Aden Young Discusses Season 3 Of ‘Rectify’ And Daniel Holden’s Future

If you watch Rectify, you already know it’s one of the best shows on television, an introspective, slow-moving mix of True Detective‘s mystery and Serial‘s humanity. And if you don’t watch Rectify? Well, it’s one of the best shows on television, and you should be watching it now.

The first two seasons are available on Netflix Instant, and Season 3 premieres on Sundance Channel tonight at 10 p.m. EST (it’s already been picked up for Season 4). Uproxx recently spoke to Rectify star and future-Emmy-nominee (hopefully) Aden Young, who plays former death-row inmate Daniel Holden, about last year’s finale, this year’s premiere, and filming in Georgia.

Thank you for taking the time to do this. I’m a big fan of the show.

[laughs] You’re one of the few people who’ve seen it.

I just watched the Season 3 premiere. It’s typically excellent, and begins where Season 2 left off, with Daniel taking the plea deal. How does that decision affect what’s to come?

At that point, Daniel had to say, “I have to live that freedom, whatever that freedom might be, on my own terms.” Unfortunately, what that does is it takes the family mosaic that’s being rebuilt since his absence, and smashed it again. Because it brings into question, why would he do that if he is truly innocent? To Daniel, it’s more a case of, if this is the only freedom I can get, then I will take it. That shows Amantha’s conviction, for example, in how much she fought and sacrificed for Daniel during his time on the Row. Jared, Daniel’s younger brother, says, y’know, he’s going to walk away, but I’m still going to live here and it’s sh*t. You now begin to understand what the story of Rectify is, which is about how Daniel’s reemergence into their world will change them forever.

Have the people of Griffin, Georgia, where Rectify is filmed, embraced the show?

They’re very welcoming, and as the show’s grown bigger in story, we of course need to get different elements and locations and so forth, so people have been putting themselves forward to either be extras or have their houses used as locations. They’ve shown their support wonderfully.

The death row scenes — maybe “fun” isn’t the right word — but, for an actor, they must be, um, challenging. Especially for you because, as seen in the premiere, you’re almost playing two different characters: Daniel and Death Row Daniel.

Well, there are three Daniels, really. There’s the Daniel before he went in, which we don’t see but we have to understand in order to make some sort of sense of who he is. Then you have the character of Daniel on death row, who’s dealing with, y’know, the horror in the neighborhood of hell that it is. He’s a character who’s very much created by that environment. And, of course, there’s the Daniel who reemerges back in the world and doesn’t recognize how to communicate with society, and he’s struggling to find what to do going forward.

Speaking of that Daniel, much of last season was him letting loose, whether by shooting guns, or sleeping with women, or whatever. What did he learn from those experiences?

In Season 2, Daniel becomes an adolescent. He gets an opportunity to experience living life in all its permutations. He very much wants that. He wants the ability to understand why people are what they are. And when that is put in front of him, whether as cocaine or women or shotgun shooting, that thrill would be ours amplified by a hundred. He’s not aware of the ramifications of all that, disappearing for three days and leaving his mother to worry. He’s fracturing the family without having a clue what he’s doing. But, as he’s doing it, he’s understanding, or at least getting a taste of life’s madness, as opposed to what he unfortunately had to endure for so long in the box that was his home.

And now he takes pleasure in the simple act of reading in a park.

[laughs] It’s interesting. When you look at the character’s progression, it’s, as said, Season 2 is the adolescent season, and Season 1 is, metaphorically, his infancy. Now, in Season 3, it’s the rite of passage of leaving home. And he’s going to try to find a way to break those bonds that have held him, and he’s ignored, and he’s tried to rebuild. But now, he’s realizing the great loneliness he’s entering into, and he begins to see how broken he actually is. Season 3 is the study of a man thrown back into the authority of probation and restriction and parole. To disappear into a park with a book for a few minutes, he wants to be that innocent. He doesn’t want to be that creature who is questioning whether he’s innocent or guilty.

Have you noticed more people picking up on Rectify since it was added to Netflix?

Certainly. It’s a wonderful medium for television, just for the simple fact that you can stream three episodes in a row, or however many. I’ve had people tell me they watched the entire first season and started in on the second in one sitting, and I want to set up a toll-free number they can call for them to get therapy [laughs]. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in adult storytelling, especially in this age, when writers are coming from the cinema because cinemas just aren’t exhibiting those sorts of stories anymore. American writers have decided that television is the format for character development and arcs. You can have longer than 90 minutes to tell a story.

I realize this is looking ahead, but is the Season 3 finale open-ended, or is there a definitive conclusion? [Note: I asked this before the Season 4 renewal news came out.]

There’s definitely more to come. There’s an emotional reality to Season 3 that harkens more back to Season 1, with Daniel’s wonder. But certainly, there’s far more to come.