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Rectify “Always There” and “Sexual Peeling” 

Photo Credit: Sundance Channel
Photo Credit: Sundance Channel

Not that we’d want it, but after watching the Rectify premiere I feel like we’ve gotten a peek into how it is to exist (because it’s not really living, is it?) as an inmate on Death Row. It can be lonely, scary and confusing with rare moments of camaraderie and friendship. And we’re also finding out how that kind of experience during Daniel Holden’s formative years shaped him into a very interior, strange man. He makes people very uncomfortable, but he’s also clearly struggling to connect. I’d call this show slow-paced, but not in a bad way. It gives you time to think, time to reflect, time to soak it all in. I haven’t watched a show like this in a while, and I’m really appreciating the experience so far.

Photo Credit: Sundance Channel
Photo Credit: Sundance Channel

“Always There”

As we see Daniel Holden prepare to leave prison, there is a stark contrast in how he’s treated compared to an incoming prisoner. It makes sense, but it’s such an interesting juxtaposition. While one man is literally stripped of everything – his clothes, his freedom, and perhaps even his dignity – Holden has those things restored, in a sense. Daniel’s given privacy when he changes out of his prison clothes, he’s asked if he’d like anything while he waits to be processed out and the guard even ties his tie for him. We can see his utter surprise at these concessions, but his reaction makes sense considering he’s been living on Death Row for the past nineteen years.

Daniel’s never even met his step-brother Ted Jr., but Ted’s surprised to be meeting him at all considering everyone thought Daniel would be dead by now. At the press conference, former prosecutor – and now Senator – Roland Foulkes reminds the crowd the Daniel confessed to the rape of murder of Hannah, his high-school girlfriend. Just because the DNA evidence helped vacate his sentence does not mean he’s been exonerated or that he’s no longer a suspect in this crime.

The moment the family sees Daniel again – this time a free man after so many years – it’s tense and also very emotional. Amantha is the first to greet her brother with a hug. Then when his mother hugs him, I think we really start to feel the emotional toll this has taken on her as well as the rest of the family.

When Daniel’s lawyer Jon starts their portion of the press conference, Daniel’s speech is very…odd. It’s clear he’s not used to speaking in front of a crowd – or maybe even to one person – for very long. He makes a joke that the reporters either don’t seem to get or don’t want to acknowledge. This is a pretty serious event, so perhaps it isn’t the best time for levity. Jon urges him to make his thank-yous and wrap it up.

Daniel’s Time in Prison

I like that we’ll be seeing flashbacks of Daniel’s time in prison. Well, maybe like is too strong but those glimpses into that world will help us better understand why Daniel is the person he is now. Even though the inmates were kept in their own individual cells with a tiny window out into the hall there were still conversations, interactions, etc. Daniel could hear what was going on in the cells on either side of him, but not the outside world.

Law Enforcement

They’re definitely hiding something. They kept certain details out of the public record, because apparently they wanted to protect Hannah’s reputation all those years ago. Not all of them are convinced Daniel is guilty, but Foulkes thinks he did it. He reminds them that Daniel was found next to Hannah’s corpse, speaking gibberish and saying how sorry he was.

Ted Jr. Isn’t Happy Daniel’s Out

He’s more worried about losing business and maybe even his job than he is about making Daniel feel welcome and helping him adjust now that he’s out of prison. I understand that Ted Jr. just wants to ensure his financial future. But does have to do it this way? I’m not a fan.

George and Trey’s Secret Meeting

Now that Daniel’s out of prison, his (former) friends and (former) suspects wonder if each other are responsible for killing Hannah. Trey says the only thing that makes sense to him is that Daniel killed her. But George wants to know the truth. He’s got to know something – or maybe he feels guilty to sending Daniel to jail for all those years – because  his need to end his life outweighs his need to know what really happened that day.

Jon Does His Due Diligence

He warns Amantha that there are a lot of ways for the new team of prosecutors to convince a grand jury that Daniel committed this crime. He’ll be coming down to speak to Rutherford Gaines, who was Daniel’s lawyer the first time around. Gaines has pancreatic cancer and Jon needs to get as much information out of him as he can before he doesn’t have a chance to.

Photo Credit: Sundance Channel
Photo Credit: Sundance Channel

“Sexual Peeling”

Tawney and Ted Jr. seem like such a mismatched pair. She seems very devout and almost innocent in the ways of life, while he’s stupid and crass – by his own admission. I can’t imagine Ted Jr. being any other way than he is now, so I wonder what she saw in him when they first got together. In any case, Ted Jr. remarks on the fact that they haven’t had sex since Daniel got out of prison. And even though Tawney clearly has no current interest in sex with him, she gives in to her husband’s needs. And I have a feeling she does that all the time.

Ted Jr.’s On His Own Side

Even though all his family wants Ted Jr. to be on Daniel’s side, he’s clearly only thinking about himself. He takes Daniel to lunch in Mansfield, because he thinks there will be too many eyes on them in town. But it’s not until they get to the golf course that things get really uncomfortable for Ted Jr. when he asks about conjugal visits on Death Row. Daniel then proceeds to tell him a really disturbing tale of rape and intimidation. If it seemed like the new inmates were adjusting ok, the veterans would “initiate” them into prison life. Just the way Daniel describes it, makes Ted Jr. think Daniel killed Hannah.


I love the strained, tense dynamic going on between Amantha and her mother. While Janet doesn’t seem the least bit concerned about Daniel going out on his own, Amantha informs her mother that people want to see Daniel dead for what they think he did. There are those in their town who will try to kill him if they think they can get away with it. She recruits Jon to track down her brother, and then feels like a stalker when they find him. He just seems to be enjoying being free and being able to go where he wants and do what he wants.

Sexual Liaisons

Jon and Amantha used to have a thing that they’re trying to cool down. Well, Jon is. It doesn’t help that Amantha needs a little physical comfort after recent events and even though Jon’s trying to resist, it quickly turns into something else. They stop when one of Jon’s hotel neighbors spies their activities through an open window. Senator Foulkes can’t seem to keep it in his pants either. He’s been having an affair with diner waitress Marcy, who gives him the Intel on Jon and Amantha. I hope that information doesn’t come back to hurt Daniel, but I have a feeling it will.

The Tawney Factor

Tawney is the only one in the family who talks to Daniel like he’s a normal person. Most of the things Daniel thinks about aren’t from life experience, they’re from books. But he doesn’t feel sorry for himself even though he probably thinks he comes across that way. Because Daniel couldn’t sense things in a normal way in prison, he says he didn’t miss them. She asks what was real to him there. He says, “the time in between the seconds” and his books and his friend. Ted thinks Tawney has a convict crush on Daniel. And there’s definitely something there because those two are connecting on a whole different level.

Rectify airs Mondays at 10/9c on Sundance Channel.

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