Greenleaf: Season 3 – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

Greenleaf title card
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The third season of Greenleaf seemingly is about resolving past issues in order to do a soft reset and ensure the show’s future.


Network
OWN
Creator Craig Wright
Noted Cast
Mae Lynn Whitfield
James Keith David
Rochelle Letoya Luckett
Basie Jason Dirden
Charity Deborah Joy Winans
Kevin Tye White
Aaron William H. Bryant Jr.
Jacob Lamman Rucker
Kerissa Kim Hawthorne
Tasha Asia’h Epperson
Grace Merle Dandridge
Sophia Desiree Ross
Zora Lovie Simone
Isiah Roshon Fegan
Percy Richard Gant
Maxine Patti LaBelle
Coralee Bethany Anne Lind
Darius Rick Fox
Lionel Tim Reid
Connie Jen Harper
Phil Demars Sean Blakemore
Bob Whitmore Beau Bridges

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Summary

Sometimes, in order to move forward, become stronger, you got to destroy what once was. That is pretty much what happens this season. With Mae and James’ relationship set on fire, Rochelle, and Basie causing so much drama they basically lose the church, it hits a reset button on their relationship. For Charity, she goes into a downward spiral because Kevin and Aaron have a family and she just has her blood relations – especially after losing Jabari. Yet, with becoming useful to Mae, and her family as a whole, she finds validation.

Then with Jacob and Kerissa, after Tasha reminds both of his past, they are forced to question what are they together for? As for Grace? Well, thanks to her taking on this case dealing with a woman whose story reminds her of her own, it seems she may have finally put to bed any ill feelings about killing Mac. Also, in terms of ill feelings, it seems, just like when Mac died, Mae and Grace may try to be cordial, maybe even loving, to one another again.

Leaving the kids. Sophia, after losing her uterus, goes on a journey of rediscovery. For with bad things happening to people like her, who had a strong faith, how do you reconcile with God over that? Then with Zora? Well, FINALLY, she leaves Isiah alone. Making it so, in their own way, those two have also found themselves closing a chapter and ready to face what’s next.

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Highlights

What Maxine Awakened in Lady Mae

Maxine pushing Mae to just take over Cavalry than start over.
Maxine (Patti LaBelle): Take over Mae. It’s yours.

Let’s be real, for a long time, Mae has been a broken record. It has been about either her serving airs and graces or making it seem the world is against her. Maxine shook all that up. In a handful of episodes, she revealed to us Mae long dreamed of becoming something more and pushed the character to develop more than perhaps we’ve seen the entire series. She went from the wife, who often was just holding on, to someone who owned her power and was ready to snatch the power she gave up to James back.

Plus, considering damn near no one has much in the way of friends, it made Maxine all the more important. Especially in terms of bringing some form of hope this show may make it where blood, or a romantic relationship, will be the sole means you’ll get to consistently show up. And I bring up the consistently part since Percy was around for a while but then was mentioned by name only.

Kerissa

Kerissa is at the point of having a moment. For most of the show, she has just been one complaint after another, but we got to see a softer side to her this season. One dealing with her insecurities, seeing her cry over Zora making dumb decisions and her letting the child make mistakes. Leading you to hope, even though it seemed like she reverted to her old ways in the final scenes, maybe she may finally evolve next season? I still, personally, am hoping they can cast Janet Hubert to play her mother.

The Mae & James Focused Episodes

Lynn Whitfield and Keith David are legends – plain and simple. However, most of their noteworthy moments come in the form of battling it out with one another or with other characters. But, this season, both get to explore something beyond what we usually see from their characters. Mae gets to venture off on her own, drink, and be merry in ways we haven’t probably ever seen her. Then James? Well, we get a full on episode from his point of view. One in which he tries to help his daughter Charity and speak to Sophia, who is having a crisis of faith. And truly, he delivers the type of performance which will make many of us mad when he doesn’t receive the accolades he deserves.

Low Points

Charity’s Storyline

The problem with Charity’s storyline is that Charity has consistently been a backburner character. She usually has something going on, be it Jabari, Kevin, or feeling unfulfilled/ lonely, but it is never made to be the storyline to watch. Sometimes, it honestly feels like, if this was the kind of show to write and kill characters off, she’d be on the chopping block for some drama. Yet, because that is not how this show operates, rather than deal with her losing Jabari, being jealous of Kevin, maybe dealing with post-partum depression and all that comes with it, she gets a hard reset.

How? Well, Percy butters her up and then she finds herself useful to Mae and so it seems she is better now. Despite her barely wanting to leave her room before and nothing being fixed. Even when Iyanla Vanzant came around to attempt to fix her life.

Zora’s Storyline

Zora deciding to stick with Isiah despite all the warnings she has received.
Zora: I’ll take my chances.

The issue with Zora’s storyline is that it went on too long. I get she is the bad girl of the show and reps those wild children who are the preacher’s daughter. Thing is, surely they could have given her more than a bad relationship right? But the real kicker here is, she stuck around through abuse, him taking up all her time and pushing her to do free work for his record label, but cheating was the last straw. Are you kidding me? Black eyes, him pushing your dad to violence, embarrassing you publicly is forgivable. However, you suspecting him with another girl and him not claiming you is what leads you to leave?

It is better than her staying around but, come on now. To me, this is another case of them deciding to quickly end a storyline so the character can progress in the future rather than fully resolve what led them to the series of decisions we’ve seen thus far.

The Coralee Storyline

As said damn near every episode she was on, the biggest and maybe only issue was Coralee being a white woman. This is a Black show on what is a Black network, whether Discovery or Oprah call it that or not. So for Coralee to be touted as a victim, represent women who dealt with domestic violence and lost it all when they fought back, it seemed like a lost opportunity. What makes it worse is Grace walks past a Black woman, who thinks Grace might be there for her, before she meets Coralee. Thus adding fuel to the fire.

On The Fence

Sophia’s Storyline

Sophia crying.

The issue with Sophia’s storyline isn’t the fact it happened but that it wasn’t explored deeper. After a certain point, it felt more about having dramatic moments then deep diving what it means to lose one’s faith. For someone her age, who wanted children, to lose the ability to do so without notice is a lot to deal with. Which the show does address with her crying, stuffing bible pages in the toilet, throwing her cross, and a really beautiful scene with James, but it felt like it could and should have gone deeper. Problem is, with such a large cast, when could this storyline really get its due?

The Rochelle, Basie, and Tasha Storyline

Basie discovering the loan sharks are onto him.
Basie: That’s just the lord at work.

It seems safe to assume we may not see these 3 in season 4. However, I got to admit, towards the latter half of season 3, it felt like they all overstayed their welcome. Rochelle, while a beautifully portrayed character, was coming to the point where she was running out of schemes. Tasha, well she just fell off the face of the Earth for a long period of time in the middle of the season. Only to return when Rochelle remembered Tasha was part of the plan. Then with Basie? As much as his return was long awaited, it wasn’t like how it used to be. He still had his swag but he came off like the hook to drag everybody out.

Hitting The Reset Button

The way this season ends reminds you of where everyone was once before. It’s almost like, with the way many storylines were handled, a lot got swept under the rug so that this show could remain fresh. The problem is with that, it made all of Mae and James’ beef seem like it was just them letting off steam after decades of being married. Sophia’s situation and Zora’s seemingly ended, or got put on pause, because the writers want to go back to the drawing board with them. And, in general, it just felt like the show wanted to put an end to storylines which have been developing for three seasons because it didn’t inspire them anymore. So, instead, we got a brand new villain to bring the family together and this vibe the show is starting over.

Leaving but one question: Taking note of all that has happened since the pilot, what will keep being addressed or be set aside for the sake of solidarity?

Whatever Happened to Darius?

Darius saying all he wants is Grace.
Darius: You’re all I want.

When the hammer came down on James and Cavalry, Darius was coerced to say something to his employer and that set Grace off. But, we never got to see them talk or anything afterwards. Now, it wouldn’t be wrong to say she had bigger things to worry about. Yet, considering that has been her man for at least a year, at this point, and them being really into one another, working on their differences, you wouldn’t expect this to break them. Especially considering it seems he is but one of many who could provide a comment or confirmation.

Percy Just Fell Off After A While

There was a good period of time Percy seemed like he’d become a regular part of the class. In a way, he seemed like James’ Maxine – just pushing him in the wrong direction a little bit. But what really sucked about Percy falling off was he was trying to bond with Charity and was perhaps the first one to break through to her. Add in him being a lonely old man, buying sex workers for company, and he became someone you wanted to invest in. Yet, in the long run, it seems he was meant to just become a warning to James about the life he could have if he didn’t clean it up.

The Lionel Situation

Let me admit off the bat, it was never on my radar that Lionel was Grace’s biological dad. What can I say, the drama of Mae cheating on James seemed to just be a tit for tat situation. Anything beyond that didn’t click for me. However, killing the man off before he got to meet Grace, that seemed messed up in so many ways. Yet, it fits this season’s way of handling things. A lot gets done which can and should be considered dramatic and have a full-on arc but it gets cut short. Why? Well, because the show needed to find a new path. Get new villains and that leads to the next thing.

The Harmony & Hope Fight

I really don’t know how to feel about the takeover. Maybe it is because the “villains” are people who generally seem nice, outside of Connie, so you don’t want to damn them. Even with it being noted they suck money from churches like a vampire does blood. It’s just, the show seems to be so quickly and drastically changing all for this upcoming battle and there isn’t any real need to be hyped. Phil Demars and Bob Whitmore are different from Rochelle and Basie in ways that doesn’t inspire interest. Connie’s betrayal has been a long time coming but when has anyone been left wondering what happened to her after an extended absence?

So, as much as you have to appreciate the show shaking things up, it is hard to say whether it will be for the better or not.

Overall: Mixed (Stick Around)

Hence the mixed label. Season 3 pushed Mae in ways long needed, gave Sophia a really interesting storyline, let Keith David have his own episode and really flex, but in many ways, it felt like the beginning of the end. With Mae and James, after all their petty fights and a divorce reconciling in the end, it made you question what did we just go through and was it just for drama? With what Charity goes through, Sophia did, Zora, Kerissa, and so many others almost abruptly ending, should we expect their problems to pick back up or are they officially over it?

Ultimately leaving season 3, by no means terrible but definitely feeling similar to season 3 of Queen Sugar – at least in the idea that it is closing a lot of chapters and starting semi-fresh with season 4. However, the difference with Greenleaf is that it feels like the writers thought this series could end and so they came up with a contingency plan. One which feels a tad bit rushed and makes it so you can’t firmly be excited but more so be cautiously optimistic.


Has Another Season Been Confirmed?: Yes


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1 COMMENT

  1. I love every bit of your review…. But I just feel like the whole losing uterus thing was too much for Sophia to handle….True abt Charity, lol… She’s the crying baby afterall

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