Greenleaf: First Impressions of Oprah’s New Drama Series

NOTE: This is a SPOILER-FREE review.

First of all, Oprah is NOT the star of this show (SOME will be disappointed by this fact); she is a recurring character- Mavis, a bar owner and older sister of the Greenleaf family matriarch, Lady Mae (Lynn Whitfield). The show, focusing on a black family running a megachurch in Memphis (where Oprah grew up), was created by Craig Wright (a former pastor). Yes, he’s a white man, but also a close friend of Oprah. Wright calls the show a “collaboration,” where he takes in feedback from regular church-going consultants and the lead actors. 

The viewer is put in the shoes of the main protagonist, Grace (AKA GiGi), played by theater veteran Merle Dandridge (check out this fun interview on Live! w/ Kelly). She is tall, elegant, and a single mom; she is also a journalist (by profession). As a very young woman, she used to preach at Calvary (as the town car driver recalls). GiGi returns home from Phoenix (after 20 yrs away) w/ her teen daughter, Sophia (Desiree Ross), for the funeral of one of her younger sisters (Faith). The house (or estate) has changed a LOT from that of her childhood, she tells Sophia.  At the gates, she is surprised to find her (very handsome) old flame, Noah (Benjamin Patterson), who is head of security for Calvary.      

The prodigal daughter returns… -Bishop James Greenleaf (Keith David) greets his daughter with these words, a big smile, and long hug

You’re not here to sow discord in the fields of my peace?  -Lady Mae asks GiGi

We see that Faith’s funeral is just family; also, she’s NOT buried in a graveyard. Hmmm…  At the family dinner (served by uniformed staff a la Downton Abbey), Gigi endures a trial by fire, which is lead by her sister-in-law/principal of a private charter school, Kerissa (Kim Hawthorne).  Her mother backs up Kerissa (as seen in the clip below from the pilot ep). 

One viewer called this show “a gospel version of Empire.” As the FOX drama takes music seriously, THIS show takes religion (Christianity) seriously.  From the eps so far, religion is NOT the problem, it’s the covering up of (ugly) truths. Saving face is also a big theme in this show; people will go to GREAT lengths to preserve their positions and respect w/in the church/family. OK, so maybe that reminds you of soap operas?  BUT those would never cover Black Live Matter (as we see in Episode 4). I’m not calling this MUST-SEE, but there are issues in this show that I feel are worth considering.       

Game of Thrones: Season 6, Episode 10 (“The Winds of Winter”) – Best Quotes

SPOILERS: This post contains major spoilers from the season finale of the show.

The South (Kings Landing)

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I killed your High Sparrow and all his little sparrows, all his septons, all his septas, all his filthy soldiers, because it felt good to watch them burn. It felt good to imagine their shock and their pain. No thought has ever given me greater joy.  Cersei explains to Septa Unella

As some critics/fans commented, Cersei is now “stone-cold”- nothing seems to phase her, NOT even hearing of Tommen’s suicide!  She has taken the Iron Throne after murdering her husband (w/ the aid of her cousin), seeing her son (Joffrey) poisoned, and now Tommen’s sudden demise.  MANY of her enemies are dead, BUT her only allies are The Mountain, Qyburn, and her twin brother (though I wouldn’t be 100% sure about that, seeing Jaime’s expression in the final scene in the throne room).  

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The North (Winterfell)

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I’m not a Stark.  -Jon says to Sansa 

You are to me.  -Sansa replies

This was just a quiet, yet wonderful, scene between the two sibs (or cousins, as we learn in the flashback scene). BUT, many of you (incl. those in the Sistah Speak Game of Thrones Facebook group) thought that Sansa MAY be jealous of Jon, so NOT 100% in his corner. I want to give her the benefit of the doubt (for now); I don’t think that she will go along w/ Littlefinger’s plans. 

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If he commands you to burn children, your Lord [the Red God/the Lord of Light] is evil! -Davos shouts at Melisandre 

I LOVE me some Davos, so I was V disappointed that he didn’t get to wring Mel’s neck, or burn her up, or stab her w/ his sword!  (OK, I’ll stop now, b/c don’t want to scare readers away- LOL.)  Mel is exiled from The North by Jon; you can tell that he was a BIT conflicted about that (she having brought him back from the dead and all).  Hmmm… wonder what will happen to Mel next season?

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Every time I’m faced with a decision I close my eyes and see the same picture. Whenever I consider an action I ask myself, will this action help to make this picture a reality, pull it out of my mind and into the world? And I only act if the answer is yes. A picture of me on the Iron Throne and you by my side.  -Littlefinger admits to Sansa 

As Peter Sagal (Nerdette Game of Thrones Recaps) pointed out, this is the FIRST time that we hear (from his own mouth) exactly what Littlefinger wants!  We know that he loved (or was obsessed w/) Sansa’s mother, Catelyn.  That same feeling was transferred to Sansa, much to her surprise/confusion/dismay, BUT this now gives HER some power.  Hmm… what will Sansa do in order to keep Littlefinger on a tight leash?  She does NOT trust him, as she tells Jon, BUT they do need the support of the lords of The Vale. 

The war is not over.  And I promise you, friend, the true enemy won’t wait out the storm. He brings the storm.  -Jon Snow explains to Lord Manderly (and the other Northern lords)

Sure, Jon is a bastard, BUT he has a LOT of courage and fighting experience.  Also, he has the blood of Ned Stark , so seems to have earned the respect of these Northmen.  The BEST part of that storyline was Lady Lyanna Mormont declaring her support for Jon- what guts and screen presence!   

The Riverlands (Castle Frey)

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The last thing you’re ever going to see is a Stark smiling down at you as you die.  –Arya declares to Walder Frey

After the Frey pies scene, Sagal had a valid joke/comment: “When did Arya have time to learn to cook?”  LOL!  This scene brought to mind Julie Taymor’s movie adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy, Titus Andronicus.  

Island of Essos (Meereen)

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I’ve been a cynic for as long as I can remember. Everyone’s always asking me to believe in things: family, gods, kings, myself.  It was often tempting until I saw where belief got people.  I said no thank you to belief.  Yet here I am.  I believe in you.  -Tyrion reveals to Dany

Were you feeling a BIT emotional when Dany pinned that brooch on Tyrion?  I was, for sure!  Looks like she has the smartest advisor in the Seven Kingdoms, along w/ 3 dragons, over 1,000 ships, the Unsullied, etc.  Maybe it takes a Lannister (Tyrion) to defeat a Lannister (Cersei)?

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And where would we be w/o a BIT of humor?

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But wouldn’t you say life is irregular?  -Sam attempts to banter w/ the clerk at the Citadel

Sam presents the letter from Jon, then has to tell the facts of what happened at Castle Black in recent years (deaths of Lord Cmdr. Mormont and Maester Aemon).  He is amazed by the spectacular library- awww! 

The Riverlands (Castle Frey)

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You don’t even have to do anything, do you?   You just sit there, a rich slab of beef, and all the birds come pecking.  -Bronn comments to Jaime re: his power over women

Jaime is in a bad mood, BUT Bronn always has something funny (yet apropos) to say.  What will Bronn’s role be in the next season?  I hope that he gets to see some action/prove himself in a fight (NOT just be there for comic relief). 

Dorne

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Let the grown women talk.  -Lady Olenna says to the Sand Snakes before her talk w/ Ellaria

Oooh, watch out Cersei, Lady Olenna (all in black) is out for revenge!  House Tyrell is dead, as are her son and grandkids, Margaery and Loras. She has the Martells as allies, along w/ Varys (who is one of her kindred spirits).  What a (pleasant) surprise to see Lord Varys after a LONG time!

Game of Thrones: Season 6, Episode 10 (“The Winds of Winter”) – Top 10 Moments

SPOILERS: This post contains major spoilers from the season finale of the show.

10) The large bell is flung across the road by the force of the explosion, crushing several men.

9) The suspenseful lingering on Tommen’s window before to throws himself out of it (even before the dust can settle).

8) Sansa moving out of the way when Littlefinger tries to kiss her in the godswood.  Of his vision of the future, she says: “It’s a nice dream” (which is NOT a rejection or acceptance).

7) Cersei’s stone-cold confession speech to the shackled Septa Unella (after pouring wine over her face.) 

6) Davos confronting Melisandre (w/ Jon Snow as witness), revealing that she had Shireen (“I loved her like she were my own!”) burned alive.   

5) Lady Lyanna Mormont’s speech chastising some of the other Northern lords for NOT fighting against Ramsay’s armies (“…you refused the call”) before she declaring that Jon Snow is the “King in the North.”   

4) Arya killing Walder Frey (in exactly the same way that her mother, Catelyn, had been killed) after baking his two eldest sons into pies. 

3) Dany pins the small silver brooch on Tyrion and names him Hand of the Queen.  Their conversation brought out the emotional side of the Lannister outcast- he was close to tears.

2) Sansa and Jon’s conversation atop the Winterfell battlements, esp. the part where she states that he is IS a real Stark in her opinion.

1) Cersei is crowned queen (by Qyburn, now her Hand of the Queen).  The look on Jaime’s face is unlike anything we’ve seen before!  Is he doubting her finally?