‘Rectify’ Unspools Secrets In Riveting Season Finale (SPOILERS)

'Rectify' Reveals Secrets In Riveting Season

Aden Young didn’t garner an Emmy nomination for “Rectify,” but after Thursday’s second-season finale, is it too late to put knighthood on the table? The SundanceTV series has already been renewed for a third season, and thank the Lord for that, given the untidy nature of how the latest cliffhanger wrapped up. But after its fleeting six-episode introduction, the second has made clear that series creator Ray McKinnon’s tightly constructed drama was no fluke, but rather deserving of a seat alongside TV’s best.

The central moment in the finale (and SPOILER ALERT, by all means, if you haven’t watched) involved Aden’s Daniel meeting with authorities, ostensibly to offer a plea agreement that would finally put to rest the murder that placed him on death row for 19 tortured years, before his belated liberation. Yet as “Rectify” has made clear time and again, there are all kinds of prisons, and Daniel remains housed in one, even if he’s ostensibly free to move about.

Daniel’s non-confession, finally relating his version of what transpired on that fateful day, was absolutely riveting, inducing a kind of paralysis. His interaction with the dead girl, and abuse at the hands of an ambitious prosecutor (between this show and “Extant,” Michael O’Neill has had a busy summer playing A-holes), only made his situation more tragic and poignant, and in Young’s performance one could practically see the character’s younger self pleading – if he just gave the answer his interrogators wanted – to go home and see his father.

Frankly, that scene alone would have been worth the price of admission, or at least Sundance’s part of a monthly cable bill. But there were several other terrific exchanges within the extended episode, starting with Daniel’s revelations to Tawney (Adelaide Clemens), his stepbrother’s wife; and his interaction (both past and present) with his sister (Abigail Spencer), whose steadfast advocacy on her brother’s behalf has understandably left her at her wit’s end.

“Rectify’s” quiet power, in some respects, mirrors “Breaking Bad,” with which it shares producers Mark Johnson and Melissa Bernstein. But while both possess a bracing strain of serialized unpredictability, this show’s deliberate pacing makes its ability to hold an audience (at least, the small audience it has) especially impressive, since — despite moving at what’s actually a pretty rapid clip in terms of story — it can feel like so little is happening. Hence my nickname for the series, “The Recapper’s Nightmare.”

“Breaking Bad” was a late bloomer ratings-wise, but even with rhapsodic word of mouth, it’s hard to envision “Rectify” ever approaching that level; still, McKinnon’s creation has solidify SundanceTV’s profile, investing the AMC sibling with the enhanced credibility a celebrated original series can bring. Put another way, if you religiously watch the program, could you find the channel number for Sundance on your cable or satellite provider before you began?

That might not be the precise definition of “rectify,” but in TV terms, it’s pretty close.


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  1. Jim Snape says:

    My only complaint is the near real time nature of the show, season 1 I believe was 10 episodes long, taking place over his first 7 days out.

  2. Kylie says:

    Rectify has just aired both seasons here in Australia and I watched it again both seasons and it is outstanding. Both Aden and Adelaide are amazing, and Aussie to boot! yay. Adelaide was in an aussie series called Love my way, which was also at first slow moving, but oh so brilliant,
    Check it out!
    I am looking forward to season 3 of rectify.

  3. questgirl says:

    The actors are each, in and of themselves, riviting. The script each week is incredible and the best on TV in decades. The actors delivery is perfection. I love this show, for the script alone.

  4. Hudsonguy says:

    Too true to everyday life. No justice for the real evil doers. Makes me want to shoot myself.

  5. suki says:

    The level of excellence in this show is astounding.The characters are terrifically complex and the nuanced acting captivating.This cast is totally deserving of awards, awards, and more awards.
    I am a total fan of the slow level intrigue that kept me on edge from week to week waiting for more clues to unveil Daniels true nature, and what really happened years before. Can’t say enough nice things about the direction, writing, sets and exquisite visuals. Love this Show!

  6. Dan says:

    So glad I watched the first six episodes.Kept doing searches to see if it was going to be on again.Then was rewarded when I found out there were new episodes.Just watched the last episode which I taped yesterday.A gem indeed.Glad to read it has been renewed for another season.

  7. Kaul says:

    This show is the best on tv. Every actor is riveting. I can’t wait for the third season. Thanks to everyone involved with this show. It is brilliant. I didn’t think it was possible to top Season One, but Season Two does. Exquisite.

  8. ... says:

    Young wasn’t nominated for an Emmy because Rectify didn’t air during this past Emmy cycle.

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