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Rectify “Running with the Bull” Review (2×01)

19 Jun

aeb1759f623d4fb1cf3ca3915720346b“If you’re lying in a coma and you just can’t deal with it anymore and you’re just too tired and you’re ready to see what’s on the other side, it’s not my place to tell you what to do, brother. It’s just not my place. But whatever you decide, I’ll still love you, D. Always. Forever and always.”

Rectify is one of the most moving, unique, and breathtaking television shows I’ve ever seen, and it’s only been seven episodes thus far. “Running with the Bull” kicks off the second season with a wonderful look at the fallout of the beating Daniel took at the end of season one, and the episode proves that the show is as good as ever.

One of the great things about Rectify is that in a television landscape overpopulated with violence and sex and cheap thrills, it’s willing to sit back and let the story breathe. It isn’t interested in telling a story about good vs. evil or even antiheroes; rather, it’s quite simply human, and that’s encapsulated by Tawney’s and Amantha’s conversation in the hospital. The show doesn’t preach religion or look down upon it, instead electing to treat it with the care and nuance it affords all other facets of the production. Tawney believes in God, and that’s that, and her faith permeates the conversation with the person who still views her as on the outside looking in. Last season, Tawney developed a unique relationship with Daniel, and here she’s just trying to understand why that–and their community in general–has been ripped apart. So is Amantha.

Amantha is one of my favorite characters on television right now, and that’s largely due to Abigail Spencer’s moving performance. My favorite moment of hers in this premiere is the one transitioning from her alone in the room with Daniel–again emphasizing her fierce protectiveness–to her accepting a gift from Melvin. In a world that’s beaten her brother down again and again, therefore also striking her deep inside, it’s rare to find a a moment like this, a moment of simple kindness.

And that simple kindness is exactly what we find in Kerwin. He’s dead now, but by living vicariously through Daniel, he’s more free than he is ever before. We know that Daniel’s still in a coma, and him dying or living would both have negative effects on his community and/or family; so, it’s a frightening situation to be in. However, Kerwin’s optimism and honesty strike through to Daniel, and as much as listening to Wendell Jelks may pain him–him screaming is a futile effort because no one hears–Kerwin’s advice uplifts. At the end of that beautifully shot and acted final scene, someone listens. Kerwin listens to Daniel, and Daniel listens to Kerwin. This is friendship that will live on in the darkness.

Anyway, it’s all he’s saying. All he’s saying. All he’s saying.

GRADE: A-

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-Ted Jr.’s someone who never wanted any of this, and it’s a bit sad to see how his life has spiraled as a result. He can be an asshole, but at the end of the day, he’ll still be there for Janet; will he be there for Daniel? I like how he gets a moment of reflection here.

-The show’s opening credits are wonderful.

-Ugh, Bobby and Judy Dean make me so angry.

-We’ll delve into these other supporting characters–like Daggett, Foulkes, etc.–as the season progresses, I’m sure.

-I love Abigail Spencer a lot, so if you read my reviews moving forward, you will see that I take any chance to praise her. Here’s a picture:

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-I’ll be covering this weekly. It’s probably better to look at is a whole, but I welcome the challenge (sort of?) of tackling each individual episode. It’s going to be great.

Photo credit: Rectify, Sundance, AMC

 

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One Response to “Rectify “Running with the Bull” Review (2×01)”

  1. Debra K July 12, 2015 at 5:19 pm #

    The writing and characters are so rich on Rectify and multi-layered, that it is what I call a “heartbreaking joy” to watch. I savor every slow and moving interaction between these characters like no other show these days. It is literature come alive right before my very eyes, steeped in the tradition of Southern Gothic, for sure, and loaded with metaphor, allegory, and mystery – not of the ubiquitous “detective” kind of mystery – but rather the kind that informs the mysterious bonds that exist between family and culture, and how regional culture is transmitted, telegraphed, reinforced, and finally changed through time. The South has gotten a very bad rap for a very long time, as evidenced by an unfair and enduring negative stereotype of its people, but in actuality, there are as many types of Southerners as there are Americans. I am glad that Ray McKinnon has expanded our references beyond the “Honey Boo Boo” and “Duck Dynasty” caricatures of today, and managed to find the genuine heart of the South in all of its messy contradictions, dreamy contortions, and stalled conversations, especially in the long spaces between what is known and what it said. Thank you, Ray McKinnon, and the writers and actors of Rectify for a superb offering.

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