Rectify leaves us in the same way it began: with beauty, and the possibility of hope.
Relatively early in the episode, Amantha said that there was nothing that could rectify what happened to Daniel, and that is certainly true. It would have been unrealistic if they had wound up the legal case in a nice, tidy bow, for Daniel's monstrously unfair plea deal to be instantly vacated.
But now we know that it will eventually happen. Chris Nelms killed Hanna because she was going to tell someone that he raped her. Angry about losing his house and his wife even though the murder charge against him has been dropped, Trey is finally ready to tell the truth. Someday, thanks to Jon Stern's refusal to stop trying, Daniel will be able to come home and visit if he likes.
Many scenes in this episode brought me to tears. The first was Amantha and Jon saying goodbye to their lengthy legal association and love affair. They came together for a reason that is now gone, but a deep fondness will remain. Jon said he might go back to Justice Row, and he should; there are other Daniels out there waiting for him to save them. I especially liked what Amantha said about how she noticed nice days now. In fact, the backdrop of this entire final episode was a nice, sunshiny day.
Every time I hear footsteps in a hallway, it comes back
Daniel finally told his therapist about Kerwin's execution, about how the entire row was silent and waiting, even the inmates he hated, even the inmates he didn't know, because they were all seeing themselves in the one who would be taken away to die. For me, the last thing Kerwin said to Daniel, and that Daniel repeated to his therapist, was always the most memorable moment in this series: "Because I know you. Because I know you. Because I know you."
It would have been wrong if Kerwin hadn't been in this finale, but it would also have been wrong if it was a painful flashback. Instead, Daniel was finally able to acknowledge the gift that Kerwin gave him that day -- that Kerwin believed in Daniel, and that he wanted Daniel to believe in himself. In final flashback of the series, Daniel and Kerwin indulged in a mutual fantasy that they were free, driving a Cadillac through New York City together, seeing the sights, maybe planning to take in a show. It was the perfect way to leave their relationship, nothing traumatic or heavy. A nice day.
I just didn't want to let it go
It would also have been too soon for the Deans to clean out Hanna's room and stop mourning her loss. But as Bobby and Jared sat outside surrounded by sunshine and greenery, Janet and Judy sat on the bed in Hanna's untouched bedroom and talked about how, even if the authorities did arrest whoever had actually killed Hanna, it wouldn't change the pain of the last twenty years for either of them. Hanna is still dead, and Daniel still lost his youth on death row. But these two mothers can finally forgive each other and at least hope to move on someday.
The tire store has always been a physical manifestation of the painful past, and I really enjoyed the going-out-of-business-sale scenes as the family resolved their remaining conflicts and put the past behind them. Tawney brought monkey bread, and the kindly Melvin of the turtles got the last set of tires at a deep and well-deserved discount. The family cleaned out the remnants in the store with smiles on their faces.
Although there was a serious moment as they all watched the news conference on television, the final day of the tire store ended with a family dinner and a phone call that was one of the best moments in the series. Teddy offered Daniel detente and apologies along with the ceramic mechanic that represented Daniel's father, and Daniel essentially reciprocated and gave it back to Teddy with apologies, unspoken but understood, for the coffee grounds assault. Of course, I cried through this scene, too.
And then, without anger or resentment, Teddy voluntarily gave Tawney the phone so we could have one last scene with Tawney and Daniel. The two of them are emotionally in the same place -- looking forward to life for the first time. I guess that will have to be enough to satisfy my shippy little heart. I also liked that Tawney said it was a blessed day, and Amantha accepted that and agreed without rolling her eyes. It was a perfect little moment among many in this episode.
Life is good today
As Daniel's family celebrated the sale of the tire store, Daniel and his friends celebrated Pickle's new job and talked about what recovery really is: having something to hope for. Earlier, Daniel told Jon that more people have tried to help than harm him, and that Daniel has always felt unworthy of that help, but not anymore.
The last scene began with a shot of Daniel in his bed at the halfway house upside down like the hanged man Tarot card (very appropriate) as he dreamed about his future. Then they brought us back to the gorgeous scene in the pilot episode where Daniel and Amantha were experiencing the dawn of his first day of freedom, but this time, Daniel was imagining a future with Chloe and her baby.
When I began reviewing this series, which actually wasn't that long ago, I noticed that Rectify often featured intensely heavy conversations beautifully and naturally acted, and exceptional cinematography with an emphasis on the beauty of nature because it related to how Daniel was seeing the world after his long imprisonment. There were many interiors with vertical lines reminiscent of Daniel's prison bars, and shots of characters in front of doors and windows, signifying change.
Check, check and check. Practically this entire finale consisted of those conversations as our characters finally arrived at a new and better place. I couldn't have asked for a better series finale.
-- Sheriff Carl told Teddy that the charges for accidentally shooting himself would be dropped if he took anger management classes and went to AA meetings. Teddy asked Carl if he still believed Daniel did it, and Carl said he didn't.
-- Daniel thanked Amantha for all of her letters then and now, and said now was better because nobody could read them but him. Wow.
-- I really liked the surreal little conversation Daniel had with his boss Julian, who gave him a small raise and asked Daniel if he liked him. Daniel told the truth instead of sucking up. Very like Daniel.
-- Daniel mentioned the album that Harry Nilsson and John Lennon did together. It included the song Chloe played for him, "Many Rivers to Cross."
-- During the televised press conference, we saw the reactions of many of the continuing characters in the series: Marcy, George Melton's father, Trey, Foulkes, Chris Nelms.
-- When Daniel was on the bus, there was a little boy staring at the painting Chloe had left for him. I thought that Daniel was seeing his younger self in that boy's interest and curiosity.
-- I'd like to thank J.D. Evermore, who played Sheriff Carl Daggett, for favoriting my tweets with links to these reviews.
Thanks for coming along on the ride and reviewing our show, Billie🙏🏼❤️ https://t.co/LhYK0U7bto— J.D. Evermore (@jd_evermore) December 15, 2016
Janet: "Well, that shouldn't be. Because you're my hero, young lady."
Amantha: "God, Mom. Well, first of all, I'm not that young."
Janet: "It's all relative, honey."
Carl: "You just think about things, usually right before daylight."
Teddy: "I know about thinking about things."
Amantha: "I'm still not convinced about the 'nothing premeditated or malicious' part. Forgive me for still being suspicious of asses."
Peyton: "It's a nice space."
Daniel: "The windows."
Daniel: "I'm always struck by the windows here."
Peyton: "They are striking."
Daniel: "And I'm always reminded."
Daniel: "Of a box with no windows."
Amantha: "Doesn't matter what happens at this point. I mean, it matters. Of course it matters. But nothing will rectify what's happened. It won't bring back Hanna, or my dad, or my eighteen-year-old brother."
Jon: "I think that might actually qualify as an epiphany. Or really good pot."
Daniel: "Don't get attached to people. There's a downside."
Amantha: "Too late."
Pickle: "For me, expectation is kinda like the trickier cousin to hope. You hope for something better, right? Something different, something more. That's not a bad thing, you know. When's the last time you felt disappointment because you hoped for something?"
Daniel: "I survived for some reason. And here I am, still, for some reason."
Tawney: "I hope your life's filled with wonder, Daniel."
Daniel: "Yours, too."
It would be nice if we could have another season of this exceptional series, but I would want it to be all about these characters I've grown to love enjoying their new lives, having good experiences, doing things that made them happy. That would be boring. I'd probably enjoy it, anyway.
Four out of four ceramic mechanics,
Billie Doux loves quality television and spends way too much time writing about it.