Review: Rectify is Good…Really Good

(This review contains spoilers, read at your own risk!)

I love starting from the beginning with a show that has the potential to be great. Even though it only had a six episode first season, “Rectify” will probably make people take the Sundance Channel a little more seriously in the future. Here’s a quick synopsis from TV.com about this show that Tim Surette calls “the Best New Show You Haven’t Watched:”

Part family drama, part murder mystery, Rectify’s premise is remarkably simple on the surface, but incredibly nuanced and vulnerable upon deeper examination, just like its beating heart, Daniel Holden. After spending 19 years on Death Row for the rape and murder of his high-school sweetheart, new DNA evidence frees Daniel from jail and allows him to return to life in his small Georgia hometown—but it doesn’t free him from the loneliness and suspicion that surrounds him after nearly two decades of being locked in a room the size of a walk-in fridge.

On the surface, it seems as if this show is an independent film that the creator Ray McKinnon decided to turn into a movie at the last minute. It’s shot with an independent feel, with an overall pace to match. “Rectify” has a very similar the past HBO show, “Six Feet Under.” Both just tell their story how they want, as slow as they want, regardless of what anyone else thinks about it. The characters all have depth, and no stone goes unturned when exploring just who these people are while telling their individual story.

The relationship between the main character Daniel (Aden Young) and Kerwin (Johnny Ray Gill) involved the most interesting and well-acted scenes in season one. This show seemed to capture what it is like to be in a place (in mind and body) where a man knows when he is going to die. Also, the dynamic between Daniel and his mother Janet (J. Smith-Cameron), sister Amantha (Abigail Spencer), and little brother Jared (Jake Austin Walker) was captivating. Each gave a different perspective, because each played a different role in his life, both before and after, his incarceration (Jared wasn’t even born yet). It was fascinating to see their interaction as Daniel tried to re-figure out his role in their lives and society.

The gasp moment of the season happened at the end of episode five (“Drip, Drip”). Ted Jr. (Clayne Crawford) was warning Daniel not to spend so much time with his wife, while mocking the fact that Daniel said he stopped fighting back when he was beat up and raped in jail (Ted Jr. was insinuating that Daniel must have liked it). Out of nowhere, Daniel comes up behind Ted Jr. and chokes him out!! I thought that he had killed him! At that point I didn’t know where this story was headed. I didn’t know if Daniel had been guilty all along, if he had been turned into a murder through circumstance, or if he just didn’t like Ted Jr.

It was the kind of moment that most shows end their season on just to torture the audience for a year. It reminded me of the “Breaking Bad” season three finale when Jesse shot Gale, but we really didn’t know if he shot him or not until the season four opener. Instead, “Rectify” ended season one the only way they could: With a good ol’ fashion gang beating from the brother of Daniel’s supposed victim. 95% of the town still believes Daniel is guilty of rape and murder, so this ending was suitable.

Again, this show is about quality story-telling that is dispersed through fascinating relationships. Deadline.com has already reported the show’s renewal for a 10-episode season two. How will Daniel’s family respond to his unfortunate beating? Will Daniel and Tawny (Adelaide Clemens) turn their relationship into something more? Will Sheriff Daggett (J.D. Evermore) run the prints on the business card Trey Willis (Sean Bridgers) gave him, thus finding out that he’s one of the real killers? I can’t wait for 2014 to see where they go from here.

[amazon_link id=”B00C1LIZMQ” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Rectify DVD[/amazon_link]

[amazon_link id=”1575440423″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ] The Best in Television: 50 Years of Emmys[/amazon_link]

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Jack Gotta

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