Merle Dandridge and Desiree Ross in "Greenleaf"
The first half of the second season of “Greenleaf” has been a rollercoaster ride, to say that least. Though the series centers around a Black mega church and the family at the heart of it, it also tackles subjects like sexual abuse, infidelity, corruption and sexuality. Unfortunately, these are topics that the Black church has traditionally shied away from discussing, choosing instead to ignore things or sweep them under the rug entirely. As a firm believer of opening up about pain in order to heal it, I believe that OWN and “Greenleaf” have created a platform through art and entertainment for these ideas, thoughts, and values to be expressed and discussed. “Greenleaf” not only gives a holistic representation of the Black church and the people within those communities, but it often portrays people with issues that might prevent them from actually attending church.
Grace Greenleaf (Merle Dandridge) anchors the series. Returning home after her sister Faith commits suicide, she tried the to find the proper path to take down her Uncle Mac (Gregory Alan Williams) who sexually abused Faith. Unfortunately, Grace learns that Faith wasn’t the only young girl that Mac abused. Despite the evidence mounted against him, she’s been unable to get any charges to stick. Blinded by rage and revenge, Grace who’d been finding her way back to the pulpit as a head preacher at the family’s Calvary Baptist Church seems to be losing her faith once more. Her anger and lack of belief continues to drive a wedge between herself and her parents, particularly her mother, Lady Mae (Lynn Whitfield).
Despite her outwardly poised disposition, Lady Mae has her own secrets and burdens to carry. Still deeply hurt by her own painful and abusive relationship with her father, Lady Mae can’t seem to see eye to eye with her eldest daughter. We also learned this season, that Lady Mae had an extramarital affair that isn’t as dead and buried as she had hoped. Though she thinks her husband, Bishop James Greenleaf (Keith David) is oblivious, the Greenleaf patriarch sees a lot more than he’s letting on. Things have been particularly precarious for Lady Mae since her ex- flame's son Aaron (William H. Bryant) moved into the Greenleaf mansion and snagged a postion at the church as their new attorney.
Though Bishop James always doted upon and indulged Grace, she has pushed him to his limit this season. As he struggles with a recent Parkinson’s diagnosis, he has yet to repair his deeply fractured relationship with his son Jacob (Lamman Rucker). After Grace’s arrival home, the tension between father and son was too much to bear. As a result, Jacob packed his family up, left the Greenleaf mansion and Calvary for a position at a rival church, Triumph. Since his move, Jacob has found himself in the clutches of fast-talking and conniving head pastor, Basie Skanks (Jason Dirden).
Aside from wanting revenge on Bishop James and Calvary, who he blames for the death of his father, Basie Skanks has some other issues. After learning from Skanks' wife Tasha, that Triumph is having some cash flow issues, Jacob’s wife Kerissa (Kim Hawthorne) tells her hubby to check it out. From the looks of it, Pastor Skanks has a gambling problem, which is bound to blow up big time in the mid-season finale. With a massive loss of the church's money and an injunction ordered on the Triumph’s second location, Skanks has to be feeling desperate. Desperate men do desperate things to try and cover their tracks.
Speaking of blow ups, Grace and Jacob’s daughters Sophia (Desiree Ross) and Zora (Lovie Simone) were once joined at the hip. However, Zora's move and a boy have caused a major rift in their relationship. While Sophia has focused on committing herself to Christ this season, Zora seems content with living on the edge. Unfortunately, she might have picked the wrong guy to that with. If something does go down during tonight's episode, we just hope Sophia has her back.
Finally, though she’s often forgotten and cast aside by her family, Charity (Deborah Joy Winans) had a pretty explosive storyline this season. Newly divorced from her husband Kevin (Ty White), the new mother is trying to strike out on her own away from the shadow of her older sister Grace and her family. With a new songwriting opportunity in Nashville and a new man, music producer Jabari who has caught her eye, Charity might just surprise everyone including herself.
In tonight’s mid-season finale, “And The Sparks Fly Upward” we’ll see how the Greenleafs deal with their relationships as everything and everyone rushes towards each another. It's bound to be an explosive collision. Will you be watching?
"Greenleaf" airs Wednesdays at 10PM on OWN.
Aramide A Tinubu has her Master’s in Film Studies from Columbia University. She wrote her thesis on Black Girlhood and Parental Loss in Contemporary Black American Cinema. She’s a cinephile, bookworm, blogger, and NYU + Columbia University alum. You can read her blog at: www.chocolategirlinthecity.com or tweet her @midnightrami