A review of tonight’s Rectify coming up just as soon as I call in sick to myself…
“I think it’s kind of nice, considering what doesn’t have to be.” -Janet
Though “Pineapples in Paris” has a whimsical title, it’s easily the darkest and most powerful installment of what had previously been a light-ish final season of Rectify. Even the scene that introduces the pineapples phrase is a heavy one, as Janet and Ted Sr. finally talk about the origin and nature of their marriage more candidly than they ever have before.
That conversation is so fraught that for a moment, it seems as if the episode might end with both Teds ending their respective marriages. For now, though, the only one who goes through with it is Ted Jr., in a tender, heartbreaking scene where he recognizes that Tawney will stay in limbo forever if he’s not willing to play the bad guy for 30 seconds and not only suggest that they end their marriage, but outright ask for her permission to do so. It’s the right thing for both parties — even if Teddy wants to still be with Tawney, he knows she doesn’t want to be with him, and there’s no way that ends well — but it’s still a huge decision for him to make, and a huge emotional burden for him to take on, knowing how easy it would be to keep dating his wife, or even nudge her into a reconciliation she likely wouldn’t say no to. This has been an excellent season until now, but because so much of the focus has been on watching the characters try to rebuild their lives, it by design hasn’t been quite as tough or cathartic as previous ones. But when Clayne Crawford’s voice broke ever so slightly as Teddy asks Tawney to grant him a divorce, well… let’s just say the dust level around here was as high as it’s been for watching this show in quite some time.
It’s an extraordinary scene, three-plus seasons in the making, and one that puts Ted Jr. in an interesting place for the rest of the hour. With his marriage over in everything but name now, and with his father and stepmother deciding the rest of his future without him, there is nothing tying him to this place, or even to the rest of his family. When Hanna’s brother Bobby turns up at the house to unburden himself(*) about the important words George once told him — “Trey went back” — he is telling it to the member of the clan with the least incentive to help Daniel, the man who blew up Teddy’s marriage and put coffee grounds up Teddy’s rear end. Had Jared (whom Bobby once found hanging out in Hanna’s room) or Amantha been home when Bobby came knocking, there would have been no question about that information being passed up the chain. But as much as Teddy has grown over these seasons, there was still a part of me holding my breath at the thought he might sit on it, and which was enormously relieved to see him telling Amantha and Jared, right before breaking into his own home to grill and eat a steak, gather up his hunting and fishing gear, and depart the house forever. And we are late enough in this particular story that I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the last we see of Teddy. Though his father, half-brother, and step-family are all still in Paulie, this is a man whose entire life has become untethered, and maybe he just gets in his truck and keeps on driving(**).
(*) Another scene remarkable for its patience and its power, as Bobby — whom we mainly know from the context of his brutal attack on Daniel at the end of season 1 — details exactly how terrible it was to live in that house in the aftermath of his sister’s murder.
(**) Perhaps he drives all the way to Los Angeles, growing a mustache along the way, training in policework, and teaming up with another cop who’s getting too old for this s–t.
Jon is continuing his own investigation of Daniel’s case — now with a huge off-the-record assist from Carl, who leaves him alone for a half hour with Christopher’s affidavit — but the scenes in Nashville serve as a harsh reminder that the last thing Daniel Holden cares about is being exonerated for Hanna’s murder. He has more pressing concerns in his crippling fear that he will never be able to adjust to life as a free(ish) man. Yes, having the conviction expunged would free him from having to live at the New Canaan Project and be around someone like Manny — whose masturbatory exploits turn out to be a trigger for Daniel’s memories of the sexual assaults he endured in prison — but the structure of the place is valuable for him, and we saw throughout the first three seasons that being around his family wasn’t particularly healthy, either. The episode offers some hope as well, whether it’s Chloe putting her arms around him on the loading dock outside her studio — another tiny gesture that hits with the force of a ton of bricks because of how well played and directed it is, and because we know how very badly Daniel Holden needs to be held — or Pickle trading places with Manny to be Daniel’s new roommate(*). For a moment as he prepares to show Janet and Ted his room, Daniel is actually close to smiling, but it comes only moments after his fraught reunion with his mother and stepfather, when all parties look so stricken and awkward that it seems impossible they will ever resemble a functional family unit again.
(*) Though this is a mostly serious episode, Pickle’s announcement that he’s definitely changing the sheets on Manny’s former bed gave me an enormous belly laugh.
It’s an hour full of these extreme highs and lows, often at the same time. Ted Jr. makes a grand gesture on behalf of the woman he loves, but it’s to end their marriage when she lacks the nerve to do so, and he winds up doing it on the same day when Tawney’s elderly patient Zeke goes into an end-stage coma, utterly alone in the world, which in turn leaves her life ending similarly. Chloe is there for Daniel when he needs her most, but only as much as she’s able to be — telling him “Can’t save you, Daniel. I’m sorry. But I could hold you, if you’ll let me.” — and the same big offer for the tire store that represents freedom to Janet leaves both Teds terrified for what the future will hold.
What a stunning episode. The season’s first four hours at times played more like an epilogue to the story of Rectify proper, but “Pineapples in Paris” was a reminder of just how much healing everyone still needs to strive for in the little time we have left with them.
What did everybody else think?
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org