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Rectify: A House Divided

"It's never too late."

Rectify is an exceptional series. I'm actually crying as I'm writing this, and not because anything terrible happened in the story. I'm crying because the amazing writing in this episode, as interpreted by Aden Young's performance, made me feel quite deeply what Daniel Holden, a fictional character, must be feeling.

A halfway house, successful or not, can't help but be a purgatory since its very nature is about transitioning between one sort of living and another. But Daniel's previous existence isn't like anyone else's. The other former prisoners interacted with other prisoners. They at least knew for certain whether or not they'd committed a crime. Daniel was alone in a death row cell for over nineteen years waiting to die, unable to see or touch his only friend, who was then taken away from him and executed. There's no halfway house specifically for people who transition from death row back into an actual life, because they don't do that: they die. Daniel didn't die.

Even worse, Daniel still feels that he deserved to be punished, even though he doesn't even know if he killed Hanna or not. Finally! Three seasons of not knowing if Daniel killed Hanna, and we still don't know, but this makes sense of every clue we've gotten so far. And yet, Daniel insisted, he knew, that he didn't rape her. Why doesn't Daniel know if he killed her? If he did it while he was stoned out of his mind, wouldn't that be accidental death, or possibly manslaughter?

That scene where Daniel told group therapist Avery the whole truth about why he was finding it impossible to adjust was so good that I don't think I can heap enough praise on it. All it was was two men sitting in a bland institutional room talking, and I could not stop crying, because Daniel was finally revealing his total self to someone. It was Emmy-worthy, all by itself. And it was finally enough to bring Daniel out of his shell, to admit to how incredibly freaking lonely he feels. He was ready to join in, to interact with Pickle and Nate and Tyrus, ready to play cards instead of hiding in his room reading a book.


Even better, Daniel is now interested in pursuing some form of artistic self-expression. During the blackout at his dull job at the warehouse (gee, no symbolism there) Daniel took a walk and happened upon an artists' cooperative and a woman named Chloe who saw the hunger for beauty in Daniel's soul. I really loved that while Daniel was there, the light went back on (see above re: symbolism). When he returned later and accepted Chloe's invitation, Daniel told her the truth about who he was.


I write and paint, and both forms of self-expression mean a great deal to me. Wouldn't it be wonderful if Daniel could learn to express his rage and pain and his love of beauty and nature through art?

Bits:

-- Although the cast is the same, the only cast member in this episode was Daniel. There were lots of interesting guest stars, all good, but the standout was Scott Lawrence as Avery, the therapist. You need someone terrific to catch the ball when you're pitching a scene as strong as the one Aden Young gave us. I particularly liked that Daniel finally let go after Avery acknowledged that what Daniel had endured was inhuman.

-- Everyone at the halfway house called Daniel "Dan." In the end, he introduced himself to Chloe as "Daniel."

-- Practice interviews. It's true that it's easier to accept not getting the job if you look at each interview as a learning experience.

-- Daniel noticed some unique metal jewelry created by Chloe when he was at the artists co-op. It was in the shape of a delicate metal tree. That's Daniel. He was twisted and stretched, but he's still strong and beautiful.

-- I loved what Daniel said about feeling like he was in the middle of the existential play, No Exit. "Hell is other people."

-- Daniel got a letter. Who was it from? Let it be Tawney.

-- In this week's hair report, Daniel was much hairier than we left him last season. It looked good on him, though.

Quotes:

Maggie: "Dan's one of our many success stories."
Daniel: "I'd call it more a work in progress.

Daniel: "I just saw you with the bird and was just..."
Chloe: "Appalled?"
Daniel: "More curious."
Chloe: "Like train wreck curious?"
Daniel: "If a train wreck is absurd."

Pickle: "To some degree, we got to be our brother's keeper."

Daniel: "When you are alone with yourself all the time, with no one but yourself, you go deeper and deeper into yourself until you lose yourself. It's a perverse contradiction."
I wanted to transcribe pretty much everything he said, but I stopped myself. It means less when Aden Young isn't saying it. Okay, maybe one more.

Daniel: "I think, therefore I am. I think too much, therefore I am not. I am not, therefore I am nothing. I am nothing, therefore I am dead. And if I am dead, then why am I still so goddamn lonely?"

Wonderful, moving, beautifully acted. Four out of four works in progress,

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

8 comments:

  1. I was waiting for your review to comment.

    Yes, this was a beautiful episode. It was also very significant in that it's the first episode of the entire show that has only focused on Daniel. He was in every single scene. That really lent him a lot of room to make an impact, and Aden Young knows how to make an impact.

    Quite frankly I've never seen anyone better at playing "damaged" than him. This episode... I've never seen anyone that sad in my whole life. He really managed to convey the feeling of being completely uprooted - no predictable existence in prison, no friends, no family, no familiar surroundings. He's tiptoeing through life, scared of everything.

    I'm curious what will happen with the female artist. In any other show she would be a standard replacement love interest. Rectify doesn't do crap like that. Also I think it's absolutely necessary for Daniel to meet Tawney again and by the promos you know the show thinks that as well.

    I have no idea what this show's endgame is.

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  2. Thanks so much, Thomas. And I have no idea where they're going, either. I'm hoping pretty hard that the end isn't tragic.

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  3. I too am hoping the ending is not tragic. This show is heartbreaking and wonderful. I also cried because the Daniel character makes me feel so many emotions!

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  4. I rewinded to watch the "I think therefore I am.." quote again, which I never do because it was so spectacularly sad the way Daniel said it.

    I'm nearly certain that Daniel's boss is stealing and planning on blaming it on him, which I'm dreading. Poor Daniel! This kind of thing follows him around!

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  5. Replies
    1. Achingly lovely. Can't believe there's still a whole season ahead. THIS is the perfect stopping point.

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    2. It's dawning on me that this was possibly the exact same trajectory I followed when I first rewatched the show after it stopped airing lol. First episode really 'getting me off', then watching the following few in a (still pleasurable/captivated) blur, then pausing before the end before planning to rewatch fully. Goddamn, I never understood those self-depriving eggheads who'd leave the final episode of a show unwatched because they're not ready to say goodbye, and well now I still really don't since it's more of a mindless 'going aloof' effect on me and not a conscious decision to save unwatched material for a rainy day... but it's almost the same thing. Can't really even be sure anymore which episode would be the one where I hit new material. Latest big event thing I remember is **SPOILERS FOR A FUTURE NON-FINALE EPISODE OF THIS SEASON** Ted taking the initiative and Doing The Right Thing with the divorce. Well anyway that's the landmark I'll keep an eye out for.

      >>"And yet, Daniel insisted, he knew, that he didn't rape her. Why doesn't Daniel know if he killed her?"
      I think it's partly
      1) Justification for killing (mercy, not that I apply to that Defiled Forever nonsense and I truly believe neither does Daniel) that there isn't for rape. This is, already, up for argument if you think the coffee grounds incident constitutes rape. Because then I'm guilty of believing in justification for it... eep... all I can think of is Whoopi Goldberg's problematic "But was it rape-rape?" in regards to Polanski lol... uh... damn I knew this revisit was gonna be a mess.
      2) I think it's more possible to accidentally murder someone than to accidentally rape them. Maybe Daniel believes that no amount of inebriation will let him confuse consent withdrawn or the absence of it. Which is fair to believe with conviction, though I can't say with any confidence it'd be true. More likely that he believes he wouldn't be in a sexual mood in the first place after seeing the guys with her. And Daniel doesn't believe he could have murderous intent in that scenario either, but unlike being asked to visualize the act of murdering her (multiple times) he hasn't been asked to visualize rape either. I'm assuming. Which is... nice.

      Just to respond to the other comments generally, it hasn't and never will cross my mind to consider this show having a sad ending in store. I'll be shocked, I expect the beatdown at the end of s1 to be the closest the series ever has to a downer ending. A shame I think a lot of people must've dropped the show at that point thinking this is the cycle we can come to expect with Daniel... but it's not so bad and the show did an underrated job of not feeling actually all that heavy a viewing experience in general. Though I think the ending of this episode had a little too typical a hopeful ending, which is the only negative comment I have about the episode. Maybe it's the lighter music lol, give me back my heavy melodramatic cello.

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    3. Aw god I'm really paying now for leaving those two superfluous initial comments with what it's doing with the boxing for following comments... but no regrets.

      (cont'd) So what really hit me about this episode was Daniel being held accountable by his housemates for not making more of an effort to form a bond with his immediate roommate. So fucking refreshing after seeing Daniel dealing with accusations for which he was innocent. And you can see them having a point when we had a scene of the guy trying to reach out with light conversation concerning Daniel's letter and Daniel being terse with his reply, which can always be seen as a lack of interest even though we know just giving reply demands effort from him. But it really made me feel guilty, in that scene after everyone's admonished by Avery after the roommate left. That scene where Daniel catches his eye as he's leaving in the middle of the night... damn. I can't really think of anything where I was in a similar position, but there was a blunt truth to the fact that I've never quite taken that kind of initiative and might have lost potential good friends who I've never solidified a connection with out of aloofness. I wish I watched this kind of gentle disciplining at a younger age... it was genuinely educational and an eye-opener for me. How come nobody sings the praises of the other housemates? They're really cool people, even shortie with his manlet-anger. It all felt genuinely corrective, the convo in his bedroom, and really soothed me.

      I love the small sequence of him walking just before that episode-stealing scene with Avery. The music, it was really good build-up. And again the music when he's talking to him that's just so sad and feeling ( starting with "That you'd get out?" "Alive").

      That boss is such a fucking weirdo and puts me on edge, the friendly way he talks, I suspect him more than that openly antagonistic co-worker of Daniel (possibly because I bought it when he invited Daniel to join him/them for a meal and also his noticing how stalled Daniel was by the offer). Also because the show has a lovely recurring theme of "people who look like trouble don't actually want it and just have their own problems." Has me on edge though, the work stuff.

      I liked Pickle messing up the dictum/tenet "Turn the positive into a negative -- uh, uh, I'm so- turn the negative into a positive. You know what I'm saying."

      Even though I've never been quite heart-broken so much as sporadically disappointed by this, Daniel's "This isn't real" to art really got to me too.

      >>"In this week's hair report, Daniel was much hairier than we left him last season. It looked good on him, though."
      It really does... I hope he keeps it.

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