It’s easy to forget that every episode of Rectify covers another day-in-the-life of once-convicted and now-released death row inmate Daniel Holden (Aden Young). But remembering that fact is instrumental in appreciating the series’ continuing breadth and depth of emotion. The first, six-day season went out with a wallop as we witnessed the savage beating of Daniel by five masked men. Now, going into the seventh day (of rest?) Daniel is in a medically induced coma. It presents a convenient stage for Daniel to receive a visit from Kerwin (Johnny Ray Gill), his prison cell neighbor who had been executed when Daniel was still incarcerated. In this dream (or spiritual experience, depending on your own perception) Kerwin tells Daniel to “wake up” saying that life is a gift. “You better take that with you,” he says. “Take it where, Ker?” Daniel sleepily replies before we see him in his hospital bed, encumbered by tubes while his sister Amantha and their mother Janet watch over him. When he suddenly awakes, their reactions are a microcosm of how they regularly treat Daniel. Amantha loudly fights with the nurses, conversely telling Daniel that he does not have to fight anymore. But his mother calmly, gently consoles Daniel. And it works.
Amantha turns her angry-at-the-world attitude toward Tawney who arrives with her support. But she softens as Tawney cries over Daniel’s suffering. The battles, and the compromises, between good and evil continue to wage in Rectify.
In one of the more disturbing moments, from a flashback, Daniel is depressed over Kerwin’s execution. His other cell neighbor Wendell—the evil to Kerwin’s good—sexually relieves himself as he tells Daniel through the wall that he was one of the men who raped him while he was unconscious. It sends Daniel into a rage and into a battle with the prison guards who try to restrain him. Again, we see another side of Daniel. And again, I wonder if he did play a part in Hanna’s murder.
One of the episode’s most charming scenes takes place in Daniel’s head. He and Kerwin walk among the cows where the goat-girl statue stands while Daniel explains that he’s actually in a hospital, in a coma. With Kerwin’s help, Daniel gains the motivation to live, something he rarely demonstrates in the real world. Although their backgrounds are as opposite as the colors of their skin, their love for one another is refreshing and undeniable.
Sheriff Daggett diligently begins an investigation into Daniel’s beating, in spite of his deputy’s attempt to dissuade him. Bobby Dean, Hanna’s brother and one of the men who beat Daniel, watches a news story on the event as his mother looks on with admiration. Tawney’s guilt over her attention to Daniel causes her to give more attention to Teddy who remains freaked out over the coffee grounds rape he received from Daniel. Melvin, who was introduced last season as someone who knew Daniel before the murder, drops by the hospital and offers one of those Rectify lines that I’ve come to love and expect. “Regrets grow tiresome,” he says. Trey opens a hidden box containing items he had taken from George’s body, including a pistol and a cell phone that he decides not to turn on.
Did I mention that only seven days have taken place in the entire series?