Writing this review of Rectify is bittersweet and not just because the 4th season opener left me with similar feelings. It’s primarily because while I’m saddened this will be the last season I’ll spend with Daniel, Amantha and the rest of the Holden clan, I’m also happy to have it back in my life again, if only for a short few weeks.
I always found it a crime that more people haven’t watched this show and that the Emmys haven’t taken notice, but upon further reflection lately, I actually kind of like it. It makes it seem more personal; like a secret that not everyone’s in on. What Ray McKinnon has created these last 4 years has been a completely unique and original television experience; so much so that I fear I may never experience it again. Rectify has never had the bells and whistles that other shows have. It doesn’t live in the realm of spoilers, cliffhangers, or red herring filled mysteries that dominate so much of the TV landscape. No, Rectify has always inhabited its own world, a quiet, contemplative and often melancholy one, and has relied on the strength of its characters to propel the series. It is in this mission that it has always succeeded, and judging by the fourth season premiere, “A House Divided,” this year will be no different.
I won’t divulge too many details, but I will say that the episode follows suit with the show's usual slow and deliberate pacing to really take the time and explore where these characters are at since we last saw them. If you recall, Daniel (Aden Young) had made his move to Tennessee as part of his conditional exile in the third season finale, and we pick up right where we left him, albeit a few weeks or months later. Daniel (who is rocking some pretty fierce facial hair now) is going through the motions with his new job, his living arrangements at a halfway house, and continued group therapy. It’s all safe and structured, and you’d think that maybe a somewhat boring routine would be good for him after all he had been through. It soon becomes quite clear that he’s still struggling with never-ending guilt and other personal demons. He just can’t seem to get past the disconnect between living life in prison and adapting to the real world on the outside. Aden Young is remarkable as always, portraying the tortured soul often with just a look or a glance that’s weighted with the grief and isolation he feels.
The split of locations, due to Daniel’s exile, also benefits the series with a welcome change. Prior to now, all the people in Daniel’s life were forced to adapt their own lives to a degree based on his, so with him physically out of the picture, it will be interesting to see if they can thrive on their own. Daniel’s release, as victorious and righteous as it may have felt in the beginning, threw many lives and the town into upheaval. Many of them, particularly Amantha, stumbled into a lost and listless state of being without the banner of Daniel’s wrongful imprisonment to fight for. I’d like to see her and others find their way again, as much as I want that for Daniel, too.
There are many questions I have going forward into the final season. Will Amantha stick around at Thrifty Town, or expand horizons (and maybe, hopefully get back together with Jon)? Will Janet and Ted repair their fractured relationship? Will Teddy and Tawney finally call it quits for real and attempt to find happiness outside of their marriage? Will Daggett (my MVP from last season) figure out the truth about Trey and George Melton’s death? Will we ever find out if Daniel is truly guilty or innocent? Well, while I’d like to see at least a few of these answered, it’s never been an issue for me if they don’t. This isn’t Lost we’re talking about here. The answers to some of the larger questions raised by the series always seem peripheral to what happens to these characters I’ve come to care so much about. So when all is said and done and the curtain drops on the series finale, if the only knowledge I receive is that they have achieved some level of peace, I’ll consider it the perfect ending to a pretty darn-near perfect show.
Rectify returns this Wednesday, October 26th at 10/9c on Sundance.