The quiet, weird calm on Daniel Holden’s surface occasionally erupts in blind rage – leading to events he does not remember. And he never does himself any favors – either in committing these impulsive and violent acts nor in how he goes about handling them. It’s frustrating as hell as a viewer but makes for very unusual storytelling – especially for episodic tv. Things Holden did sometime in the first season of the show are only coming back to light in the third season.
This is how Rectify operates. Very slow-moving drama, following Holden and his family and the other people in the town into which he is released after 20 years in prison. It is never clear that Holden is innocent. DNA more or less exonerates him, but the town (especially its power structure) remains suspicious of him. His odd behavior, speech and mannerisms make people uncomfortable enough that they are never sure he is innocent either. In fact, neither is he.
The show is deliberately slow and often so poetic and thoughtful in its dark and quiet explorations on different themes. As such, it does not surprise me that it is not widely watched – and not just because it lives on Sundance, not the most visible network. Cited many times by many media outlets as a hidden gem, too slow for many but worth the effort, it’s hard not to feel for and be frustrated by everyone involved – peculiar Daniel Holden, his impassioned sister, Amantha (one of many TV roles nailed by Abigail Spencer – see also the latest season of True Detective, previous seasons of Suits), his mother and stepfather and step-siblings (who have their own issues), and even his long-suffering and frustrated lawyer.
The frustration is a part of the beauty of the show and its character development. It moves more at the pace of real life, does not offer neat or happy endings and is as challenging to draw conclusions from as everyday life is. Thanks to Netflix, you don’t have to rely on reruns to see the previous seasons.