Rectify Review: "Modern Times" (Episode 1.03)
While Daniel Holden might now be free, much of the community has doubts about his innocence. The mother of Hannah, the girl he was accused of murdering, is calm in expressing her disappointment to a TV news reporter until she is asked if she believes Daniel to be guilty. Her calm immediately turns to rage. “He’s as guilty as there’s a hell waiting on him,” she shouts to the reporter before looking straight into the camera, angrily pleading, “Why ain’t you dead, Daniel Holden? Why ain’t you dead?”
Death is, however, on Daniel’s mind. As he lays naked in his room, blowing feathers from his pillow, he reflects on the moment he learned of his father’s death. Unsure and uneasy, he wanders through the empty house and takes a sentimental journey, discovering some of his old belongings in the attic. Unseen by Daniel, Amantha finds him hooked to his Sony Walkman, listening to 20-year-old mix tapes while blowing on a duck call and dancing in a pair of waders, just being what he was before imprisonment—a kid. But the joy leaves when he finds a tape made by his late girlfriend. In this, the third hour of the series, we still know little about the circumstances of her murder, just that Daniel was with her body when discovered. The script builds anticipation and suspense by leaving just enough crumbs of interest to keep our attention.
As Ted Jr. leaves on a business trip, it becomes obvious that there are some unspoken issues between him and Tawney. Later, Tawney drops an envelope off for Daniel and tells Amantha how much she admires her for what’s she’s done for her brother.
Jon Stern (Luke Kirby), the attorney whose work helped free Daniel, pays a visit to Daniel’s original lawyer Rutherford Gaines, played by the still-working, 88-year-old Hal Holbrook. Gaines’ strangely-worded recollections of the turmoil caused by Daniel’s trial give Stern pause, telling him “some of your people know, the older ones” and saying that Daniel was “a strange boy." Stern is then shocked to learn that all of the old lawyer’s case records were destroyed by his daughter, supposedly to relieve the pain they brought. “Watch yourself,” he cryptically tells Stern. It is clear he knows more, and Holbrook delivers a masterful performance.
Stern has his own secret, having a relationship with Amantha that ex-prosecutor and State Senator Foulkes soon learns about. The couple runs into Hannah’s younger brother at a bar. “You know he’s messed up,” says Amantha, visibly shaken. But for some insane reason she takes Stern to the site of the murders, where older teenagers would take younger teenagers to scare them with urban myths about Daniel and Hannah.
Daniel’s younger teenage brother Jared (Jake Austin Walker) begins to get harassing texts about Daniel, but in spite of that he treats his brother well, even inviting him to the skateboard park where Daniel loses himself as he rides a bike amidst the youths of the childhood he lost. But the tears don’t come until he’s alone in his room reliving memories through Nintendo.
In watching the show I can’t help but think of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, a different series for a different time but similar in its story of a young girl’s death and its impact on a small town. But while Twin Peaks had strange and unrealistic characters, Rectify gives us realistically ordinary people, some stranger than others.