‘Rectify’ Veers Between Light And Dark In “Go Ask Roger”

11.16.16 3 weeks ago 13 Comments

Sundance

A review of tonight’s Rectify coming up just as soon as I train digits to do parlor tricks…

“Almost everybody, at some point in their life, has to deal with — or figure out how not to deal with — their stuff.” –Chloe

Daniel spends much of “Go Ask Roger” bantering with new pal Chloe and generally having a fine time, at one point even flashing an enormous smile after completely surrendering to the gelato experience. Previous seasons offered hints that the teenage Daniel was a funny and outgoing kid, and it’s always an enormous relief when that side of him gets to peak out from underneath the cloud that has covered his life and soul for the last two decades. Yet even after a day of jokes, sweets, unauthorized use of Chloe’s ex-boyfriend’s music awards, and even a tender kiss goodnight, he still has to return to the New Canaan Project, to a room that’s not exactly a prison, but where his new roommate is unabashedly refusing to be master of his domain.

Daniel’s stuck in an overall unsatisfying limbo state reflecting where many of the characters find themselves throughout the hour, from Janet and the Teds being forced to consider a lucrative offer for the tire store that isn’t really an offer yet (and may never be), to Jon being stonewalled in his investigation by the former sheriff and then potentially helped by Trey (assuming Trey isn’t just trying to help himself, like usual), to Tawney continuing to grapple with the loss of faith she’s suffered — and the limbo into which it’s placed her marriage and life — since Daniel Holden came into her life.

The Tawney/Ted Jr. material was Rectify at its most achingly sad but great. Ted Jr. has been trying so hard for so much of this season, even though the marriage is likely a lost cause, but his angst over the not-quite-an-offer gives the mean old Teddy an excuse to come snarling out of the cage where he’s been kept for a while. And yet even after that outburst, he’s still the one Tawney calls when her elderly patient’s life story rekindles her fears of being alone and without a family, only Teddy is still so angry — as much at himself as anyone — to answer the phone at a moment when he might have a very real chance at making forward progress towards reconciliation. It’s a hard moment, made harder still when we see Teddy listening to the voicemail and crying over his estranged wife say that she loves him. (Clayne Crawford: spectacular this week.)

That struggle to connect with the people we care about, and vice versa, resonates through both the darker and lighter parts of “Go Ask Roger.” We hear our first talk of Daniel and Amantha’s father in a while, as Amantha discusses him on her hunting date with Billy, while Janet — who’s in so much of a mental fog that she’s more like the Daniel we know than Daniel is at the moment — briefly mistakes Lester for being Jared’s father (or, perhaps, mistakes Jared for another son who once spent a lot of time up in that attic). Even the whimsical business with the pharmacy chain potentially buying the tire store (and their representative getting a flat on his way to the meeting) is in many ways reflective of Lester, since the $650,000 (if it comes) is less a reward for the Teds’ hard work on running the place than on Mr. Holden having built the place on the right parcel of land all those years ago.

As we hit the midpoint of the final season, the show’s doing a good job of finding that sweet spot between despair and hope, and between following Daniel’s journey and keeping up with those he left behind. Amantha’s fling with Billy could be an act of mortification — having accepted that she’ll never really escape Paulie, perhaps the best she can hope for is a nice guy from high school — or it could be a relief, given how much her relationship with Jon was tied up with the quest to exonerate her brother.

As Trey tells Jon near the end of the episode, “Something’s gotta be the truth.”

What did everybody else think?

Alan Sepinwall may be reached at sepinwall@uproxx.com

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