Rectify is the perfect binge-watch. Though Daniel’s tale is not as compressed as Jack Bauer’s adventures on 24 in which a one hour episode covers one hour of story time, Rectify’s modus operandi of covering about a day in each episode since Daniel’s release from prison provides a full immersing for bingers. And, at the risk of offending 24 fans, Rectify is a whole lot more interesting, and without the multiple, jerky camera angles. The Sundance channel’s first television series, the show has become a critical hit, although most TV viewers have never even heard of it.
Season Two ended with a cliffhanger when Teddy (Clayne Crawford) decided to press charges against Daniel (Aden Young) for the coffee ground assault at the tire store, an act that would jeopardize Daniel’s confession/plea deal, preventing further prosecution for Hanna’s murder. A predictable Season Three opener would most certainly include fireworks, right? But as show creator/writer/director Ray McKinnon has repeatedly shown, there is no formulaic predictability to Rectify. Teddy is too late to stop the proceedings. He angrily tells Sheriff Daggett that he didn’t want to press charges in the first place and goes home to consider what’s next for him and Tawney, who has disappeared on him. That sets the tone for the entire episode with moments for each character to recharge and reload now that the murder case is closing. (Or so we think.)
Daniel, who has 30 days to leave the state, returns home from the debriefing session and finds Ted, Sr. working on the remodeling of the kitchen. Janet is out getting food for dinner. “It’s what she does,” says Ted. We’ve learned that Daniel was a bit strange even as a youth. That, along with a couple of decades in prison, has given him a different set of communication skills. Still, when he asks Ted to let him help with the kitchen before he leaves, even after Ted’s anger over what Daniel did to Teddy, we are surprised at his stubborn insistence. Ted says no and is upset to later find Daniel working on kitchen cabinets in the garage. Daniel only says that he can’t help it. Later, while sitting in a park, he blurts out “I’m nobody to be worried about” to a total stranger. And in what is either a daydream or a nightmare, Daniel watches his own execution in prison as the strapped-down Daniel tells the observing Daniel “It’s just a game that has to be played out over and over and over again.” Strange, indeed.
After the debriefing session, Senator Foulkes, who was against the plea deal, congratulates district attorney Person and is visibly relieved to have the matter settled. But Person appears uncertain and brings up “Christopher” who Daniel says was also with Hanna the night of the murder. Like Tawney’s friend “Miss Kathy,” Christopher is one of the most intriguing, yet-to-be-seen characters on the show.
Up until Teddy’s and Tawney’s separation, Tawney continuously supported Teddy and his changing moods and actions. But now, Teddy desperately wants her back and seems to want to change. He just has a bad way of showing it. When Tawney calls to check in, offering suggestions for marriage counseling, Teddy ruins the opportunity for reconciliation with sarcastic and dismissive remarks. Their relationship has been a cornerstone of the entire series and this episode overflows with hints of more complications to come.
The relationship between Jon and Amantha, however, seems to have ended. But not before Jon asks her to stand by Daniel in spite of their previous falling out. Amantha’s life has changed in a direction far away from when the series began, as we see when her boss at Thrifty Town suggests that she enter management training saying, “There are worse places to end up.”
As George’s discovered body lies between them in forensics, the sheriff and the D. A. discuss the strong possibility of suicide although no gun has been found. While Trey does not have a scene, our knowledge of his actions hangs over every aspect of Hanna’s murder.
As Senator Foulkes, Michael O’Neill gives his best performance of the series when he suddenly has a stroke in mid-sentence while dining at the local café. That will most certainly affect future investigations. The show’s dedication to exploring the motivations and influences of all its cast, not just Daniel, is what makes Rectify so addicting. As the new season begins, McKinnon once again skillfully manipulates his palette of wonderfully complex characters, leaving us impatiently wanting more.