afloat gets revealed, Zora returns to the show in time for Sophia’s birthday, and Kevin and Charity’s divorce starts to get ugly.

Season 2/ Episode 7 “Born to Trouble”

It has been nearly a year since Faith’s death and everyone, including Mac, is still reeling from it. But with everyone sure on the idea it was his fault and feeling powerless to do more than leaving it up to god, he remains ostracized.

Season 2/ Episode 8 “And the Sparks Fly Upward”

Let me tell you – If you thought this season was a bit too ho-hum and lacked some quality drama? Oh, this episode will compensate for all of that.

Season 2/ Episode 9 “The Bear”

Greenleaf returns and there is the question of whether Grace is going to Jail and how will everyone will handle their own personal struggles.

Season 2/ Episode 10 “Call Not Complete”

Since season 1, everyone has had some issues with Grace leaving and how that held them back. But it seems the frustration Kerissa has long been willing to share is coming out of other people’s mouths now. Leading you to wonder, as cracks in the family start to show, can they survive each other?

Season 2/ Episode 11 “Changing Seasons”

A truly shocking moment happens: Lady Mae admits she is wrong, apologizes to Grace, and all in one episode. But while there is that major shock, so builds to a few other ones. Be it Grace taking an interest in Basie Skanks or Carlton coming back to the show – which are two situations which may come into contact.

Season 2/ Episode 12 “House Rules”

Patience and trust are major themes in “House Rules” as everyone is tasked with having faith in their significant other while in a precarious situation.

Season 3/ Episode 1 “Strange Currents”

Greenleaf returns and with Mae and James’ relationship on the rocks, the foundation of the family is splintered and puts all on unsteady ground.

Director(s) Clement Virgo
Writer(s) Craig Wright
Air Date 8/28/2018

Season 3/ Episode 2 “The Space Between”

Lady Mae is put on the defensive and while she is getting hit every which way, she refuses to go down without a fight.

Director(s) Charles Randolph-Wright
Writer(s) Kriss Turner Towner
Air Date 8/29/2018
Characters Introduced
Clara Donna Biscoe

How Would You Rate This?

Negative Mixed Positive