RELIEF. I awoke at 3-something to the sound of rain the other night, and that was my first thought: relief—a kind of freedom from being held too tight by the forces of dry and hot. And then I thought of “Rectify,” the Sundance TV series.
In a moment early in the series (Season 3 has just concluded), the character Tawney is getting to know her long-imprisoned, just-released brother-in-law at a family gathering. What season do you like best?, Tawney asks Daniel, who had been incarcerated for murder, held on death row for 19 years.
She first confesses: She likes the fall, and also rainstorms on a hot summer day—and thunder, too; especially the thunder.
“The place where I was had no windows,” Daniel says. “Just these thick walls surrounded by more thick walls. So I never knew if it was raining, or even heard the loudest thunder.”
“So sad,” is Tawney’s reply.
Indeed, and in fact unimaginable. Disconnection from nature, and its cycles, seems like something that it would be impossible to survive. Maybe that’s part of what fascinates me about “Rectify,” which is critically acclaimed but little-watched compared to many shows that look to be unwatchable. (The Season 3 premiere drew just 224,000 viewers; “America’s Got Talent,” for example, draws 10-million-ish.)
Rectify: To put something right, like rain on dry soil does; or the cessation of heat when we are already wilted. Relief.
‘RECTIFY’ has been described as hypnotic, as a haiku, as slow-as-molasses and meditative. Yes to all. The cast is exceptional, a compliment that extends beyond the Australian actor Aden Young, who plays Daniel. Two favorites among a perfect lineup: J. Smith-Cameron, as Daniel’s mother, embodies compassion; Johnny Ray Gill as Kerwin Whitman, who occupied the cell beside Daniel before being put to death, is the truest friendship. Season 1 and 2 can be streamed on Netflix; the current season is online at Sundance, or for purchase at Amazon.
(Image and video from Sundance TV.)