Rectify Season 4 Premiere Review: Daniel Lives In “A House Divided”


It’s so bittersweet that one of the most marvelous, unsung dramas on television today, Rectifyis entering its final season. SundanceTVs best kept secret, Rectify consistently hits its marks and tells a gripping, gut-wrenching, emotional story. Season 4’s premiere episode is no exception.

This week on Rectify: Daniel holds a job, but struggles to adjust to his new life in Nashville. He lives in a halfway house, and does not bond easily with his housemates. As he encounters his co-workers, mentors, housemates, and artist neighbors, he tries to figure out who he is and what to do with his life.

I love this show. It’s so incredibly raw and realistic. The situation, obviously, is not totally realistic, but it operates on a realistic plane. Daniel is expected to be anti-social, because he spent 18-20 (that timeline feels a little muddy to me) years on death row. But where other shows would create drama from that, Rectify simply lets Daniel radiate emotions at every turn. Rather than understand what Daniel is feeling in your head, you feel it right along with him. That’s always been the beauty of this show. The dialogue, the unspoken, the camera work, the acting, all of it works together to create the proper feelings while watching this show.

I think Aden Young deserves an Emmy. Seriously. I know some people that would write him off, saying that his portrayal of Daniel is too “simpleton”. But I cannot get enough. To me, Young’s portrayal of Daniel is so nuanced and emotional. He makes me uncomfortable sometimes, but that’s a good thing. That’s exactly what it would be like if I met Daniel. Daniel’s apprehension, coupled with his desire to fit in and feel normal human things, radiate from Young’s performance. In particular, the scene in which he’s speaking with the halfway house mentor, all of Daniel’s thoughts and feelings that have built up over the past few years came pouring out. To bring this paragraph full circle, I don’t need to see the rest of the season to know that that’s the scene I’d submit for the Emmys.

“A House Divided” gave me a couple of distinct feelings. One, it made me feel like Daniel was finally free now that he was away from his family and his hometown. As someone who lives in the same town he went to high school in, living that way can feel like a prison. So, in essence, Daniel was still in prison while in Paulie. This episode was the first inkling I’d had that he was escaping his personal prison and becoming his own.

Secondly, as much as I desperately want to know, this is the first episode I’ve seen that makes me feel okay about not knowing what really happened with Hanna Dean that night. Daniel’s growth and emotional performance convinced me that he doesn’t know what happened that night. Daniel not knowing, and my believing him, has suddenly become enough for me.

Here are a few extraneous thoughts:

  • As much as I loved this Daniel-centric piece, I’m really looking forward to Teddy, Amantha, and the rest of the family returning in next week’s episode.
  • Ever since that scene early in the show, I’ve been scared that people are going to gang up on and hurt Daniel. I was so relieved when this episode just wanted him to make friends.
  • One of this shows greatest strengths: Non-verbal acting.
  • Okay. Fine. I still want to know what really happened to Hanna Dean.

I’m so glad that this show is back. It’s so well-acted, well-written, beautifully shot, well-directed and created. I could go on forever. Rectify is a truly great drama series, and these final 7 episodes (excluding tonight) will hopefully prove that beyond any shadow of a doubt.

What did you guys think? Did you enjoy the episode? Let us know in the comments!

Rectify’s final season airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on SundanceTV

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