Rectify‘s second episode of the new season paints a portrait of a marriage in a tailspin as the show’s protagonist is sidelined in a coma.
Let’s bitch it out…
Not unlike last week’s premiere, Daniel Holden (Aden Young) spends the majority of ‘Sleeping Giants’ in a medically-induced coma, but this time we’re less privy to his dreams/hallucinations outside of a few brief scenes. And yet, just like Jon (Luke Kirby) tells one of his other death row inmates, the very concept of a sleeping giant suggests that it will eventually wake up. And Daniel does wake up, though it’s not until the emotional final scene of the episode. As a result ‘Sleeping Giants’ dedicates its time and attention on the other characters and their attempts to grapple with the implications of Daniel waking (or not waking) up. And, as you would expect with Rectify, the result carries a surprising weight.
For my money, this episode is exemplary for the scenes between Teddy (Clayne Crawford) and Tawney (Adelaide Clemens). They have two meaty encounters: one in the tire store and the other the following day after breakfast. The first occurs when Tawney encourages her husband to come home and he rebuffs her, indicating that he’s working on the numbers for his new business proposal. It’s clear from the get-go that they’re miscommunicating and that Teddy is unable to express what he’s so angry/afraid of. Initially it seems to be about work and for a few moments they go back and forth. At one point Tawney defensively states that Teddy wanted her to stay at home, which reinforces a number of suspicions I had about the patriarchal nature of their marriage.
When Tawney presses him, however, Teddy changes his tune, posing the question of what will happen if Daniel is disabled when he awakens. This is less about reputation and money, though; it is clearly Teddy’s own fears. What’s revealing is that when he communicates it to his wife, instead of claiming responsibility for broaching the scenario, Teddy claims that it is his father, Ted Sr (Bruce McKinnon) who is concerned, which we know is a lie from their conversation earlier (when Teddy raised it). Clearly Teddy is still working out his complex feelings of jealousy and emasculation where Daniel is concerned.
This first conversation feels like a prelude to the main event. After an extremely uncomfortable breakfast Tawney addresses the growing divide between them by admitting that she has a connection with Daniel and that she unintentionally led him on. The scene is perfectly filmed, alternating between long shots that emphasize the distance between them and close-ups on their faces which make their responses more intimate. Teddy asks if she has feelings for Daniel in a barrage of quick cuts that lends the questions an anxious urgency and when she finally says she does, it’s like the air has gone out of the room. Like so much on this show, there’s a great deal left unsaid in the aftermath of her confession. When Teddy gives her a quick peck goodbye and leaves, it’s not clear if he’s angry, appeased or something in between. He’s got the confirmation that his suspicions were well-founded, but obviously that comes with a cost, made particularly evident in the final scene when he learns that Daniel has woken up. Despite Tawney’s decision to come clean, the distance between them remains (visually represented by the physical presence of the bathroom door which isolates them in their own shots). This marriage was already on rocky ground due to Daniel’s attack on Teddy; with Tawney’s confession and Daniel’s recovers, it has never been in greater jeopardy.
- Amantha (Abigail Spencer) and Janet (J. Smith-Cameron) spend the episode at Daniel’s side. Amantha – not unlike Teddy – is inherently pessimistic, so when the doctor announces that he wants to bring Daniel out of the coma, Amantha immediately inquires about the chances that Daniel will never wake up. Her life is dangerously intertwined with his (something made explicitly clear in S1, but emphasized again here). Still, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get emotional watching her reaction when Daniel wakes up.
- For the first time this season we see Trey (Sean Bridgers) – one of the eye witnesses for the defense in Daniel’s case. I had my suspicions that Trey and Georgie (his friend who committed suicide back in S1) were actually the ones who raped and murdered Hanna and Trey’s actions tonight reinforce his shady character. His visit to see Georgie’s father under the guise of being unable to track him down reeks of an attempt to establish an alibi when Georgie’s body inevitably turns up.
- It’s also the first time this season we see Jared (Jake Austin Walker), whom I was surprised didn’t appear in last week’s episode. I don’t feel as though I have a great handle on Daniel’s younger step-brother, partially because he’s the member of the family we’ve spent the least amount of time with. I can’t figure out if Jared idolizes his older brother or if he simply doesn’t understand him. Either explanation could serve to explain Jared’s interest in Daniel’s walkman and the mixtape that Hanna made him twenty years ago.
- Initially it doesn’t appear that Sheriff Daggett’s (J.D. Evermore) attempts to bring Bobby Dean (Linds Edwards) and Daniel’s other attackers to justice will prevail, but after he pleads with the mother of the young witness, she relents. From there the boy fairly easily picks out the grieving brother from the book of mugshots, which is probably for the best considering Bobby Dean’s earlier destructive behaviour outside of the bar. There is a suggestion that the other two will take matters into their own hands to prevent Daniel (and Bobby Dean) from identifying them, but that’s the kind of sensational storytelling that Rectify typically refuses to trade in so I would be surprised to see the show go in that direction.
- Amantha (saying goodbye, after she and Jon first exchange I love yous): “Yeah, later.”
- Daniel (when his mother tearfully asks if he’s okay): “So far so good.”
Your turn: what did you think of this mostly Daniel-free episode? Did you find the troubled marriage scenes engrossing like me? What do you make of Jared’s interest in his older step-brother? And is Daniel is any danger from the other two attackers? Sound off below.
Rectify airs Thursdays at 9pm EST on SundanceTV