Rectify, Season 3, Episode 6, “The Source”
Written by Ray McKinnon
Directed by Ray McKinnon
Airs Thursdays at 10pm ET on Sundance
The definitive image of Rectify‘s tremendous third season finale “The Source” comes almost as an afterthought; while walking to his mother’s car outside Amantha’s house, Daniel looks forward, put his arms in the air, and takes a leap off the sidewalk onto the asphalt of the parking lot. All throughout “The Source”, there are images of people moving forward, passing through doorways and windows as they move into the next phase of self-discovery in their lives; but that image of Daniel’s goofy jump off the edge is a powerful metaphor for every character on Rectify, pushing forward into uncertainty “the best way we know how”, trusting that the ones they love will still be there to guide them on the other side.
“The Source” is a very sweeping episode, gently moving from location to location, not unlike the waves Daniel lets crash over him in the ocean, while on his road trip with Janet. There’s movement to them, yes, and there’s certainly a sense of impact to some stories – Jon Stern running out of bubblegum and kicking ass, Daniel leaving, Trey getting arrested, Ted coming clean to his son; take your pick – but “The Source” lives mostly outside of the present, with characters coming to terms with the events of the past three seasons (or two decades), and looking forward into the uncertainly of the future. The latter cannot happen without the former, and this is why Trey ends up being arrested (for the murder of George, a crime we know he didn’t commit, no matter how logical Daggett’s arguments are): and for others like Jon and Janet, that healing is really only beginning.
The important part is that the kitchen is fixed: repaired by the surrogate son and father (but still maintaining Daniel’s stove, the true heart of any kitchen), the kitchen in the Holden home has represented the dismantling of the Holden family dynamic the past two seasons, as characters could no longer compartmentalize their complicated feelings for Daniel, having been let out of the federal death pantry he’d spent 18 years resting in. The kitchen is finished, which means the repairs are in progress: and slowly, we can see characters realizing that it’s time to move on, whether it’s something they’re looking forward to doing (Daniel) or not (Teddy, who remains the world’s most sympathetic asshole with his dejected exit from his home in this episode).
However, it doesn’t mean they’re quite ready to let go: for a moment, Rectify goes existential in exploring this idea, Tawney and Daniel meeting in the abstract, spiritual place the show’s ever depicted. Sitting on both sides of prison visiting room glass, Daniel and Tawney have another conversation about God, Daniel’s faith shining through where Tawney’s wanes for the first time in her life; searching for answers, she allows Daniel to reach through the glass (“sometimes it’s there, sometimes it isn’t”) and kiss her, then waking up alone in her bed. It is among the most haunting moments Rectify has ever produced, Daniel trying to convince Tawney that “God is a rain frog” as he tries to wash away her pain along with his – and it’s also an important moment in establishing the mental and emotional crossroads both characters are at, their crises (and reinforcements) of faith nearly mirroring those of two seasons ago, during Daniel’s first, more official baptism.
Paulie isn’t ready to forget, either: Trey’s arrest and Jon’s kickass take down of the disabled senator are reminders of how Hanna Dean’s death will never truly be laid to rest, with new evidence, another misguided arrest, and more lurid details of the investigation (and the man leading) give some unexpected plot mechanics for “The Source” to work with, smoothly integrating story threads for next season into an episode inherently designed to permanently fracture the reality it has lived in for two seasons. Knowing there will be a season four, it makes sense for these moments to be there – what’s impressive is how they naturally they flow in with the very dissonant thematic material happening elsewhere, a tale of irony and dark justice among the moments of hesitant optimism spread elsewhere around Paulie, and the highways Janet and Daniel cruise (in the left lane, of course).
“The Source” is a culmination of the surgical character work at play during the six episodes of this season: while its not as wandering and existential as it once was (as much as I love moments like Daniel playing catch with a little boy, those kind of philosophic moments are not as commonplace or explicit as they once were), Rectify‘s attention to character, and refusal to walk away from the inherent complexities of every day life, remains as powerful and genre-bending as it ever was. With all that working in its favor, “The Source” is like an extremely humble 52-minute victory lap: while its not all smiling faces and beautiful, happy moments, the heartwarming optimism buried deep within the subtle shadows and gentle waves of Rectify‘s finale are yet another reminder of why it’s the most cathartic, soulful show on television.
– “Is this a shitty view?”
– Jon. Fucking. Stern. Jon FUCKING Stern.
– Daniel is not anticipating his “first Google”. I personally cannot wait to see it.
– When Daniel offers Jon a handshake, he says “No way” and gives him a big hug and kiss on the cheek. Best moment in a handful of great moments in this finale.
– “And I didn’t even get any kettle corn.” Sorry, Trey.
– “I hope your house has termites.”
– Our last image of Amantha, Teddy, and Jared this season are them sitting around a table, eating Chinese food and playing gin rummy. That alone is enough to make anyone smile; seeing the figurine Daniel stole from the store getting back to its place is a nice added touch.
– Chris says “he’s not the same person” that he was back then. Well, no shit Sherlock.
– Fritter fight!
– Thanks for reading, everyone – see you in 2016 for season four (someone pinch me – I still can’t believe that’s a real thing!).