After Sunday night’s episode of Mad Men, AMC re-premiered the Sundance original series Rectify.

From the producers of Breaking Bad, the show tells the story of Daniel Holden, a prisoner of nineteen years who is released from Death Row when new DNA evidence surfaces that questions his involvement in the rape and murder of a sixteen-year-old girl.

We open on an officer preps Daniel for his release and press conference, just as his family drives into the detention center. The family’s reunion is bittersweet, since Daniel has no idea that his mother has remarried and he now has a stepbrother who has effectively taken over the family tire business.

Daniel, played by Aden Young, is emotionally detached throughout the episode, which contrasts his over-gracious sister, Amantha, played by Abigail Spencer, who you might recall as Miss Farrell, Sally Draper’s teacher and Don Draper’s mistress in Mad Men.

At various points in the episode, Daniel has flashbacks to his time in prison, which might amount to some significance later on in the season, but seem really pointless in this isolated episode.

Another criticism I have for this show is the over-abundance of characters and separate storylines. The audience is introduced to four separate storylines: Holden family, the police force under Deputy Daggett, two convicts in the woods, and Amantha’s phone conversation with Jon, who I presume is her love interest.

Also, Daniel’s younger brother Jared simply an older version of Homeland‘s Chris, in that everything that comes out of his mouth is absurd and no one ever wants him around.

The last thing I took issue with in this pilot was how stupid they made Daniel. I understand that he has been in prisoned for nineteen years, but that is no excuse for not knowing how to work a television or fumble over saying “DVD.” Also, if he has been in jail for the past nineteen years, that pins his initial arrest in the year 1994, yet he has no clue what the film Dazed and Confused is, given that it hit theaters in 1993 – a full year before.

Aside from these minor setbacks, the show’s breathtaking cinematography makes up for the lagging plot. The shots of the Georgia countryside rivals those of AMC’s The Walking Dead.

Also, this is a very drowsing show. Much like HBO’s recently cancelled Enlightened, the director takes advantage of bright lights and the blinding sun to give the effect of just waking up – much like how Daniel is symbolically awaking from his prison nightmare.

The episode ends with a cliffhanger that calls Daniel’s innocence into question.

Overall, while I don’t see this show going past its first season, I look forward to seeing how the Daniel’s case unravels.


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