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In ‘Rectify,’ Life After Prison and the Chance to Be Reborn

NY TIMES – For decades, television has been cop, judge, jury and jailer. Police and courtroom dramas are a mainstay; a few series, like “Orange Is the New Black,” have explored prison life. But “Rectify,” a drama entering its final season on SundanceTV on Wednesday, is exceptional in being concerned with what comes after prison, for ex-convicts, for their families, for an entire community.

 

In the first episode of the new season, Daniel Holden (Aden Young), who has been released from prison after 19 years, describes what the incarceration did to him. “When you are alone with yourself all the time,” he says, “you begin to go deeper and deeper into yourself until you lose yourself.”

 

“Rectify,” created by Ray McKinnon, is a small series; it has shown a mere 22 episodes in three seasons and will have eight in its final run. But by focusing on a small world and pacing itself deliberately, it manages to be both intimate and expansive.

 

Slowing down time — the first season takes place over about a week — “Rectify” is a meditative work of reconstruction, with a visual sense of wonder, as if the camera, too, had been released into the world after two decades staring at four walls.

 

The series begins with Daniel’s return home to the fictional Paulie, Ga., after DNA evidence vacates his conviction for the rape and murder of his high school girlfriend, Hanna Dean. He’s free but not exonerated, and he finds himself unequipped for freedom. Having spent his entire adult life under a regime, he’s paralyzed by simple things like a visit to a big-box store.

 

The show traces his transition, and that of his family: his mother, Janet (J. Smith-Cameron), who resents the years lost with her son; his sister, Amantha (Abigail Spencer), who fiercely defends Daniel’s innocence; his stepbrother, Teddy (Clayne Crawford), who doubts him; and Teddy’s wife, Tawney (Adelaide Clemens), a deeply religious woman whose sympathy for Daniel draws her close to him and drives a wedge between herself and her husband.

 

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Sundance’s Rectify could be The Wire for small-town America

This wonderful series — wrapping up its run with its new season — understands the South in a way TV rarely does.

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VOX – One afternoon shortly after actor Aden Young had wrapped season one of Rectify, his wife called. He’d gone out a few hours earlier and hadn’t returned. She wanted to know if he was okay.

 

In the deeply emotional Sundance family drama, Young plays Daniel Holden, a newly exonerated death row inmate who re-enters society after nearly two decades in prison. On the day his wife called looking for him, he’d found the character hard to shake and had been standing on a street corner for four hours; as Young recounts the experience, it’s with the wry smirk he wears even when telling the most devastating story imaginable.

 

“I couldn’t move,” he says. “I was petrified that I was going to fall over. I was absolutely fine. I was healthy. My kids were healthy. I had a beautiful wife. For the first time in my career, I think, I even managed to pay off one of the credit cards. And yet Daniel was there, just going, ‘Don’t move. It all hurts, and if you move, it will hurt more.’ Like when you have a bad back. I was afraid to turn my head. I was afraid I would see through the façade.”

 

It sounds weird, I know — like the kind of mystical mumbo jumbo actors sometimes tell reporters to make themselves sound profound. But I know from having talked to Young several times over the course of Rectify’s run — the show’s fourth and final season debuts on Sundance Wednesday, October 26 — that he takes this character and this world seriously. And not in a self-important or self-involved way; that’s just the effect Rectify has on those involved in it, and its tiny coterie of devoted fans.

 

Young’s solution to his Daniel problem was simple: Build the character a guesthouse in his head where Daniel could go to live in between seasons.

 

“I knew he was there. I’d occasionally take him things, but I wouldn’t see him. Then Sundance would email me, and I’d go and check on him,” he says.

 

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LETHAL WEAPON: Clayne Crawford on new Fox series – Interview

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ASSIGNMENT X – Clayne Crawford is having a wonderful fall season. The actor from Alabama stars in Fox Networks’ new Wednesday-night action series LETHAL WEAPON, which premiered September 21. Based on the feature film franchise, LETHAL WEAPON has Crawford cast as dangerously daredevil – and heartbroken – L.A.P.D. cop Martin Riggs, opposite Damon Wayans’ more cautious fellow police detective Roger Murtaugh. Then, On October 26, Crawford will be back as troubled Ted “Teddy” Talbot Jr. on Sundance TV’s fourth and final season of RECTIFY.

 

ASSIGNMENT X: Were you looking to do another series once RECTIFY wrapped, or were you looking to stay home with the family for a little while?

 

CLAYNE CRAWFORD: Me and my wife laughed. It was a lot when I was struggling, trying to get work, which is most of your career. We would plan a vacation, and inevitably, I would get a phone call to go do a job, right? So I told my wife, “February. I’m going to finish RECTIFY, it’s the final season, I’ve got a movie coming out with Legendary, let’s take six months off.” We’ve been remodeling my farmhouse for three years. “Let’s just really enjoy the property and let’s wait for the best job ever. And I don’t know what that is.” I’d love to go work for HBO, I thought maybe Netflix.

 

Three days later, that man [points to his agent, Paul Santana] called my phone. “Fox wants you.” “No, no, I’m good.” I genuinely wanted to do nothing, but when I read the material, I felt like it was the chance of a lifetime. Even if we failed, I just wanted to play that role and show people I had a little bit of comedy chops.

 

AX: Riggs is coping with tremendous personal tragedy. Is he just able to close off and have a veneer of humor? If not, where does the comedy come from?

 

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Rectify: Series Creator and Stars Preview the Final Season

TV SERIES FINALE – How will Rectify end? Recently, the creator and stars of the Sundance TV series spoke about the upcoming final season, Variety reports.

 

The drama follows Daniel Holden (Aden Young), who returns home after spending 19 years on Death Row for a murder he may or may not have committed. The cast also includes Abigail Spencer, Adelaide Clemens, Clayne Crawford, Bruce McKinnon, and J. Smith-Cameron.

 

At the Television Critics Association summer press tour, creator Ray McKinnon said the final season will be about Daniel confronting his identity:

 

I think in some ways the story has been about Daniel being a conduit for the projection onto him of others. Part of the mystery and part of the tension of this season will be can Daniel become himself as he is now — not who he could have been.”

 

Aden Young said he didn’t mind not knowing whether Daniel did or did not commit murder:

 

It was a challenge. It was certainly a challenge I embraced. I didn’t think Ray was ever going to tell me. I didn’t ask him whether [Daniel] did it or not. I asked, are you going to tell me whether he did it or not. So began a philosophical discussion that lasted five years”

 

McKinnon did reveal there may not be full closure in the series finale:

 

We want the conclusion to answer all our questions, but that’s not life. And part of what we try to do with the show is reflect in a skewed way what life is.”

 

The final season of Rectify premieres on October 26th.

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