Rectify: Running With the Bull

"I never felt envious of you, not one time. I was just grateful to have something to hope for, even if it was for the life of another person."

The thing about Rectify that keeps getting to me is how they balance such devastating human ugliness with exceptional beauty and light. Maybe what this series is trying to say is that the beauty of nature alone makes life worth living, no matter how bad things gets.

Daniel and Kerwin

As I mentioned before in my reviews, my mother came to me in a dream shortly after she died. She knew she was dead and she was happy in whatever afterlife she was experiencing, and we talked for a long time about everything -- our past relationship, our loved ones, the meaning of life. I kept thinking of that when Kerwin came to visit Daniel the way he did, first in his cell after the execution and later in that gorgeous pecan grove of weirdness.

What they shared was stark and open, black and white, much like their surroundings. Daniel told Kerwin that the real world was too much for him, that he was probably too broken to survive. Kerwin said that he had given up on himself while on "the row", and Daniel's possible freedom had become Kerwin's reason to stay alive. I cried when Daniel and Kerwin exchanged a serious "I love you." Just beautiful.

All the time I was aware that this might have been Daniel's interpretation of his memories of Kerwin, what Daniel needed to hear in order to want to wake up from his induced coma, although they must have at least discussed at some point how Kerwin had caused the death of that little girl during the drive-by. I thought it was especially moving that Kerwin said he was going to have to face that little girl next. Daniel told Kerwin to show her his true self, who he'd become, and it would be all right. During the prison scene, Kerwin's ghost kept playing with his open cell door. He's free now.

Even in his coma, Daniel knew where he really was and what had happened to him, and he didn't want to wake up. I certainly can't blame him. The flashbacks (as opposed to the dream/fantasy bits) were about Daniel's grief and rage after Kerwin's death, when all he had left was the ugly presence of Wendall Jelks in the next cell. Book pages with crossed out words, and was that shit all over the walls? Oddly, I think Jelks was jealous of Daniel's closeness to Kerwin and was actually trying to connect to Daniel, while being completely clueless about how human beings truly connect.

At least, I assume that was a flashback. Could it have been all in Daniel's head?

Amantha and Tawney

What is it about Tawney that makes people talk about the heaviest things with her? Amantha, who could barely contain her rage over Daniel's beating, was ready to dismiss Tawney completely, but Tawney's genuine faith and sincere concern for Daniel got to Amantha. (So did Melvin and his chocolate turtle. Amantha is disarmed by genuine acts of kindness.)

Amantha and Tawney talked about the question: why does God let bad things happen to good people? Tawney sounded a lot like her faith had been shaken. And yet, she acceded to Janet's request to pray over Daniel, although Janet also subtly cautioned Tawney that she should stay faithful to Teddy.

Janet and Teddy

Honestly, I believe in fidelity and in keeping one's word, and it was good of Janet to tell Tawney that Teddy wasn't polished and didn't feel good about himself but that he genuinely loved Tawney. But jeez, Janet, Teddy and Tawney do not have a good marriage. They don't connect. Their scenes together are often shot with some sort of barrier between them; this time it was a door. (Like Daniel and Kerwin, interestingly, or even Daniel and Jelks.)

Teddy was trying so hard to appear normal, going to work early, getting muffins and making coffee (ha), but he's obviously starting to get angry about the coffee grounds attack. He wanted to tell his father, and I think he wanted to tell Sheriff Carl, too. He was clearly having thoughts of violence, standing by Daniel's bedside and holding that stupid ceramic mechanic like a weapon. And yet, even though I dislike him and want to shake him for being so cruel to Daniel and thinking only of himself, I don't think Teddy is a terrible person. He just can't help being jealous of Daniel taking his place back in the family, being the center of attention. And now Teddy has a genuine grievance against Daniel, too.

And finally…

Surprise, surprise. Sheriff Carl is actually doing his job, even though his deputy Lid (what a name) keeps telling him everyone would understand if he didn't. In fact, everyone would get mad if he did. In other words, don't do your job, Carl. Dare we even hope that Carl will actually re-investigate Hanna's murder, and do it fairly? Is it completely out of the realm for me to hope that this series will end with Daniel exonerated and possibly even having a life for himself? It's what Kerwin wanted for him, and of course, I want it, too.


-- Janet talked about when she met Teddy for the first time and what a little gentleman he was. Teddy represented normalcy for Janet, a new son with an actual future. It explains their closeness, and their relationship is actually quite sweet.

-- Trey has George's wallet, keys, gun and cell phone in a metal box. Why? It's really stupid. Trey didn't kill George, but keeping those things could make it look like he did.

-- Foulkes sees Daniel possibly having brain damage as losing the PR battle. Kicking a man when he's literally down. Nothing more effective than a well-timed drool on the witness stand.

-- In this episode's water imagery, it rained constantly during the first part of the episode. Bobby Dean returned from his mission completely soaked, and sat on his mother's couch, watching a reporter on TV standing in the rain reporting Bobby's attack on Daniel.

-- Okay, what did it mean, that the statue had lost its head? I'm sure there's some obvious symbolism that's escaping me.


Janet: "Nobody's gonna come to Atlanta."
Amantha: "Promise? Our only hope is that they're too stupid to access Google maps."

Amantha: "At least he's been washed in the blood, literally and figuratively now. So, worse case scenario, he goes straight to Heaven, right?"
Tawney: "That is what I believe, yes."
Amantha: "And he can spend eternity listening to, oh, I don't know, country music with a gospel twist? I'm sure show tunes are out."

Amantha: "I just have to believe that it's all some cosmic cause and effect or just plain… random."
Tawney: "Do you believe in God?"
Amantha: "Well, I believe in evil, so uh, I don't really want to talk about it. Excuse me while I go and smoke a carton of cigarettes."

Foulkes: "That's what makes life so interesting and confounding."
Carl: "What's that?"
Foulkes: "Variables, Sheriff. Variables."

Melvin: "You're way too smart to be in Paulie. You stay there too long, and you do too much thinking at the same time, it's bad for your mental health."
Amantha: "Good to know. While I'm there, I'll keep thinking to an absolute minimum."

Kerwin: "Your sorry ass, showing no optimism -- none. For years, none, zero, and here you are in the natural world, right? Kicking it with these country ass cows, running with the bull, that's a beautiful thing, D."

Four out of four country ass cows, mostly for that Daniel/Kerwin scene in the pecan grove,

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


Jess Lynde said...

Not just the beauty of nature, but the beauty of hope and connection. The next line of your opening quote was “you know, maybe especially because of that.” Hope for another person can be more powerful than hope for oneself. In a way, it’s that connection to and love for another person that’s helping Daniel now. He carries his friend in his soul, and that friendship and love is now helping him to come to terms with his situation and choices. I cried so much during that final scene in the grove. It was so moving and beautiful. Not just visually, but emotionally. It’s not the ugly that hurts the most, it’s the beauty.

I love your comment about Amantha being disarmed by genuine acts of kindness. She really is. And it says so much about the world she’s experienced and the way she sees it that kindness catches her by surprise.

I found all the material with Teddy in this episode really fascinating and layered. Clayne Crawford is doing an excellent job of showing how badly the attack has shaken Teddy and how it is causing him to wrestle even more with a host of conflicting emotions. He wants so much to support Janet, because he loves her and his father, but it was hard as hell to be in that hospital room. So many complex layers in that scene between Teddy and Janet. Hearing her talk about a time when she actually had a glimmer of hope she could move past losing her son, then sobbing brokenly at the prospect of losing him now. More reflections on the power of making connections and the pain of losing them. Great, great stuff.

I liked the different perspective on Carl. I think we got hints of his interest in actually doing his job when he went to question Trey last year, and here we see even better that he’s an honest man who wants to find the truth and do what’s right. Even if it costs him an election. A nice counterpoint to the senator.

What Trey is doing is definitely stupid. I can only assume he thinks that George contacting him after Daniel got out, and then committing suicide puts their past in a bad light. And he wants to keep that connection and past hidden.

Nothing more effective than a well-timed drool. Stay classy, Senator.

Maybe the statue, which previously represented something beautiful in this world to Daniel, being broken in his coma dream just reflects his own brokenness and his belief that he can’t function on the outside.

Melvin: “Regrets grow tiresome.”
Amantha: “I heard that.”

The actor overlap between this show and The Walking Dead catches me off guard sometimes. The actors playing George Melton and Sheriff Daggett have both popped up on TWD in recent years, but I forgot about the actor playing Jake Johnson being the same guy that played Ed, Carol’s abusive husband. When he appeared on screen I laughed out loud. Of course he’d be one of the attackers! :)

J.D. Balthazar said...

There is something absolutely beautiful, and utterly disturbing about this series. After the end of season one, where Daniel was beaten to within an inch of his life and pissed on, I almost gave up on the show entirely. It was too real, and far too painful.

Then there was this episode, with the lovely moments between Daniel and Kerwin, and Tawney and Amantha. The stark use of black and white, and the way the characters reacted to Daniel's beating. It was again too real, but it also eased me back into the narrative so that I want to continue.

I honestly don't know what is coming next, and that is exciting and a bit terrifying. There are so many possibilities, and none of them are easy or fun. Yet I'm ready to take the journey with these characters.

Great review Billie!