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It can’t be easy for Aden Young to inhabit the character of Daniel Holden on Rectify. And yet Young manages to do so with grace and depth each episode- along with his much talked about stillness that has become Daniel’s trademark. But you know who might just have a tougher job? Clayne Crawford. And you know why? Because he has been tasked with portraying the layered and complex Teddy- a character with a great deal of anger and distrust toward the show’s protagonist, but one whose motivations behind this anger have been slow to surface.
It’s easy to forget that it has only been a week since Daniel was released from death row, since Amantha, Janet, Jared, and even Ted Sr. have come to accept Daniel as part of their lives once more. Even Tawney has welcomed Daniel back with open arms (a bit too open, as we discover in “Sleeping Giants”). But Teddy has been the hold-out from day one. While Daniel’s imprisonment shattered the lives of Janet and Amantha, Teddy life became something so much more than it once was once Ted Sr. married Janet. He gained the family he always wanted, and found a mother who loved him. But the arrival of Daniel back into the family has shattered Teddy’s life much in the same way his absence did for his stepmother and stepsister.
On a lesser show, and with a lesser actor, this trope of the stepbrother being supplanted from his place in the family by a returning brother would play flat, or Teddy would be crafted to seem petty- anything to avoid asking the hard questions about both Teddy and Daniel. But here, slowly but surely, I find myself actually feeling sorry for Teddy. Well, that might be too strong of a statement. I am beginning to better understand his aloof attitude and his refusal to buy into the storyline the rest of the family has accepted: Daniel is the prodigal son come home.
In season one, Teddy came off as a jerk, plain and simple. He didn’t want his wife around Daniel, he didn’t want his father to give Daniel a position at the family business, and he didn’t like that his younger brother seemed fascinated by Daniel. He was quick to lash out, and seemed to take great pains to try and convince the family that perhaps Daniel wasn’t as saintly as they all believed. From an audience perspective, so much of season one was told from Daniel’s perspective that we were left without any real insight into Teddy’s motivation. He became one of the villains of the piece- although not to the extent of the various townspeople and former classmates of Daniel, who offer threats to Daniel’s safety.
These first two episodes of season two have allowed the show the time to flesh out Teddy in a truly wonderful manner. With Daniel out of commission, we’ve seen that Teddy desperately wants to be the savior to the family, whether it is in the tire shop or being the rock for Janet in the face of Daniel’s potentially dire prognosis. But each failure serves as a reminder that Teddy is no longer the eldest son, and he is no longer the focus of his parents. In “Sleeping Giants,” Teddy also learns he isn’t the sole focus of Tawney either, as she confesses her attraction to Daniel. For a character who always tries to put on the best face, watching Teddy’s facade begin to crack is hard to stomach. Based on his actions last season, you want to hate him. But you also cannot help but admit he has just cause for his anger and hurt.
Clayne Crawford spent season one buttoning up Teddy’s emotions, only letting on his anger through grimaces. Like Young’s performance as Daniel, it was a study in silences and emotional command. Crawford has been allowed more freedom so far in season two to let out more of Teddy’s emotions and pain to great effect. Teddy’s anger slowly boiling over, then once again getting clamped down during Tawney’s confession is a particularly effective moment. It would be so easy to have Teddy simply explode, but Crawford shows how each element of the discussion affects Teddy, culminating in what he sees at the ultimate betrayal: Daniel has usurped his place with his wife. It’s an excellent piece of acting from Crawford, and I’m looking forward to seeing how Teddy grows and changes (for the good or ill) as the season continues.
— Sheriff Daggett has arrested Bobby for Daniel’s beating, proving that at least someone in the town still understands that justice isn’t something you can accept and ignore at will. Although, considering the current state of things, I have low hopes for any sort of conviction.
— While we only have gotten to see him briefly, Bobby is another interesting character. While he has done reprehensible things, we can’t forget that his life was also shattered when his sister was raped and murdered. From the looks of things, his mother isn’t doing particularly well either. The show hasn’t spent a ton of time focusing on how Hannah’s family has been, but the few glimpses we have been shown have been powerful.
— I know we have to give time to the mystery of who actually killed Hannah, but I am still finding it to be the dullest aspect of the series. I almost wish they would just lay it out on the table for us so we can focus on Daniel and his family.