I could pick any Rectify actor’s name out of a hat for TV Performer of the Week, and it would be more than well-earned. That’s not meant to be flippant, but rather to recognize that every single actor (in major and minor roles) has had an extraordinary turn on the show. Ray McKinnon’s Sundance series about a Georgia man, Daniel Holden, (Aden Young) who is released from Death Row after 19 years because of a DNA error is thoughtful, beautiful and difficult, and the Holden/Talbot family is made up of outstanding actors: J. Smith-Cameron, Bruce McKinnon, Abigail Spencer, Clayne Crawford, and Adelaide Clemens (with special mention to Sean Bridgers as Trey Willis). But there’s something about Crawford’s performance in this third season that has truly stood out even from this outstanding group.
The best word to associate with Rectify is “authentic.” Southerners have long been forced to watch too many terrible shows with terrible accents and tired (or just plain ignorant) stereotypes of small-town Southern life. But not only do the Holdens and Talbots feel knowable, but the (fictional) town of Paulie feels wholly familiar. Ray McKinnon’s scripts pick up a particular cadence of Southern speech, and the interactions he fashions — filled with repressed emotions and quiet glances — are hauntingly real.
No one in the cast embodies these elements though as fully as Clayne Crawford, who plays Teddy Jr., Daniel’s step-brother and occasional adversary. The two have had several encounters, including a haunting assault when Daniel choked him out and laid him unconscious on the floor of the tire store with coffee grounds in his behind. It was in that moment viewers really thought Daniel might have committed that crime so many years ago, and it was act that has resonated through three seasons now, and filtered through the family, shocking and confusing each in turn. Teddy and Daniel have also tussled over Daniel’s attraction to Teddy’s wife Tawney (Clemens), and worse for Teddy, her attraction back.