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With an ending like that, it’s a good thing that news broke this week that Rectify has been renewed for a third season. While I suppose “Unhinged” could have served as a series finale in a pinch, it works much better as the end of Act Two. Things remain dire for Daniel, Tawney appears headed for parts unknown, and Teddy has just chosen to take steps that will likely destroy his family. Oh, and George finally turned up again, which will certainly put some heat on Trey next season.
But beyond all of those key plot points, “Unhinged” gave us something we really haven’t seen in some time: Daniel letting go. Sure, we’ve seen him get drunk and high and release his inner adolescent, but we haven’t seen the emotional side of Daniel much at all this season. Daniel has spent so much time buttoned up and awkwardly trying to navigate life that I feel the show has done the character a real disservice in that regard. Until his recounting of the night in question, I was actually starting to lose a sense of empathy toward the character. But, watching what certainly appeared to be an honest recollection of events- or, for a more cynical account, Trey’s recollection of events- we finally were able to see the emotion Daniel has kept bottled up. I’m inclined to believe that, at least to Daniel, those were a truthful account of what happened with Hanna. It was all too raw for it to be a complete lie.
And that entire sequence would have been one of the most powerful scenes on television this year if it weren’t for the character of Senator Foulkes. I just can’t stress enough how the writers have turned the character into a mustache twirling villain. On a series that relishes small actions and reactions, having that character clomp through scenes mugging and yelling shatters the calm in such a way that it delves into the realm of grating. I dread having him on screen, not because he is Daniel’s antagonist, but because the character is so out of step with the rest of the characters around him. Subtly could work just as well with the character, and I so wish everyone involved with his creation had thought to go that route.
Having aired that grievance, I only have praise for the episode. As usually, it was a visual delight, with shadow and light playing perfectly to capture each moment. From a story perspective, each character’s trajectory paid off with their season arc. While I am still unsure about the motivations of a few characters, namely Amantha and Jared, there’s more than enough going on with each of the show’s central characters to keep me engaged going forward.
And, while I completely understand Teddy’s actions (his speech about Daniel taking everything from him was one of the best pay-offs of the season, as the writers expertly led Teddy and us to that moment of clarity even though we’ve known it was coming for awhile), I’m most eager to see what becomes of his confession. Will it lead to the plea deal being withdrawn (in light of Foulkes’ insistence that Daniel hadn’t been coerced, I have a hard time seeing the prosecutor jumping at the change to take Hanna’s murder to trial)? Or will is simply ensure that Daniel must remain in Paulie for the foreseeable future to face these charges? We have a year long wait until we start getting answers, but I am excited to see where the mystery takes us.
— I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of Tawney, especially if Teddy’s accusation results in charges being filed. After all, Daniel did confess to her and she would be an excellent witness. Plus, it would mean more Adelaide Clemens, which would be a wonderful thing.
— For everything he has heard up to this point, it certainly looks as if Sheriff Daggett remains unconvinced of Daniel’s guilt. Finding George’s body might push things further in Daniel’s favor.
— Up until the end of the episode, I was holding out hope that Daniel would be able to start fresh somewhere. Perhaps the show could reboot and show us how he was coping on his own. But, I’m perfectly happy to watch how this newest issue divides the Talbot clan.