Everyone’s trying to keep busy in order to keep from falling apart as Rectify continues its strong S3 start.
Let’s bitch it out…
‘Thrill Ride’ is quintessential Rectify. The episode takes place over a single day and nothing overly momentous occurs: Tawney (Adelaide Clemens) speaks with a therapist, Jon (Luke Kirby) and Janet (J. Smith-Cameron) try to plan for the future and Daniel (Aden Young) and Amantha (Abigail Spencer) discover co-habitating is going to be much more difficult than they expected.
If the episode belongs to anyone, however, it’s Teddy. Clayne Crawford’s been the show’s secret MVP ever since last season when Teddy’s emasculation from Daniel’s attack slowly caused him to unravel. With Tawney gone, Teddy has no sense of normalcy, no sense of purpose and Crawford’s ability to convey how lost and dispassionate Teddy is has never been greater. It’s evident in scenes both loud (such as when Teddy drinks and dances alone at home) and quiet (such as his inability to communicate with his father, Bruce McKinnon’s Ted Sr).
The powerhouse scene is the titular thrill ride. Poor Jared (Jake Austin Walker) shows up on Teddy’s door to check on him and it’s immediately clear as soon as Teddy asks about the teen’s ability to drive where they’re headed. On the ride to Tawney’s temporary digs with Brett and Beth, Teddy tells Jared the appalling story about how he lost his virginity the first day he got his license. The particulars about Teddy’s date with Julie, a modest but kind girl with an unfortunate reputation, reflects poorly on Teddy, and it seems that he’s just being his usual dickish self. Or at least that’s what it seems as Teddy confirms to Jared that he wore poor Julie down so he could pop his cherry and brag to his friends. There’s an underlying contradiction in all this however; as Teddy is telling Jared this disturbing tale, the camera repeatedly cuts to the pair watching as Teddy’s abused, fragile kind wife sits down for dinner – a reminder of the emotional damage that Teddy is responsible for causing. Is it a sign of growth or maturity when Teddy flips the script and warns Jared not to treat Claire, the ex we met last week, the same way? Or is it simply a realization that Tawney is simply the latest iteration of Julie, a woman that Teddy used to obtain a sense of normalcy (perfect house, perfect marriage, perfect burgeoning family). Tawney’s therapy session certainly paints their life in a different light and it’s not hard to see how the Teddy that cajoled Julie into doing something she didn’t want to do grew into the man that makes Tawney want to run away and feel relief when she miscarries.
On a more popular or higher profile show, Crawford’s amazing performance in this episode is the kind of scene that wins Emmys and Golden Globes. Instead, we’re left in the same creeped out mindspace as Jared: a mixture of discomfort, awe and disgust. You almost feel sorry for the quiet, contemplative teen; he clearly didn’t know what he was getting into when he was invited in for dinner.
Teddy’s emotional rollercoaster is the centerpiece of the episode, but no one else is faring much better. Amantha, in particular, is completely rudderless. The return of Peanuts, the cashier she was filling in for, reinforces just how meaningless her life at Thriftytown is, regardless of the outcome of her decision about the management path she was offered last week (which we don’t hear anything more about). Between this, the dissolution of her “marriage of convenience” to Jon and Daniel’s semi-desperate attempts at normalcy around her small apartment, it’s no surprise when Amantha blows up at a dinner inspired by her childhood palette. The meal on the plate is just another reminder that she has spent 20 years wasting her time; she and Daniel haven’t moved on at all and they’re literally eating the exact same thing they did when they were younger. Daniel may have meant well, but his make-peace dinner is actually the food equivalent of a slap in the face to his overwhelmed sister.
Janet, meanwhile, has an entirely different coping strategy. After digging the truth about Daniel’s sudden departure out of her husband, she throws herself into preparations to prepare for Daniel’s expulsion. Jon’s confession that he’s leaving throws everything into further disarray. Interestingly his admission seems to make him realize that he has a relationship with other members of the family beyond Amantha and simultaneously makes Janet realize that she needs to step up and commence preparations.
Still, considering that every conversation Janet has in this episode (with Ted Sr, Jon and Amantha) is about Daniel, it’s just as telling that she never actually interacts with her son. Janet may joke with Jon that keeping silent is a Holden trait, but it’s less of a joke when you start to think about how often this family talks around their issues rather than address them explicitly. If anything Teddy’s thrill ride with Jared is all the more remarkable as a result. Of all of the characters on the show, I never would have thought Teddy would be the one to open up the most.
- Amusingly enough, even Jared acknowledges the family trait, telling Teddy that no one tells him anything, they just talk around him.
- There’s an eerie mirroring in this episode that links Daniel and Teddy. I spotted at least two: 1) both men dance while home alone, and 2) Daniel drinking after Amantha’s blow up at dinner immediately cuts to Teddy in the exact same position, drinking at home alone.
- Daniel manages to secure himself a job as a pool painter, thanks to landlord Melvin (John Boyd West), who is much less creepy with Daniel than he was with Amantha when she rented the apartment last season.
- Further proof that Daniel is unprepared for life away from his family: he has never done his own laundry and he doesn’t know to avoid shopping for groceries at convenience stores.
- In the ongoing criminal mystery side of the series, Sheriff Daggett (J.D. Evermore) confesses to DA Sondra Person (Sharon Conley) about his extracurricular investigation into George’s death last season. She’s appropriately concerned about his lack of warrant and their mutual worries about public perceptions, but you can tell that she’s intrigued by his discoveries.
- Side bar: no word or mention of Senator Foulkes, so presumably word of his stroke at the end of the premiere has yet to make the rounds.
- Everything surrounding Amantha’s conversation with Peanut, including her exclamation about the size of the extremely chubby baby and how often people mistake her name for “Amanda” (which feels like some fan service considering how often its mistaken by new viewers)
- Janet (to Jon, confirming that Amantha maintained her silence about their break-up): “Must be a Holden family trait”
Your turn: what did you think of Teddy and Jared’s thrill ride? Is Tawney right to want to run from her husband? Do you sympathize with Amantha’s situation? Did you like Janet and Jon’s discussion? And where is the investigation going? Sound off below
Rectify airs Thursdays at 10pm EST on Sundance TV. It is also available on Netflix on Fridays.