There’s no reason to expect Rectify to offer up the identity of Hanna Dean’s killer in a tidy fashion. I still contend that there’s no reason for Rectify to offer up the identity of Hanna Dean’s killer at all, but I recognize that’s a minority opinion. The truth is out there, and the show’s second season has shown increased interest in finding it, as evidenced by the expanded onscreen presence of the sheriff, the senator, and the district attorney. If it’s taken Rectify a while to find a groove in season two, it’s not just because Sundance gave Ray McKinnon and company more storytelling space. It’s also because they’re teaching Rectify to be a different kind of show.
Don’t get that twisted: This is never going to be a straightforward murder mystery. But the big question remains unanswered, and Rectify harbors characters whose sense of justice drives them toward differing outcomes. Daggett and Foulkes burst into the tire store to ask Ted Jr. some questions during “Weird As You,” but that scene is hardly Briscoe and Logan interrupting some working stiff’s can-stacking routine. The tension of the encounter is lingering and drawn out, and the man being interrogated has been shown to have much to lie about and much to preserve. With Teddy’s personal space being challenged, there’s also a callback to the night Daggett and Foulkes are so dang curious about. And then the camera moves behind the register, heightening the flashlights-under-chins mood of the sequence, all the while positioning the lawman and the politician as the angel and devil on Teddy’s shoulders, though it’s ambiguous which is which. The premise of the scene is straight from the crime-procedural handbook, but the execution is pure Rectify.
No wonder one of the first images of the episode is Aden Young standing within frames within a frame. “Weird As You” finds the show building various internal mechanisms that allow it to take on a more traditional storytelling approach. But it’s also an episode that begins in a haze (Daniel’s dream meeting between George and Trey) and ends in another (Daniel’s rendezvous with Trey and all of Geroge’s drugs), a mood that permeates “Weird As You.”
While momentum builds behind Daggett and Foulkes, “Weird As You” opens an opportunity for Daniel and Trey to steal away to Florida, wandering into a whacked-out two-act Southern Gothic stage play in George’s trailer. The set boasts the proper amount of grime, but it immediately hops to the top of the list in terms of Rectify’s best settings. A sickly green and splashes of blood red set the tone for what follows, not the subtlest implications (a green for the envy Trey tries to instill in Daniel, red for the anger Trey successfully draws out of Daniel). Rectify’s impressive standards for visuals remains intact, even in the face of such a garish color scheme.
The sequences at the the trailer park produce some painfully obvious symbolism, like the “bars” Daniel and Trey are caught behind in successive shots. Less on-the-nose is Trey’s long story about his murderous second cousin (once removed), which takes a turn at the midway point and could very well be Trey talking about Daniel to Daniel. What’s Trey’s motive here? Did he pack the duffel to return the evidence of George’s suicide to its rightful place? Or is something more sinister at play? At times, it appears that Daniel has wandered into an ambush: Trey is hellbent on provoking him, potentially goading his road-trip buddy toward a physical attack—or something worse. We’ve previously seen that Daniel is the suggestible type, and that trait gets toyed with something fierce in “Weird As You.” As he pops pill after pill, it’s easier to see how he could’ve been persuaded to confess to a crime he has no recollection of committing.
If Trey’s looking to smooth things over with Daniel, then changes of heart appear to be the order of the day for “Weird As You.” Tawney forgives Ted Jr. for revealing her pregnancy to the family; a workday Ted Jr. and a stoned Amantha get along swimmingly; Ted Jr. tells the senator that the whole “choke out”/“coffee grounds” incident was a fallacy. Bringing the whole Holden-Talbot clan together last week could be the cause for cooling relations between bickering step-siblings, but Ted also has his own family to think about now. More so than anyone else in the family—even Tawney—Mr. and Mrs. Talbot’s kid has zero say about how he or she will be seen by the citizens of Paulie. That kid will live its life in the long shadow of Daniel’s prison sentence and the accusations still flying from various corners of the community. Ted has a natural inclination to make sure that doesn’t effect his offspring too tremendously; when he tells Foulkes that pressing charges against Daniel would tear his family apart, he’s talking about the nuclear unit he’s forming at home, too.
“Weird As You” suggests there are answers to be had from Rectify, but the show’s slower season-two metamorphosis maintains a hint of unsolvable enigmas. At this point, Daniel can only guess at the true cause of George’s absence; Jon, meanwhile, needs to crack the code of getting Daniel’s case in front of a jury. Daniel and Ted, meanwhile, flummox their adversaries with similar-but-different phrases that create holes only they can fill: “I can’t remember” and “I made it up.” Whether or not Rectify goes about filling in those blanks will depend on what type of show it eventually teaches itself to be.
- Another great cold open-soundtrack choice: The Leiber and Stoller composition “Is That All There Is?” I’m not sure who recorded the version that showed up on Rectify, but here’s PJ Harvey’s cover from 1996:
- I didn’t get a chance to comment on this last week (thanks for filling in for me, Josh!) but I love the way “Mazel Tov” deals with the life cycle: Daniel, the man who refused to die, speaks at the funeral for the man who helped him not die, and later helps celebrate his mother’s birth and the promise of a new life down the road. Just wonderful.
- If, when Trey says “tray tables up, passengers, ” he actually slipped his first name into the sentence, he just might earn a place as my new favorite Rectify character.
- “Chefs are on TV now for some reason.” Oh, c’mon Trey—have you never heard of Julia Child?