Daniel Holden has a monster inside of him. We’ve been vaguely aware of this fact since the infamous assault in last season’s Drip Drip, and it has hovered over him like a dark, mystifying fog ever since. After all, do we really know Daniel Holden, the man?
At times he is enigmatic, at others he is simply cold or off-putting, and beyond his traumatic nineteen years under confinement, he strikes one as a profoundly strange individual. I have often wondered whether actor Aiden Young’s mumbling, catatonic interpretation has erred too much on the side of weird, rather than letting the writing do its work and finding a more sympathetic side to his character. I’ve tried to imagine what another Daniel Holden might look like – one who smiles every once in a while, who enunciates his words and looks his interlocutor in the eye as he speaks.
But matters of personal taste aside, the Daniel we’ve come to know over the past fourteen episode is not a man whose innocence we would jump to defend. We’ve followed his process of reintegration–or perhaps more appropriately, rehumanization–over the course of several weeks from a critical distance, at times drawing closer with a timid curiosity, but never truly empathizing with the man. It is a relationship that the writing staff has continued to exploit, as if nudging us every so often and asking, “What do you think–did he do it? And the truth is, we can’t say. We don’t know what Daniel Holden is really capable of.
From its very title, “Weird As You” brings all this into focus in a long, hallucinatory closing sequence that finds Daniel drunk and stoned out of his mind (yet again) in the trailer of his old friend George. Inhibitions thrown to the wind, he and Trey Willis speak candidly for the first time about the night of Hannah’s murder, and at last we learn that Daniel is in fact hiding nothing. He doesn’t remember that evening.
As each surmise about what may have happened, the ambiguity builds, questions pile up, things grow less and less certain. Suddenly, Daniel appears on the verge of accepting his guilt, but we ask: what about Trey’s strange behavior? His unexplained cover up of George’s suicide? Then Daniel explodes, slamming Trey violently into a wall, and we once again begin to question the depths of the darkness he carries within him. It is a maddening and masterfully executed head-game, and in the end we are left with no answers.
At this point in the season, Rectify feels nothing like the show we were watching five weeks ago. It was a show that seemed to be treading choppy waters, grasping desperately for something solid to latch onto. The focus was confused, the characters were stagnant, and it felt as though the writers simply hadn’t seen a second season coming.
Now, as the season two finale draws ever nearer, the writers have apparently rediscovered a classic dramatic tool known as plot. It is no exaggeration when I say I spent the majority of this episode nearly sick to my stomach with anticipation. Every scene brought new questions, every character found new epiphanies, and it felt as if at any moment something could go terribly wrong. Jim Mckay’s direction is crisp and atmospheric, accompanied by an elegant, mournful score featuring a solitary viola, while the wonderfully colloquial dialogue from the hands of Chad Feehan seemingly breaths new life into the actors, allowing them to explore undiscovered dimensions of their characters.
Indeed, with three episodes left in what may or may not be the show’s last season, Rectify is in high gear and is not going out with a whimper.