“You gotta figure out some way to love yourself.”
Rectify is minimalist but profound. It’s about figuring out how the hell to live life, how to find hope amidst all the curveballs life throws at you. It’s not about whether Daniel killed Hanna; it’s about how that murder and subsequent events change the way Daniel interacts with himself and the world. As he says early on in “A House Divided”, it’s all just “a work in progress”. In fact, that’s all it ever was and ever will be, and Rectify understands that idea. Ray McKinnon and co. find compelling drama and quiet beauty in simple life stories, and that’s what helps this series strike a chord that very few shows can.
In the wonderful season premiere, we’re placed in Daniel’s shoes via isolation from all of the other characters we know. He’s in a halfway house and part of the New Canaan Project, a program that aims to figure out some kind of plan in a post-prison life. The episode thankfully acknowledges the complexities of this program: on the one hand, it’s a bit presumptuous to think that it can magically clear up one’s problems, but on the other, maybe it’s a good place to start. In the end, Avery has it right when he asks Daniel: “What else can you do?” Daniel certainly does not fit tight like a glove in this environment–nor does he in the outside world, as he states–but what good does anything do if you don’t at least make an effort? “That’s what you gotta decide: whether you deserve a life or not out there.”
The above quote comes after an absolutely mesmerizing monologue delivered by Aden Young. We can feel the weight of Kerwin’s loss pouring out of him there, and we can feel four seasons’ worth of buildup being released in a flood of emotions. “If I am dead, then why am I still so goddamn lonely?” Daniel asks. It’s a heartbreaking question, but it’s one that feels very real and very true to the character. My only hope is that Daniel can try to find some hope, something we do see some of in this episode. For instance, he runs across a group of artists, connecting the most with Chloe as he finally gets to share his full name. In a world in which other people seem to have dictated his life, Chloe’s question about whether he wants to create something resonates deeply. In a world that isolates him at every turn, his participating in the game at the end of the episode is beautiful to witness. Things take time, but hopefully good things will come.
-Aden Young is giving the best performance on television right now. I do not say that as hyperbole.
-It’s strange to see Caitlin Fitzgerald in something that is not Masters of Sex.
-I’ll be covering all eight episodes. I’m excited to see how it all ends.
Photo credit: Sundance TV, Rectify