Rectify Season 1

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Created by: Ray McKinnon 
Starring: Aden Young, Clayne Crawford, Abigail Spencer
Season One is on Netflix.
Season Two starts 6/19/2014 on the Sundance Channel

*This posts contains season one spoilers.*

Prior to actually starting the first episode I had never heard of Rectify and after talking to others it seems that no one has either. But after seeing it, I will be telling everyone to watch it. To give this show a chance because it is a wonderfully subtle, beautifully shot show about what makes a person. 

Rectify centers around Daniel Holden (Aden Young) who was 18 when he was charged with the rape and murder of his girlfriend Hanna Dean. Sentenced to death, Daniel has spent 19 years on death row until he is released based on newly acquired DNA evidence. He moves back into his childhood home in a small Georgia town and tries to re-assimilate to living life freely. 

The show isn't about whether Daniel did or didn't commit the crime. The show isn't about what happened to Hanna. The show is about Daniel. It's about Daniel now trying to re-imagine his life after spending so much time surrendering to the thought of the end of it.

A lot of the show is visual. There isn't much dialogue which some may find annoying but I think it helps to enhance the uncomfortable feeling that Daniel has. He's spent the majority of his life talking to two inmates through the walls of his cell. He was an adult, but barely, when they put him away. He may have always been weird and reserved but after everything that's happened he's even more so. His routine in prison required him to live life in a different way. He's grown accustomed to that and when he's finally free and outside, he finds his many choices overwhelming. 

In one scene he goes to his sister's new apartment to visit. He expects Amantha to answer the door and when her boyfriend does instead he can't even bring himself to go inside. 

"Well it shocked me to find you here. You know, just not used to contemplating all the variables one might encounter. I mean, there were variables inside, but wasn't like out here where it's...You know, and if you don't have the years of experience, there isn't the repetition of everyday living to make things mundane. Because mundane is calming and soothing. Mundane isn't out of the ordinary. And when everything is out of the ordinary, it can just be too much sometimes, you know?"

The tension and drama of the show comes in the form of the townspeople and family who think that Daniel may not be innocent. 

Teddy Jr., Daniel's step-brother  does not believe that Daniel is innocent, nor does he trust Daniel to be around his wife, Tawney. Hanna's brother is furious that Daniel has been let out of prison. In such a small town, the story of what happened that night is now something of a scary campfire legend. It seems that the entire town is polarized in their beliefs of his innocence.

There are some touching moments from people who do believe that he was wrongfully imprisoned. The moments are beautiful to watch especially when they are seemingly unimportant, such as picking out a book to read. 

Rectify leaves a lot of the story to your own imagination. A lot of what you feel in the characters are emotions you project onto them yourself. All of the interactions that Daniel has with other people are important, whether they talk or not. Sometimes, even just a touch between him and someone can prove to be a monumental event. But these experiences are riveting to watch to see exactly how they will impact his life. 

The title itself has a hopefully sinister duality in its definition. To rectify something is to set it right, to fix it. But in chemistry, to rectify means to make pure. Whether Daniel committed the crime or not, the fact that he has spent years living with the guilt of Hanna's murder weighs heavily on him. He might not be able to fix what happened to her, but will he be able rectify himself? 

I give it 4 out of 5 popcorn. 

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