March to the Sea
Gregory Alan Williams as Uncle Mac.
I worried that Greenleaf had sped through its plot too quickly, and this episode made me eat my words. It’s clear that, as Lady Mae warns, a storm is coming. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess who will get washed away and who will be left standing. “March to the Sea” slows down considerably on action, and instead, the episode is filled with lots of one-on-one time and righteous speeches.
To pick up from last week’s cliffhanger, Grace races to Mac’s office after a shot is fired. Bishop is holding the gun and Mac is bleeding from his shoulder. Neither man wants Grace to call the police. Mac threatens to take Bishop with him to jail, but never clarifies what he means. Bishop demands five minutes of alone time with Mac before Grace calls 911, despite her and Lady Mae’s protests. Mac has something on Bishop, and they need time to work out some kind of agreement.
Eventually, Mac ends up handcuffed to his hospital bed and Bishop gives the cold shoulder to Grace, removing her from the deacon board meeting and refusing to see her in his office. He spent the night in jail, but Mac doesn’t press charges. Lady Mae practically floats with satisfaction, seeing Bishop dismiss Grace. Between Mac’s mysterious blackmail and Lady Mae’s distrust of her daughter, Bishop has succumbed to pressure to push Grace to the side. Though he’s conflicted about it, he doesn’t make any attempts to let Grace know what’s going on in his mind.
Meanwhile, Noah contacts all of his wedding guests except for friends Dan and Betty, who arrive at the Greenleaf estate for the now-canceled wedding. Dan is an engineer and Betty makes agricultural robots that clean chicken coops. We’ll probably never see these people again, but it’s a subtle statement for Greenleaf to introduce a black married couple who work in professions like these. Greenleaf may be soap-opera fun, but it’s also doing a fine job of showcasing the diversity of black American life, even when centered around the familiar black Southern church setting.
Charity and Kevin entertain Noah’s friends until he arrives with apologies, but Charity has had enough of being the last to know what’s going on. She didn’t know about the canceled wedding, the accusations against Mac, or that Bishop had shot him. At dinner, she makes a stand and tells everyone she will no longer be treated like a second-class citizen. Lady Mae tries to cut her down to size, asking why Charity thinks she can demand people cater to her dignity. Charity swipes back. She’s the only one of the Greenleaf children who hasn’t cheated, lied, or betrayed the church, and Lady Mae herself knew about the accusations against Mac for years and did nothing. Charity tosses Lady Mae’s question back at her: “Who are you?” before walking away. Lady Mae admits her daughter isn’t wrong, but she quickly regains her composure to make sure everyone knows she’s still disgusted with Grace.
Not only does Grace have to deal with her father’s distance, her sister’s frustration, and her mother’s continued disdain, but Sophia’s father Ray suddenly arrives into town with plans to take Sophia back to Phoenix. Sophia had called him after everything came out about Mac. She didn’t understand why Grace didn’t tell her about Mac; doesn’t she want her daughter to be better able to protect herself? Ray, too, is upset that Grace would expose their daughter to a child predator. It’s a good point. Grace claims she didn’t want Ray to separate her from Sophia, but now her fear has come to pass. Ray will let Sophia finish the school year, but after that, he wants to take her back with him.
With only three episodes remaining this season, hopefully we’ll find out how Ray and Grace became a couple. It’s certainly needed: Right now, it doesn’t seem like they like each other much. Grace points out Ray’s inconsistent contact with Sophia, so it doesn’t appear that he’s a great father. What drew them to each other? And why do we need this additional headache in Grace’s life? Everything is coming down around her and she seems surprised by it. Okay, the night with Noah and her ex trying to take her daughter were pretty unexpected, but she didn’t think it would be easy to take down Mac, did she? It’s not like he would get arrested for his crimes and everything can be perfect. So many lives are affected by what he’s done — and will be affected when he’s (hopefully) brought to justice — that she can’t have thought it would end quickly. Her naïvéty, especially as a former news reporter, is out of place here.
Oh, and Ray is white. It’s hard not to notice that when the few white people on this show do pop up, they’re stressing the cracks in the Greenleaf family foundation. Jacob’s former mistress Alexa helped reveal the problems in his marriage to Kerissa. Kevin had some electric moments with Adrian, the guy who works with him to help people find shelter, which is how we got a clearer picture of Kevin’s closeted sexuality. And now Ray appears to suggest that maybe Grace isn’t as wonderful as we think she is.
In the meantime, the house servant Melisse provides a major newspaper silent confirmation that Bishop shot Mac at the church. Kevin has shaved off his facial hair, which probably means something about him getting closer to coming out of the closet … but honestly, who cares? Charity, in her newfound bravery, kicks him out of their marital bed until he comes clean about whatever is going on. Jacob and Kerissa are getting along better than ever, and Isabel decides she wants to make things work with Noah after all. Lady Mae visits Mac at his handcuffed bedside, tells him that she hates him, and says she isn’t sure she can forgive him, despite knowing it might keep the Lord from casting favor on her family. Mac accepts her hate in silence.
Mac may be blackmailing Bishop about church finances or his hidden illness. Maybe it’s something else entirely. The Greenleaf family and those caught in their orbit have an endless amount of secrets. The show has already been renewed for a second season, so there’s no telling where those secrets will take us — or when they will be revealed.