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Series / Rectify

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Rectify is a drama series that premiered on the Sundance Channel in 2013.

It focuses on Daniel Holden (Aden Young), who is released from prison in the first episode after DNA evidence overturns his conviction for the rape and murder of his girlfriend, a crime to which he confessed at the age of 18 and for which he spent 19 years on death row.

Tropes used by the series:

  • Almighty Janitor: Marcy, the waitress at the diner, is extremely perceptive, managing to deduce Amantha and Jon are together simply by watching them interact.
  • Amicable Exes: Tawney and Teddy are separated by the third season but are on better terms than the second season finale.
  • Back for the Finale: After being absent for a couple of seasons, Kerwin appears in a final flashback in the finale.
  • Badass Bookworm: Daniel. Able to throw out references to The Divine Comedy like a champ and kick some serious ass, as demonstrated in Jacob's Ladder.
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  • Beach Episode: A realistic variant in the third season finale. Daniel and Janet take a trip to the beach, where Daniel has one of his most positive experiences since he got out of prison, serving as more of a healing moment than fanservice one.
  • Big Brother Worship:
    • Amantha has devoted what seems to be the majority of her adult life to working to get Daniel free, and as soon as he's released does everything in her power to make his transition as comfortable for him as possible.
    Amantha upon seeing Daniel after he's been released: "You are perfect brother, you are so...damn perfect."
    • Jared seems to also suffer from this trope towards Daniel, albeit to a far lesser extent.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The series finale, "All I'm Sayin.'" Daniel gets no reunion with his family at Paulie with the store's closing, though he does get to talk to them on the phone. Jon and Amantha don't end up together, nor do Tawney and Teddy, though the latter are Amicable Exes. Daniel gets a "cautiously optimistic" future (and a Maybe Ever After with Chloe), though, and though there are no concrete endings to the Hanna Dean murder, it is strongly implied that there will be closure in the future and Daniel will finally be completely exonerated.
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  • Cassandra Truth: Trey lies left and right, except towards the end of the third season, where he (correctly) guesses that George killed himself, and there's no murderer to find. Of course, the sheriff doesn't believe him.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • Daniel. One scene has him completely naked and playing with the down inside of his pillows. Another shows him mystified by the various types of yarn offered at department stores.
    • Janet has shades of this as well, though in a more subdued form.
  • Convicted by Public Opinion: Even after Daniel is cleared and released from prison, most people still think he's guilty.
  • Crusading Lawyer: Jon Stern. Amantha may also apply as well, considering her knowledge of the legal system and the passion she has for getting her brother set free, but her actual career is never brought up.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Tawney's is brought up intermittently in the third season.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms:
    • In the second episode, Daniel has one using porn supplied by Ted Jr.
    • Wendell has multiple, all played to invoke the greatest amount of disgust.
    • Wendell may be the reason Daniel is so bothered by his (second) roommate at New Canaan.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Amantha deserves a goddamn medal in this trope. Jon can also lay down a good bit of snark whenever he's in conversation with her.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Jon and Amantha aren't together at the series finale, and Teddy doesn't get Tawney back. Daniel also doesn't end up with Tawney, nor does he end up with Chloe. Maybe.
  • Driven to Suicide: Georgie, one of the 'witnesses' to Hanna's murder, kills himself at the end of the first episode due to what are implied to be severe mental health issues. This act is later covered up by Trey, another witness.
  • Dysfunctional Family: The Holden-Talbot clan may not be as bad as some, but being labeled as the family of a murderer has caused issues for all of them.
  • Flashback: Every episode features at least a couple of flashbacks to Daniel's time in prison.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: Although it is implied that even before going to prison, Daniel was a
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Tawney.
  • Happily Married:
    • Although not much focus is put on their relationship, Ted Sr. and Janet seem to be very happy together. Subverted with Ted Jr. and Tawney though: it's unknown what their relationship was like before Daniel's release, but considering how bad it got in such a short amount of time, they were likely never completely content with one another to begin with.
    • Season 4 sees a major strain in the relationship between Ted Sr. and Janet due to an offer to buy the tire store that makes them not-so-happily married, though they get out of it largely unscathed.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Daniel and Kerwin.
  • It Makes Sense in Context: In-universe: Daniel's excited post-baptismal confession about the events of his day with the "goat man" to Tawney make sense to us (well, most of it), but it's more than understandable how she gets so bewildered.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: Inverted on both counts with Amantha, though played realistically. She doesn't have the power to assault those who hurt Daniel, but it's noted that she may have slept with Jon just to make sure he represented Daniel.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • After letting Daniel languish for almost twenty years in prison for a crime he didn't commit, Trey is arrested in the season three finale for killing George — which the audience knows he didn't do.
    • Senator Foulkes's prosecution put Daniel away. He has a stroke in the third season, making him lose much of his speech.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl:
    • Tawney for Daniel. While Daniel makes it quite clear that he wishes to become romantic with Tawney, her feelings towards him are much more ambiguous, with the only thing she outright says is that she believes God guided her to Daniel to help him.
    • Chloe in season 4.
  • Meet Cute: Although they had technically met beforehand, the first time Tawney formally introduces herself to Daniel is completely adorable.
  • Missing Mom: Tawney's mom gave her up early.
  • Momma's Boy:
    • Ted Jr. is very close with Janet, who he calls mom despite her being his step-mother (he's notably upset when she requests he call her Janet to make things easier for Daniel). In turn, Janet is the most patient with Teddy out of everyone in the family, including his own father.
    • Daniel and Janet have a close relationship as well, and Daniel appears to get a lot of his odder qualities from his mother.
  • No Ending: The series ends without Daniel's conviction being overturned, No Romantic Resolution between him and Chloe (though with a Maybe Ever After), few definite insights into Hanna's murder other than Chris's probable (but never truly confirmed) guilt, and no definite assertion into the futures of the characters other than "cautious optimism."
  • No Romantic Resolution: Daniel has a Maybe Ever After combined with Babies Ever After ending with Chloe that might be nothing more than a daydream, or might be a premonition for the future.
  • No Social Skills: Daniel, obviously. This trope also applies to Ted Jr., who despite being a pretty good salesman, is socially inept enough to think Daniel's time on death row is a good conversation topic and he has trouble getting various social cues from Tawney, turning out unintentionally creepy.
  • Nice Guy:
    • Ted Talbot, Sr. His son Jared also counts.
    • Melvin in the third season is one of the few people outside Daniel's family that genuinely cares about him.
  • Odd Name Out: Mrs. Holden named her children Daniel, Jared, and... Amantha. Lampshaded in "Thrill Ride" when a coworker remarks on her unusual name, and Amantha replies that her mother is dyslexic (though as a joke; it's just a family name).
  • Order Versus Chaos: Daniel has an understandably difficult time adjusting from the strict, unfailing rigidity of death row, to the random, unpredictable freedom he now holds in the real world. Best described in his conversation with Jon in Jacob's Ladder.
  • Posthumous Character: Besides Hanna, who is mentioned nearly every episode, Kerwin remains a significant character even after his death, and he is often on Daniel's mind (or in his dreams).
  • Prison Rape: Described, but not actually seen.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Brash, business-minded Ted is the red to compassionate, religious-minded Tawney's blue.
  • The Reveal:
    • "The Source" has Chris making an official confession that he, Trey, George and others raped Hanna but did not kill her.
    • Subverted in the series finale. Though we expect all to be revealed, we get no definite conclusion in Hanna's murder, though Trey desperately tries to pin the murder on Chris, who looks the most panicked when he sees the murder investigation being reopened.
  • Sanity Slippage: The entire first season can be summed up as Daniel trying to find his place in the world, failing, and suffering mentally because of it. Probably the most definitive example of this is the Goat Man he meets in Drip, Drip.
  • Sleazy Politician: Senator Roland Foulkes. Sure, his intentions to re-convict Daniel mean well but his approaches about it...not so much.
  • Southern Gothic: Somewhat erroneously sold as one, despite missing almost all of its tropes. It's more of a philosophical, character-driven Slice of Life.
  • Step-Sibling Rivalry: In stark contrast to her relationship with Daniel, Amantha despises Ted Jr., who seems to shares the sentiment.
  • Title Drop: Comes during the series finale, "All I'm Sayin.'"
    Amantha: Nothing will rectify what happened. It won't bring back Hanna or my dad or my 18-year-old brother.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Jared becomes more moody and disgruntled as the series goes on, but it's a much more subdued and realistic depiction of going through his teenage years.
  • Truth in Television:
    Ted Jr.: It ain't Christian to get divorced.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Amantha and Jon were in a romantic relationship, one close enough that things like peeing in front of one another is treated with nonchalance, but were forced to separate to avoid damaging Daniel's case. Neither seem particularly keen on giving up the relationship though.
  • Vacation Episode: Janet and Daniel in "The Source."
  • Webcomic Time: Over three season, only a few weeks have passed in the show.
  • Wham Line: "Trey went back".


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