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'Rectify' recap: The natural order of things

Season 1 | Episode 9 | “Until You’re Blue” | Aired Aug 14, 2014

Oh, the heartbreak in this next-to-last episode of Rectify. Every moment of this week’s “Until You’re Blue” made me wince at the rawness of the human emotion from each character. The thematic presence of nature and its varying incarnations wrought an authenticity I couldn’t look away from. Even while we are moving toward some resolution in the characters’ lives and stories, I am still constantly unnerved at the surprising and visceral connections I feel when something unexpected happens.

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 4.21.35 PMThe very first scene positions Daniel against what appears to be a vast green space under a parched blue sky. As the camera pans out, however, we see that he is lying in his front yard, not far from the house, with Teddy Sr. at the window. As the camera toggles between the two of them, we are presented with the duality of these two characters. Even the music, which moves between serene when the camera is on Daniel to ominous when Teddy Sr. is in frame, is highlighting the varying perspectives, or natures, of the men. We know that Teddy Sr. is grappling with the news about the altercation between the boys, but the juxtaposition of the two men makes for an interesting contrast.

We are torn from the green grass and blue sky to the harsh and clinical setting of a doctor’s office, where Tawney receives news of a miscarriage. The scene is very impersonal, and Tawney doesn’t speak at all. The doctor advises Tawney about “nature’s logic” and counsels her about the body’s natural wisdom in such matters. This scene is gray and drab and reflects humanity’s helplessness against the natural order. Tawney’s experience with nature looks very different from Daniel’s in the opening scene, yet both seem resigned to it.

rectify_209_02_1000x594Ted Sr., on the other hand, is not resigned to the anything, and goes to see Sheriff Dagget to talk about his visit from Senator Foulkes. Although we know Daggett is beginning to suspect Daniel’s innocence, he is still playing devil’s advocate to Ted. Ted Sr. is such a pragmatic force, asking all the appropriate questions of the sheriff. He’s far more conciliatory than he need be, asking Daggett, “You see my dilemma?” Dagget counters with a dilemma of his own, revealing his lingering suspicion of Daniel. Ted Sr.’s visit to Foulkes is less pragmatic; he shows how fierce he can be when he needs to protect his family. Even Foulkes notices the power behind his visit and mocks him, saying, “A little bit dramatic for a tire salesman.”

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 4.22.25 PMBut we find out in the very next scene that Dagget’s suspicions may be for naught, since the D.A. has changed the terms of the plea deal and agreed to time served without the charge of rape. All this is in exchange for what Jon calls “banishment,” in which Daniel is excluded from living in any county in Georgia—except one. As he stands on the merry-go-round (“It’s a metaphor,” he tells Jon), it’s hard to imagine this offer being the more appealing option, but Daniel seems at least moderately appeased by it. Again, Daniel is in a lush green setting framed by a blue sky, with a line of trees to his side. It’s idyllic and serene, and I think we are meant to consider the absurdity (as Janet calls it) of the natural world in comparison to the man-made one. This is the second time we’ve seen Daniel outside, and I think it’s a reflection of the change in his character. Daniel is finally starting to be in the world.

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 4.25.58 PMHe says as much to his mother in a later scene, when he goes to break the news to her. She asks him about his concept of time, wondering if it’s changed since he’s been out, and Daniel replies, “The world has a way of drawing you back in, in spite of one’s best efforts.” This is telling in many ways, as Daniel finally admits to himself that he is once again a part of the world. He is reconciling his memories of before and after prison, and confessed to owning bits and pieces of memory.

This is contrary to the scene when he tells Amantha of the new deal. He doesn’t reflect the same way on his life now, asking her to name one person who is happier since he’s been out. Daniel may feel like he’s part of the world, but he obviously feels like a destructive force upon it. Sometimes the idea of Daniel’s guilt or innocence is an obstruction to seeing who he really is, or the true nature of his relationships, especially with Amantha. She is such an intense force in the matter that it is easy to forget that they are siblings above all else.

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 4.25.33 PMPerhaps McKinnon understands this, and this is the reasoning for the flashback scene with Charlie the Chaplain, in which Charlie reads Amantha’s letter to “just my brother. Not my brother on death row.” Hearing Amantha’s words and watching how they affected Daniel is deeply poignant, and a sharp reminder that these two have worlds between them that we can’t begin to understand.

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 4.28.06 PMJon tries to call on that side of Amantha, but she takes out all her frustration on him. She blames him for Daniel’s consideration of the plea, and she is mixing up everyone’s assigned roles, still thinking of Daniel as “unstable, reckless and broken.” In her defense, however, the dynamics of the relationships keep changing and shifting, and her anger at the instability of the roles is understandable. Although Amantha is hard to take at times, she is a beautifully written character with authentic subtleties.

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 4.23.11 PMAmantha’s talk with Janet about always having to follow her around is heartwrenching. Amantha talks about feeling “shut out” and how that is Janet’s nature. She concedes to Daniel’s “maddeningly private nature” and admits to what she perceives to be her own nature: a desperate need to be spoken to in her own language. She rejects the role of the “bad guy,” and until she said that, I hadn’t even realized that I perceived her as such. Well played, Mr. McKinnon.

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 4.25.01 PMThe female characters are brilliant, and Adelaide Clemons really earned her accolades tonight. The scenes between Tawney and Teddy Jr. are unbelievably moving. I often joke that I sometimes have to watch this show through my fingers because my experience with it feels so real, but every scene with Tawney and Teddy was riveting. My eyes wouldn’t budge from the screen. When Tawney breaks the news to Teddy about the miscarriage, you can see a million unspoken things pass between them.

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 4.28.44 PMLater, when Teddy comes back home to find her planning for the future, he finally says all the things we knew he was capable of—but you could tell that it was just as painful for him to say as it as it was for Tawney to hear. All the acid he spewed over Tawney about her and Daniel burned him too. As Teddy relented to his feelings and all the dark matter came tumbling out, it was as painful as an exorcism might be. He was damaged by saying it too.

When Tawney leaves, Teddy is regretful and tries to call her to talk, but she doesn’t answer; she instead checks into a Best Western with nothing but a bottle of wine. Teddy, on the other hand, takes to his truck, drinking beers from a paper sack, and winds up trying to repossess the rims from a customer who is late with payments. He is interrupted, and the customer attacks him, getting the better of him momentarily. It is only when the customer voices Teddy’s deepest insecurities that he fights back. When the customer says, “Sad, man. You are a pathetic little bitch,” Teddy’s greatest doubts about himself are crystallized into a single moment.

The episode ends with Tawney and Daniel in her hotel room, dancing in a such a haunting and sad way. Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 4.31.12 PMTawney looks to Daniel for validation and comfort about her life and her faith, and Daniel does exactly what she needs. Although they both admit they can never be a pair, it is a remarkable sight to see them together, and I’ll admit feeling satisfied by this gorgeous scene.

At this point in the season, I care far less about who killed Hannah and far more about seeing these characters find some peace. It was such an emotional episode, the season could have ended there, so I am holding my breath to see how they decide to leave us.

What could possibly come next week? Tweet me what you think.

Rectify, rated TV-14, airs Thursdays at 9/8C on SundanceTV.

For more of my thoughts and opinions about the shows I watch, visit Honest Reviews Corner and TV Megasite.

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