Sundance’s Rectify came to a fitting, final close late Wednesday night, capping its four-season run with 110 minutes of what it has done best.
I am in no position to recount the entire, extended series finale, but I did want to offer the fine drama’s fans a place to weigh in on how it all ended, and the show’s legacy as a whole. There were, however, a few scenes I did want to single out, for affecting me in specific ways.
* I loved the cold open, how it segued from a “flashback” to the day Daniel was to come home — with Janet remembering how he “was” (and still is, Amantha reminds!) — to the present day. And then the heart-to-heart that followed between mother and daughter, especially when Janet marveled that Amantha often feels to be a source of disappointment. “You’re my hero, young lady,” Janet countered — to which Amantha could barely react, other than to correct her on the age thing. Shortly thereafter, Amantha had a wonderful final scene with Jon, where you could really feel their long journey — their battle — about to take a turn, if not come to an end.
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* Daniel’s journey over the course of several, very different scenes, opposite different people, allowed Aden Young a final chance to explore his rich character’s many complex feelings. Whether discovering that Chloe, who loves to leave but hates to pack, had already up and gone, to questioning the benefit of highly tempered expectations when hanging with the guys at the house. You can see Daniel’s brain spinning, thinking and rethinking, as Avery offers “predictable” platitudes, to which Daniel can only nod with a quiet “Sure.” There was also a final shrink session, where Daniel chose to remember Kerwin’s last day before execution — and how it seemed to represent those on death row as a whole. That was underscored by a flashback to a prison cell conversation between the two, in which they imagined and mimed a leisurely drive through New York City.
* With the tire shop drama well explored in recent weeks, closing day was less about selling a last set of tires to Melvin than the family — Amantha included — gathering around the TV to watch the press conference they once could only dream of, in which the GBI announced that the Hannah Dean murder case was being reopened, and that if sufficient conflicting evidence turned up, Daniel’s conviction would be set aside once and for all, and he would become a truly free man. (Perhaps to that end, Trey later points out to Sheriff Daggett that Chris Nelms hid his hand in his pocket when called into the cop shop all those years ago, having had it bitten by Hannah when raping her.)
* With Daniel sequestered in Nashville, it was almost a shame that his final scenes with loved ones were over the phone, and yet Abigail Spencer, Clayne Crawford, J. Smith-Cameron and Adelaide Clemens each managed to wring from each and every one of those talk-tos so much emotion and resonance, plumbed from four years of evolving relationships. “I hope your life is filled with wonder,” indeed.
When the end finally rolled around, we saw Daniel alone and reclined on his bed. And then we cut to a beautiful, sunlit field, where he is walking… toward Chloe, who is holding a baby. With no words, and only a modest score, Daniel smiles oh-so-warmly at Chloe, and then beholds the baby, the three of them forming quite an idyllic portrait. Was it but his dream? A “cautiously optimistic” expectation? Dare, a hope? Or were we getting an actual look ahead, at life after Daniel is fully exonerated? (A post mortem interview out there may reveal what is what; I myself honestly am content not being sure.) Whatever the case, we have never seen him beaming so blissfully.