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Rectify – “Charlie Darwin” Review: A Contemplation on Family

The first two episodes of Rectify‘s second season focused a lot on purpose. From Daniel contemplating whether or not it is worth it to keep living, to Teddy’s desire to be the savior of the family tire business and prove his worth to his entire family, the characters have begun to take stock of what their next step should be now that the long task of freeing Daniel has come to a close (at least for the moment). “Charlie Darwin” still has those questions lingering in the background, but it also brings to the forefront the unfortunate truth that has been simmering under the surface of the series since the first episode of season one: This family is broken.

As much as the events of Daniel’s release have impacted Daniel, they have also had a deep and resonating effect on his entire family. Hints of the schism within were shown throughout season one, but the series’ main focus was rightfully on Daniel’s own journey. Now, with season two hitting it’s stride, the series has begun to open up a bit more regarding how Daniel’s sudden reappearance has shattered the previous status quo- and not always for the better. As we continue to see this week, Teddy’s own personal goal of recognition has put him at odds with Ted Sr. and Janet, while slowly tearing his marriage apart. I have no doubt that this rim rental scheme will further drive a wedge between Tawney and Teddy, as it seems all but doomed for failure. And, it is clear that the last thing Teddy’s psyche can take at this point is a failure of this magnitude.

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Janet, who has been Daniel’s greatest cheerleader since his release, is slowly but surely losing control of her well constructed facade of happiness and calm. Her words to the seemingly always angry Amantha are the first words of anger I believe she has uttered throughout the entire series. Janet has spent so much time trying to make sure that Daniel feels safe (and, I certainly wouldn’t expect anything less from a mother who just got her son back), that she has neglected to see how Daniel’s reappearance has affected her other children- particularly Amantha.

As for Amantha, next to Teddy, she is certainly the character who has become the most unmoored with Daniel’s return. Yes, she is thrilled he’s back and that her campaign to see him freed has worked, but without Daniel’s freedom to focus her anger on, all that is left is a woman without any purpose. Janet’s suggestion that she head back to Atlanta may come from the right place, but it won’t bring an end to the boiling combination of pain and anger within Amantha. She needs something to fight for, and seeing that the spirit of fight within Daniel was lost long ago (broken by the years in prison), her anger has now turned toward Daniel, perhaps out of spite that he won’t join her in her crusade to continue to fight for him.

And then there’s Daniel. Deciding to end the cycle of violence and anger by not pressing charges against Bobby Dean is certainly a lovely thing to do, but it’s only going to lead to the perpetuation of the cycle. Yes, it might make Bobby momentarily grateful, but Amantha does in fact have a point. Hannah Dean’s murder is still unsolved. And Daniel remains the only suspect. As much as I dislike that the series has to spend time dealing with this mystery (although, thankfully we are given a week off in this episode), the show has set it self up to eventually solve this question- or at least begin to give us the necessary clues to do so ourselves. Daniel has every right to walk away from the world  of court and blame. But even hopping in his mother’s car and going for a ride on his own won’t allow him to escape the reality he is in now. I am glad to see Daniel finally taking action rather than reacting, but it worries me that his actions so far have not been the greatest choices.

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Final Thoughts

— I didn’t realize how cathartic it would be to finally see Daniel react to Amantha’s seemingly constant pushing for action with some anger of his own. While it is clear that Daniel does feel anger regarding his time in prison, he has had such a zen reaction to everything in his life so far that I feared he would never snap out of it.

— I’m not entirely certain where the subplot with Jon and the guilty death row inmate fits in, other than to show that other inmates aren’t as great as Daniel? Although, as someone who has worked on a death penalty appeal (in my past life as an attorney), I can certainly sympathize with the deep bond and emotional impact such a case can have on a lawyer.

— I would really love a scene between Daniel and Booby Dean with them just talking. While I am almost certain that won’t ever happen, it would sure be interesting.

Rating
8.5
Pros
  • Strong character development
  • Daniel finally begins to show emotions
Cons
  • The show is still a bit tentative in doling out deeper emotional beats for characters other than Daniel.

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About / Bio
TV critic based in Chicago. When not watching and writing about awesome television shows, I can be found lamenting over the latest disappointing performance by any of the various Chicago sports teams or my beloved Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Follow me @JeanHenegan on Twitter.

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