Roush Review: Rectify's Final Season of Quietly Powerful Drama

Matt Roush
Rectify
James Minchin/Sundance TV

Leave it to Daniel Holden (Aden Young), the profoundly pensive ex-Death Row convict who’s exiled from family and home, to quote from No Exit (“Hell is other people”) in a conversation with his halfway-house counselor, who responds: “Damn, you weren’t into escapist fare, were you?”

Rectify, now entering its fourth and final season, is the opposite of escapism. This quietly devastating drama of redemption and reconciliation is, however, emotionally immersive, anchored by Young’s powerful portrayal of haunted loneliness and anguished decency. Having decamped to Nashville after taking a plea deal (despite still believing in his innocence), which banishes him from his Georgia home town, Daniel breaks one’s heart with his gentle, broken demeanor, as this survivor of too many years in solitary is forced to admit, “I’m just not comfortable being around people.” But oh, how he’s trying.

RELATED: As Rectify Enters Its Final Season, Relive the Holdens' Journey (VIDEOS)

Creator Ray McKinnon’s genuine compassion for Daniel and those in his orbit, including his family back home in Paulie, GA (whose stories pick up in next week’s second episode), makes Rectify one of TV’s truest, finest and deepest dives into pure character drama. Though this languorous series mostly avoids melodrama, you can’t help wondering if Daniel will ever find peace, or possibly even justice, in these few remaining chapters.

Or maybe he’ll discover a new calling, as he stumbles into an art collective one day and is shaken and overcome by the very notion of creation in a world that seems consumed with self-destruction. He wonders aloud: “Aren’t you either an artist or not an artist?” There is great art in Rectify’s meaningful silences, and we can only observe in rapt admiration and empathy.

Rectify, Season premiere, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 10/9c, SundanceTV (first three seasons available on Netflix)