May 22, 2014 at 11:49 am #318187
I wish that this had not missed an Emmy cycle, but I will be glad to have this and its great performances back. As much as I harped on the cinematography last season from a technical standpoint, Rectify did photograph the south prettier than True Detective and I am ready for some magic hour fields on my computer monitor. As we are seeing now with Mad Men, it is hard for a show that is so light on plot to accomplish much in six or so episodes, so I am looking forward to see what they can do with ten.May 22, 2014 at 1:25 pm #318188
^ Well said.
Rectify is my favorite ongoing show. I can’t wait for it to returnMay 22, 2014 at 1:33 pm #318189
I enjoyed very much the first season, even with it’s flaws, there were some pretty fantastic moments and the acting is top notch.June 19, 2014 at 6:32 am #318190
The early reviews are excellent! I’ll post them shortly.June 19, 2014 at 7:38 am #318191
Hollywood Reporter’s review:
10:40 AM PDT 6/17/2014 by Tim Goodman
The Bottom Line: After a great six-episode first season, Rectify will get 10 to share Daniel
Airtime: Thursdays at 9 p.m. on Sundance Channel,
beginning June 19
Cast: Aden Young, Abigail Spencer, Clayne Crawford, Luke
Kirby, Adelaide Clemens, Bruce McKinnon, J. Smith-Cameron
Creator: Ray McKinnon
second season of Sundance Channel’s critically acclaimed drama keeps its Slow
TV beauty but moves the story along with grace and grit.
Ray McKinnon, the creator, writer, and director of the
acclaimed drama Rectify, which begins
its second season Thursday on Sundance TV, made a particularly telling comment
about his series: “Rectify is
about being alive.”
He’s right, of course, but some may read into the meaning
of “being alive” a sense of exuberance and passion, both tamped-down
traits of Rectify, which is the
current poster series in the Slow TV movement.
The first season revolved around main character Daniel
Holden (Aden Young), who spent 19 years on death row, convicted of raping and
murdering his girlfriend. Freed on DNA evidence, Daniel is let out of the tiny
white cell where he’s spent half his life and returns to the fictional small
Southern town of Paulie, where his family tries to ease him back into a
community where most people still thinks he’s guilty.
His release was secured through the efforts of his sister
Amantha (Abigail Spencer) and lawyer Jon Stern (Luke Kirby) from the nonprofit
legal organization Justice Row. Amantha is a no-bullshit firecracker (and
Spencer is wonderful in that role) whose life’s work so far, almost by
accident, has been helping to free Daniel. In season two she will have to face
up to what that means for her now that he’s out.
Daniel’s father is dead and his mother, Janet (J.
Smith-Cameron), has married a good man in Ted Talbot Sr. (Bruce McKinnon). But
Ted Jr. (Clayne Crawford) believes Daniel’s highly controversial release will
doom sales at the tire store that he and his father took over from Daniel’s
father. Prickly, selfish, and skeptical, Ted Jr. also doesn’t fully believe
Daniel is innocent. As much as the audience hates Ted Jr. (which means that Crawford
truly nailed that part), there are episodes in season one where viewers might
start to side with him.
But Ted Jr.’s ultra-religious young wife, Tawney
(Adelaide Clemens), sees a fragile lost soul in Daniel and believes that God
has put him in her path to be saved.
Ray McKinnon was able to generate a lot of sparks out of
a smoldering coal of a story, getting all of the supporting characters involved
even when Young’s performance as Daniel was so riveting you didn’t want the
camera to cut away from him. In many ways, however, six episodes wasn’t enough.
In the second season, Rectify is up to 10 episodes, which seems more fitting
and should allow for an expansion of its small world.
What McKinnon did so masterfully in that first season was
track those six episodes over a span of six days, slowing down and expanding
upon exactly what it must have been like for someone like Daniel—introspective,
partially broken, book-smart, wary, quiet, and confused—to be dropped back into
a life he barely started living before going to jail.
It was a superb, nuanced, and delicate six hours that at
times felt like watching a flower open slowly. In the case of Daniel, the
pressures and prejudice of the small town he lives in, the changes in his
family over time and upon his release, and his sense of almost overwhelming
wonderment at the smallest of things were too much to absorb in six days. He
went from an unexpected, quiet guest to a man unmoored, choking out Ted Jr.
(and embarrassing him in a way you just have to see to appreciate) and finally
suffering the pent-up hostility of the small town when the brother of the dead
girl and a group of friends beat Daniel nearly to death.
Season two opens mere hours after that season-ending,
viscerally disturbing beat-down. Daniel is in a coma and no one knows how much
damage he’s suffered to his brain. But the real challenge for McKinnon and Rectify is bringing Daniel a step
further into the world, to the point where he needs to pick up and move on with
his life, even if there’s a chance a looming appeal will send him back to jail.
What the early season-two episodes of Rectify establish is that the series
hasn’t lost its sense of the granular; they may move slightly more quickly than
the episodes in the freshman season, but Rectify
will never be confused for 24—or
anything else, for that matter. Daniel is still dumbstruck by his newfound lot
in life and, in his coma, is having dreams about his past and even his present.
What Rectify did so well visually in
the first season was create a rich, cinematic language of saturation in the
moment—close-ups of Daniel held many beats longer than the norm; shots that
captured the simplicity of small moments, such as when Daniel takes his shoes
off and sits in the outfield grass of the local baseball field and basks in the
sensations of touch, freedom, and sunlight.
That same attention to detail and visual style continue
in season two, and the flashbacks/dreams have the same unsettling sense of
those that came before. However, Rectify
is now rightly upping the ante for all the characters. Yes, the first season
covered a span of six days and the first episode back is the seventh day, but
there’s a broader (if not more brisk) look at the world around Daniel. Until
the law puts him back in jail, he needs to live his life.
has in its back pocket, beyond this strangely engrossing, slowly unfolding tale
of one man’s journey, is that McKinnon hasn’t declared one way or the other if
Daniel is completely innocent. Clearly he’s mentally out of sorts about his
girlfriend’s death (to which he confessed), and viewers have been keyed into a
cover-up among some of the people still living in Paulie, but there is no
absolute here about Daniel’s innocence. And some of the events of season one
made viewers think twice about not only what Daniel might have done but what
he’s capable of. That’s the clever conceit of Rectify, and it doesn’t matter how slowly it takes to tell this
story—it remains as riveting and unique as ever.
June 19, 2014 at 7:39 am #318192
Entertainment Weekly’s review:
A somber, soulful mystery-cum-character study of a damaged, possibly damnable man and the small Southern town that loves and loathes him, this cable gem returns for 10 episodes, bent on affirming the promise of its sublime first season. The premiere artfully restates the show’s premise and thematic scope by toggling between dreamtime metaphor and deep-feeling grit. Comatose Daniel Holden (Aden Young, a mesmerizing mix of angst and ambiguity)—recently freed from death row for a rape and murder he may or may not have committed; mentally sketchy after 17 years of institutionalization; last seen beaten pulpy by vigilantes—wanders in limbo and wonders whether to resume living. Meanwhile, bitter step-bro Ted (Clayne Crawford) pines for the problematic prodigal’s death, while Ted’s religious wife Tawney (Adelaide Clemons) struggles to see God in the murk. It’s an engrossing meditation on the complexities of redemption. A —Jeff JensenJune 19, 2014 at 7:56 am #318193
TV Review: “Rectify,” Season Two
June 16, 2014 | 07:15 AM PT
TV Columnist @ blowryontv
little series that could, “Rectify” is such a wispy construct, where events
unfold so languidly, it’s a puzzle why the hours fly by and prove consistently
compelling. Much of it has to do with the casting—which is dead-on from top to
bottom, and indeed, gives the supporting players more work through the early
stages of season two. Whatever the reasons, this SundanceTV drama, anchored by
Aden Young’s out-of-body calm in the lead role, was one of 2013’s most pleasant
surprises, and continues in that vein in this new 10-episode run.
Young plays Daniel Holden, whose imprisonment on death
row for murder was overturned, and whose release back into the world, after 19
years, set all sorts of unexpected events into motion. That included the brutal
assault on him that closed the first season, with the aftermath of that
violence dominating the early stages here, as Daniel initially lays in a coma,
while others in the small town grapple with what happened.
That’s not to say Young gets a vacation. Instead, viewers
relive aspects of his prison stay through a mix of flashbacks and dream
sequences, cutting between the stark white cell he occupied and the real world.
The latter setting includes his concerned and angry sister (Abigail Spencer);
their mother (J. Smith-Cameron); stepbrother Ted Jr. (Clayne Crawford), who
works with dad (Bruce McKinnon) running the family business; and Ted Jr.’s wife
(Adelaide Clemens), to whom Daniel is drawn, and vice versa.
Series creator Ray McKinnon manages to incorporate
various elements associated with serialized drama into the narrative (such as
the local sheriff, played by J.D. Evermore, investigating the beating), while
infusing the show with poetic qualities, aided immeasurably by Young’s
exquisite, tightly coiled performance. And it all unfolds so assiduously,
sprinkling out story with an eye dropper, that the series might as well be
subtitled “The Recapper’s Nightmare.”
“Everything out here is so complicated,” Daniel muses at
one point, suggesting he remains bottled up, only in a different and more
confusing sort of confinement.
Thanks to its tone, “Rectify” perfectly encapsulates a
cable environment that makes this sort of niche offering possible. Indeed, the
mind boggles at the thought of a broadcast-length season.
Sundance will eventually have to judge just how viable
that model really is from a business perspective, but for now, the channel has
a series that puts it on the map with the big boys, quality-wise. And in TV
terms, that alone represents its own kind of breakout.
TV Review: “Rectify,” Season Two
(Series; SundanceTV, Thurs. June 19, 9 p.m.)
Filmed in Georgia by Gran Via Prods.
Executive producers, Ray McKinnon, Mark Johnson, Melissa
Bernstein; co-executive producer, Victoria Morrow; producer, Robin Sweet;
director, Stephen Gyllenhaal; writer, McKinnon; camera, Paul M. Sommers;
production designer, Hugh D.G. Moody II; editor, Travis Sittard; music, Gabriel
Mann; casting, Junie Lowry Johnson, Libby Goldstein. 60 MIN.
Aden Young, Abigail Spencer, J. Smith-Cameron, Adelaide
Clemens, Clayne Crawford, Luke Kirby, Bruce McKinnon, Jake Austin Walker,
Michael O’Neill, J.D. Evermore
June 19, 2014 at 8:07 am #318194
A.V. Club’s review:
pitches its 2nd
season between the merciful and the monstrous
The show returns having barely missed a beat.
by Todd VanDerWerff
•Jun 18, 2014•12:00 AM
The characters on Rectify
are always caught between the notion that life is a burden and the idea that
it’s actually a gift. That’s fitting, because the series is simultaneously one
of TV’s most depressing and most life affirming. At its best, it reawakens
viewers to the wonders all around them, while simultaneously putting its
characters—led by a former death-row inmate released from prison after new DNA
evidence vacated his sentence—through the emotional wringer. It’s a quiet,
deliberate show, but it contains multitudes and a willingness to go for broke
with religious symbolism or Southern gothic overtones, right smack dab in the
middle of stories about normal people going about their lives.
The most acclaimed aspect of the show’s roundly acclaimed
first season was Aden Young’s performance as Daniel Holden, the former convict
at the show’s center. Young’s performance suggested deep wells of sensitivity
and empathy at Daniel’s core. But there’s also a hint of something more
tortured as to indicate he really could have raped and murdered his high-school
girlfriend. The show carefully built to moments when Daniel would marvel at
department stores or hot dog cookers, but offered deeper content to convey just
how much his time in prison changed and marked him. Though Rectify was filled with great characters—and an amazing cast
playing them—it was decidedly Young’s show.
Naturally enough, the second season begins with two
episodes that barely feature him.
Some of this stems from plot. (Daniel ended last season
in no position to start this season as the show’s putative hero.) A little
stems from the show’s other characters now being well-developed enough to
shoulder the load for a couple of episodes. (In particular, the first few
episodes lean heavily on Abigail Spencer as Daniel’s sister, Amantha, and J.
Smith-Cameron as his mother, Janet.) But most of it stems from creator and
showrunner Ray McKinnon’s complete and utter confidence in the series’ slow-moving
storytelling and careful peeling back of the characters’ layers. Season one was
set over a long, drowsy summer week, when life is full and abundant, but also a
little sleepy. Season two is set in the fall, a chill wind in the air and the
suggestion of disaster just around the corner. (Strangely, only a few days seem
to have passed, but this is in keeping with the show’s slightly ethereal
nature.) The scripts and direction of the season’s first three episodes reflect
that as well. If the first season was about the wonder of unlikely survival,
the second is about practicality—about what it means to actually resume one’s
life after a lengthy pause.
sets itself apart from other TV shows through its use of a specific shot: an
overhead view that suggests God looking down on his creation. The series does
beautiful things with this camera angle, particularly in its occasional
flashbacks to Daniel’s time on death row, keeping an eye on the goings-on in
two side-by-side cells as if the characters were avatars in a computer game.
The suggestion of a deity passively watching its creation go through any given
day is fitting for the series, which evinces a kind of old-school Christianity.
It’s not quite fire and brimstone, but it’s in the same neighborhood. There are
few TV shows as concerned with grace as Rectify
is—but there are also few shows as concerned with sin. Biblical allusions
arrive frequently (in the first season, Daniel even wrestled with a man who may
or may not have been a proxy for the almighty), and it also features one deeply
Christian character (Adelaide Clemens’ pitch-perfect Tawney) who is treated
with dignity and seriousness. Some of the best material focuses on her marriage
to Clayne Crawford’s Teddy, who gets major character rehabilitation in the
early going here.
If there’s one Christian concept that Rectify has most glommed onto, however,
it’s the notion of salvation. And the show is interested in this concept beyond
the notion of Christ dying for anyone’s sins. It’s particularly insistent on
the notion that salvation does not particularly care if a person was good or
bad, prior to accepting it—and this extends to how human beings treat each
other as well. All the characters run into people who don’t like them or even
mean them harm, but Rectify is always
looking toward the reasons anyone might extend mercy. The people on this show
strive to do the right thing, even if they don’t know what that is all of the
time, and that is what sets them apart.
Yet the series wouldn’t work without the tension between
this mercy and the potential for its opposite. In one of the season’s less
successful subplots—but one that seems like an important indicator of what Rectify is up to this year—Luke Kirby’s
Jon, the lawyer who got Daniel’s case reopened and vacated, visits with another
death-row inmate who successfully hoodwinked him into thinking he didn’t commit
any crimes. It’s this notion of pretending, of wearing a human mask over
something monstrous, that troubles Rectify
down at its heart.
Maybe God really is looking down on all of us. But if we
appear to him as toys wandering through elaborate dollhouses, perhaps he knows
even less than we do about humanity’s potential for good and evil. Indeed, the
series all but comes out and says this in the final scene of the season
premiere—one of the most beautiful sequences to be seen on television in this
or any year. In it, Daniel confronts that in-between state, that tension
between good and evil, life and death, love and hate. It could all feel very perfunctory,
but in the hands of McKinnon and company, it feels revelatory. God might exist,
but he’s left us all wandering in the woods, desperate to find our own paths.
Created by: Ray McKinnon
Starring: Aden Young, Abigail Spencer, J. Smith-Cameron,
Clayne Crawford, Adelaide Clemens
Returns: Thursday at 9 p.m. Eastern on Sundance TV
Format: Hour-long drama
Three episodes watched for review.
June 19, 2014 at 10:16 am #318195
Sundance’s “Rectify” still slow, steady, and brilliant in season 2
Story of a Death Row prisoner’s return to the world like
nothing else on television.
by Alan Sepinwall @ Sepinwall | Thursday, Jun 19, 2014
The events of the first season of “Rectify,”
the Sundance Channel drama about Death Row inmate Daniel Holden’s return to
freedom after his conviction is overturned, took place over a single week
following Daniel’s release. It was a short period of time and yet—longer than a
“24” season, but much shorter than a “Mad Men” season—as
Daniel tells a friend, “Every day felt like a lifetime.”
For some viewers of “Rectify,” which begins its
second season tonight at 9, that elongated sense of time will be exactly why
they love it. The show doesn’t move from incident to incident the way virtually
every other show on television does, but rather stops to marinate in the sticky
Southern atmosphere and in the complicated emotions engendered by Daniel’s
release among his family, his enemies, and even himself. It is a show in which
you would be hard-pressed to describe the plot of any individual episode to
someone who hadn’t seen it—often the best way to differentiate one from the
next is to describe which object Daniel spent a long time staring at (down
feathers? flip-flops?)—and yet the experience of watching it feels so full and
dense that it is as if everything possible happened in it.
Of course, for many viewers that slowed-down, ethereal
storytelling style will be an invitation to fire up the DVR and find anything
with a faster pace and a more eventful style—in other words, virtually any
other show on television, especially now that the “American Idol”
results show is going away.
The approach “Rectify” creator Ray McKinnon has
taken with this wonderful show is essentially anti-commercial. On virtually any
channel but Sundance, the story would be about Daniel (Aden Young) seeking
justice for the men who actually killed his girlfriend, and any sense of the
emotional toll of decades in prison would simply be a bonus to that revenge
story. Here, McKinnon demonstrates only the vaguest interest in what actually
happened to the girl—and it remains entirely possible that Daniel played a role
in the crime, even if DNA analysis got him out of prison.
Instead, the show is about moments that seem so small to
us, but that are enormous to a man in Daniel’s situation, and to the people in
his orbit. When he rides his old dirt bike, gawks at the wide selection of
beach footwear at the local Walmart, or simply sits down for breakfast with his
mother Janet (J. Smith-Cameron) and sister Amantha (Abigail Spencer), it’s with
the confusion and wonder of a man who did not expect to be here and can’t
entirely believe that this is real. (Both the first season and this new one
dabble in both dream sequences and hints of the metaphysical; most of Daniel’s
encounters are presented as fact, but every now and then something happens that
may be happening only in his mind.) Because Young has such a fascinating screen
presence in his stoicism, and because the actors around him are so good at
portraying how overwhelmed with joy and/or anxiety his loved ones are at his
return, the lingering moments don’t feel wasted, but like the entire point.
It’s also one of the most spiritually rich and thoughtful
shows anywhere on television at the moment. The first season dealt at length
with Daniel’s born-again sister-in-law Tawney (Adelaide Clemens, wonderful)
trying to save his soul. On 99 shows out of 100, Tawney would be presented as a
naive fool, or a hypocrite; here, her concern for this relative stranger is
entirely genuine, and the show takes her faith seriously. In the new season, we
see her discussing Daniel with her Bible study group, and even the minor
characters around her are given respect and complex shading.
Season one ended with Daniel being beaten half to death
by his alleged victim’s brother and his friends, and the new episodes do not
run away from that. Daniel’s out of action for a bit, which would ordinarily be
a problem on a series so carried by its central character. But through dreams,
prison flashbacks, and other devices, we still get plenty of Daniel, and the
supporting characters have taken on enough depth to carry things while Daniel
heals. Daniel’s stepbrother (and Tawney’s husband) Ted Jr. (Clayne Crawford)
takes on a bigger role, and what had once been one of the show’s least nuanced
characters here becomes someone very complex, and surprisingly sympathetic. Ted
Jr.’s not a particularly nice guy, but you get to feel the weight of Daniel’s
return on him just as much as on the rest of the family.
Though I was eager to have the show come back, I did
wonder how long McKinnon could let the show run before the leisurely style turned
into self-parody. (“Oh, wow, now Daniel can’t stop staring at all the
individual flossing options at the local CVS!”) Three episodes into this
longer second season (which will have 10 installments rather than last year’s
six), the premise, the pace, and the art film approach all feel eminently
durable. This isn’t a show I would necessarily want seven seasons of, but I’m
grateful to have it back for now. There is nothing else on television quite
like it, and for those who have the patience to sit through Daniel’s still,
slow journey, the emotional rewards are enormous.
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE: As was the case last year, this isn’t the sort of
show I find especially conducive to weekly write-ups, so I’ll revisit it at the
end of the season.
June 19, 2014 at 10:16 am #318196
Episode Title: “Running WIth the Bull”
Synopsis: In the aftermath of Daniel’s beating, his family fears the worst; Ted, Jr. hides a shameful secret from his wife.
Discuss.June 21, 2014 at 4:23 am #318197
I just watched the first episode of season two. This show is so good and so heartbreaking and just straight up beautiful.
It’s a show worth paying attention to if you care about great television. The first season was incredible, and this seems to be doing more of the same. This show makes me weep.June 22, 2014 at 12:13 pm #318198
Strong premiere. The cast is uniformly great, and as “slow” as the narrative is desribed in the reviews, it’s as riveting as ever, especially with the use of the dream and flashback sequences while Daniel was comatose. This is as compelling as any fast-moving drama out there right now solely reliant on plot point after plot point and shock value. Aden Young should have been Emmy nominated for season one along with Abigail Spencer (Amantha is just everything, then and now). I don’t have high hopes for the Emmys to recognize this series like they should, but whatever. I didn’t remember all of what happened last season since this aired so long ago, but most of it was easy enough to pick up on. The show’s at its best when it delves into the core family and how their lives are changed in light of Daniel’s release from prison. The aftermath of the attack could be really good down the line. The conspiracy angle with the sheriff and the former prosecutor/governor candidate I’m off and on with. There are those guys who may have been behind Hanna’s death who are still circling around. And the victim’s brother heading up Daniel’s beating could be interesting too. The show’s still way too overwritten, and there are times when I hear Ray McKinnon talking and not the characters. It was really bad with Johnny Ray Gill in this episode, who was laying it on ridiculously thick in the “dream” sequences with Young. But anyway, strong setup for what will hopefully be a great second season.
Grade for “Running With the Bull”: B+June 22, 2014 at 6:40 pm #318199
I don’t get why you think that Johnny Ray Gill was “laying it on ridiculously thick”… He was as good as he was last year, I thought the dream sequences were a bad decision, however Gill was perfectly fine , should have been nominated last year.
I thought overall it was a strong premiere, as already stated I thought they should have found another way to make Young’s screentime count other than dream sequences, it was necessary, but really , wasn’t there another way around this?
Spencer and Clemens continue killing it. Very looking for to this season.
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