OWN’s religious-themed series Greenleaf promised plenty of drama from the onset, and it delivered in a season finale packed with several shocking moments. Grace (Merle Dandridge) takes to the pulpit to bare some of the family’s biggest secrets, and Charity (Deborah Joy Winans) decides to strike out on her own following her husband (Tye White)’s confession about his sexuality. Meanwhile, Henry MacCready (Bill Cobbs) has a bombshell about Calvary Fellowship’s shady beginnings, and Lady Mae (Lynn Whitfield) and Aunt Mavis (Oprah) have an epic showdown. Finally, Uncle Mac (Gregory Alan Williams) casually strolls up to the family estate after being unexpectedly released from jail.
But does all of the jaw-dropping drama mean that someone in the Greenleaf family will finally answer to a higher power? EW went to Dandridge with an arsenal of burning questions about the finale — and got some fun scoop on the season ahead.
EW: The season premiere saw Lady Mae give a stirring speech at the church’s annual “Women’s Day” event. Is she angling herself as potential head of the church?
MERLE DANDRIDGE: I think Lady Mae has always been the greatest protector of the church. If Lady Mae can make it to the pulpit, if that’s an if, she will finally be able to control things 360 the way she wants to.
Charity and Kevin have definitely hit a rocky patch after his confession about his sexuality. Will the rest of the family ever find out that Kevin is gay — and will it matter?
In the realm of the Greenleaf arena, nothing stays secret too long, so I don’t think this will remain a secret to the rest of the family for long, if at all. But I don’t believe it will matter to the family.
Mac is back. How and why did that happen?
I believe we haven’t even begun to see the depths of how far Mac will go to maintain his status quo, and how much dirt he has on everyone and how much strife and ugliness he can put on the family. He’s been able to keep his place because of these unbelievable things. In addition, the secrets of his generation are deep and dark, and go way back when this church was founded. I think next season we’ll find out a lot about the not necessarily upright means to how the church was founded, and how Mac has a lot of dirt on the bishop.
Will the bishop’s financial transgressions ever come to light in a way that would threaten the future of the church?
That’s going to be the big question, and that’s why people should tune into season 2!
It’s worth noting that Lady Mae didn’t exactly welcome Mac home with open arms. How will that dynamic play out next season?
With Mac back home, Mae has to make room for him. Not out of sisterly devotion to her brother but out of fear that he will out them. He’s got them handcuffed now.
The tension between Grace and her ex-husband is unbelievable. Will we ever find out how they became a couple in the first place?
I have my own theories on how that came to pass — he was the polar opposite of the Greenleafs when she was trying to escape the family, and he was a comfortable free place to land when she was trying to find her own voice. So it’s no wonder why this relationship ended. It was like putting a square peg into a round hole. But I think we’re going to see more of that story, and their past.
On the topic of Grace’s love life, what will happen to the relationship between Grace and Noah (Benjamin Patterson)?
I think Grace has a lot to figure out before she can find her boo. I don’t think she’d be healthy for Noah right now.
What are you most excited about tackling in the show’s second season?
I’m so excited to head back to work. Grace now knows her place, her work, and what she’s supposed to do. She’s going to be a confident, proactive, sword-wielding Grace in season 2.
Does that mean Grace will choose to stay with her family, as opposed to moving to Arizona to be with her daughter?
We’ll have to see. She has to figure out how to be a mother and create the best future for her daughter, with trying to deal with this ugly and dark past. That’s the balance.
It’s been quite a season. Looking back, what was the hardest scene to film in season 1?
The dinner scene in the first episode. I think I’m always going to go back to that scene, because it was terrifying and exhilarating because it put all of us actors together on the first day of work and to see not only how the actors work together, but how the characters interact. It was more than just having first day nerves; it was about Grace being in such a place of crisis and sitting right next to the man who has caused so much strife for her over the last 20 years. Without a doubt, that was one of the most challenging scenes to film.
This season you shared some wonderful scenes with Oprah, who played Mavis. Is there any chance she could return to the show next season?
There’s always room for Oprah. Aunt Mavis is the conscience, the one on the outside that sees everything with perspective. We need Mavis!