Rectify, Season Three: Oh, the Humanity!

Okay, if you know me, then you know I am a bit obsessed by Rectify. Seasons one and two are streaming on Netflix, the third season is airing weekly on Sundance Channel (you can view the first two episodes on their website, http://www.sundance.tv/series/rectify), and the fourth season has just been given the go ahead–which makes me want to throw a tent revival in my back yard. Okay, maybe not an actual tent revival, but like a BBQ where we all just talk about how brilliant Ray McKinnon is and have Rectify themed drinking games.

If you are unfamiliar with Rectify, then stop, right now, and begin watching. McKinnon and I would urge you not to binge watch–each episode is too cinematically gorgeous and the subject matter is way too heavy for high speed consumption. The analogy that I can make is that I can totally eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s but I’d never try a gallon. Maybe on a dare, but I think I’d fail, honestly. I might be able to Cool Hand Luke it, but even I know my limits. You need those limits in order to really drink in everything that’s going on. Each episode is a chapter, and McKinnon has talked about trying to create the novel-reading experience. I think he’s succeeding brilliantly, but my MIL described watching the very first episode of Rectify as lots of people giving lots of other people really meaningful looks. Because I love her son, I did not wrestle her to the ground and demand she take it back.

I have so much to say about the first two episodes, and I haven’t read anything critics are saying, but I want to congratulate the writers on (Spoiler Alert) letting the deal go through. I also want to commend them on keeping the camera trained on the fall out, and the actual human reactions to Daniel’s admission of guilt, state of mind, and impending banishment.

Screen Shot 2015-07-18 at 4.44.28 PM
Aiden Young continues to portray Daniel Holden with great depth, subtlety, and humor.

Two scenes stand out for me, okay actually three:

Amantha and John’s break up in a bar. John’s summation of Daniel’s state of being is so matter of fact and spot on, I found myself clutching my chest. And Amantha is so disconnected from her own self, her own emotions, her own life she can’t care. She tells John she can’t be her brother’s keeper, and yet, episode two finds Daniel moving in with her.

Abigail Spencer as Amantha Holden rocks. Amantha struggles to build a life for herself in the wake of Daniel's admission of guilt and subsequent banishment.
Abigail Spencer as Amantha Holden rocks. Amantha struggles to build a life for herself in the wake of Daniel’s admission of guilt and subsequent banishment.

The second scene has everything to do with this arrangement. Daniel attempts to cook a charming, nostalgic meal once his sister admits she doesn’t eat and doesn’t eat and doesn’t eat and then she eats a ton of crap food. But she tells him flat out, after five minutes of trying that she just can’t give a shit.  She flees to her room and Daniel pours, and quickly drinks an entire glass of wine.

The final scene that just gutted me was when Janet (played by the amazing J. Smith-Cameron) goes to visit Tawny, and finds Teddy Jr. alone in the house that’s on the line for his failing rim business. He addresses her as Janet, revealing Tawny left, and he doesn’t know where–his shame such a huge, tangible thing that the formality of manners seems to be all that keep them both from coming unhinged. Janet reaches for his wrist and says aloud what she is thinking, “I wish I’d never asked you to call me Janet.” It’s too late. Like everyone else, Janet is trying to rectify the past.

As far as the mystery–is Daniel guilty or isn’t he–I don’t think McKinnon will be offering any easy black or white answers. He’s more interested in the gray uncertainty, the way we go about life in the face of not knowing.

If you are looking for a gorgeously filmed show that looks unflinchingly at the complicated and isn’t afraid to make its viewers feel discomfort and actively think–then this is the show for you. And consider yourself invited to that BBQ I mentioned earlier.

All cast photos came from Variety and can be viewed here: http://variety.com/gallery/rectify-season-3-cast-portraits/

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