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Release And Freedom Aren't The Same Thing

A Star is Born
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Rectify: Season 2


The Sundance Channel has taken some vital steps forward into original programming with The Writer's Room and last year's Emmy and Golden Globe winning miniseries Top of the Lake. But in their first venture into an original series, Ray McKinnon's Rectify, now in the middle of it's second season, they've ventured into their boldest territory yet.
Twenty years ago, Daniel Holden was wrongly convicted of first-degree murder in a Paulie, Georgia and sentenced to death row. After spending more of his life on death row than he did free, his verdict was set aside, and he has been released pending a new trial. His family may be and those involved in the appeal may be the only the people in the entire town who are glad that he is free, and their degree of happiness is decidedly mixed. Amantha, his younger sister (a dark performance by Abigail Spencer) is a vessel of rage against the system, the town, and her own frustrations. She has begun a relationship with Jon Stern, a man with The Innocence Project who was crucial in seeing Daniel's sentence overturned. His mother (J. Smith-Cameron) has been trying to be compassionate and loving--- a hard sell since her first husband died while Daniel was in prison. And his stepfather, Ted and brother-in-law are even more weary of him, while dealing with the failures of their local tire dealership which has been on the verge going under. Ted, Jr. has been the most hostile, particularly unhappy with his wife's closeness to Daniel.
If the family's behavior is complicated, the rest of Paulie is simpler: they still believe Daniel is guilty, and have no intention of making his life easier. The attorney who prosecuted him (Michael O'Neill) is running for public office and wants Holden back on death row, and is enraged that his replacement as a prosecute now wants him to cut a deal. Residents of Paulie have already beaten Daniel so severely, he spent the first two episodes of season 2 in a medically-induced coma. And the local sheriff is torn between his allegiance to duty and the will of the town --- and is enraged when after arresting the men who beat him , Daniel refused to identify them as his assailants for reasons that are still unclear, perhaps even to him
Daniel is trying to find peace in a world that has left him behind in a town that hates him, and it's not easy. A well done episode took place when Daniel went to Atlanta and found some of the peace that he had yet to find in relative anonymity, trying to find simple pleasure from a painting he spent years contemplating. But even now he still finds himself full of constant anger and lack of purpose. The most recent episode took place when he met a local shop owner (good to see Leon Rippy working again) who didn't know who he was and who seemed genuinely interested in his wellbeing, something few people are.
I'm still not sure what direction Rectify has for Daniel, the rest of his family, and the town of Paulie. But the fact is, after years of dealing with crime based dramas and antiheroes, it is refreshing to see a series dealing with human beings and people trying to deal with real life, even if it is under the most heinous of circumstances, and a series that simmer rather than constantly blazes. It continues to demonstrate that the Sundance Channel is definitely headed in the right direction.

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