Rectify, Season 3, Episode 1 “Hoorah”
Written by Ray McKinnon
Directed by Stephen Gylenhall
Airs Thursdays at 10pm ET on Sundance
“All good things must come to a fawrfhrad.” – Senator Roland Foulkes
What the honorable Senator was trying to say was “All good things must come to an end”, in reference to the casual affair he once had with Marcy, waitress at the local Paulie diner. And it’s an important sentiment; as season three of Rectify begins, each and every character finds themselves at a crossroads in life, something visually depicted when Tawney observes two perpendicular traffic lights while sitting in a motel parking lot. Of course, not all of these ‘things’ are actually ‘good’ – but to borrow again from Senator I Don’t Give A Foulkes, “life is always perilous; it’s what gives it the spice.”
With Daniel’s confession neatly on the official Paulie books, Rectify‘s third season premiere “Hoorah” is a cyclical progression through the same story, bringing each character to the same philosophic intersections, contemplating how things once were and being afraid of what may be to come. “Hoorah” wastes no time establishing the central theme, either, crushing one of the big cliffhangers from last season’s finale, “Unhinged”; Ted can’t press charges against Daniel for the tire store, a factoid prefaced by a hilariously monologue from Carl about persistence, demonstrated by him smashing up against a vending machine to shake a Snickers loose. For the rest of the episode, “Hoorah” extrapolates on this image of the lodged candy bar with each character, weaving the various internal struggles of the Talbot/Holden family in the process.
Creator Ray McKinnon’s script never loses sight of any of these characters, able to fill the hour with a large number of stories and characters without forgetting for a few of its signature pauses, like when Daniel talks about reading a book in the park, “under the sun and the big blue sky… it’s almost too much.” Though the cadence of scenes are much quicker than the average Rectify episode, McKinnon’s nuanced writing (Miss Kathy is becoming an unseen legend at this point) and the award-worthy performances across the main cast find the show’s natural rhythm in the most important moments. Just look at what an actor like Luke Kirby can do with a line like “I implored him to… right to the very end”, or how powerful it is when Daniel realizes his mother was talking about taking Ted Jr. to Willy Dee’s BBQ when he was a child, and not him; as always, Rectify lives in the smallest of moments, even when dispatching a healthy amount of plot details, or pausing for slightly elevated dramatics like Roland and Shondra’s muted shit-throwing contest.
These collage of smaller moments help define the larger stories and themes of the episode, as characters pick up the pieces of their lives in the shadow of Daniel’s confession (and you know, because “life happens”, according to Amantha’s bos), and search for a way to move forward in the unknown. Given the name of the show’s title, this is obviously no small task; in order to be right with the world, we always have to reconcile with ourselves first, something Daniel, Amantha, Jon, and others are trying to come to terms with, each in their own way. For all intents and purposes, season two ended with a series of grand failures, allowing “Hoorah” to explore characters examining the dismantled pieces of their lives like the Holden’s unfinished kitchen, reminding us there’s still a long way to go between here and inner peace, as characters struggle against the boundaries of their own identity: Janet and losing her children might be the strongest thread in this particular hour, but there are a number of other scenes where this exploration comes to life (like Daniel’s awkward conversation in the park with the mother playing with her child), including Amantha’s search for purpose in life (Thrifty Town career?) or how comfortable Shondra is with her own legacy as D.A., when it includes destroying the reputation of an entire family, and banishing their oldest son from their home.
However, the most promising sign in “Hoorah” aren’t the thematic parallels or the plot subversion; instead, it’s the return to deeply contemplative material that brings Rectify back to life in an instant, the tambor of the episode more aligned with a season one episode, than one from the extended, ten-episode second season. Even with a heightened attention to plot, “Hoorah” retains its ultra-sharp focus on the soul of its characters, using Daniel and others to channel conversations about faith and philosophy, with the added existential bent of trying to find a life purpose, when one’s path suddenly loses focus. Unsurprisingly, it makes for yet another poignant entry in Rectify‘s catalog, and yet another feather in the cap of America’s most underrated television show. – Randy
– in a particularly chilling flashback, Daniel remembers having a conversation with himself while sitting on death row for the third time, joking with himself about “how close they keep getting” to being able to finally “let go” of it all.
– Remember when Janet told Ted Jr. to call her ‘Janet’ when Daniel was coming on (way back in the show’s pilot)? That moment pays off beautifully, when Janet arrives at his house and immediately regrets telling him to call her that.
– Jared is growing up way too fast for Rectify‘s timeline, but it’s an easy suspension of belief, only giving more room for performance and character to mature.
– Daniel has 30 days until he leaves town; will Rectify spend the next two seasons detailing that month (using the shorter season like the first, and only depicting a week or two of time), or will this season end with Daniel leaving Paulie?
– Amantha makes, in no uncertain terms, that she can’t be Daniel’s guiding light anymore, even when he moves into her apartment for his last month in town.
– Amantha: “I drank a whole bottle of wine waiting for you to knock on the door.” Daniel: “How productive.”
– “Hoorah” ends with Roland having a stroke; what this has to do with Daniel’s future is unclear, but it seems karma has reached the door of the giggly politician.
– Daggett aligns himself with Shondra, letting her know he won’t be reporting to Roland any more, particularly about the recently-discovered corpse of George.
– Tawney considers marriage therapy (from a Christian therapist, of course): watching her heart sink when Ted Jr. becomes cold to the idea is yet another example of how Adelaide Clemens brings her character to life.