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Rectify has managed to put together a great run of episodes, beginning with its six episode first season and continuing into its second. But “Mazel Tov,” the sixth episode in the show’s ten episode second season is the weakest outing of the show to date.
Now, that certainly doesn’t mean it’s not worth watching. There are some lovely character beats, and the handheld camera shot of Daniel and the flowering tree is one of the more gorgeous images to air on television this year, but the show’s slow pacing is finally starting to catch up with it. I was worried when Sundance announced Rectify would be nearly doubling its episode order for its second season, seeing as the first season was such a stunning work of art that told so much with only six episodes. But considering its pedigree and previous performance, I remained hopeful that each of the ten episodes would resonate in the same way the initial six did. And the second season has certainly be strong, but its starting to lose some steam.
The show has well established that Teddy is jealous of Daniel for many reasons: Daniel has stolen the attention of Janet and Ted, Sr., he has enticed Tawney, and Daniel has truly usurped his role as the eldest son. And let’s not forget that Daniel has assaulted Teddy as well. These are all valid reasons for Teddy to act like a spoiled brat whenever Daniel is around. But we need more from Teddy. I was hoping that Teddy might take the time to confide in someone regarding his feelings. Or even have Teddy himself break down and start to work through these issues. Perhaps that is still to come. But in the meantime, Teddy continues to become more and more spiteful toward Daniel and Tawney. If the show is ever hoping for us to better understand Teddy, it can’t continually show him intentionally hurting the show’s protagonist along with his wife. I’d argue that it’s even more important to work on delving into the Teddy/Tawney relationship, as at this point, its almost impossible to see why Tawney continues to put up with this jerk of a husband.
The the same vein, the show must do something quickly in regard to Senator Foulkes before he completely dissolves into a mustache twirling villain. It’s not a matter of poor casting- Michael O’Neill is an excellent actor- but the way the character is being handled is quickly becoming cartoonish. We know that the Senator believes Daniel is guilty (he was the original prosecutor after all, and he has the most to lose over Daniel being free), but we need more than him hitting on women and acting entitled. The best villains (and, since we haven’t been given any major evidence that Daniel is anything but innocent- more on that later-, I assume the Senator is one of the show’s villains) are those the audience can understand and sympathize with. We need to know more about what makes Foulkes tick. The show needs to do what it has done for Sheriff Daggett. They certainly don’t have to redeem the character but offering up some additional colors would be welcome.
Finally, the series needs to take some serious steps toward revealing answers regarding Hannah’s death. I’m not asking for clear reveals. Rather, I would like to see something other than Sean Bridgers acting suspicious or saying cryptic things. It was great that Daniel ran into his old friend Trey Willis (Bridgers) at the gas station, but the reunion only served to give us another vague clue as to what might have gone down the night of Hannah’s death. We have some evidence that Daniel can be violent, and we also have confirmation that his attack on Teddy was similar to what happened to Hannah, so doubt as to his innocence remains in play. But with Trey Willis’s actions practically screaming “I had something to do with this!” it’s hard to take these clues toward Daniel’s guilt seriously.
Rectify is one of the finest shows on television without a doubt. It just needs to realize that there’s only so much slow burn an audience can take before they start getting frustrated. The show hasn’t reached that point yet, but it needs to begin unraveling some elements of its greater mystery before the end of the season to stay in our good graces.
— The conversations between Daniel and Lezlie were the highlights of the episodes. When Daniel is removed from his family, we get to see such a lovely side of him that is becomes hard to see how awkward and difficult it is for him to interact with those he knew before prison.
— Major points to Ted Sr. for his elegant diffusing of the stove situation. While he hasn’t had a whole lot to do this season, Ted Sr. (and his portrayer, Bruce McKinnon) is quickly becoming my favorite character in the show.
— The scenes with Charlie the Chaplain were also lovely. I’m looking forward to more visits.