by Billie Doux
Daniel is finally in therapy, which means he's actively trying to help himself heal, which is a wonderful thing. It's amazing and very like Rectify as a series that in the midst of describing something so godawful as being the victim of a gang rape to his psychiatrist, Daniel said that he dissociated and focused on something beautiful: the drops of water falling into his eye, blessed droplets that looked like diamonds. Again with the baptism imagery that is in nearly every episode of the series. And again, Aden Young gave us a moving scene so heavy that it was almost unbearable to watch, without overacting or sobbing or in any other way detracting from the power of the words he was speaking and the images they evoked.
Chloe told Daniel that he had great courage or he wouldn't be here. An obvious truth, because how many people would be able to survive what happened to Daniel, and actually go on to make a good life for themselves, as I hope he does? Daniel also helped Chloe to realize that the best thing for her right now is to go to Ohio and be with her family when she has her baby, even though she is terribly reluctant to go and would rather read a good book than pack. (Wouldn't everyone?)
In Chloe's decision, there was joy. Chloe played a song she loves, "Many Rivers to Cross," whose lyrics certainly apply to Daniel, and they danced. They didn't just dance perfunctorily, either -- they danced beautifully. Later, Daniel went home to the New Canaan House and his kindly roommate Pickle shared good news: he finally got a job. And Daniel was happy for him.
Chloe planned to leave the art behind for the next occupant, as the previous tenants have done. Couldn't Daniel be the next occupant? Better still, if we really are moving toward Daniel's exoneration, let him go anywhere, no longer restrained by exile from his home and 19 years and 8 months remaining in his terrible parole deal.
The title of this episode, "Happy Unburdening," didn't just apply to Daniel's emotional state and Chloe's new life. Jared's Furby-related efforts to simplify his life have spread to Janet cleaning out the attic and garage, trying to unload hundred-year-old flour sifters and the bicycle she was riding on one of the nights Daniel was nearly executed, an obvious symbol of the tragic past. The two Teds also had a serious conversation about the end of their business association while standing in an empty building that would not be their new tire store. They talked about the fact that they each originally took on the tire store for each other, that it was never something they wanted for themselves. It's time for them both to go do something they want to do.
Clayne Crawford again gave one terrific performance after another as Teddy wound up his job, his work relationship with his father and his marriage while limping around recovering from the stupidity of accidentally shooting himself. I never thought about it much, but when one person goes into therapy, there is often a positive outcome — but when two go into therapy together, it is often a sign that the relationship is already over.
The Zeke story this season was about Tawney finding herself. She believes that God wants her to serve others, to "wash their feet." She wants to get her nursing degree and possibly join Doctors Without Borders, put her healing talents and faith into practice. While I have continued to hope that there might be a future for Tawney with Daniel, I'll admit that Tawney's new choice for her life feels like the perfect fit for her. I loved what Teddy told her in that scene: "I can definitely see you doing something like that. I can see it so clearly, I can actually see it."
I was also happy to see Tawney and Teddy make peace with their failed marriage, something they've struggled with for the entire series. Teddy still loves her, but he has truly accepted that it's over and is no longer lashing out about it. Now they can go out for pizza and just enjoy each other's company.
When a person experiences a terrible trauma, they are often stuck at that emotional age forever, or until therapy helps them grow past it. It feels that Daniel has been locked in at eighteen, and Bobby Dean is still a confused and angry twelve-year-old. While I completely understood Amantha's anger and hostility, I couldn't help feeling bad for Bobby, who is still trying to make amends for the sin of believing what everyone told him for years. Such a strange location for a serious discussion about life and death, almost as if Bobby Dean was still twelve.
D.A. Sondra Person and Sheriff Carl Daggett met with C.J. Pickens and there was a lot of confusing truth telling going on. Honestly, I'm having a hard time picking through the weeds here, but it looks like twenty years ago, Roger ("Go Ask Roger") Nelms, Chris's father, used his influence and possibly his loads of money to get Foulkes to focus on coercing a confession out of Daniel. Which makes me wonder why Foulkes has always been so certain that Daniel did it. Did Foulkes simply convince himself that it was the truth so that he wouldn't have to face the fact that he railroaded an innocent eighteen-year-old into prison?
The change motif and resolving the issues of the past continued with other lovely scenes: Teddy in the back yard (Clayne Crawford was, again, really wonderful in this scene) telling his father that his marriage to Tawney was over, and Ted Senior responding simply with an offer of unquestioning support and love. Ted Senior quietly sitting in the bathtub while Janet washed his back, exchanging a simple affirmation of their love for each other.
And then there was that lovely little exchange between Amantha and her old friend Jenny in front of Thrifty Town. I only vaguely remember the circumstances of their break-up, but I think it had something to do with them being best friends in school, Jenny telling Amantha the truth about what everyone was saying about Daniel killing Hanna, and Amantha dropping Jenny and never speaking to her again. It feels like Amantha has reconciled with the town of Paulie and is on the road to forgiving it for what it did to her brother, herself and her family. No small thing.
-- "Happy Unburdening." What a perfect episode title, like Merry Christmas, an unexpected and unusual holiday.
-- Daniel is listening to his revelations in therapy because he is supposed to go over it repeatedly until he's bored with it. Daniel also revealed that Chloe "un-bored" him with life. I liked that.
-- Will we find out what was in the card for Janet that Judy Dean gave Bobby to give Amantha? I'm probably seeing meaning where none exists, but it feels like these two mothers still need a buffer to soften the pain that communicating directly would require.
-- I also noted that in the past, it was always Teddy who went to Tawney. This time, Tawney came to him.
-- I laughed out loud when we saw Teddy smoking. It's like he's determined to return to one vice after another because it's what people do when they go through an existential crisis.
Daniel: "It was lukewarm."
Doctor: "The shower?"
Daniel: "Yes, but I would always focus on the warm instead of the luke."
Teddy: (to Ted Senior) "I know you did the best you could, or you'd have done better."
Amantha: "First, I don't want anyone eBaying or Goodwilling my shit."
Tawney: "You think I'm daft."
Teddy: "No. Just the opposite. I can definitely see you doing something like that. I can see it so clearly, I can actually see it."
Teddy got the profound lines in this episode, didn't he?
Teddy: "I'd like to spend some time with you before it all changes."
Tawney: "I think that'd be all right."
C.J.: "Why muddy the waters at that point?"
Sondra: "What would have been the mud?"
I thought I was ready, but maybe I'm not because I'm actually feeling some angst at the approaching end of this beautiful series. Four out of four droplets of water,
Billie Doux loves quality television and spends way too much time writing about it.