Sundance renews ‘Rectify’ for season 3

Sundance has ordered a third season of “Rectify,” one of the very best shows on television – and a series that likely couldn’t survive anywhere but on Sundance.

“Rectify” tells the story of Daniel Holden (Aden Young), sent to Death Row as a teenager for the rape and murder of his girlfriend, then released decades later after DNA evidence overturned his conviction on appeal. It focuses much less on the sensational aspects of that plot – or on plot in general, for that matter – preferring to look at the emotional and spiritual impact of this man returning to a family, community and life he never expected to be part of again. The acting is marvelous, the characters gorgeously drawn, and while the pace is slow and contemplative, the rewards are enormous for those who have patience for it.

The second season finale airs Thursday night at 9 on Sundance. Deadline’s renewal story last night suggested that the next season would return to the six episode pattern of season 1 (this season has 10 episodes), but Sundance tells me the episode order is still to be determined.

Without giving away much about this week’s finale, I’ll say that I would have been very unhappy if it had been the last episode of the series – both because I’m not ready to lose the show yet, and because it’s an even less definitive conclusion to the series than the first season finale.

Sundance is still pretty new to the original content game, and “Rectify” represents so much of what they want to be about. (“As SundanceTV”s first scripted series, it”s gratifying to see such distinctive and unusual storytelling embraced with such passion,” Sundance president Sarah Barnett said in the renewal announcement.) If they had given up on the series before Ray McKinnon had finished telling his story, they might as well have packed it in on this whole initiative. Instead, they get to keep enjoying the raves from critics and fans, and we get to keep watching the story of Daniel and all those touched (positively and negatively) by his return.