In the season 3 premiere of Greenleaf, family patriarch Bishop James found himself facing both a divorce and an IRS tax bill. Drama series Greenleaf debuted its first season on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) in 2016 and began airing its fourth season 2019. The show is set at a fictional super-wealthy Memphis megachurch - Calvary Fellowship World Ministries – and follows the titular Greenleaf family, which is headed by Bishop Greenleaf (Keith David) and his first lady Mae (Lynn Whitfield).
Greenleaf is not quite the wholesome family drama its church setting might imply, however. The show has been compared to Empire if it was set at a Memphis megachurch rather than a New York City record label and that's not far from the truth. Beneath the façade of the church there are a whole lot of dark secrets and scandals within the family. Over its first three seasons alone, the Greenleafs have been involved in everything from adultery and embezzlement to familial rape – and that’s not to mention the everyday backstabbing and rivalries with fellow megachurches.
Over the course of its first two seasons, Greenleaf has revealed a great deal about its patriarch Bishop James. Not only was James involved in some shady goings-on with his church’s finances, but he also committed adultery and many years ago burned down his old church for the insurance money, unwittingly killing a man in the process. While the bishop managed to avoid jail time for arson and manslaughter, his infidelity and money woes came back to bite him in Greenleaf season 3 episode 1, “Strange Currents”.
At the end of season 2, it was revealed James had been having an affair with his wife Mae’s sister Mavis (Oprah Winfrey) so she quite rightly kicked him out of their house. By the Greenleaf season 3 premiere James is living in a hotel - albeit a very nice hotel - and Mae seems determined to divorce him. James is hit by a double whammy when he also receives a letter stating the Cavalry megachurch owes $2 million to the IRS and if it isn’t paid within 90 days, he’ll be charged with tax evasion.
James tries to convince Mae they could better weather the tax bill crisis if they were back together but she’s initially having none of it. By the end of the season 3 premiere of Greenleaf, Mae allows James to move back into the family mansion for the purpose of keeping up appearances but informs him their future is still uncertain.