A review of tonight's Rectify coming up just as soon as I meet someone who's Googleable…
“Everyone has their own experience, Melvin.” -Ted Jr.
After two weeks of episodes that were either Daniel-only or Daniel-less, “Bob & Carol & Ted Jr. & Alice” splits the difference, toggling back and forth between Nashville and Paulie. And to my great surprise, I found myself much more engaged in what was happening with the family than I was with Daniel.
Some of that is a result of the hometown team having a numbers advantage. Daniel is interacting with an entirely new supporting cast, and in Chloe in particular, the show is trying to shoehorn in a lot of backstory and character detail in a short amount of time so that she'll seem a compelling foil to our hero, and it's not quite there yet. Back in Paulie, meanwhile, we know virtually all the players – even an unfamiliar face like Billy doesn't need more definition than “Amantha's old classmate” – and can appreciate them either in familiar combinations (Janet/Ted Sr., Carl/Jon) or unfamiliar ones (Ted Jr./Melvin). I like Caitlin FitzGerald, and it's entirely possible that Chloe will turn out to be a compelling part of the series' emotional endgame for Daniel(*), but the episode's concluding sequence – with its revelation of her pregnancy and vague allusions to her past and her motivations with Daniel – was the first time in the life of the series where I found myself wishing a Daniel scene would end so we could get back to someone else.
(*) I do wonder if Tawney will wind up in Nashville before the conclusion. Her interactions with Daniel were such a huge part of the show's first two years, and while I'm not 'shipping for them to finally get together – there's probably too much familial guilt for that to ever work out, and Tawney might need to be with someone less fundamentally damaged – it would feel odd if Chloe completely usurps Tawney's role as the woman to whom Daniel unburdens himself.
Still, the earlier material with “Dan” was interesting, as we saw him try to absorb the lessons of the season premiere: shaving his beard, reaching out to his new roommate Manny (even if Manny may be too determined to self-destruct at this stage), and considering Avery's suggestion that he go visit a psychologist to talk about his Death Row PTSD.
During the daily meeting with the other men in the house, Daniel drops a reference to Peter Sellers' character from Being There: Chance, a simple-minded gardener who is mistaken by everyone he meets as a wealthy and wise businessman, and whose words are viewed with a profundity he never intended. Daniel is smarter and more self-aware than Chance, but we've seen throughout the series that he can have a similar effect on people: his mere presence, and his elliptical manner of speech can be unnerving for some, life-changing for others. Melvin barely interacted with him during Daniel's brief time staying with Amantha, but it was enough for the thought of it to drive Melvin to tears while enjoying some of Ted Jr's beer.
Melvin assumes that, as someone who's technically a member of Daniel's family, Ted Jr. would feel even closer to him. But of course the Teds joined the family after Daniel was in prison, and their interactions since have involved, violence, humiliation, and the probable end of Ted's marriage. So he feels little of the grief at his stepbrother's absence that Melvin does. But the show of late has done an excellent job of showing how Daniel's brief time back in Paulie forced the people around him to reexamine their lives, and it's mostly been to find them wanting. Amantha is ducking the calls of Jon (who, despite the conversation with his bosses last week, can't entirely let Daniel's case go) and continuing to re-entrench herself as a townie by drinking beers after hours at Thrifty Town with Billy. Tawney seems to be on the precipice of accepting that the only thing still keeping her married to Ted Jr. is fear of the unknown, and even Janet is beginning to question the foundation of her marriage to Ted Sr.
Ted Sr., of course, is hopelessly in love with her and very happy with his current circumstances, Daniel drama or no, but we have the omniscient perspective that Janet lacks. He has his own experience, and she has hers. And we are fortunate to have ours for another five episodes.
What did everybody else think?
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org