Rectify creator Ray McKinnon had a seed of an idea: “I was just interested in the life of a man who’s been in a box primarily for the last twenty years, for twenty-four hours a day and then what it would be like to be let out in the big wide world.”
Meet Daniel Holden… whose home has been death row for the past 19 years. Incarcerated at the age of eighteen, for the rape and murder of his teen girlfriend, Daniel has spent more time behind locked doors than he has years on this planet.
Rectify’s freshman season began after new evidence has led to Daniel’s sentence being vacated. He’s about to walk out of prison.
Season one. Six episodes. Six days in the life of a freed man.
He prepares to leave the cemented fortress by shedding his prison scruffs for a new suit. Simple kindnesses: a guard turning his back to allow him a bit of privacy while undressing, the offer of a beverage—with ice—to quench his thirst… all is new territory.
With hardly enough time to “get his mind right,” and with tumbler of Coca-Cola in-hand, Daniel is greeted by family: Amantha, his fierce, feisty sister, has dedicated her life working toward this exact moment; Janet, his mother, a rice-paper skinned southern woman who, remarried, spends her time mothering her “new” family; Ted Talbot, Sr., his stepfather, a kind-hearted, hardworking man who stepped in and took on the family business; Ted, Jr., his stepbrother, who doesn’t seem much different in temperament than many of the inmates Daniel’s been surrounded by and Tawny, Ted, Jr.’s wife, who, embodied with a refreshing innocence, is steeped in a deeply held devotion to her faith.
Daniel’s facial expression, which we will come to know so well over the course of the next six days, is open and full and rests on the shoulders of wonder, confusion, gratefulness and something else, too, unnamed, unclaimed and deep. Perhaps an inner awareness…? Whatever it is, it leaves us in a state as unsettled as Daniel’s appear to be. We wonder: what is this young man feeling and thinking? What is he hiding? Something. We can sense it. We question: what sort of man is he really and what happened the night his girlfriend died?
If ever there was a stranger in a strange land… it would be this man. His transitions (for there will be more than a few) into a life he barely remembers has just begun. Later that evening, Amantha takes him for a ride and they drive all night long into the dawn of a new day.
Welcome Home Daniel…. Day One.
Rectify Season 2 premieres Thursday, June 19th at 9pm. (Photo by Blake Tyers – Courtesy of Sundance TV)