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Rectify: The Source

"The perfectly strange goodbye of Daniel Holden."

This episode was beautiful. I cried, not once but twice.

Road trip

Daniel will never be normal. He is living a life where tossing a ball to a child on a beach is something new, exceptional and amazing. He drives too fast with the windows down even while it's raining. The outside world is so beautiful to Daniel, and yet, it still scares him. Hey, it scares me sometimes.

The road trip with his mother was very much the emotional trip to adulthood Daniel should have taken in his teens or twenties. On the way to the New Canaan House in Nashville, they took side trips to the prison and to the ocean and revisited their past as they returned to the enjoyable, bantering relationship they must have once had twenty years ago. Janet escorted her son to his future, and let him go in the parking lot so that he could do the last part alone. I cried when he told her to forgive herself, since they both knew she did nothing that needed forgiveness.

The water imagery so prevalent in this series was front and center. The road trip began with the pouring rain, but then, of course, the sun came out. (Freedom is freedom, even when it's raining.) Daniel wanted to visit the ocean, the source of all life. He jumped into the water, yet another symbolic baptism, as he became a new person and started a new life.


As Daniel left the state of Georgia, possibly forever, Tawney finally came home and dreamed about Daniel. Of all the fantasy sequences or waking dreams or whatever in this series, this was my favorite. Even though it only took place in Tawney's imagination, it was yet another deep, significant conversation between Tawney and Daniel, a recognition that they have always connected on a special level.

Daniel: "You remember. God is in the flowers and in the rain. And in your tears."
Tawney: "God is in my tears?"
Daniel: "I've seen Him there, lurking."
Tawney: "You're a false prophet."
Daniel: "I'm going to tell you something, Tawney."
Tawney: "I won't believe you."
Daniel: "God is a rain frog. As God is my witness, he's a rain frog. May frog strike me down."
Tawney: "You're mad, Daniel."
Daniel: "And so must be God."

It was like a reset of all the upsetting flashbacks to Daniel's imprisonment. There was such joy on Tawney's face, happiness for Daniel achieving freedom and the chance to become the adult he should have been. When he put down the phone and let his wrists separate, there was a white light, the glass disappeared and they could finally kiss. This was the second scene that made me cry.

The first time through, I thought that it was Daniel imagining this scene while he was in the ocean, a callback to the baptism she talked him into back in season one ("Drip, Drip"). Instead, it was her fantasy dream, not his. Okay, maybe it was a combination of both of their dreams. I'm okay with that.

A return

It was funny how Tawney's arrival pushed Teddy back into his childhood home, and rather lovely how he deliberately mended his relationship with Amantha with Chinese food and gin rummy, as if making things right with his "evil stepsister" was a prerequisite for finally becoming an adult himself.

And Teddy was the one to finish the kitchen o' symbolism, and that old stove Daniel found for Janet fit in the kitchen like a glove. Possibly a little foreshadowing that Daniel will return, and when he does, he'll finally belong with his family again.

Possible justice

I kept waiting for Hanna's murder to be mentioned, for the legal shoe to drop that would keep Daniel in Paulie. But this series isn't so much about crime solving and the legal issues -- it's about Daniel and his family. At least the Sheriff has finally gotten somewhere. Chris Nelms confessed to the rape, probably after making certain the statute of limitations had expired, and implicated Trey and George.

It's sort of sadly hilarious that Trey dug himself into this hole by trying so hard to frame Daniel, much like what happened twenty years ago. If Trey had called the police immediately after George shot himself in the pilot episode, he would have been fine. If Trey did kill Hanna, his arrest for George's non-murder was karmic.

And talk about karma. After unjustly imprisoning Daniel for twenty years, Senator Foulkes is now imprisoned within his own body. I loved Jon telling him that he was going to get Daniel exonerated, and that he ended it with, "I hope your house has termites." It was the perfect light touch that ended what could have been a heavy scene.

What do I want for the fourth and final season this fall? I want to know who killed Hanna Dean, and it had better not be Daniel. I want Daniel to be able to go home and collect a huge amount of reparations for wrongful conviction. After all, the title of the show is Rectify. I want what happened to Daniel to be rectified, as much as it can be.

And of course, it would be nice if Daniel and Tawney were finally able to love each other. But that might be too much to ask.


-- Omigod, I loved Daniel and Janet stalking the donuts.

-- Jon not only hugged Daniel goodbye, he also kissed him. Awww.

-- Tawney wanted to change the locks, probably to keep Teddy out. Teddy insisted on changing the locks for her. Did Teddy just not get it?

-- Ted Senior and Teddy both felt guilty that Teddy's mother Margaret left them. Ted Senior confessed that he'd turned to another woman, but just for friendship. Was that Janet?

-- It was implied that twenty years ago, Trey didn't know Hanna was dead when he threatened Chris the next morning. Honestly, who was it if it wasn't Trey?


Daniel: "I don't really have context yet, Jon. (Looking out at the parking lot and the dumpster) Would this be considered a shitty view, within the norm of shitty views?"
Jon: "To me, it qualifies."
Daniel: "I'm still outside the norm, then."
Meaning that it was still a vast improvement over Death Row.

Amantha: "After eating fritters in a cheap motel, the beach is gonna be such a letdown."

Daniel: "Mother, I know that day is coming -- my first Google -- but not to see if Hoppy's is still Hoppy's."

Daniel: "Could we take a side trip, Mother?"
Janet: "Aren't we on a side trip?"
Daniel: "A side trip to the side trip."

Daniel: "Sometimes I wanted to walk to the front gate and ask them to let me back in. Back into my box, my cocoon. That's not right thinking, Mother."
Janet: "You're not the first to romance the cocoon."

Daniel: "Maybe I can get... more normal. Run for dog catcher."

Trey: "You never even had any kettle corn."

This season finale was so lovely that gave me hope this story will end, maybe not happily, but with the possibility of joy.

Four out of four rain frogs,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. Apologies for taking so long to complete season three. There was just too much new stuff. I do plan to cover season four as it airs.

  2. Thank you for finishing the reviews. Slow and careful beats fast and careless :-)

    So, this is my final comment on Rectify season 3, compiled from a discussion at Previously which made the material for a post 10 months ago:

    Rectify “The Source” - Thoughts on the Daniel/Tawney relationship and the nature of “shipping”

    X SAID:

    Was that Tawney’s dream? I thought it was Daniel’s daydream, because of the prison setting. Would Tawney dream of a prison visit, instead of a walk in the woods, or something romantic, pastoral? I was surprised when it was over, seeing Tawney wake up. I’d like to think it was a mutual dream, a spiritual connection.

    I think this was one of the most genius moves I’ve seen on television this year.

    First of all the actual dialogue was almost exactly the analysis I’d made of their connection, and it’s nice to know I’m not crazy and this is intended. “You’ve told me too much, Daniel […] You’re the false prophet.” Second is how it’s left unclear who’s dreaming, if it’s only one or if it’s both. This touches on the metaphysical without confirming its existence in a way few shows manage to pull off. It’s almost a Rectify trademark - the quirky meld of agnosticism, scepticism and deep faith.

    If it’s Daniel’s dream, and Daniel’s dream alone, there is nothing supernatural about it at all - but at the same time, the things that Daniel are saying are more like bordering on something that Tawney would think that he’d say, and what he’s doing is more like something Tawney would hope that he would do.

    If it’s really Tawney’s daydream, given her mentioning him at the beach, well, then at least Tawney’s psychic.

    Also, the things Tawney said to Daniel weren’t things he would know, like being lost and feeling terribly alone, plus the reverent yet accusing tone… I’m not sure, but I don’t feel like Daniel would give himself that much credit, or really knowing what an impact he’s had on her life.

  3. The second part I write as an unashamed Daniel slash Tawney shipper.

    First a detour. I think people are far too quick to make excuses about these things - I see stuff like “not to delve into ‘shipping territory’, but…” all the time. Coming at stuff from a “shipping perspective”, at core, is simply to be motivated to watch the show for the character interactions, and there is nothing wrong with that. Television has evolved over the last decade. I think Ian Somerhalder - “Damon” on TVD - had a point when he said that “shipping is sort of a new phenomenon”, but he didn’t delve into it. The reason it is a new phenomenon is that television shows, serious television shows have progressed from being almost exclusively plot-driven to be more and more character-driven, and have finally ventured out of the realm of “45 minute movie” by abandoning the episodic approach in favor of story and character arcs. One example of the former would be Star Trek, and one example of the latter would be Babylon 5.

    Now as a fan of Daniel and Tawney… in a sense, I was obviously disappointed that we had literally zero interaction between them this season, but when I look over the six episodes, I see that this was absolutely needed. They both need to come to terms with what has happened to them, and at the same time, the “dream conversation” in the final episode shows us that… this is far from over, and may in fact be a way to set them up for coming together in a more meaningful and healthy way over season four. And of course, that makes me very happy.

    Y SAID:

    Just when I thought there would be no Tawney and Daniel this season…man, oh man did that scene get to me. I think I was in awe of it as it was happening. One of the best, most levitational scenes I’ve ever seen on TV I think.

    Now we know that they’ll have to have some interaction next season for sure- Tawney’s definitely in love with him. And I actually thought Ted’s speech to Teddy about what really happened with his mom paralleled Tawney’s own actions in letting the door open for someone else, even if it’s not physical. When that happens, things are just over. Maybe Teddy realized that too, with his dad’s confession.

    This really is a miraculous series. I’d be bummed about the short seasons, but if it helps the episodes to be this good then I can take the wait.


    That’s really clever. I hadn’t even thought of that - how Ted’s confession about letting someone in, even in a non-physical way, was the beginning of the end of his first marriage, and how that exactly mirrors Teddy, Tawney and Daniel. That’s very strong foreshadowing.

    If this was any other show, the dream sequence would have come across as “fan service.” I.e. writing in a scene between two characters, simply because they wanted one and could find no logical way for them to get together in real life. On this show it’s anything but that. There are valid reasons for keeping these characters estranged all season, and there’s a valid reason to remind them, and the viewers, that their love for each other - and yes, that’s love, it’s been love since the first words they said to each other - hasn’t just magically disappeared.

    In a dialectical sense the main contradiction in the Daniel slash Tawney relationship is one of denial versus acceptance. The synthesis likely lies in understanding. Over this season both have been in a state of denial. In the dream, we see the understanding acceptance. This is different from the scene in season two episode nine, where we have a desperate, half-drunk Tawney still torn between automatic rejection - (“We can’t be together”) - and instinctive, unpremeditated and desperate acceptance (“Dance with me.”) Tawney finally, truly sees what they've done to each other, and she also sees how there’s no way back from it, for better or worse.

  4. Poor Daniel keeps having something ruin his nice little things he tries to do, lol. The stove thing (I mean Ted Sr did help but it was all damage control), making that cute meal for Amantha who was having none of it (which is why I felt vaguely annoyed rather than touched that she seems to have patched those feelings up off-screen, though maybe that's what the one-night stand was all about), and now the dance with mom interrupted by the guy going on his break LOL. That was a clever way to bring those scenes back in my mind, if that was intentional.

    Jon being 'petty' with Foulkes was great. *Seething whisper* I set my termites loose, Foulkes. You're gonna die homeless! Homeless!

    The Trey thing was really funny to me, all I could think of was ***BSG s3 SPOILERS SKIP TO NEXT PARAGRAPH*** Baltar finally gets charged with something, but Gaeta perjures himself for something Baltar actually didn't do for once. There's this irrevocably immature part of me that has no problem with it, in either cases, and there's twistedly more justice to the wrongful charge because the criminal doesn't get that certain peace of mind that comes from the truth of your crime finally coming out, the part of you that believes in justice.

    Trey has to deal with indignation too now haha, fuck him. That was so extra, framing Daniel.

    Daniel had a better time engaging a kid than he did a kid's mom, huh? Sounds accurate. I liked his modest "beginner's luck" response to his mom's comment. Who can really know with kids?

    It was exciting to find out the Daniel-Tawney sequence was actually Tawney's, or at least predominantly Tawney's fantasy. Now there's another connection to my little BSG spoiler. Cylon projection! And I like that within the same episode Daniel had another dramatic sequence, but in real life, when he's finally in the water. It really helps blur the line even more between real and fantasy. In a way that isn't frustrating.

    Man I remember just automatically assuming and making my peace with the fact that this is the series finale. Foulkes gets foulked, Jon gives Daniel the goodbye kiss, Daniel goes off with his mom and then off again on his own. I wanna say this still feels a perfect stopping point but I remember too much about the s4 premiere, and that amazing final scene (I can't remember if it really was the last, but close to the end), and being startled by how it's just as important to actually see Daniel working on his interpersonal skills than to just hope for the best and let him go. Can't wait... I forget where I stopped in s4 but it really felt like it breathed new life into the series, out of nowhere really.


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