Rectify Season 2 Review “Running with the Bull”

Rectify Season 2 Episode 1 Running with the Bull (4)

Over the past few years, many people have proclaimed the Golden Age of television was over. Most weren’t necessarily bemoaning the end of the era so much as noticing a subtle shift in the television marketplace. Those shows that set the bar and broke the mold could not be replicated (and believe me, we tried!), but several crafty showrunners have learned what lessons could be culled from those experiences and set about trying to apply them to the new crop of shows. Some goobers even tried to create a new name for these shows and everything. The television world has continued to spiral out farther and farther away from its humble roots. You can’t spin around anymore without bumping into a network trying to get into the scripted television business. It’s extraordinarily diffuse and makes it even more difficult to find the gems among all boring rocks.

That being said, the increased nicheifying of television has lead us to some weird and wild places previously inconceivable prior to this decade. Hannibal is a network television show with no business being on television anywhere. It’s dark, weird, relentlessly macabre, and horrifyingly beautiful. FX has Louie, which is probably the most unique television show on the dial. To even classify as a television show may be a bit of a stretch. These shows are two of the most extreme example of what this sprawling television landscape has allowed us to have.

Another such show is Sundance’s Rectify. When considering the elevator pitch for Rectify, it becomes easy to lump it in with shows like Hannibal and Louie as a show that is hard to fathom its existence. In its six episode first season, the show slowly hummed along at its own casual pace. The show had no interest in preening for your attention. Instead, it relied on mood, atmosphere, tone, and some unexpectedly outstanding performances to draw you in to its sleepy Georgia location. In particular, Aden Young and Abigail Spencer were particularly fantastic as released death row prisoner Daniel Holden and his crusading sister Amantha. Where most shows are concerned with romantic love, Rectify settled in and focused on the love between familial relations in the face of increased scrutiny, doubt, and pressure. The seemingly generic realism of the show is one of its best qualities. It has no need for hyperbole or ostentation. It seeks to enchant you with the ease of its access. There’s something easily relatable about the characters in this show.

In tonight’s season premiere, it’s clear the show intends to pick up right where it left off. With Daniel recovering from the severe beating he took to end the previous season, the burden is placed on other characters to carry the here and now while Daniel spends time with his former death row mate, Kerwin. And just as they did the year before, the players around Aden Young are more than up to the challenge. Adelaide Clemens portrayal of Tawney remains as wonderful as it was last year. Easily a character that could devolve into something a bit more on the nose, Clemens plays the born-again Tawney with impressive maturity. Tawney’s faith is an enhancement to the character. It colors her choices and creates real emotional strife as she seeks to understand exactly why Daniel holds this place in her heart.

The best scene of the episode is undoubtedly the final one. As Daniel and Kerwin walked through the field, I couldn’t help but think about how special of a scene I was watching. Television struggles with the concept of nonromantic love. It’s a far more complex notion than the romantic love we watch play out on countless television shows. That scene is so incredibly acted and beautifully written. It’s by far the most uplifting part of a fairly dour hour. It’s two men having a conversation about weighty issues with the love and respect only shared by a friendship born out of a shared existence. It’s complex, understated, and enchanting. In other words, it’s everything you would expect Rectify to be.