Rectify “Act as If” Review (2×05)

18 Jul


“Act as if you belong here.”

Prison deprives you of a “normal” life, and while sometimes, you may deserve the punishment, for innocent people who’ve lost years for something they didn’t do, it’s especially devastating to look back and realize that they were failed by the law, that there were things they didn’t get to do because of a flawed system. Daniel isn’t someone who holds any deep-seated grudges, but there’s been a gradual build of frustration within him, an, as I put it last week, accumulation of weights piled onto his shoulders.

So, he lives in excess for a bit. He’s walking a tightrope here because he’s engaging in actions that could easily land him back in jail, and it’s easy to look at him as someone just waiting to explode, to get caught, to get hurt. Yet, for every dark side, there’s also a light, and Rectify is actually one of the more optimistic shows on television. Here’s Daniel Holden, living a college-esque party life that he never had, alleviating some of the pain ever present in his psyche. Is it a dangerous way to go about his business? Yes. Is he doing it with the wrong kind of people? Yes. Is there something off about Lezlie? Yes. However, in idea, it’s something that Daniel deserves, just like he deserved last week’s trip to Atlanta and the resulting intellectual discussions.

This week, when Daniel enters the thrift shop at the beginning of the episode, Lezlie recognizes his loneliness and figures that while he may not be able to help with that, he may be able to help Daniel not be alone. So, he literally tethers himself to Daniel, wading into the crowd and surrounding himself with people as he blasts records into smithereens outside. He then hands the gun over to the new center of attention, who does the same. We’ve already seen Daniel throw away his things as an act of purging, of release, and here, it’s just one step further. There’s a sense of artificiality to the proceedings–“Act as if you belong here,” Lezlie says–but it’s all rooted in genuine desires and feelings, and anyway, is he honestly the only one acting here? I wouldn’t believe so.

Of course, Daniel heading over to that party is what we see at the end of the episode, an episode structured around a lovely monologue by Janet about a bike she rode to help attempt to take her mind off Daniel’s execution; she reveals that when she found out about the execution being stayed, she never rode it again. It’s wonderful how the episode leads into that monologue: we see Daniel, Jared, and Janet kidding around in the kitchen, but when Amantha enters, the scene immediately becomes tense and heavy; that tells you a lot about the situation she’s in right now, and to make matters worse, she drops the news of Rutherford Gaines’s death. Daniel’s obviously saddened by the news, and he retreats to the garage and asks Janet to tell the story of the bike; it’s a sad story, but life’s transience makes it all the more necessary to tell it. Here, J. Smith Cameron–who’s been consistently killing it in the show–beautifully handles Janet opening up, the history clearly weighing on her mind and hanging on every word, the fear of death leading into the hope for life. That has a deep impact on Daniel, and fittingly, Lezlie’s party is a way for him to live the life–however risky it is–the stay of execution gave him, and in doing so, he can attempt to make up for the life the prison sentence took away.

“Act As If” is about recapturing what you’ve lost. Aside from Daniel, we also see Tawney and Ted Jr. trying to reconcile with each other. The final shot of their first scene together–Tawney with her back to the wall and Ted Jr. stopped in the doorway, looking back–encapsulates the essence of the scene: they may not be in the same room just yet, but Ted isn’t storming out and slamming the door without looking back. An effort’s now being made, and that’s clear because Tawney now feels comfortable enough to share her college dreams (a spark ignited within her by none other than Daniel Holden last season) and her missed period. It’s a fascinating story we get to see unfold here, and although this episode doesn’t indicate perpetually clear skies ahead for anyone, it’s a good step.

The beauty of this show, though, is that it allows for clear skies. We can see dark and dreary and storms all day, but Rectify understands that sometimes, the clouds need to clear and the sun needs to shine through.



-Leon Rippy, Tom Nuttall from Deadwood, plays Lezlie, and he does a great job.

Edit: Apparently, it’s spelled Lezley, so assume I spelled it right the first time.

-I love how the episode delves into Ted Sr.’s side of things. The cold open is very well handled–“Filters.”–and it’s interesting how Janet later takes his very reasonable approach to the kitchen situation as an attack on Daniel. You can see a bit of Amantha in her.

-The aforementioned Teddy-Tawney shot reminds me of one of the promotional posters they use:


-Speaking of Amantha, man, that blank stare. I understand. You’re still very pretty.

-Also speaking of Amantha, it’s sad, but understandable, that she wouldn’t be jumping up and down to move to Boston. Simply put, she’s a Paulie girl, and she just can’t let go; she doesn’t like it here, but she has to stay.

-Also also speaking of Amantha: Jon, you lucky bastard.

Photo credit: Rectify, Sundance TV


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