May 26, 2011 / Filmwell
Kenji Koiso has his summer vacation all planned out: he and his friend Sakuma have …
June 23, 2014
Daniel Holden has been on a Georgia death row for the rape and murder of his girlfriend for 19 years and has been released following new DNA evidence. Newly loose upon the world, he is distant, vague, as motivationally inscrutable as a Flannery O’Connor anti-hero. His fiercely loyal sister and parents are getting used to having him back around. At times, he feels like a new piece of furniture in the house. The rest of the town is apprehensive as the details regarding his release feel sketchy.
Season 1 of Rectify played on Sundance last year, and a new season has recently begun. If this season is anything like the last, Seitz’ suggestion that the show is “truly Christian art“ will only become clearer. Season 1 casts Daniel as an exile, his return fraught with the anxieties of Jacob returning to the anger of his brother Esau or the prodigal son to a jilted father. Much of the town, like the older brother in that parable of Jesus, reserves judgment for Daniel. Law vs. grace. These are the two basic components of any Christian narrative, the competing threads that bind together the tangle of stories we call the Bible. And they are present in Rectify at the most elemental level.
We find in the first season a show that plays with the possibility of legitimately judging Daniel and the possibility that his release may rectify a wrong performed by the courts so many years ago. We often use law and grace as the simple lenses through which we divide people into categories, but Rectify openly wonders if that is possible. As the short stories of Flannery O’Connor also suggest, life is much messier than that. We have all experienced the bone-deep chill of the Law. Hopefully, we have experienced the sweetness of grace. But O’Connor’s work, such as in the story Parker’s Back or A Good Man is Hard to Find, often teases out a deeper nihilism present in the human experience that contorts these categories beyond recognition.
Such is the theological vibe of much Southern Gothic, which is certainly the category in which Rectify falls. In a wash of visions, baptisms, earthy Christian epithet, and small town civil religion, the show has become something well worth tackling.
We will, in some fashion, be following this season and its curious theological universe on Filmwell. Stay tuned.