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Friday, July 11, 2014

Rectify 2.4: Jekyll and Hyde

Jekyll and Hyde - from "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," the novella by Robert Louis Stevenson published in 1886, which has become a shorthand in our lexicon for good and consummate evil as alternate personalities of one person - has always been at the center of Daniel Holden's story in Rectify.  But in episode 2.4 last night, it took center stage in a delicate and magnificent performance.

The Jekyll or Daniel-as-good part of the story starts with a brief Odyssey-like trip he takes to Atlanta, and a group of women he encounters and charms with his intellect at an art exhibition.   He discourses with them like a critic for The New Yorker not only about art but music and books, including how reading Tobias Wolff's brutally powerful short story, "Bullet in the Brain," calmed him by "bending time" or his perception of time, which we but the ladies don't know was on death row.  He also tells the women that his name is Donald and he owns a small bookstore, adding to the unreal quality of this whole encounter.  But his gentleness, as it is whenever he displays it in this series, is as real as can be.

Indeed, it is even more in evidence in the second stop in this journey, when Daniel pays a call on the mother and brother of Kerwin, his friend and supporter on death row, who unlike Daniel was executed. Kerwin never wavered in his belief in Daniel's innocence, but as with everything else in Rectify, that question pertains not to what Daniel may have become in prison, but what he was beforehand.  When Daniel talks to Kerwin's family, it is as if they have been visited by an angel.   Daniel maintains his gentle side even in a later scene, when he is accosted by a nuisance in a diner, and tells him he's heard enough of his "boring stories".   And in the final scene in this journey, as Daniel rips apart his kitchen, he's doing this on the side of the good as well, because that's what his mother wants and his stepfather does not - to build a new kitchen.

But the implied aggression in tearing down a kitchen is a good place to segue to the Hyde part of this episode, which in fact is not in the episode at all in real time, but is called into focus when Teddy decides to tell the Sheriff about Daniel's close-to-depraved choking out of Teddy last year (last week in narrative time), pulling his pants down, and giving his ass a plastering of symbolic coffee grounds.   Why Teddy decided to now tell the Sheriff is not clear, but at this point is less important than its reminder that Daniel is capable of doing this.  And lest we thought that that plastering was a result of what Daniel experienced in prison - which I still think is pretty much the case - the Sheriff reminds us that he knew what Daniel "was capable of" 20 years ago.  This is an important statement, because it shows us that the Sheriff, who last week (yesterday in narrative time) was so disappointed that he couldn't get Bobby Dean for beating Daniel, has no illusions about Daniel, and thinks that Daniel was certainly involved in some kind of violent, evil activity 20 years ago, which we may or may not have seen, and presumably having some connection to Hanna's murder.

Sheriff Daggett is in fact at the dead center of this whole story, being the only character I can think of who apparently is not biased for or against Daniel, but only goes on the facts as he knows them.   It will be interesting to see what further of those facts there are, as this unique and riveting story unfolds.

See also Rectify 2.1: Indelible ... Rectify 2.2: True Real Time ... Rectify 2.3: Daniel's Motives

And see also Rectify: Sheer and Shattering Poetry ... Rectify 1.5: Balloon Man ... Rectify Season 1 Finale: Searingly Anti-Climactic

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