The first original TV series from SundanceTV, Rectify, was created by Ray McKinnon. The show debuted on the network on April 22, 2013. The second season was aired in the June of 2014, while the third season was broadcasted on July 19, 2015. Even before the third season ended, the channel had ordered the fourth and final installment of the show. This season is expected to premiere in the fall of 2016, although an exact date is yet to be announced.
The series is about the life story of Daniel Holden from Paulie in Georgia. When he is a teenager, he is convicted for the rape and murder of his 16-year old girlfriend. However, after spending a good 19 years in the prison on death row, some new DNA evidence comes to the fore and he is acquitted of all charges. But, there is still some doubt about him being completely innocent. Anyway, he is released from the prison and returns to his hometown. Rectify is an account of the new lease of life that Daniel gets, his adjustments with the society after 19 years in prison, and the new events that are now unfolding in his life.
Aden Young is amazing in the lead role of Daniel Holden. He is not angry for what has happened to him, but is rather trying to adapt to the society. His character is more nuanced than that. Abigail Spencer has played the role of Daniel’s sister, Amantha Holden. She is the one person in Daniel’s life, who never doubted the innocence of her brother and his acquittal is an achievement for her. Spencer has delivered a fascinating and engaging performance in the series. J. Smith-Cameron is equally amazing as Daniel’s mother, Janet.
Clayne Crawford as Ted Jr. and Adelaide Clemens as Tawney Talbot have done justice to their roles. The same can be said for the entire cast actually. Whether it is Bruce McKinnon as Daniel’s step dad, Jake Austin Walker as Jared, Daniel’s half-brother, or Luke Kirby playing his lawyer, Jon Stern – each one of them is impressive.
Season 1 of the show is really slow. In fact, many people might find it quite boring. But, the pace is important for the character development, which will pay off later in the next seasons. It explores the consequences of spending so much time in prison. In all probability, he was not a monster before he went to prison. However, the prison time did make sure that he got a little twisted in the head. It is psychologically stirring and makes the viewers think and reflect on life. The intelligently crafted show has been well-received by the audience as well as critics. It got great reviews across the board. While Metacritic gave it an average rating of 82/100, the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes were even better and got this season an awesome 90% score. However, the disclaimer was reiterated by everyone that the show only rewards who are patient.
The first season of the show was like a Litmus test for SundanceTV and therefore, only 6 episodes were ordered. Even when the season ended, it felt like that it was just the first act of an otherwise longer story. The success of this season ensured that the complete story would be told in the later seasons of the show.
The 10-episode season 2 of Rectify is the longest in the series yet. This season impressed upon the audience that the show may be following Daniel’s life, but it is not completely focused on him, and instead, sheds some light on the life of the people around him too. Many relationship dynamics are explored. Whether it is Abigail’s distress over Daniel’s misery or it is Ted’s growing problems with Daniel that are pulling the family apart, it is all there. Then there is the incident where vigilantes beat Daniel to the limit where he lands in a coma. The sheriff investigates the case, but he also understands why the vigilantes behaved the way they did, although he does not support their actions. Then, there are the vigilantes who do not think that they have punished an innocent guy, but also get that the sheriff will have to investigate them. This is the kind of depth that the story has. There are no in-your-face dialogues, there is no black or white, there is no absolute right or wrong and that is what makes this season even more interesting.
This is why this season received even better reviews that its predecessor. Metacritic gave it an outstanding ranking of 92 out of 100 and on Rotten Tomatoes, the season fared even better with a rating of 95/100. The nuanced understanding of how people think and act resonated with the audiences. It was delightful to see that the pauses in the show said much more than multiple dialogues and that audience appreciated the approach.
With the first and second season doing exceptionally well, the third season of the show that came out in 2015, had to match some really high expectations. And match it did. This season was as impactful as the first two. It maintains the slow pace of the show and does not overlook any of the main storylines. The show sees Daniel moving out of his hometown to a new abode. This one also concentrates more on the investigation of the case and Jon’s constant efforts in setting Daniel completely free. Again, a huge amount of time is invested in how the different relationships among the siblings are emerging and the individual paths they are taking in life.
The third season of the show was highly acclaimed by the critics. But, the audiences loved it the most. On Rotten Tomatoes the show got a 100% rating from them. Its Metacritic score stood at a solid 87/100.
Given the shining credentials of the show, the fourth season has a lot to live up to. The pressure is more here, because it is apparently the last season. The story of the show is something which can go on forever and it will be interesting to see how the showmakers choose to wrap it up.
The show is without a doubt one of the best shows on television. However, it has not been able to rope in as much audiences. Though anyone who watches the show goes gaga over it, the word of mouth has not been that strong for this gem of a show reasons that are beyond understanding.