“He wanted me to believe in myself.”
Two years ago, Rectify aired what I consider to be one of the most beautiful scenes ever created on screen: Daniel and Kerwin in the pasture, talking about life while the former remained in a coma in real life. It was beautiful in its simplicity and transcendent in its emotion, and it was a stunningly gorgeous expression of hope and love and friendship. In just six minutes and with just two characters, it illuminated a thematic underpinning that the show stuck to throughout its run: the idea of hope.
It’s an idea that oozes into every facet of this series finale, and the question posed to Daniel midway through is a meaningful one: “When’s the last time you felt disappointment because you hoped for something?” This is a series that understands that living life is all about running the gamut of emotion, and it understands that we need something to keep us going through the tough times.
What do we need? Well, hope. Hope can come in many forms, one of which is forgiveness. We see it with Janet and Judy Dean sitting on the bed together, talking about the room they’re in. We see it with Teddy handing the phone over to Tawney and being fine with her and Daniel chatting. We see it with Daniel forgiving himself in front of Jon, expressing his appreciation for the amount of people who have helped him and assuaging the guilt he’s felt over the years. All of these characters are making progress in their lives, reaching endpoints of sorts that also serve as beacons of light for their next chapters. They’re now at points where they can, as Amantha says, “think about what IS”. These small changes we witness are just as powerful as anything any other television series has produced, and it really is wonderful to see how the characters we love have grown.
These characters can also find hope in community. We get dual scenes near the end that simply consist of people sitting around a table laughing, and the episode speaks volumes with those images. At the beginning of the series, we saw a small-town community turn on Daniel Holden, and we saw all the cracks and divides that caused in the community that is his family. Now, though, we’re witnessing him finding his place in the world, and we see the importance of both the halfway home and his family in helping him do that.
Daniel also now realizes the value of others, and in doing so, he finds hope in himself. He believes in himself like Kerwin believed in him, and it’s such a passionate and completely earned expression from the show. The final scene consists of Daniel in the field with Chloe and her baby, rays of gorgeous light shining down upon them as they smile alongside each other. Fittingly, it’s a fantasy of Daniel’s as he lies on his bed, but the important point here is that he allows himself to have a fantasy like this. He’s finally at a point where he can accept himself, fight for himself, and look toward the future, and it’s beautiful to behold.
Rectify earns its emotion through its realism, its amazing acting and writing, and its unabashed compassion for its characters. It truly cares about the story it’s telling, and it expresses, first and foremost, that it’s completely okay to feel. Because of that, it’s the most human television series I have ever seen. It will go down as a classic one day.
Thank you to Ray McKinnon, Aden Young, and the rest of the cast and crew. What a journey.
SEASON GRADE: A-
SERIES GRADE: A
-This is a series that will one day be hailed as a classic alongside shows like The Wire, The Sopranos, and Mad Men. No one knows about it now, but people will know about it in the future. Mark my words.
-The series has never truly been about whether Daniel committed the crime, but we do get some closure in terms of his case. DA Person’s request goes through, and we get a short scene of Chris Nelms looking mighty guilty while his daughter watches.
-That Amantha-Janet sequence at the beginning. My heart.
-After Jon drives away, there’s a beautiful shot of Amantha looking around her with a small smile. Quiet moments like this make the show.
-What I love about the Daniel-Kerwin flashback and the way this show operates in general is that it’s perfectly content to spend time on a moment like that: two people just sharing a laugh. Sure, it nails the “Because I know you” moments, but it also recognizes the power of simple interaction.
-Aden Young is magnificent. One of the best actors of his generation. That therapy scene.
-This entire cast deserves an ensemble award of some kind, followed by individual awards. At the beginning of the series, Spencer and Young stood out, but now, the entire cast blows me away. I believe Clayne Crawford had the most difficult character to play, and he did it perfectly.
-I’d like to mention yet again just how great this show’s exploration of faith is.
-Shoutout to the beautiful opening credits that I never skipped through. Balmorhea’s “Bowsprit”. I highly recommend the rest of their discography as well.
-Apologies for not covering weekly like I promised I would. I got swamped by films and school, and I’m disappointed I was unable to write about this show every week. Thanks for reading, though.
Photo credit: Rectify, SundanceTV