Rectify: Sexual Peeling

"It is difficult to gauge things in this world, and hard to know where the lines are."

I didn't choose to review Rectify; it sort of chose me. The pilot reeled me in as a viewer, but this second episode... after I saw it, I couldn't stop thinking about it. And then I had to write about it.

Daniel and Teddy

It seemed at first that Teddy Junior wanted to do his newly released step-brother a good turn, take him out for an uncomfortable lunch at a restaurant far from Paulie, go hit some balls at the driving range, help him acclimate. But of course, Teddy had an ulterior motive. He wanted Daniel to know that he was unwelcome at the tire store.

It was sort of funny that Teddy told Daniel, "If I cross an imaginary line with you, let me know," before he brought up, of all things, conjugal visits on Death Row. Daniel went to prison at the age of 18 for killing his girlfriend. Why, for what possible reason, would Teddy bring up conjugal visits? Prurient foot-in-mouth disease?

Daniel responded with a description of his "initiation" in the shower (more baptismal water imagery, although this time, fortunately, we didn't see it). The delicate way Daniel described the experience of being repeatedly raped, and how the other inmates reacted to the knowledge, was practically unbearable. Gold acting stars for Aden Young, who took that scene and made it so compelling. And even a little frightening. They pull you into their cells, take your breath, eat you up and shit you out like you were nothing. Wow. How do you respond to something like that?

Daniel turned at the end and looked right at Teddy with fire in his eyes. What was Daniel thinking? I would guess that he was so accustomed to not allowing himself to think about these things that he was taken by surprise by his own anger. Teddy was on the receiving end because he'd treated Daniel in such a passive aggressive nasty sort of way. And Teddy took all of that as proof that Daniel actually had committed murder. That doesn't say much for the sort of person Teddy is.

Teddy also took Daniel's confidence as evidence that Daniel needed to get his head straight, pun intended, with the help of some hetero porn. And that certainly had an explosive effect on Daniel, pun intended again, and may even have been Teddy's idea of a kindness. But all I could think of was his sister Amantha outside his door, listening. Just like Daniel couldn't help listening to his next door neighbor on Death Row. His nasty neighbor who intimated that he was fantasizing about raping Daniel while masturbating. Heavy stuff.

Tawney

On a nicer topic, Teddy's wife Tawney has suddenly become an interesting character. She was kind enough to go sit with Daniel at the family cookout and have a genuine conversation with him, even if it was only supposed to be about the weather. But like the conversation at the driving range, it got deep as Daniel talked to her about not experiencing the seasons, and how for him in prison, reality was his books. I liked what Tawney said about how rain on a hot summer day calmed her down and made the plants happy, and how thunder made her think of God. A deep, pleasant conversation with meaning, as opposed to an uncomfortably heavy one. It was what Teddy should have done, but didn't.

We also got a glance at the Teddy/Tawney marriage, and it doesn't look good. He was actually peeping at her when she was getting ready for her bath, and she was completely freaked about it. He accused her of having a crush on Daniel, which doesn't seem all that likely and reeked of unreasonable jealousy. She doesn't enjoy having sex with Teddy, either. She was lying passively underneath him, smiling a little and obviously feeling nothing. Which made me think of the photo of the pretty blonde in the magazine that Teddy gave Daniel.

Amantha and Jon

Tawney's shyness in the bathroom and discomfort with her husband was an interesting contrast to the way Amantha used the toilet in front of Jon the lawyer, and then threw herself at him. And much like Tawney, Jon seemed uncomfortable and he brought an end to their encounter.

Jon said he should never have slept with the sister of a client, that it needed to be kept a secret from the other side. Except Marcy the waitress already told Senator Foulkes, the prosecutor. And Foulkes was paying Marcy for sex. Telling her to stop flirting with him in the restaurant was mean, like reinforcing her status as an unimportant object. Lots of sexual objectification in this episode, wasn't there?

Amantha and Daniel

This might be a good place to mention how much I love Amantha. I loved her standing there in her cowboy boots smoking a cigarette, and then lying on the grass so that she could try to feel what Daniel was feeling. Amantha keeps acting like she's Daniel's mother, desperate to protect him from danger while trying to let him experience things for himself. It's kind of her, especially when their mother seems unable to cope.

Amantha stated the obvious -- that Daniel is in danger from people in Paulie who are angry about his release. And Daniel immediately experienced his new fame in a convenience store -- with an attack selfie. Laugh out loud. I loved the way he wandered through that store looking at the big gulps and hot dogs and energy bars. Did they have energy bars twenty years ago? And that adorable bit with the Smart Water. The way Daniel sees the world is one of the things I like most about this series.


The Most Obvious Symbolism in this episode was open doors, which makes sense for a series about a released prisoner. There were open doors in the motel room with Jon and Amantha, Teddy peeping at his wife through the bathroom door, and so on. In the end, Daniel was behind a closed door with his magazine, and last shot of the episode was Amantha closing her own door.

Bits and pieces:

-- From here on out, I'll refer to Ted the younger as Teddy, and Ted the elder as Ted Senior. I wish they'd given them different names.

-- Janet was so exhausted that she left perishable groceries on the kitchen counter. Teddy seems to genuinely care about Janet and thinks of her as his mother. He was nice about calling her Janet when Daniel was around, too. I thought he'd be mean about it.

-- Ted Senior was worried about how much defending Daniel is going to cost. Maybe he'd feel differently about it if it were Teddy.

-- Teddy referred to Daniel as Starman. That was apt.

-- George's cell phone was ringing. No one has found George's body yet.

Quotes:

Teddy: "You awake?"
Tawney: "Why?"
Teddy: "Redneck foreplay. 'Hey baby, you awake?'"
A little uncomfortable, considering the content of the episode.

Daniel: (holding a bottle of Smart Water) "Does this work?"

Daniel: (looking at the lunch buffet) "People eat more than I recall."

Daniel: "Maybe it was when they first saw something akin to optimism on your face, or a bit of peace. Or just that moment when you began to believe that you could survive it in some paradoxical way. I don't know why they did it. Justification's a slippery slope, Ted."

Tawney: "What was real to you, Daniel?"
Daniel: "The time in between seconds. And my books. And my friend."

Terrific episode. Four out of four seasons,

Billie
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Billie Doux is the founder of Doux Reviews and has been reviewing her favorite shows for quite some time. More Billie Doux.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Once again, thanks for reviewing this series. I wish I could watch along with you but life interferes. Beautiful review!

turnipseed

Billie Doux said...

You're very welcome, turnipseed. And the reviews will always be here if you rewatch the show.

Jess Lynde said...

Once again, as I rewatched I actually found myself feeling empathy for Teddy. At least until he kept pushing Tawny to drop her towel. Then he crossed the line into creeper. I didn’t think it was so bad when he was just looking at her through the door, she is his wife after all. But when she made it clear she was uncomfortable, he should have let it go, not pressured her to reveal herself and then to have sex. (Despite the uncomfortable creepiness, I did like how this moment resonated so well with some moments from this past season. Great consistency in characterization, even as more depths are revealed.)

That said, earlier in the episode, Teddy was very sweet with Janet and seemed to genuinely care for her, as you note. And I think he actually had a reasonable point about the small town politics and the potential effect of Daniel’s return on the tire business. Yes, it was Daniel’s family business first and he’s certainly entitled to a monetary stake, but it doesn’t do anyone counting on the store for their financial stability any good if half the customers leave because Daniel’s there and they think he’s a murderer. Teddy’s not approaching the issue in the most compassionate way, and he can certainly be an unthinking ass in many respects, but Daniel can be just as obtuse and confrontational in his own way. Teddy’s question about conjugal visits was in poor taste (why would he ask such a thing?), but Daniel’s response was just as inappropriate, and I think he knew what he was doing there, at least in part. His delivery of your opening quote seemed intentionally pointed to me. “It is difficult to gauge things in this world. I’m like you, I suppose. Hard to know where the lines are.”

Ultimately, I really like that the drama in the conflict between Daniel and Teddy (and all the characters, really) comes from such an understandable --- meaning, I can understand where it’s coming from, even if I don’t endorse certain choices --- and human place, on both sides.