The Fire That Killed Darryl James on 'Greenleaf' Wasn't an Accident

Who killed Darryl James on 'Greenleaf'? The father of three's death in a church fire had to do with Bishop's estate.

Allison Cacich - Author

Sep. 15 2020, Updated 6:41 p.m. ET

who killed darryl james on greenleaf
Source: OWN

Viewers never met Darryl James on the OWN drama Greenleaf, but the character — who died in a fire at Calvary Fellowship five years ago, leaving behind son Basie and daughters Tara and Rochelle — caused a helluva lot of stress for the church’s first family in Season 5.

All three of Darryl’s children were convinced that Bishop was responsible for their dad’s death, but did the pastor actually arrange to have the man killed or was he set up?

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Who killed Darryl James on 'Greenleaf'?

In Season 5, Episode 4, we learned that Lady Mae’s truly awful brother, Mac McCready, was the one who lured Darryl to the church basement on the night of the fire and arranged to have it go up in flames.

Thanks to Jacob’s sleuthing, he discovered that Darryl was supposed to inherit the Greenleaf Estate from its original owner, a wealthy white woman named Loretta Davis, who was later revealed to be his real mother. 

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mac darryl james greenleaf
Source: OWN

Mac in prison.

However, Darryl got left out of the will after Bishop convinced Mrs. Davis to leave the home to him at Mac’s behest and under the assumption that she was childless. Bishop told Tara he only just learned that Darryl had been the intended beneficiary, and suggested Mac killed her father to keep him from uncovering the truth.

"I want you to know that we’re in this together… looking back sadly to a place we can’t go back to," Bishop said in his sit-down with Tara. "Is there any way that we can get past this once and for all?"

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The church leader later admitted that the procurement of Greenleaf Estate allowed him to establish Calvary Fellowship. "The only reason this building… the only reason it exists is because I was given a house by a Mrs. Loretta Davis," he told his congregation. "And with that house for collateral, I was able to get a loan from the bank to build this church."

But the money that followed led him down a dark path. "It wasn’t success, it was a succubus, a demon of wealth and power seducing me," Bishop confessed, noting that his greed blinded him from the truth. "I was too enchanted with what I had to gain to consider the cost and who had paid it in the flames with his life."

bishop greenleaf
Source: OWN
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The upcoming 'Greenleaf' spin-off will be about "the rise of the women."

With Bishop’s death in the penultimate episode, creator and writer Craig Wright set the stage for Lady Mae to take over as lead pastor. "The story is going to be about the continuing rise of all of the women in the family and them facing the struggle that the men faced 35 to 40 years ago," the executive producer explained in an interview.

Craig added in a chat with TVLine that Greenleaf was always headed in that direction. "I knew that the series was inevitably going to have to be about the eclipse of male power, because the male power in the Black churches, it’s like the sacred cow. It’s the thing you’re not ever allowed to kick at," he stated.

"So I knew that if we were gonna tell a story that had any live energy, it was gonna have to be about gnawing away, in the most respectful way, at the foundations of male authority."

We can’t wait for the Greenleafs’ return. All five seasons of the drama are now available to stream on Netflix.

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