‘Rectify’ Gets Ready To Say Goodbye With ‘Physics’

A review of tonight’s Rectify coming up just as soon as I visit the place where Patsy Cline almost died…

“You have to let me go, Mother.” -Daniel

As we all prepare to have to let go of this great, great show (only two more episodes after tonight… sigh….), “Physics” in turn presents one character after another trying to let go of a relationship, a job, or some other circumstance that was once hugely important to them but now feels untenable.

Though Janet and Ted Sr.’s arrival in Nashville at the end of “Pineapples in Paris” offered a hint of a happy(ish) way forward for Daniel, their continued presence here puts him on the offensive, asking first his mother and then his special lady friend Chloe to leave him be and move on with their own lives. When he describes his job at the warehouse to Janet, the smallness and emptiness of his new life puts her in tears, yet Daniel doesn’t seem able to handle anything more than that. All of Janet’s talk of selling the tire store to Rite Aid and moving away from Paulie all but screams that she’d like to live closer to her eldest son, but he doesn’t want her presence any more than he wants to go see the PTSD counselors that Avery, Chloe, and everyone else thinks would do him a world of good. On some level, Daniel understands this, but as he tells Chloe — in the midst of a scene that has the feeling of a nasty break-up, even though they’ve known each other so briefly that they barely even qualify as a couple — it’s hard enough to cope with his daily routine, let alone start dredging up more memories of prison(*).

(*) After a certain point, the prison flashbacks had perhaps grown repetitive — and begun to feel like unnecessary distractions from the characters’ present-day circumstances — but it’s also interesting that they disappeared from the show around the time that Daniel began making more of an effort to live out in the real world again. The more he tries to function as a civilian, the less he can dwell on Death Row days.

Whether Janet intends to move to Nashville or not, it’s clear the Rite Aid offer gives her a chance for a fresh start she so desperately needs. With Jared almost grown(*), Amantha and Teddy leading adult lives (if not particularly happy ones), and Daniel living out of state, there’s very little tying her to Paulie anymore save for terrible memories of the last two decades. But as she admits to Daniel, she’s also looking at this as a possible excuse to leave Ted behind, since their marriage was always a case of two lonely people looking for any port in the storm that would have them, rather than a joining of soulmates. The question is whether Ted’s agreement with Janet on selling the store might be enough to convince her that they don’t see the world as differently as she fears, or if this is all leading to another sad but amicable divorce for one of the Teds.

(*) In the show’s chronology, anyway; from our point of view, he’s practically old enough to run for president.

Tawney gets to watch Mr. Zeke let go of this world, and though she only knew the old man briefly, they made enough of a connection for her to try speaking to God on his behalf, despite her own recent crisis of faith. Early on, Tawney’s spirituality was one of the most compelling (and — because TV drama is usually skeptical of religion and/or spirituality — surprising) parts of Rectify, but her problems with Daniel and Teddy shook her faith loose. That only made her prayers for Zeke’s soul — performed beautifully by Adelaide Clemens in the tone of a woman who desperately wants what she’s saying to be true, even though she’s still not sure it is — even more powerful than if she had stayed connected to her deity this whole time. When we see her later at Zeke’s home, she’s bathed in a heavenly light suggesting that, even if she’s had to let go of so many other key relationships in her life (to Teddy, to Daniel, and to their family), she may not have lost the one that was most important to her.

Teddy, of course, already opted to let go of Tawney last week, but he’s still tied to this place — even waking up hungover in his house when it seemed he was leaving it for good at the end of “Pineapples in Paris.” But he suspects the tire store is soon to go the way of his marriage, and we see that even when he’s drunk and only half-trying, he has a gift for the business that he may get to make more use out of if Janet and his father go through with the plan to give him all the inventory after Rite Aid takes over the property itself. He doesn’t know that, though, which is why he empathizes with the deflated dancing man balloon early on, and why he feels the thing is taunting him at the episode’s end, which leads him to pull a Martin Riggs and start shooting at it, only to get clipped with a ricochet. On another show this close to the end, this could lead to a particularly tragic and stupid death for a major character, but that doesn’t feel like how Rectify works, and we see him getting on the tourniquet and functioning physically despite all the blood loss, so my guess is he’s limping but alive near the start of the penultimate hour.

Amantha gets Jon to admit what’s been strongly implied ever since he continued the Daniel investigation against the orders of his bosses: he has quit his job at Justice Row, and is in fact thinking about quitting the law (or, at least, this area of it) altogether, particularly if the only way to overturn Daniel’s sentence is to take the fall as an ineffective, ethically compromised counselor to him. With where the story stands now, it feels like we’re heading towards Daniel’s legal exoneration, because the series’ biggest question has never been about whether he’ll go back to prison, or even whether he did it, but whether he’ll be able to keep living in the world he never expected to return to. The more freedom he’s been granted, the harder that’s ironically been for him, so the biggest challenge he’d have to overcome over these final two episodes would be a life with no restrictions of any kind. If he can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone, how would he handle that? What would he do?

Those are very big questions to answer about Daniel — and, really, about everyone else — over the course of the final two episodes. But I’ve got faith in Rectify to answer them well enough.

What did everybody else think? And what are you expecting from — or hoping for — the concluding chapters?

Alan Sepinwall may be reached at sepinwall@uproxx.com