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- Premieres on the Sundance Channel on April 22, 2013.

- Created by Ray McKinnon (Reverend Smith in Deadwood), director of Chrystal (2004).

- Stars Aden Young, who I've never seen before. In fact, the only member of the cast I recognize at the moment is Adelaide Clemens who was just Ms. Wannop in Parade's End.

Synopsis:
One of this season’s most highly anticipated scripted dramas, Rectify revolves around Daniel Holden (played by Aden Young) who is released after nearly 20 years of complete isolation on death row. He returns as an outsider to his family, to his community, and to the times. Somehow, he survived the mental and emotional strain of his imprisonment, but now the walls have suddenly come crumbling down and Daniel is set free in a world he no longer understands. He’s an outsider, lost in a once familiar world, struggling to navigate his newfound freedom. Combined with two decades of technological and social changes to his small town and the larger world, everything he encounters is a puzzle.

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AMC just showed this series today in its entirety (only 6 episodes). This is easily one of the best shows I've seen, and I hope it had enough of a following on the Sundance Channel to be picked up for another season. Aden Young gives a superb performance as Daniel, the death row inmate released after nearly 20 years in isolation. His release is on a technicality, and one of the best parts of the show is that you are not too sure of his guilt or innocence.

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This was so good, and honestly I really think up many Arts and Faith people's alley. It's like a Flannery O'Connor story as television script.

Liking it a lot. Think this will be one of the ones we're all talking about in a couple years like we're still talking about Breaking Bad now.

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WATCH IT! Cannot recommend it enough.

 

I wholeheartedly concur. The slow burn of the characters as they grapple with psychological trauma, guilt vs innocence,  and an approach that takes a serious look at faith and its significance makes the show stand out. Plus, how many shows have a protagonist on death row who references Aquinas? (even if it is offhand) In fact, I don't remember any other television show, or movie for that matter, referencing Aquinas...

 

 

I should really revisit it and see how it holds up for a second time through. 

 

Also, Tyler mentioned that it's on American Netflix, but it's also on Canadian.

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Andrew   

Three episodes in, and I'm very intrigued.  I agree with Tyler, that Amantha's character is stealing the show:  she's a fascinating mix of tough devotion, anger, and befuddled struggles to adjust.  But each character is fascinating in his/her own right - so many interesting directions in which this show could move.  I like the leisurely pace, allowing us to get to know the characters while maintaining ample suspense.  Good stuff...

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I haven't been able to find much of anything interesting written about this show yet.  A few of us here may have to remedy that.

 

Here is one exception, written by Ethan Richardson, over at Mockingbird:

... it seems that faith is an unnamed character in the show. Daniel—via McKinnon?—seems to have been a Catholic-trained reader in prison. References to Dante, Aquinas, and O’Connor abound. And this starkly contrasts the Southern Baptist colloquialisms that he finds in Tawney (Adelaide Clemons), his new step-sister-in-law. An immediate magnetism surfaces between Daniel and Tawney—perhaps because of her sincerity and tenderness, perhaps because of her sincere faith in God—but it almost certainly lies somewhere between the two for both characters. Rectify muddies the water here beautifully. You get the feeling that Tawney wants to save Daniel’s soul, but that’s not all—you get the feeling Daniel is in love, but he decides, I believe sincerely, to get baptized. Daniel calls Tawney his “Beatrice”—Dante’s earthly muse, and guide and vision through Paradise. Here, we see Rectify showing its cards: Beatrice is the love—the human love—through which the love of God makes itself visible to Dante. So, too, for Daniel. Love, human love, shines through the anxiety of the present and all its constituent and imprisoning freedoms—and God is this Love ...

 

Also the "ten episode" Season Two will begin airing on the Sundance Channel on June 19th.

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Well, as for me I have always been a fan of Ray McKinnon, and this show is no different. Not only does it feel like Flannery O'Connor set in the modern age, or even Percy or Faulkner, but it explores a character (Daniel Holden) with both depth and mystery at the same time. I like that we still don't know if he did it or not. I like that he's not really revealing that at this time, that instead we're seeing a broken man terribly torn apart healing via love, faith, and mysterious encounters that make one think of Jacob wrestling with God. It's not a Christian show, but it's very faith filled, and I love how it approaches that.

The relationships are all intriguing, from Daniel and his mother, his younger half brother, his sister, his half brother and sister in law, all of it.

There are some weird moments, the whole scene with Daniel and his brother in law and the coffee grounds made me uncomfortable, especially in its lack of resolution, but I think that's good, shows brave enough to make you uncomfortable are pretty awesome.

 

Also I could sit and listen to Daniel talk in his lilting poetic philosophizing thought process all day. Very Cormac McCarthyesque script.

 

I know I'll be coming back to this next season.

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Tyler   

I've already mentioned that Amantha is my favorite character, so I was surprised how much I liked episode 4, "Plato's Cave," since Amantha is barely in it. Tawney fills in admirably as the other primary character, besides Daniel.  It's also the episode where religion becomes more of a focus, and the show handles it really well.

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Tyler   

MZS: Sundance’s Rectify, Perhaps the Most Quiet Drama on TV, Is Truly Christian Art

 

(spoilers if you haven't finished season 1)

 

 

Rectify is a straightforwardly spiritually minded drama in which Southerners weave talk of the presence or absence of God into everyday conversation, along with allusions to prayer and doubt, heaven and hell, sin and redemption. Daniel's deeply devout sister-in-law, Tawney Talbot (Adelaide Clemens), has casual conversations about God, sin, and afterlife with Daniel, and much pricklier ones with his sister Amantha (Abigail Spencer), who isn't too big on the whole "God has a plan" thing, given all that's happened to Daniel and their extended family. Tawney knows her husband Ted Talbot Jr. (Clayne Crawford) is growing apart from her because "we don't pray together anymore." This is a world that a lot of Americans live in, and yet you rarely see it depicted on TV. Here it's portrayed without hype, and with zero condescension. 

 

Old and New Testament imagery are built right into the story. The first season consisted of six episodes that unfolded over six consecutive days. The season ended with Young's character, the former death row inmate and autodidact Daniel Holden, comatose after being attacked by vigilantes; somehow McKinnon has turned "He is risen" upside down ("He has fallen") and fused it with "On the seventh day, He rested." Add that to all the different variations of death/birth already depicted on the series (Daniel was reborn intellectually through his studies in prison, reborn again upon his release, and then reborn yet again when evangelicals baptized him; his presence in town forces many citizens to grapple with un-Christlike revenge fantasies) and you've got more Christ imagery than you'd think any TV show could handle. Somehow Rectify handles it. It's all part of the texture. It's there if you want to latch onto it, and if you don't, no biggie.

...

...Rectify sees every character's point of view and seems to feel for them while reserving judgment on their actions, and their justifications for those actions. It seems to see through the visible world, past time and flesh. It's truly Christian art.

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Recently started rewatching this with my family (it's their first time around), and am finding it even more rich and rewarding than the first time through. I'm most impressed with Daniel's sensitivity to the wonder of life as he's released. I've slowly begun to enjoy Christan Wiman's My Bright Abyss over the last week, and this passage sprang to mind after I watched the first episode again:

 

“Intellectuals and artists concerned with faith tend to underestimate the radical, inviolable innocence it requires. We read and read, write long, elaborate essays and letters, engage in endlessly inflected philosophical debates. We talk of poetry as prayer, artistic discipline as a species of religious devotion, doubt as the purest form of faith. These ideas are not inherently false. Indeed, there may be a deep truth in them. But the truth is, you might say, on the other side of innocence—permanently. That is, you don’t once pass through religious innocence into the truths of philosophy or theology or literature, any more than you pass through the wonder of childhood into the wisdom of age. Innocence, for the believer, remains the only condition in which intellectual truths can occur, and wonder is the precondition for all wisdom.”   (emphasis mine)

 

Daniel, regardless of his innocence under the law, has been reborn as a child into the world. His slow, meditative approach to life is doubtless partially a result of his inability to cope with the abundant stimuli around him, but it reveals a deeper undercurrent running through his spiritual life. He sees the beauty and wonder of the world in a way that his family doesn't understand, because they're no longer innocent. He's read all of these great books of literature and philosophy in prison, but it's only until after his release, his newfound innocence, that what he's read is able to truly take root in his life. I'm definitely going to be watching the rest of season one through this lens to see how the idea unfolds. 

 

Also, at least on Canadian Netlifx, Season Two will be streaming as it's being released, so Episode One: "Running With the Bull" is available for viewing.

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M. Leary   

Enjoy Season 1. Season 2 is unfolding with the same pace, but is also sharpening some of its nuances. This is spoilerish, but I talk about this latest episode and its take on "bible study girls" here at Filmwell.

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The last few scenes of the last episode had me at the edge of my seat.  It's always been evident that this show contained more tragedy than other dramatic elements, but that is starting to pan out more clearly even though the questions and resolutions of past episodes remain ambiguous.  They've also developed some of the characters so well that the surprises, when they come, are both surprising but also completely consistent with the established character.

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FYI, Rectify has been renewed for a fourth season.  In the meantime ...

 

Brandon Nowalk, A.V. Club:
“In his review, Matt Zoller Seitz points out Daniel’s dishonesty, but it seems to me that Daniel is almost masochistically honest, most clearly in this conversation with Teddy. Daniel tells Teddy, ‘She was confused about her situation, and I felt that telling her might help her clarify things.’ He was trying to help Teddy. He was trying to explain to Tawney that her husband has been traumatized, and that’s why he’s been so prickly lately. But with the way Daniel speaks and the thoughts Teddy has, it comes off like he’s trying to come in between the Talbots. Daniel doesn’t often volunteer information, but that goes both ways. He doesn’t stick up for himself, either. He accepts disproportionate blame in all kinds of situations, and he lets Teddy mistake his intentions with no possibility for redemption because he’s the only one in a position to explain himself. Meanwhile there’s Teddy’s polite lies (‘Maybe she’s got her appetite back’) and Ted and Janet talking about whether to tell Jared family news right in front of him and Amantha hiding out from both of the men she loves. Daniel’s just about the only one who can face up to darkness.

... The park scene, like pretty much every scene of Daniel alone experiencing the world, is a great showcase for Aden Young as well as for Ray McKinnon’s penchant for misunderstandings. Daniel’s trying to be friendly to a mother on the playground, but he’s a strange bird, and she’s naturally suspicious. He tries to put her at ease, but it only makes him come off creepier, and eventually he walks off with his serial-killer duffel bag so the woman can breathe. But we see the poignancy in his description of the park. He says he’s never had the chance to read outside ‘under the big blue sky,’ and Young plays that phrase spontaneously, like it’s only then hitting Daniel how grand it is to read in the open air. ‘It’s almost too much.’”


Matt Zoller Seitz, Vulture:
“... This Sundance series from writer-actor Ray McKinnon (Deadwood, Sons of Anarchy) spent two seasons examining the life of Daniel Holden (Aden Young), a convicted rapist and killer suddenly sprung from prison on a technicality, but it did so in a way that took advantage of TV’s endless capacity to extend and even pull apart time. Much of the action took place over six days, and there were many flashbacks and dream sequences. I can’t think of another series that spent so much screentime examining such a comparatively small expanse of dramatic time, except for ticking-clock stories like 24, which are different by virtue of their reliance on loud and brutal nonstop action. After a while we felt not that we were watching a TV series or even witnessing some kind of stripped-down theatrical experiment filmed in real locations (McKinnon’s dialogue is often quite lyrical) but that we were actually there, in the same parks and backyards and rooms and prison cells, with Aden and his friends, family, and enemies. The camera was never in a predicable place, either. It was always looking for beauty in forests and backyards and suburban kitchens and motel bedrooms, in sunlight and moonlight, for ways to create frames-within-frames via doorways, windows, and the edges of walls and buildings. (Was Daniel framed? some of the compositions seem to be asking, and to one degree or another, wasn’t everybody?) ...”

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I finished watching this half a week ago and really enjoyed it, although the last season felt very different from the previous three. Even though I didn't like it as much, it contained a couple of my favourite scenes - the one where Daniel, after being called out by his group home roommates for not being social, joins them as they play cards. When they ask if he wants to play too he says he will just observe but then the roommates share a knowing exchange and encourage him to play cards with them.

 

The second scene is

when Teddy breaks the news of the divorce to his father and both Ted Sr. and Janet pledge to support both Teddy and Tawney. Given that earlier in the season, Daniel had "released" his mother from caring for him, it felt like a transference - part of the show's dynamic is how the concern for Daniel, especially by his mother, leads to neglect of the other children. Now that Daniel has released his mother from obsessively concerning herself with him, it felt like finally some of the other children will receive the attention that they have needed (also the scene between Janet and Amantha in the beginning of the finale.

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