Review: Rectify (S1 E3/6), Tuesday 15th September, AMC UK

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Apologies this is a few days late, but I’ve been a bit under the weather. However, I want to keep going with Rectify because it’s quality drama – small, independent drama – that deserves to be watched and deserves to have its word spread hither and thither. If you haven’t had a go on it, I recommend it – it’s slow-moving, yes, but it’s a rich, nuanced piece of work.

There’s a confrontation of sorts between Jon and Senator Foulkes in the diner, where talk of the quality of the establishment’s biscuits is soon usurped by jabs from the Senator. He’s attacking Jon through his alligator smiles, saying that Daniel will go down again. How is Daniel by the way? How’s Daniel’s sister? Oo-ee, she’s a box of firecrackers alright. Isn’t she Jon?

Meanwhile Daniel is holed up in his room, clapping his hands on his pillow, watching the feathers float up into the sun-dappled room’s firmament and watching them cascade down onto the floor. He’s still in a world of his own, and he’s remembering. We flashback to his prison cell, where he explains to his neighbour that his father has died. His expression, like most of his waking day, is like a child, not quite knowing how to react. Not quite knowing how to show his emotions.

Daniel wanders into Jared’s room. He plays with the iPod, feels the strange games console joystick and measures himself up against the teen’s self-penned notches on his wardrobe frame that have marked his growth spurts during his short life. It’s like he’s discovering how to be a teenager again, with all its freedoms and material objects. He also finds a scrapbook in the wardrobe containing cuttings and photographs from his case. This sends him into a panic. All these posters and basketball hoops festooned across Jared’s wall. It’s all noise. His case is still making noise. But he’s looking for connections now, connections that will make him feel part of this world. He manages to find his old Walkman in the loft and revels in the sounds it produces. His sister Amantha walks in on him while he’s wearing some of his dad’s old clothes, listening to tunes, playing with old toys and dancing around with his headphones on – from an outsider Daniel looks like some sort of alien visiting Earth for the first time. In some ways he is.

He’s snapped out of his reverie by a mixtape his girlfriend Hanna made for him. The same Hanna he was accused of murdering. She wishes him a happy birthday and tells him on the tape she loves him. Daniel is back in the scary place again, his murdered girlfriend almost alive in the room with him.

Buoyed by his reconnection to the world he accepts an invitation from Jared to go and hang out with him and his mates. Down at the skatepark he has a go on a BMX, and he’s back as a teenager once again. It’s like he as arrested development – he’s picking up life again where he left it, as an 18-year-old boy.

There’s no doubt about it – Daniel is a strange one alright. His presentation in Rectify is deliberately ambivalent. One minute we feel sorry for him, the next we’re not so sure about him. There’s a scene where Amantha and Jon are in a bar and Hanna’s brother slinks out from the shadows, asking what Daniel’s plans are, his face still moon-grey and cratered with sorrow. They escape to the creek, where Amantha tells Jon about the story she found out her school friends told about her brother – Daniel was the bogeyman, the subject of a story all the kids told late at night to scare each other. It was the story of a boy who wanted to have sex with his girlfriend, but the girlfriend had said no and wanted to wait until marriage. The boy had sex with her anyway, and strangled her, covering her body with flowers. The crime was a horrendous one, the grief and anger in the town still palpable, and every now and again we’re reminded of that fact and that Daniel could well have done it. Rectify plays with our emotions, swaying us one way and the other.

It’s still slow-moving stuff, and if anything I could do with things being moved on just a touch – there’s only so many times you can watch Daniel look down in wonder at the carpet like he’s walking on it for the very first time. But this is splitting hairs. Rectify is still engrossing, almost creepy stuff.

Paul Hirons
@Son_Of_Ray

For our episode one review, go here

For our episode two review, go here

 

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