The recently concluded and utterly superb Top of the Lake has a partner well in crime in the form of Rectify which formally starts on Monday 22 April but the first three episodes have found their ways onto the Internet.
Like Top of the Lake, Rectify is magnificently acted and directed and both concern how crime can affect a community. Rectify deals with an issue I have been fascinated with for some time and that is people being wrongly accused of a crime and sent to prison. Only instead of showing us the legal wrangles the family and lawyer would have to go through Rectify picks up when Daniel Holden (Aden Young) is released after new DNA evidence throws his case out. Daniel has served 19 years on Death Row for rape and murder and now has to adjust to coming up and living with his family again.3
One of the genius things about the show is whilst the evidence gets Daniel out of jail it doesn’t necessarily prove his innocence and he could face a new trial. Also as an audience we really don’t know if he is guilty or not, even three episodes in I have no clue if he was involved or just the two males we saw briefly in episode one.
Daniel is a bit strange, a bit weird but is that just an effect of 19 years shut away in a cell or was he always like that? Does it mean he has a hidden more sinister agenda? Or perhaps just a little eccentric?
Most of the town seem to think he is guilty including the State Senator and the Sheriff. His family or at least his sister Amantha (Abigail Spencer) is convinced of his innocence, I think his half brother Jared (Jake Austin Walker) does as well. Meanwhile step brother Ted, Jr. (Clayne Crawford ) seems to care more about how it will affect the family business than getting to the truth whilst his wife Tawney (Adelaide Clemens) seems to have formed a touching connection to Daniel. As for the mother Janet (J. Smith-Cameron), she is just overwhelmed by the entire situation.
Rectify was originally developed by Ray McKinnon for AMC with the intention of Justified actor Walton Goggin playing the role of Daniel. Whilst I would loved to have seen his take on the character I have to say Aden Young has impressed me so much in the role I can’t imagine anyone else now. Daniel has this awkwardness about him which is natural after being away from the real world for so long and Young brings to the character this mesmerising charm. You can’t help but listen to what he has to say, listen to his experiences and life view.
Whether or not Daniel committed the crime isn’t really the central point to the show, it is about how prison changes a person, about how life moves on for everyone else and how they have to deal with his return. How victim’s family have to cope when the justice they thought had been served perhaps hadn’t been.
Rectify is every bit as good as dramas airing on HBO, AMC and Showtime. I can’t wait to see where Rectify ends up and the other intense beautifully filmed dramas Sundance Channel commissions.