Rectify Final Season
Rectify, one of the first original series to appear on the Sundance Channel, has always been one of the quietest great serialized dramas on TV. Though there is a fair amount of anger and rage underneath it all, it doesn’t boil the same way so many series these days do. Rather it simmers, occasionally letting a spark of anger float to the surface. Now, as it enters its fourth and final season, we find the saga of Daniel Holden and his family coming to a far quieter end then a series that deals with such brutal subjects as false convictions and the death penalty as well as the emotional wreckage that can lead to.
Strangely enough, Daniel (Aden Young, continuing to demonstrate great fortitude) seems closer to being at peace than he has been at any time in the series. Exiled to Nashville under the terms of a plea agreement, and staying in a halfway house with fellow convicts, he finally seems to be dealing all of the anger and rage that have built up in a way he just wasn’t doing in Pauley. For the first time, he is on the verge of dealing with the PTSD that has plagued him for the entire series, the most inevitable consequence of Daniel spending nearly two decades of his life on death row. He is finally beginning to accept his companions, and in an interesting scenario he has begun to explore his world, even finding interest with a local artist (Caitlin Fitzgerald, continuing to demonstrate why she is the most fascinating actress on TV).
The remainder of the Holden family is making some progress in moving forward as well. Amantha (Abigail Spencer) has finally reached a level of comfort in her position at a chain store, and may even be able to move past her relationship with Daniel’s attorney Jon Stern. Even moving in with her mother actually seems like a step forward. Mrs. Clemens (J. Smith Cameron) is dealing with a certain level of movement as well, when it turns out someone in her past may be interested in buying the family business. Ted (Chayce Crawford) and Tawny seem to be trying to move forward through marriage counseling, but Tawny is beginning to think it is time to leave her husband at last.
As for the underlying crime that has been at the center of the series, the rape and murder that Daniel was convicted of, there is a new trial about to move forward. It is consistent with Rectify’s measured tone that the series tries to examine every angle of the system. When Jon Stern explodes in frustration at the sheriff for not proceeding in just terms, he doesn’t know just how hard he has been trying to find justice for all involved. Similarly, the sheriff doesn’t know that Stern is under a lot of pressure to leave the retrial behind, considering the agreement that Daniel signed off on didn’t take all the facts into account.
Did Daniel commit the crime that he was accused of? Creator Ray McKinnon promises to answer that question by the end of the series. In a sense, though, it almost doesn’t matter. Rectify is one of the most brilliant series on TV (though the Emmys have never thought so) because it looks at the cost of human wreckage. It’s not so much about the aftermath of a crime as about the wasted potential of a human life and how it affects everybody in its path.
My score: 4.5 stars.