New on Netflix: The Most Profound, Captivating, and Disturbing TV Series of the Last Year
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New on Netflix: The Most Profound, Captivating, and Disturbing TV Series of the Last Year

By Dustin Rowles | Netflix Movies and TV | March 20, 2014 | Comments ()


God knows, we wrote about Rectify incessantly when it debuted on the Sundance channel last year. We called it the most captivating, unsettling, and profound new drama of 2013. I ranked the season finale as the most devastating episode of 2013 (ahead of even the Red Wedding episode on Game of Thrones). We put it ahead of Top of the Lake and Orphan Black as the best new show of 2013. The finale was among our staff list of the 10 best dramatic episodes of the season. Abigail Spencer was singled out as one of the women with the best heads of hair on TV. I even attempted to encourage people to watch by touting the cast of Rectify as sex symbols.

But look: It was on the Sundance channel. Many of you don’t have cable. Many who do have cable don’t have the Sundance channel, while others can’t even find it on their cable listings. But now it’s on Netflix. Everyone has Netflix. Ahead of the second season (which premieres in June), now is the perfect time to watch.

What’s it about? OK, it’s a about guy named Daniel Holden (Aden Young), a very soft-spoken, gentle, and thoughtful man who is released from prison after 19 years for the rape and murder of his girlfriend after evidence comes to light throwing suspicion on his guilt. It’s not enough suspicion to prove him innocent, however, so there’s still the matter of a possible retrial.

This possibility opens up old wounds in Daniel’s hometown, where he returns to live with his parents. He’s been in prison since he was a teenager, and while Daniel has wizened considerably while locked away, part of him is still very much a teenager. While he was gone, his mother remarried, and his step-father took over the family business, along with his new step-brother and his lovely wife.

The step-brother very much believes that Daniel is still guilty of rape and murder, while Daniel’s sister (Abigail Spencer) firmly believes he is not. Most of the small town he’s from believes Daniel is guilty and shuns him, while most of Daniel’s own family is on the fence. But here’s the thing about Rectify: The audience doesn’t know, either. As we watch this man re-adjust to a world he hasn’t seen in nearly 20 years, we develop a deep sympathy for him, and for his perspective on life, and his newfound appreciation for it. But we still have that nagging question in the back of our minds: Did he kill his girlfriend? Could this guy possibly be capable of that?

There’s some evidence throughout the course of the first season that suggests he might have been capable of such a grisly crime, but there’s plenty of evidence that cast doubt. But the question that the series asks, really, is this: Does it matter?

Rectify comes from Ray McKinnon (Sons of Anarchy), and if you’ve ever seen a Ray McKinnon character, the show kind of personifies them all: It’s a kind, gentle, and graceful show, but there’s something a little sinister and dark underneath all that Southern charm that we can’t quite place our finger on. It gets inside your mind and camps out, it f*cks with your energy, and by the end of the six episodes, it will cleave you open and rip out your soul.

It’s a short series, a one-weekend commitment, and I can’t think of another drama on Netflix that will offer as many rewards as the six hours we spend with Daniel Holden. It’s a remarkable and often disturbing series filled with absolutely incredible performances and and a gentle, inviting tone unlike anything else on television.

I cannot recommend it enough.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • dreamlife613

    Yup, I just caught up on the show on Netflix. This is a really unique, emotional show. I'm definitely curious about the second season.

  • I'm glad I came across your article. I binged the show a day later and loved it. Excellent and definitely captivating. Thanks for the rec and I'll be sure to spread the word.

  • Dustin, you son of a bitch. Must...not...binge watch.....ahhhhhh!!!

  • Also...writers should be forced to watch shows like "Rectify" if only to humble themselves. "The time in between the seconds"

  • Carl Lyngholm

    I'm sure that it's great in the objective sense (well acted, directed, produced) but that premise sounds REALLY somber and depressing. Not for me...

  • kimk

    I am usually not a big fan of deep/depressing drama, but this show really worked for me. Although it certainly has its bleak moments, there is an underlying humanity to it (of both the acting and the writing) that keeps it from being overwhelming. I never had a feeling like I do watching some shows (e.g., "The Walking Dead") of "man, this is too much of a downer, I am out". I really can't say enough good about this show.

  • denesteak

    ehhhh this: "There’s some evidence throughout the course of the first season that suggests he might have been capable of such a grisly crime, but there’s plenty of evidence that cast doubt. But the question that the series asks, really,
    is this: Does it matter?"

    ...would probably hit too close to home for me. I've wrestled with this before with a very close friend of mine (maybe the circumstances weren't as extreme as murder, but... still) and I think I'm ok with the conclusions I've drawn, and I think having some fictionalized version of what my real life was half a decade ago makes me... not want to watch this. Gah.

  • Bill Haverchuck

    I tell everyone I know to watch this show. It's still kind of a hidden gem, so it's cool to have a great show to put people on to. I started watching it by chance and was hooked instantly.

  • KC

    This show is beautiful. I wish that it would get more recognition for the general media. It touches upon some themes and emotions that are just heartbreaking and real. And the acting is wonderful. Aden Young is amazing and captivating. You feel such sorrow for his character but, like you guys said, you're also unsure of him at times. I believe it seems like one of those roles that actors die to get.

  • DominaNefret

    I watched the first two episodes, loved them, and then needed to take a break. This was, uhhh, 6 months ago?
    I guess I should go ahead and finish it. There are a few ways that this hits just a bit too close to home for me.

  • narfna


  • F'mal DeHyde

    So SO good, I can't recommend this show enough. Some of it was hard to watch though.

  • Kayla

    This is such a fantastic show. I didn't have Sundance channel, but it was available On Demand, so the first three episodes, every week I was able to watch it. Then, it stopped. So I called Comcast and demanded that they make the remaining episodes available. Turns out I had to pay for more channels, which includes Sundance to be able to finish the series... so I did. I basically have like 20 more channels just so I can watch Rectify. Cannot wait for season 2!

  • Glory

    Has there been any news regarding a second season?
    I watched this when it premiered and I still can't stop thinking about Daniel.
    Such a powerful and introspective series, I tell everyone to watch it.

  • Three_nineteen

    The article says the second season starts in June, so I'm guessing that the second season starts in June.

  • Glory

    Also, Yay :)

  • Maydays

    I think that info may have been edited in...I wondered the same thing and googled the season 2 date last night. Trust your brain!! :)

  • Glory

    I really don't recall seeing any dates the first time round, but I also had just worked a 12 hour shift and was kinda wrecked :)
    I'm happy to have a date and a reply from someone at Spec Ops - say hi to Thursday for me!

  • Maydays

    Thank you for the recommendation! I'll try it tonight. I've been looking for a new show and am on a terrible streak of quitting after the pilot...Resurrection, Believe, Helix. Nothing is grabbing me.

  • alannaofdoom

    If you're OK with subtitles, I suggest checking out "The Returned" once you finish "Rectify."

  • Maydays

    Thanks! I had trouble keeping my returned/rescurrected material straight, but "The [subtitled] Returned" is the one I haven't tried. I read Mott's novel and hated Resurrection's pilot, so I will take you up on the suggestion. And I just watched Rectify E1...4th pilot was the charm! Finally a show I can stick with. It's wonderful.

  • Nicholas

    Oh, I binge watched The Returned last weekend. An awesome show. Nervous about it getting a second season return though. Not sure how they are going to capture lightening in a bottle twice.

  • Frank P. Gengo IV

    The first bit of music they played was Bon Iver. I love it already.

  • Jackson Smith

    Easily my #1 of 2013. An absurdly beautiful TV show.

  • alannaofdoom

    YES TO ALL oh lordy do I love this show.

  • It is so heartbreaking, and yet you can't shy away. Aden Young's performance destroyed me, and the finale made me sob. But, please don't let that keep you from's worth the pain.

  • Parsnip

    I read the first paragraph then stopped, and no way am I reading the comments, that is until I watch it. Yet again, Pajeebs, another suggestion to enjoy. Ta muchly.

  • Amanda Cotylo

    Yea!! I told my judgey prickly as fuck English curmudgeon bf who hates on EVERYTHING about having to watch this IMMEDIATELY since it's now streaming and he looooovvvveeedddd it. It's absolutely mesmerizing. Make sure to watch it without any distractions. It deserves your unbridled attention.

  • lowercase_ryan

    he sounds like quite a catch...

  • Amanda Cotylo

    Ah, he's more of my BFF. And arguing about what's good or not because he's such a scoundrel is kind of our jam. :)

  • lowercase_ryan

    gotcha :)

  • Ofir Fishkin

    Please watch this show, its heartbreakingly beautiful

  • Guest

    Not available for streaming, unfortunately.

  • lowercase_ryan

    everything is streaming if you know where to look...

  • pajiba

    Are you in Canada? Because it's definitely streaming here in the US.

  • Uriah_Creep

    It actually is streaming in Canuckia.

  • lowercase_ryan

    I don't want to spoil anything but I got a decidedly different impression from the first season, an impression that gave me a definitive answer as to whether or not he did it.

    Such a great show. Daniel and Amantha Holden will blow you away.

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