Rectify – Season 1

My edit of two screencaps of chapter 6

I don’t know if Ray McKinnon has this in mind when writing Rectify, but the story of its main character, Daniel Holden, is already written in his name. Holden as the protagonist of J.D.Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye”, icon of the rebel teenager for generations, and Daniel, the prophet who was held prisoner in Babylon, interpreter of dreams and wise judge.

Daniel Holden was accused when he was eighteen of the rape and murder of a girl. After twenty years in the death row, and five postponements of his execution, he’s set free following the re-examination of the DNA traces in the victim’s body. When Daniel leaves the prison, he’s a teenager locked in the body of an adult man. Twenty years of his life have been stolen from him; during all those years kept in that white limbo of the death-row, he could do little, but reading. Books are very important both for Daniel and also in the show. Deprived as he’s been of any experience, he can rely only on books when the time come to live again outside the prison; he talks little, and when he does, to the eyes of the others he is a kind of freak.

Daniel (Aden Young) reading in prison

During Daniel’s journey back to be human again, two women play a very important part. His sister, and his sister-in-law, Tawney. To thank her for his support, he couldn’t but compare her with something that he has read in a book.


This show has had an emotional effect on me; I felt completely attracted to the story and the characters from the very beginning. It is written in a superb way, mixing the return of Daniel to real life with flashbacks of his years in prision. We learn also more about what could have happened that night, there’s a sense oppression and foretelling of upcoming disaster, as Daniel does not leave his small town in Georgia. We learn in every chapter who’s with him and who’s against.

In my opinion Americans have an unequalled talent to tell stories that deal with human relationships in small communities, as in Olive Kitteridge or August: Osage County, following a great writing tradition, Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Arthur Miller.


Australian actor Aden Young makes a sublime work. He renders to perfection Daniel’s anguish, the complicated process of reconstructing his self outside the prison, offering the viewers a glimpse the hell that that man has lived for 20 years deprived of his life and his humanity.

Abigail Spencer plays Amantha, Daniel’s sister.

Rectify is a rollercoaster of emotions. Every chapter is full of surprises and dramatic turnovers. A show that makes the viewer cry, but also laugh. The series is broadcasted by Sundance TV channel, and the third season will be aired next July.


7 thoughts on “Rectify – Season 1

    1. Daniel’s readings are very important in the show. In the first season he talks about Somerset Maugham, Flannery O’Connor, Plato, Dante and Thomas Aquinas. But his reading are evident more as a way of speaking than precise references. The show is more about his process of regaining his humanity but also the story of his family and of the crime he was accused of.

      1. Such a nightmare. It always bothers me that people in the US seem willing to accept the injustice of false imprisonments and verdicts because they think aggressive prosecutors help to catch the real villains. I would rather see many guilty people go free than one innocent man wrongly imprisoned for life–or as happens here–executed.

      2. One of the reasons this show has touched me so deeply is due to my feelings towards death penalty. I’ve always been against it, since I was a kid. It’s something that disgusts me. A friend of mine has found in internet the first script of the pilot chapter, and I’ve made an edition, mixing the a screenshot of the show with what Joel McKinnon wrote about Daniel’s character in the script. I won’t desire that endless waiting for the guilty, not to talk about an innocent man.

      3. Thanks for the link. I agree with you. It’s a very frustrating aspect of the US that we have this collective inability to see the barbarity of such a custom.

      4. “As The Vengeance descends from her elevation to do it, the tumbrils begin to discharge their lads. The ministers of Sainte Guillotine are robed and ready. Crash! — A head is held up, and the knitting-women who scarcely lifted their eyes to look at it a moment ago when it could think and speak, count One.
        The second tumbril empties and moves on; the third comes up. Crash!- — And the knitting-women, never faltering or pausing in their Work, count Two.
        The murmuring of many voices, the upturning of many faces, the pressing on of many footsteps in the outskirts of the crowd, so that it swell forward in a mass, like one great heave of water, all flashes away. Twenty-Three”

        Charles Dickens – “A Tale of Two Cities”

      5. Yes, I believe that one reason we still have the death penalty is the desire of the mob. But I don’t really understand the political forces behind it.

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