You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

TV Review: ‘Rectify,’ Season 3

Aden Young, Abigail Spencer, J. Smith Cameron, Luke Kirby, Clayne Crawford, Adelaide Clemens, Bruce McKinnon, Jake Austin Walker, Michael O’Neill

Again plodding along at a near-hypnotic pace, “Rectify” begins its third season almost exactly where the second left off, and that’s a good thing. Awash in critical acclaim, this deeply rich and provocative drama remains a standout for its little-seen home SundanceTV, even warranting a pre-return marathon on big brother AMC. While that’s unlikely to translate into much of a ratings boost for a series so steeped in pain and sadness, it’s a welcome endorsement of a show that offers further proof great dramas are coming from an extremely wide variety of sources.

Just to recap, season two ended with Daniel Holden (Aden Young), the walking embodiment of coiled feelings and cordoned-off emotions, agreeing to a plea deal in the case that had put him on death row for 19 years, despite his apparent innocence. Weary from the struggle, he’s hoping to spare his family and perhaps find a fresh start elsewhere, although the motivations of the bureaucrats with whom he’s dealing aren’t necessarily to be trusted.

At the same time, Daniel’s act of aggression against Ted Jr. (Clayne Crawford), the son of Daniel’s stepfather, risks coming back to haunt him and unsettle the family. And there’s the little matter of the strained relationship between Ted and his wife, Tawney (Adelaide Clemens), to whom Daniel was inexorably drawn almost as soon as he was released from prison.

Finally, there’s Daniel’s long-suffering mother (J. Smith-Cameron) and sister (Abigail Spencer), who have labored to defend and free him, and now face the deflating prospect of having him admit his guilt — or really, in his own mixed-up mind, culpability. Those long-ago events surrounding the murder haven’t entirely remained buried, despite Daniel’s riveting account of what happened at the close of season two.

Anchoring everything is Young’s remarkable work in the lead role, playing a man whose impassive demeanor only occasionally hints at his inner turmoil, illustrated in part through the judicious use of flashbacks to his time in prison. When he says to a mother and child on a playground, “I’m nobody to be worried about,” you believe him, but could hardly blame the woman for taking the kid and leaving nevertheless.

Created by Ray McKinnon (who wrote the Stephen Gyllenhaal-directed premiere), “Rectify” remains a master class in nuance — in small looks and long pauses that say more than pages of dialogue, where even a trip to the local convenience store fosters a sense of unease. In that respect, the series is frequently deceptive in terms of how much the story advances from week to week, since it regularly feels like not much is happening.

Sundance has delivered some admirable limited series, but its attempts to follow this show with additional dramas have been uneven, reflecting just how difficult it is to approximate this indie-film niche in episodic form.

After seeking to adjust to life on the outside, Daniel’s journey has taken turns that could hardly have been anticipated, and it’s frankly tough to foresee where the show goes from here, or for how long. Still, “Rectify” has established itself as a trip worth taking, and for a discriminating few, at least, the protagonist’s slow road to redemption remains an utterly absorbing one.

TV Review: 'Rectify,' Season 3

(Series; SundanceTV, Thurs. July 9, 10 p.m.)

Production: Filmed in Georgia by Gran Via Prods. and Sundance TV Studios.

Crew: Executive producers, Ray McKinnon, Mark Johnson, Melissa Bernstein; co-executive producer, Marshall Persinger; producer, Colin Walsh; director, Stephen Gyllenhaal; writer, McKinnon; camera, Patrick Cady; production designer, Hugh D.G. Moody II; editor, Christopher Cibelli; music, Gabriel Mann; casting, Junie Lowry Johnson, Libby Goldstein. 60 MIN.

Cast: Aden Young, Abigail Spencer, J. Smith Cameron, Luke Kirby, Clayne Crawford, Adelaide Clemens, Bruce McKinnon, Jake Austin Walker, Michael O’Neill

More TV

  • 'The Crown': Josh O'Connor, Erin Doherty

    'The Crown': Josh O'Connor, Erin Doherty on Charles and Anne 'Breaking the Mold'

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “The Crown” Season 3 on Netflix. The arrivals Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor) and Princess Anne (Erin Doherty) midway through “The Crown’s” third season infuse the show with a youthful energy reminiscent of the first two years. But, they also offer a sense of rebelliousness, shaking [...]

  • SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Harry Styles"

    Harry Styles Premieres New Song, Plays Trash-Eating Dog on ‘Saturday Night Live’ (Watch)

    The past couple of seasons of “Saturday Night Live” have seen some impressive hosting/musical performer double-duty stints, including Childish Gambino, Halsey and Chance the Rapper — and last night Harry Styles was more than up to the challenge. The singer appeared in nearly every skit — including turns as a naïve office intern, a gangster, [...]

  • Mindy Kaling Actors on Actors

    Why Mindy Kaling Turned to Social Media to Find the Lead of Her Netflix Series

    Constance Wu (“Hustlers”) and Mindy Kaling (“Late Night”) explained how the internet helped expand the casting pool for their projects during a conversation for “Variety Studio: Actors on Actors.” Wu began the interview: “When I did ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ and they were looking for actors, it was crazy how many people said, ‘Well, there are [...]

  • SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Harry Styles"

    'Saturday Night Live' Turns the Impeachment Hearings Into a Soap Opera (Watch)

    “Saturday Night Live” kicked off its Nov. 16 episode with a take on the biggest news story of the previous week (and foreseeable future): the impeachment hearings. But another big story of the week, especially in Hollywood, was how NBC’s last remaining daytime drama, “Days of our Lives,” had let its actors out of their [...]

  • Andy Cohen attends BravoCon's "Watch What

    'The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City' to Debut in 2020

    Bravo announced Saturday during its first annual BravoCon that a tenth “Real Housewives” series, “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” will debut in 2020. Bravo host and “Real Housewives” executive producer Andy Cohen made the announcement during a panel titled “Ask Andy” at the NYC convention. “We’ve always tried to choose a city that [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content