Rectify Season 2 Premiere Review: Wake Up, Partner

By Tim Surette

Jun 20, 2014

Rectify S02E01: "Running With the Bull"

Most of the elements that made SundanceTV's Rectify one of the best series of 2013 remain in place in Season 2. In fact, really the only thing that's changed is the swap-out of Season 1's excellent licensed music that I'd always immediately download for an excellent original score that I will absolutely download; the acting is superb, the slow crawl of the story is riveting, and by the end of the Season 2 premiere, "Running With the Bull," I was a blubbering mess. (Only Rectify and Friday Night Lights are guaranteed to squeeze my eyeballs dry with each episode.)

I'm on the record as hating the TV trope where one character or hallucination tells another character who's in some unconscious state to "JUST WAKE UP!" But in the tender hands of Rectify, the struggle that played out in Daniel Holden's comatose mind was a thing of beauty. "Running With the Bull" opened with a trick: Kerwin was alive in Daniel's flashback, the authorities having "changed their minds" about sentencing him to death. But Kerwin's jail-cell door was left suspiciously open, and it soon became obvious that we'd entered Daniel's subconscious as he fought for his life. 

That was the main topic of the episode. After taking a beating from Bobby Dean and a gang of goons in the Season 1 finale, and spending the five previous episodes in Paulie, Georgia—where everyone wants to throw Daniel back into his 7x9—Daniel wondered whether he even wanted to continue on. It makes sense—and is incredibly depressing—that Daniel would mentally retreat to his life in jail and remember both the good (Kerwin) and the bad (his masturbating neighbor) while in a coma. Despite the travesties he experienced on the inside, it's a world he knows better than the land of the free. The world outside of prison rejected him, and the mind-as-a-prison metaphor is spot-on in this case.

So when Kerwin and Daniel were walking through Daniel's memory of the grove in the final scene of the episode, it was incredibly powerful stuff. Kerwin always believed that Daniel would get out, and was elated to hear that he did. One of the series most lovable and honest characters, Kerwin lived vicariously through the hope Daniel would be sprung, and even though he's dead and this version of him was imagined, he seemed more alive than ever. But the idea that Daniel wasn't sure whether he wanted to wake up from his coma—the idea that he might give up on this precious life he'd been gifted—didn't sit right with Kerwin. And he told Daniel as much in the most Kerwin way possible. 

"If you're lying in a coma and you just can't deal with it anymore and you're just too tired and you're ready to see what's on the other side, it's just not my place to tell you what to do, brother," Ghost Kerwin told Coma Daniel. "It's just not my place. But whatever you decide, I'll still love you, D. Always. Forever and always." 

God I LOVE Kerwin. This scene was a heart-punching, eye-wringing testament to the incredible friendship that Daniel and Kerwin shared on the inside, and Daniel felt it so hard that he too was crying. (Along with myself and probably many of you.) When Kerwin commented on how beautiful it was just to be outside and asked Daniel if, post-coma, he could visit this spot every day, this spot with its brown grass and leafless trees that were so gorgeous to a man who hadn't been able to see them in so long, and Daniel responded, "In theory," Kerwin killed us all with a bit of honest advice.

"I dont know, D. That's worth something. All I'm saying. All I'm saying. All I'm saying."

And that's when we knew that Daniel would wake up, against the wishes of 99 percent of Paulie, and that he'd do it for the love of his friend Kerwin, who helped him see the miracle in life. All I'm saying.


– I hope Abigail Spencer gets an Emmy nod next year (I believe she will be ineligible this year) for her role as Amantha. She's great. 

– Seeing Bobby return to his mom's house and then his mom grinning and telling Bobby she loves him after the news report that Daniel was severely beaten made me want to strangle the bitch. What a horrible person. I'LL GET YOU, LADY!

– Senator Foulkes is a great villain. He's got all the right motivation and he says things like, "Nothing like a well-timed drool." 

– It's almost time to start feeling bad about Teddy Jr. The poor guy is a mess since getting his coffee enema from Daniel. But come on, Teddy, some people LOVE THAT.

– Do you think Teddy was thinking about smashing the ceramic mechanic over Daniel's unconscious face? 

– Do you think Janet was warning Tawney about falling in love with Daniel when she was telling Tawney how much Teddy loved her? I think she was. 

– I <3 Melvin and his turtles.

– I guess a chunk of the season will be about finding Daniel's attacker, but it shouldn't be too difficult, should it? It seems like Carl knows Bobby did it already. 

– So like, jail is limbo, right? And now that Daniel is "free," he has to find his path to Heaven (through Tawney?) or Hell (like his visit from the Goatman?)?

  • Comments (28)
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  • efonsecajr Aug 20, 2014

    Just caught up with season 2. Every scene with Kerwin is fantastic.
    Totally agree that Amantha is fantastic.

  • CosmoCramer1 Jul 28, 2014

    Guilty - I cried again just reading this review.

    Yes, I think Teddy was in deed about to do something unsavory with the ceramic mechanic, it looked like he was gripping it so hard the head would pop off. I think he also was also saying a prayer for Daniel to simply never wake up. He's a character you don't want to dislike, but, as his stepmother said, he's not very "polished. You know what, he's a true "Salesman", all the charm to achieve his personal goals, everyone else is a rung in his ladder, and no substance past his ambition.

    Oh Kerwin. If only all prisoners were able to rehabilitate as he did.

    I have a question though, how is it that Kerwin is in after Creepy McCrepeerson nextdoor and yet his "date" is sooner? Dare I say a black man got an earlier timeslot...? Because surely King Creepy isn't getting any stays on his execution date? As an Aussie, I don't know a lot about Death Row except from what I see in American shows. I wonder.

  • sofia2173 Jun 26, 2014

    Did I cry? Well lets see, the first shot was of Daniel lying in bed next to an empty cell.
    Yes I did. I cried almost through the whole episode, like I did the last 6 episodes.
    This is absolutely my favourite show ever. So glad it's back with more episodes.

  • CosmoCramer1 Jul 28, 2014

    same, same and same. And I find my tears come from such a deep sadness and in particular, loneliness. I feel so lonely along with him, which sounds like an oxymoron I suppose.

    Such a wonderful show, I've just marathoned the whole thing and now have to wait week to week. It's one of those shows I feel every human should watch, just to glimpse a life we can be thankful we don't have to live for ourselves.

  • WindUpRobot Jun 25, 2014

    tim, just circling around the site after a while away, and happy to see this reviewed. i cannot help but notice that all the people who seem to hate you are no where to be found here. guess there's no accounting for popular taste andor cable packages.

  • LadyJaye13 Jul 01, 2014

    I'm here and I am completely not a Tim fan. I enjoy this show as much as it pains me to agree with Tim. I said it last season too :)

  • nic656 Jun 25, 2014

    I adore this show. My only wish is for more people to know about it. It seems like a tragedy that a show this good, this brilliant, isn't being talked about more (thank you Tim for singing its praises).

  • ABCRobbieB Jun 24, 2014

    It's slow paced and not much happens, but it's compelling viewing.

    It seems like Carl knows Bobby did it already.
    Who's Carl?

  • WindUpRobot Jun 25, 2014

    carl's the sheriff

  • kareenpierre1 Jun 24, 2014

    About your survey...I didn't cry but I sure loved and was touched by that scene. The whole show is the opposite of flashy.

    I don't get the hype around things like True Blood...even if it is its last season. By comparison, Rectify is underrated even among the miniseries (among Fargo, True Detective, etc.). It's not a guns a-blazing show but it is powerful nonetheless.

  • Ian281099 Jun 24, 2014

    I was gonna wait until season 2 appeared on Netflix, but I just found out that they're releasing it weeklyon Netflix Canada.

  • dref22 Jun 23, 2014

    And to think I wasn't going to watch this show...Shame on me!

  • umacaiado Jun 21, 2014

    what do you say to Daniel? `you will suffer`? suffering does make his friendship with Kerwin, and the bond between him and the beautiful little she-statue, so much more precious. speaking of beautiful things, how great it is to be loved by such great women? Amantha, Tawney... Hanna too! his super sweet friend from high school, who gives him a super special & sweet hair cut :) he is lucky that way. ( not so sure about the `mom` though )

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