Once again, summer brought us a lyrical, haunting and immensely satisfying season of Rectify, which continues to thrive on the Sundance Channel amidst very little glory (aside from the critics of course, whose job it is to find the best stuff on television, and who regularly mark it down for the great show that it is). I'm starting to think this is a series that can do no wrong, as it has never made a real misstep in its somewhat radical manner of storytelling. It continues to hit all the emotional beats of the human spectrum, and the characters continue to live their lives and evolve within the world exactly at the pace they're intended to, almost as if we're watching these people live life on their own, with no regard for the audience watching.
Which isn't to say that Rectify isn't entertaining, at least not for me. I love it and am fascinated by the slow progression of movement within the show's characters, but also by the plot itself, which actually picked up the pace this year more than it ever has, as we have finally solved the rape of Hanna Deen, with no more questions to be wondered about on that front. The murder is another story and continues to linger, but with the way the show dove headfirst into progressing the investigation this year, I'm now fully expecting it to give us some clear cut answers by the end of the series, something I had never expected, nor thought was necessary to the development of the story before. But hey, if Ray McKinnon really does want to tell us what happened on that fateful night, I'd love to hear it. It just won't take anything away from what's already been explored involving the peculiar, preternaturally evolved mind of one Daniel Holden, who continues to be played just right by Aden Young with subtle, odd, and sometimes even humorous layers, no matter what he's saying or doing at any given moment.
This season the show went back to its six episode format that it had originally debuted with, after having a full ten hours last year. It's possible that with such short seasons, the methodical storytelling is greatly enhanced, free of structure and unencumbered by filler of any kind, although this was my favorite show of 2014, so the ten episode order certainly didn't do the writers a disservice last year, as far as I was concerned. But now Daniel has agreed to his plea deal and been officially banished from Pawnee, ordered to move in 30 days after he gets his affairs in order. Of course Daniel has no real interest in doing that, instead deciding to paint neighbor Melvin's pool at the apartment complex where he temporarily moves in with Amantha, an activity that, much like his unfinished kitchen project, holds a deeper, more personal meaning for him. He's been kicked out of his own home by dear old stepdad Ted Sr., who's understandably upset by the discovery of Daniel's assault on Teddy, and the conflict leads to a rift between him and Janet, who also refuses to turn her back on her damaged son for any reason, proving yet again she's the world's toughest and most understanding mom, taking all the knocks Daniel gets in life as her own, and playing mama grizzly to the end. Teddy himself experiences the seemingly final dissolution of his awful marriage to Tawney, a character who finally gets a backstory of her own this season, as we find out what drew her Teddy in the first place, and why Daniel's hold on her seems to have moved her further away from the arms of her controlling husband.
And the investigation, as I mentioned, progresses at relatively lightning speed this time, as Sheriff Daggett (J.D. Evermore) teams up with newly suspicious D.A. Sondra Person (Sharon Conley) to figure out what really happened with the death of George Mason and the creepy Trey Willis' involvement in the sordid Hanna Deen affair. Honestly, the heavy focus put on the investigation this year leads to some very cathartic moments as Daggett finally puts on his intelligence cap and realizes the obvious signs pointing towards Trey and away from Daniel for once. As a longtime viewer, it is nice to see Daniel finally catch a break, which is maybe leading to a full acquittal as more evidence comes to light about Senator Foulkes's corruption after a stroke puts him out of commission, while Jon Stern reapplies himself to exposing the truth. And then there's Amantha (Abigail Spencer) whose story this year leads her towards a position she never imagined, as she tries to move on with a life that had only ever been occupied by one goal, removing her brother from prison. Now that that's over with and Daniel isn't in constant need of her help, what is she meant to do with herself after all these years?
As always, the plot remains secondary to the emotional interaction of the characters, the connection between people and families who've been broken or damaged by life (which is most families to some degree, isn't it?) and the ongoing journey of Daniel Holden to find out who he is and how to live and love as a free man, a man free of the literal prison but not quite his internal one as he steps forth into the world beyond his home town and now his home state. I don't know how long Rectify will last, but I've enjoyed and luxuriated in every graceful and elegiac moment of it, and I fully expect to return to these people next year with the same amount of satisfaction that it gives a devoted viewer every year. It remains truly, truly great.