Carry Water, Chop Wood: Episodes 3 & 4 of Rectify (Season 3)

I had to take a summer recess from Rectify. I admire Ray McKinnon so much as the series creator and as a writer, and something I so admire is his unrelenting commitment to not looking away or flinching from Daniel and his family. And as an audience member, honestly, I feel so privileged to get to peer so closely as this family, to see what they, as characters turn from or just can’t see, or do see but don’t know how to deal with.

They are all just making their way. Like us. It’s such hard work. And I think McKinnon gets the hard right, but he also gets the prismed moments of joy, slivers of transcendence. In episode 304, I wanted to kiss both of Amantha’s cheeks because thanks to being seen anew with the eyes of a stranger while at Thrifty Town managerial training, she can soften toward Daniel and do him a solid. Or maybe she just reverts to what she knows which is doing for her brother. For me, episodes three and four and have everything to do with our need, our desire, our longing to be seen and accepted as we are. Amantha’s kindness, her reaching out has Daniel opening up. As viewers (whoa, I wrote readers and then caught myself) we understand that what sounds like riddles, dark, dark riddles to Amantha is the truth he’s coming to about Tawny, about himself. His bedroom, so stark, the way he seems to press into the corner wall shows us that he hasn’t entirely left prison. And the anger–no, the rage that blasts out shows us that his body is a prison too.

Ted Senior is angry. Poor Janet is angry. And we know what they are really angry about is lack of control and feeling like each has to pick a side. One son pitted against another.  As Janet goes off to sleep in Amantha’s room, we see Tawny’s confusion and pain, and we see her reach out for Teddy Jr. because for once he leans into her pain. He does not turn from it. This after their first marriage counseling session.  There seems some reason to hope they will see one another anew, come to know one another anew, but I was also like “That’s right, Tawny!” when she pushed her husband away and got out of his truck instead of following where that path was leading. Am I right? Tawny is learning to trust herself, however painful it is, however lost she feels and I want most for these characters to know themselves well.

And speaking of this, I loved Amantha’s story of herself in front of the other trainees.  I loved it. It was painful as hell, but oh my gosh was it just beautifully and superbly acted. She needed to tell her story, and she tells it again to the stranger at the bar who is, of course, amazed by her. Stories are powerful, especially the stories we tell to reveal ourselves to others.

Let’s just all agree on this: Trey is creepy. He’s a cipher. I can’t figure him out, but I don’t like him and I want him to stay away from Daniel. But I’m glad because the sheriff is totally seeing through Creepy T as I call him. I think the sheriff is accumulating all of these narratives, looking for the strands of truth–for three crimes.Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 3.35.06 PM

I found the scene in the parking lot between John and Daniel touching and scary because it is dawning on me, as it is on Daniel, that his situation is beyond precarious. It’s dangerous. He could go back to prison if he jay walks his parole officer says. And John seems to sense, as we do, that maybe that doesn’t frighten Daniel enough. Or maybe he doesn’t feel truly a part of the world because he must live within such restraints. It seems initially that he finds a purpose and peace in painting the pool. He works hard and continuously and does a fine job. Like all of the characters, angry at what he/she can’t control, we see Daniel wreak havoc on what he can control: the pool. Like my friend Laura, who FBed me about yelling at him while she watched, I too asked myself why. Why, Daniel? Actually what I exclaimed was , “Don’t you do it!” followed by a muttering of, “What the hell, Daniel?”Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 3.33.45 PM

This is purely conjecture, but it seems to me that there is a wilderness in Daniel, born of trauma perhaps. Combined with his honesty, it’s what makes him so puzzling, and in my eyes, beautiful. But he’s painted into a corner by all sides, with 24 days left until exile. And in the grand scheme of things, in the face of it all, isn’t there just a moment of satisfaction in destruction? Especially when it is perhaps one of the only things within our limited control?

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