19 years. A lot changes in 19 years. Video stores open and close. Towns grown and shrink. Life moves on. For Daniel Holden (Aden Young) nothing changed while he was on death row.
Being found guilty as a teenager for murdering his 16 year old girlfriend Hanna, Daniel went away and was never expected to see much of life again. His lawyer got old and sick, his family and community moved on. His younger sister Amantha (Abigail Spencer) never gave up. She always believed he didn’t do it. So with the help of Jon Stern (Luke Kirby), Daniel’s new lawyer, they are able to get Daniel freed as new DNA evidence proved Daniel didn’t do it.
Set in Paulie, Georgia, Rectify is a gothic tale set against a steamy Southern backdrop where faith is central, everyone has a secret, and redemption is hard to find.
Trying to settle back into a free life is difficult for Daniel. His father died while inside and his mother Janet (J. Smith-Cameron) remarried. His stepfather Ted (Bruce McKinnon) has taken over the family tyre business and employed his son Ted Jr (Clayne Crawford). The Sheriff (Carl Daggett) is, like many within the community, sceptical as to Daniel’s innocence as the release is seen as a technicality. The local state Senator Roland Foulkes (Michael O’Neill) is hell-bent on getting as much political mileage out of Daniel being released as possible (and not because he supports his innocence). Ted Jr’s wife Tawney (Adelaide Clemens) is strangely drawn to Daniel though happily married and deeply religious.
It’s slow burn sweaty drama, dripping with intrigue and murkier than the dark created by the kudzu vines that lock up the local forest. Young delivers Daniel as an innocent yet middle-aged man initially unaware of the realities around him but woken from his oblivion as it becomes clear everyone around him isn’t coping either. Spencer is great, as is O’Neill as the centre of the town’s distrust of the returned Holden.
Daniel finds solace in the things most familiar to him – his old Sega system, his cassettes, his home. The pain of separation surfaces clearly for everyone. Nobody wins. It’s only his much younger half-brother Jared (Jake Austin Walker) that reaches out to him and encourages him to step beyond Daniel’s personal cell. Daniel’s pain is all too prevalent has he struggles with the charges he confessed to that… it would seem… he didn’t do.
Rectify is compelling drama filled with mesmerising performances. Do not miss it.
Rectify (S01, 6 eps) – Thu 9:30pm, SBS one.