Which Of Rectify's Couples Put The 'Pair' In 'Despair'?
Ranking the show's relationship prospects.
Much of "Bob & Carol & Ted Jr. & Alice" is about characters trying to set aside denial, to live in what is instead of what should be. Daniel copes with an abrasive new roommate, and struggles to meet others' social expectations of him while considering the idea that he may need more help with integrating on the outside than he thought. Chloe is pregnant and isn't sure what her new reality is, or will be. Jon Stern can't let go of Daniel's case, and can't (yet) get Sheriff Carl to admit that he couldn't let go of it either, but Amantha is letting go of Jon, and of that isolated person she thought she had to be. Tawney and Teddy both know the marriage is over, though he may not know he knows it. And Janet has to decide whether to hold onto the store, and for whom, and why she's held onto it all these years anyway.
Everyone ends up paired off in various ways, not always romantic ones, as they try to resolve "is" versus "supposed to" and tell themselves the truth about themselves, and for some of them, it's going to work out; for others, it's just working them over. Whose relationship prospects have the best chances of success? From best to worst:
- Amantha and Billy
I may have ranked this pairing so high because it turns out The Artist Formerly Known As Meechum can really wear a pair of faded jeans?
I do have a thing for a man who still wears a wristwatch. But I may have ranked them this high because, when Amantha pointedly wonders what the chit-chat is around town about her and her brother, Billy shrugs that he steers clear of all that," and Amantha snaps, "All what?" It's an Amantha move we've seen a hundred times, to get confrontational, to give people a "worst" to think of her if they hadn't had one already, but Billy doesn't take the bait. "Speculation, I guess," he drawls. Amantha understands that he's telling her she doesn't want to know, hears this warning for what it is, sees the wisdom of backing away from the subject, and...backs away from the subject by asking for another beer; she even agrees to go hunting with him the next weekend. She's learning, you guys! (Not about that damn claw clip, though.)
- Ted Sr. and Janet
When a real-estate headhunting firm contacts her about buying the property the tire store is on, Janet goes (further) into a tailspin, ordering Ted Sr. not to tell Teddy about a possible offer (which he accidentally does) and getting ripshit and philosophical on the couch that night about how she grabbed onto Ted Sr. like a life raft, and may have dragged him under.
The palimpsest that is her first marriage underlying her second, the tire store taken over by the Teds, has always hung in the background of Rectify, the unremarkable weirdness of it specific to small towns, but now Janet finds herself with no choice but to let the old writing come through. Later, Ted Sr. lets it slip to Teddy that they may have an offer on the place Janet never got around to deeding over to the Talbots, and when Teddy reacts poorly -- the tire store means more to him than to his father, and is his only solid ground of late -- Ted Sr. says he's in a tough position. Teddy grunts that that's on Ted Sr., and it's a good reminder for us that Ted Sr. played his part in getting dragged under, that when you try to save a drowning person it's a risk you run.
- Jon Stern and Sheriff Carl
I don't know if I understood Jon's angle here, as he closing-argues at Sheriff Carl about what Carl cares about and why Carl's predecessor refused to talk to George Melton. I understand that the entire timeline of Daniel's guilty plea is problematic based on what Carl discovered later, and I understand that nothing ever quite sat right with Carl about Daniel and Trey, but Carl also has to keep law and order in a small town and may not have the luxury of turning over too many rocks too quickly.
But Jon should know the issues facing Carl, no? And should also see that he's projecting his own unsettled feelings onto Carl to a degree? What's with the attitude? I'd way rather see these two work together to figure out what really happened, because while I don't think the show "needs" a resolution (or is going to provide one, frankly), giving these two characters that just purpose would be nice.
- Melvin and Daniel
Melvin drops by Amantha's to get new tenant Teddy up to speed, invites himself to stay for a beer, and brags that he gave Daniel his first job. Off Teddy's polite "good for you," Melvin burbles, "It was good for me. He was good for me. I miss him!" Aw, Melvin.
- Tawney and Teddy
Tawney knows what she has to do. She has to "just leave," but she's scared to, and sad about it, and doesn't want to drop the axe on a man who was her only family for so long.
It would feel like a death, she chokes to her therapist, who tells her, "You would still exist. I promise." But Tawney may feel more apprehensive, as I certainly do, about Teddy's continued existence once she says aloud what he seems to see coming, but is holding himself very still to ward off as one might a bear attack.
Teddy's very cautious beery voicemail is so sad; he leaves no details about his "really interesting day," and seems to share no shorthand with her that he can use, but the worst part is when he says he can tell her about it on date night -- that he can't force genuine cheer into his voice, because he can sense that the next date night is also going to be really interesting, but in the way of that Chinese curse.
- Daniel and Chloe
The bangs, the kimono, the absent father of her unborn child, the platitudes about cynicism and boredom...Rectify has historically done quite well with kookily Socratic exchanges of this type, better than most, and Caitlin FitzGerald is doing her best, but for whatever reason it isn't working for me. I'm not totally uninterested in where it's leading, but at the same time, I don't understand what Daniel and Chloe's scenes want to tell me, because it's one of the rare times that the writing's impressionism feels surface and a bit lazy.