Aden Young as Daniel Holden and Abigail Spencer as Amantha Holden in SundanceTV’s Rectify.
Season 1 of SundanceTV’s superlative drama series Rectify ended with Daniel Holden (Aden Young) — a former death row inmate released after 17 years, thanks to a legal technicality that secured his freedom — being beaten nearly to death by a group of men in a cemetery.
Daniel’s attack — carried out on the instructions of the brother of Daniel’s teenage girlfriend Hanna, whom he was found guilty of raping and murdering — was an act of harsh brutality, one that was at odds with the grace and beauty that Rectify managed to capture so effortlessly, the sensation of feathers falling onto bare skin or of the awesome sight of a sunrise or a grove of trees or a statue.
In its first season, the Ray McKinnon-created show depicted good and evil in a small Southern town, using Daniel’s release as a rubric for exploring crime and punishment, innocence and guilt, and the way that Daniel’s family — and the town of Paulie, Ga. — moved on without him or didn’t. In just six episodes, the first season of Rectify precisely and gorgeously captured the sense of Daniel being trapped in amber, of existing outside of time, of coming home and realizing that you don’t recognize anything or anyone, least of all yourself.
On June 19, the 10-episode second season of Rectify (the first 12 minutes of which can be seen below) picks up those threads immediately after Daniel’s vicious beating at Hanna’s grave, offering a look inside Daniel’s subconscious mind as he returns to a prison of sorts. But it’s the scenes in the hospital between the women in Daniel’s life — Abigail Spencer’s ferocious crusader Amantha, J. Smith-Cameron’s tremulous Janet, and Adelaide Clemens’ soulful Tawney — that crackle with electricity here. What’s said and unsaid carries enormous weight and power in these brief scenes and speaks toward a lifetime of pain and confusion…and sets up what promises to be another intense season of Rectify.