“Rectify” – Season 1, Episode 3 “Plato’s Cave” Review

Rating: 8.0

“Pilot’s Cave” was another impressive installment of this series. And note that it is somewhat difficult to call this a series in the traditional sense. Rectify has taken the trend of serial drama on cable even further – serial cinema is a more fitting term. And since after four hours it is now well established that the pace moves deliberately slower than most typical crime serials, I enjoyed taking in the growing plot complexities and connections between characters, and needing action or major developments was not a priority. Of course this is not a ‘crime serial,’ anyway, it is much more, starting of course with Daniel, the prisoner let into the light in “Plato’s Cave.”

Plato’s story deals with the ramifications of a prisoner who has lived his entire life in a dark cave and is only shown shadows. These shadows are his reality and Plato’s allegory’s main focus is about when he is released. How does he perceive actual reality and how does he relate back to the previous reality of the cave (or prison, in Daniel’s case)?

Plato’s story works on a direct level with Daniel. I like the inclusion of it in this episode, and I like that they even titled this episode this way. It reinforces Daniel’s situation after being gone for 19 years, makes us think about his perspective (with further emphasis on his ‘near sightedness’ at the eye doctor), and this helps to explain his continued ‘Starman’ behavior. Reminders of Daniel’s situation are more than welcome, because it is not typical and is not easily relatable. He is not from space – he does have a lot of feelings and memories of his past reality. And forget born-again Christianity, Daniel is born again everything! From video games to dirt bikes and now, in a somewhat bizarre scene, to sexual relations. A born-again non-virgin, I suppose. The previous powerful scene where Daniel over-hugged Tawny, and his subsequent apology, did an excellent job of depicting Daniel’s complicated issue with physical contact.

Plato’s story also works indirectly in relation to the murder / rape investigation. Most people in this small town have an opinion either way, and things are not always black and white, nor will they stay the same color as the years pass. Each member of the town has a perceived reality, and that is sure to change as the series goes on. We learned this week that the victim was not exactly ‘an angel,’ and that, for whatever reason, was different than my perceptions.

We also saw the defense of Daniel looking more like an uphill battle, we saw the connection between Daniel and Tawny getting stronger and stronger, and the distance between Tawny and Ted Jr. increasing. The writers did an excellent job of initially depicting Ted Jr, fairly consistently, as a ‘dud,’ to put it politely, but as Ted remains faithful on his business trip we see that, at least in “Plato’s Cave,” that his character does have some merits. (Not that he should be given a medal for not cheating on his wife). Tawny seems to be very interested in Daniel, in some capacity, so we see that her character is more complicated as well. (Ray McKinnon discusses defying typical character archetypes in his post episode commentary).

The acting continues to be stellar, which, is a prerequisite for a series with lots of storytelling, and episode 3 clearly shows how the entire cast can stand on its own. Abigail Spencer has had some great moments so far, and I can’t say she wasn’t missed in this one, but the episode still felt complete even with only a brief appearance from Amantha in the opening scene.

Though there weren’t necessarily any more developments in this episode than last week’s, I like that there were fewer scenes of characters describing past events. Showing Daniel out and about, ‘in the light,’ was great to watch, as we got to watch him experience life outside the cave… taking in modern day trends at Wal-Mart!

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  1. An excellent review. I think Rectify is one of the best shows out there! Roy McKinnon is certainly one of the deepest thinking writers. The references to Plato, Raphael, Flannery O’Connor all show that his character Daniel didn’t waste his long hours in the reading room. Yet, he doesn’t come off as an intellectual snob….reading, learning and thinking has been his life for 19 years. Daniel’s reaction to hugging Tawny was a real high point of this episode.

  2. Thanks, Spunky. The fact that Daniel has gained so much intellectual knowledge, with so little world experience is an interesting dynamic, and different than the prisoners in Plato’s cave. I agree – he delivers his literary references with no ‘snobbery,’ it’s more like he just says, Oh, that reminds me of Thomas Aquinas.

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