One of the best shows of last year is back with its second season and I couldn’t be happier – well once I managed to stop crying that is. Rectify has no problem with dealing with faith, the possibility of redemption, revenge and guilt and its strength is focusing on the characters rather than the plot
Last season ended with the devastatingly brutal beating of Daniel Holden (Aden Young as great as ever in the role) and now the lines between dream like reality and well actual dreams becomes more blurred in the season opener. Daniel spends his time in a coma and is visited by his old friend Kerwin (Johnny Ray Gill) who was executed last season. Their scenes together are beautiful as Kerwin admits to always hoping Daniel would get out of jail so he could live his life through him.
Kerwin represents hope in Daniel’s sub-conscious. Meanwhile flashbacks (or possibly memories its hard to tell) show the stark brutality of life in prison for Daniel after his closest friend leaves, it is horrible and it represents the part of Daniel that has given up on his life. It is tragic and horrible and thankfully the ending of the episode sees Kerwin turn up again and infuse Daniel with the thing he needs most, hope. Daniel has a chance to live a life again and Kerwin is determined he fights for it.
Elsewhere in the episode we see Daniel’s family struggle with the attack. Amantha (Abigail Spencer) once again feels the need to fight for her brother in anyway possible, whilst his mother Janet (J. Smith-Cameron) just doesn’t want to see her son die. My favorite non-Daniel scene of the episode came in the form of Amantha and Tawney (Adelaide Clemens) talking about religion as Tawney suffers a rare crisis in faith and wonders why God would allow such a horrible thing to happen to Daniel who has already suffered so much.
Like I’ve said before I love how Rectify handles religion, it never judges Tawney and her beliefs, she is never cast as a bad guy, she is never preachy. She just wants what is best for Daniel and in the short time she has known him (barely a week) she has grown attached to the man. It is touching and genius, she isn’t trying to save his soul to make herself feel better she is doing it because she cares for the man and believes he deserves some light in his life after nearly 20 years of darkness. I’m an atheist but the handling of faith on the show fascinates me no end and it proves religion and spirituality can be dealt with in TV in a thoughtful considered way.
Rectify deserves the increased media attention it has been getting this season. It is a very unique series, whilst slow-burn is often used to describe boring shows that never go anywhere with the plot or character, Rectify instead uses to its advantage. It doesn’t care about dropping huge revelations, or making sure every episode has a cliffhanger. Instead it lets the viewers consider who Daniel is, who these characters are and doesn’t ask us to judge them but study them and enjoy our time with them. I could spend a life-time watching them.
The second season of Rectify airs on Thursdays 9/8c on Sundance Channel – it is also available to buy on ITunes US and Amazon.Com. S1 is currently streaming on Netflix.