Rectify, Ep. 3.05, “The Future”

Rectify Season 3, Episode 5 “The Future”
Written by Ray McKinnon & Kate Powers
Directed by Nicole Kassell
Airs Thursdays at 10pm ET on Sundance

Hope is a weird thing, particularly on Rectify – as an intelligent commenter posited last week, it can even be hard to see the hope in Rectify, in either its lightest or darkest moments. But there’s an argument to be made that “The Future” is the most hopeful episode the show’s ever produced. Rather than exist in the abstractions of salvation Daniel and Tawney talk about early in the show’s run, “The Future” presents the idea of forward progress in very tangible, defined ways: Daniel is not a suspect in the investigation around George’s death, and Janet makes some important steps to heal the relationship between her and the men she loves (even Lester, her deceased first husband) .Even on the most abstract of levels, “The Future” appears to be looking forward to the promise of the future, its uncertainties offering comfort rather than stress – at least in the case of Daniel, that is.

Rectify is a show of many ideas and pontifications; one of those is exploring the duality of life, and the irony that can achieve. Trey’s story is a perfect counter to this: while Daniel is being pushed forward into a new life (sometimes, in less than desirable ways: Amantha’s fellow tenants have Daniel booted from her apartment), Trey is getting sucked back into old ones, “The Future” positing that he may end up repeating the cycle of history by being arrested for a murder he didn’t commit. Along with Tawney/Teddy’s material in this episode, Trey’s bad day helps establish the dual tone of the episode, wonderfully constructed counterparts to the healing happening around the rest of the Holden family in the rest of the hour.

The parallels “The Future” draws between Trey and Daniel are the real meat of the episode; watching Daggett’s honorable, wrongheaded work has given Rectify a new energy this season, unpacking the sherriff as a much more respectable, empathetic character as we watch his understanding of Daniel Holden (informed by the powerful deposition in last season’s finale) evolve. Their conversation in his office is a great signifier of this, Daggett no longer becoming stupefied or frustrated with Daniel’s odd way of answering questions (“I was laughing at the joke in my head,” Daniel tells him at one point), one character who finally understands the “raw deal” Janet was talking about, and realizes that Daniel’s so lost at this point, he’s lucky to be giving straight answers to his questions. It’s easy to hate Trey with all his smugness and obvious guilt – by the same token, it’s been easy to enjoy Daggett’s presence more and more throughout the season, as his detecting skills (which are kind of on point, as seen when he breaks down the general framework of Trey’s thought process the last twenty years) and levelheaded approach to investigating this season. His characterization has been an underrated facet of the last two seasons: “The Future” is the culmination of that work, both in the development of his relationship with Daniel, and how his friendship with Trey has slowly fallen apart as Daggett puts him under more and more scrutiny.

Elsewhere, this episode is really heavy on Janet talking with the men in her family, visiting Lester’s favorite diner (and meeting Marcy in the process) before heading home to fortify the home front. J. Smith Cameron is always a scene stealer, but she’s something else in this episode: the compassion she shows for Jared and Teddy’s feelings, the strength she conjures to decide to forgive Daniel and help him get his life together…. all of these moments are just reminders of why Janet’s such an amazing character, in part due to the fantastic acting informing it. In an episode mostly concerned with Daniel’s interrogation and Tawney’s emotional struggles (she’s at her foster mother’s home, giving us a little insight into her upbringing, and current emotional state when she tells Teddy she doesn’t want to go back to the house), Janet’s presence gives “The Future” a heartbeat, forming an otherwise busy, fairly boilerplate episode of serialized drama into something much more compelling.

And Janet’s story is arguably the most important in this hour: “The Future” is all about looking forward to the moment when everything may feel normal again. It’s something everyone wishes for, which naturally leads them to two different emotions: hope and excitement for the day it arrives, or utter despair that moment may never come, and we’re locked into the emotions and regrets we have. Those living in the former, like Teddy and Trey, find themselves on the short end of the stick: those willing to evolve and forgive themselves, like Janet and Daniel, take major steps forward with their lives, taking control of their uncertain futures by refusing to sit steadfast. Are they running away when they plan to take one more trip to the ocean together? Maybe they are – and maybe that’s the most hopeful part of “The Future”, the suggestion that Daniel is free enough that he can go see the ocean again, and marvel at its infinite possibilities.

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