You know what? You people are always complaining that there’s no great television on in the summer, which means you’re stuck watching episodes of Dexter season eight on a loop until Under the Dome comes on and WHY ARE YOU STILL WATCHING UNDER THE DOME? (I admit, I loved the pilot, but these last two episodes? GOOD GOD). Well, you know what? There is some good summer television to look forward to. This weekend, AMC is marathoning the first season Rectify on Sunday at 9 a.m. Have you seen Rectify? WHY THE HELL NOT.
You want to watch great television, don’t you? Well, you know what? Rectify is the best new show of the year. In fact, it’s the best new show to premiere since 2012. Yeah, I went there. And if you actually watched Rectify, you’d know what. Don’t believe me? Because I like Newsroom? Well first off, jump off a bridge. Second, I’m not alone. TV Guide’s Matt Roush called Rectify “TV’s most absorbing, unsettling new drama” and by The Daily Beast says it is “quite simply, the best new show of 2013.” Alan Sepinwall agrees too, and I know everyone loves Alan Sepinwall (if not, WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?) He writes that the first season of Rectify is a gorgeous six hours of television, one of the best shows I’ve seen so far in 2013.”
Listen, I don’t like to yell, but since that’s the premise of this post, I’m going to yell: WATCH RECTIFY on Sunday. Or at least record it on your DVRs and watch it after you’re finished with Orange in the New Black. Plus, here you get the Netflix marathon experience without a Netflix account: Six hours of the most engrossing television show in a very long time ABSORBED RIGHT INTO YOUR EYEBALLS. Plus, if enough people watched, by this time next year, the whole cast could be SEX SYMBOLS. You like sex symbols, don’t you?
What’s it about? I’m glad you asked, now SHUT UP SO I CAN TELL YOU. It’s about a guy named Daniel Holden, who is played soulfully by Aden Young. He was locked up and put on death row nearly 20 years ago for raping and murdering his girlfriend. However, DNA evidence has come to light that cast doubt on his guilt, so the court system has no choice but to release him. Is he actually guilty? Or is he innocent and misunderstood? That’s the question that the series poses, and that’s the question that the people in his small town, including his family, have to ask themselves, as well. Is this man we’re letting back into our family a murderer and a rapist, or is he the kind, thoughtful man he appears to be?
He certainly doesn’t seem like a man capable of such a heinous crime, although there are several moments throughout the course of the series that raise some doubts. He develops, for instance, an instant romantic fascination with his half-brother’s wife, who takes a shine to Daniel on account of her being a reborn Christian and capable of seeing the good in everyone. Daniel’s half brother, on the other hand, is not so sure. Neither are the distrusting townspeople, many of whom want to retry Daniel and lock him up again.
What we do know, however, is that there is more to the story than the original trial might suggest. There are others involved — accomplices perhaps — people who are not keen on the fact that Daniel’s new trial is likely to dig up a dark period in the town’s past and potentially implicate some others in crimes and/or coverups.
But it’s also about Daniel re-acclimating to civilian life after two decades in prison. He went in as a teenager, and in certain ways, he still thinks like one, although he’s also done a lot of reading in prison, which has at least deepened his appreciation of the world. Not that he understands it any better, mind you. But there is something immensely profound about seeing the world again through Daniel’s perspective: The smallest things that we take for granted are monumental to him.
There’s also another side plot running through Rectify, and that’s Daniel’s relationship with his sister, who — along with a defense attorney with whom she is sleeping — fought all that time to have Daniel released, convinced beyond a doubt of his innocence? Will her faith be validated, or will she be crushed to find out that Daniel actually committed the crimes for which he was put on death row? I won’t answer any of those questions for you, but I will say that the final episode of the first season (the series has already been renewed for a second) was probably the most devastating episode of television I’ve ever seen, and I include the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones this season. It broke me in a way that a television series never has.
One final point: It also comes from not only the producers of Breaking Bad, but writer/creator Ray McKinnon, a name you may not recognize but a face many of you certainly will.
If you’re familiar with McKinnon from Deadwood or Sons of Anarchy, the tone of the show is very similar to the demeanor of McKinnon. Quiet, soft-spoken, and kind, but there’s tension, a darkness lurking underneath that you have the sense could, at any moment, strike you like a snake attacking its prey. It’s part of what makes Rectify so successful: It’s a rare show that is simultaneously comforting and unsettling, like relaxing on a hammock suspended between two trees on the verge of collapse. It is a powerful show, and if you haven’t seen it, I can’t recommend strongly enough that you watch it this Sunday on AMC. Do it. OR I WILL KILL YOU IN YOUR SLEEP.