No one ever lost hope. Not Amantha, or Jon, or even Janet, though she struggled mightily with what Pickle might call hope’s “trickier cousin,” expectations. Daniel, as it turns out, never lost hope. He may have lost faith, telling Jon that his endurance is a mystery to himself much as anyone, but the fact that he is — as Amantha urged Janet to embrace in tonight’s opening flashback — still here indicates that he’s curious for what comes next. He’s always been curious, after all, as Janet described to Amantha in that same flashback, which unbelievably was less than a year prior. The way change happens both slowly and quickly, at times in fits and starts and others as parallel forces, is enough to make anyone question their reality.
Rectify has given us a unique window of that strange continuum, with fictional Paulie standing in for creator-writer Ray McKinnon’s hometown of Adel, Georgia, while locations like Nashville and an Ohio of the mind marked their territory by series’ end. How have these remarkable months in the life of Daniel Holden and his loved ones amounted to roughly one-twentieth of the time he spent on death row? How can one possibly compress the recovery process within a space so confined, be it in the geographical sense or by the measure of, say, a couple months of concentrated exposure therapy? Judy Dean, for one, has immersed herself in Hana’s (as in Hana Abigail) imagination for two decades, sitting among the grief and comfort of her daughter’s unchanged room but constantly up against circumstances that are simply “too set.”
Also, how is it possible that Paulie Tire was in business for more than 20 years before Daniel was suddenly an 18-year-old boy being pressed for his involvement in the rape and murder of his high-school sweetheart? More than 20 years hence, how would Daniel wind up in a windowless box, awaiting state-mandated execution? These are the kinds of unanswerable questions that require, if not spiritual devotion, a kind of mysticism. It’s why Tawney and Daniel connected those months back, making their reconnection over the telephone an epiphany for them both — he instilled with a rush of Tawney’s certainty in God and purpose that moored his tenuous memories of daydreams about riding shotgun with Kerwin in New York, and she feeling blessed and affirmed to hear that Daniel is making his own way in the world. The ensuing final moments may not rectify anything outright, but they are a revelation for Daniel, a way to bring his comatose visions of him and Kerwin in the pecan grove into present tense and bathed in light. It is a nativity scene of sorts, one alive with the influence of unconscious thoughts, Christian imagery, and wide-open arms toward something unpredictable. It’s an answer to his own earlier laments during group about whether he and his housemates have set the bar so low for happiness that they’ll never see above it. Pickle, Nate, and Tyrus are Daniel’s company for now, and this is where he belongs at the present moment. That won’t be taken from him. He will still be standing.
“All I’m Sayin’” doesn’t end without some satisfaction for those (i.e. all of us) wanting Daniel to be all but exonerated and for Chris Nelms (and/or Trey) to see their day in court. Roland, the Deans, and everyone on down to Marcy at the diner (actress Kim Wall, incidentally, was in Sleepaway Camp III) watched as D.A. Person held a press conference confirming that a new inquiry would be opened into Hana’s death, and that Daniel is on a likely road to redemption. Chris, explaining away the broadcast to his teenage daughter in an unsubtle illustration of his layered guilt, might be taking Daniel’s place in that windowless box. Trey, who had more inflammatory words for Sheriff Daggett, could be behind bars yards away. None of it, as Amanda reasons with Jon, will rectify the wrongs committed the night of Hana’s tragic death. Of course, Rectify’s never seen jurisprudence as its endgame. It’s far more interesting to examine how a modern-day Lazarus like Daniel turns back time to the days when Paulie Tire was a relatively young local business and he and Amantha were just kids — while accepting today for what it appears to be.
The “this is your life” roll call of tonight’s cameos — the aforementioned Roland and Marcy up through Billy, Peyton the loft guy and, yes, Melvin, who’s there at the bittersweet end for Paulie Tire — put a fine point on that idea. But beyond easy closure, their collective appearances signal (to all our great comfort) that Daniel’s finally surrounded by “way more people that have helped me than harmed me.” That’s how he survives: by coming out of isolation and, over time, tuning out the torment of assaults on his person and privilege. Soon, if Daniel wants to, he’ll probably be free to rent a car and head north to New York, riding around Manhattan with a vivid sensation of Kerwin right beside him. Or, yes, to Ohio, though encountering Chloe may have been more part of the journey than his destination. He is, after all, still Janet’s bright and curious boy, and Amantha’s inspirational older brother, and all he owes anyone from here out is not to let himself down.
- Amantha is Janet’s hero, Jon is Amantha’s, but who’s Melvin’s?
- You know Janet’s coming out of the darkness when she can at least see the similarities in her children, rather than the stark disparity in their situations.
- Let’s hear it for Julian, the insecure warehouse manager.
- I always pictured Lester as loquacious.
- Empty lofts, empty tire stores, both full of light and far less sorrowful than they seem.
- Ted is suddenly Theodore, Daniel is Danny, Teddy is Ted. Who are these people?!
- Jared will find more eloquent ways to express how he likes “learning things.” It’s doubtful Daniel said much different at his age.
- If only Daniel’s therapist knew how much he knew about immersion.
- The Willy D’s in Rectify sounds great. This one looks awful.
- What a show, and what a farce that it’s been summarily overlooked by so many.
- Though if you’re ever missing the Holdens and Talbots, don’t fret: Teddy’ll leave the light on for ya.