My primary complaint about last week’s episode was that, while a lot happened in it, what happened wasn’t presented interestingly enough. Directed by Nicole Kassell (returning to the show for the first time since season one’s “Modern Times”), “The Future” doesn’t have that problem at all. In fact, visually, it’s one of the most stunning episodes of television I’ve seen all year, beginning with a foggy, almost Twin Peaks-like opening scene, and concluding with a gorgeous nighttime scene by the pool. Kassell is among the most talented directors to work on Rectify, and unlike last time, here she actually has an episode that lives up to her skills.
Like “Girl Jesus,” “The Future” features several revealing scenes, beginning with Teddy visiting marriage counselor Rebecca by himself. Every scene with Rebecca so far has been terrific, and this is no exception. He reveals that after he and Tawney kissed, he’s been feeling as confused as ever, wondering if he’s ever going to kiss her again. And continuing with uncharacteristic self-awareness he’s been exhibiting since the final scene in “Thrill Ride,” he wonders if he’s been going about it all wrong. He’s been thinking that Tawney might be the wrong girl for him when, “really, maybe the cold hard truth is I’m not the right guy for her.”
Meanwhile, Tawney has gone from staying at her friends’ house to staying with her foster mother, Miss Kathy; and in a scene with her, we see just why Tawney is so confused. In the span of a couple minutes, Miss Kathy preaches independence, education, and finally prayer, a summation of all of Tawney’s different desires. Daniel represents independence, her desire to break away from Teddy for someone who, as Teddy himself hinted at, is better for her. She also hopes to go to college, another aspect of that independence, but both of these desires are made much more complicated by her religious obligation. Earlier, she says she misses her foster home, because there was a future on the horizon when she was living there, the hope of living happily ever after. Can she ever live happily ever after, or even just happily, if she keeps putting what she thinks she ought to do before her own happiness?
Another person with no place to go, Daniel is being kicked out of Amantha’s apartment after other tenants complained. It’s ironic that Amantha took Daniel in when she had no faith in him and, now that the faith has been restored, he’s being kicked out. But before being kicked out, he fixes the mess he made in the pool, even refusing further money from Melvin.
We also finally meet Christopher, the man Daniel named during his confession, and whom Daggett interviews. Christopher remains calm throughout the interview, but his answers don’t add up. Then, when Daggett asks him to do a DNA test, he asks to see a lawyer. I’ve always felt like Rectify isn’t a show about Hannah Dean’s murder, but the more we learn about it, the more I want to know.
Daggett then calls Daniel in and tells him his theories: he thinks that Trey killed George out of fear that he would confess to Hannah’s rape, which would incriminate the others who were down by the river that night. This shouldn’t be suspenseful. After all, we saw George kill himself in the pilot. But when the police show up at Trey’s house with a search warrant, it’s hard not to be on the edge of your seat.
Janet, who is becoming my favorite character of season three, is the MVP of “The Future,” talking to Marcy about her dead first husband before going home and giving her current one a talking to. Daniel’s not a bad person, she tells the Teds. He’s just a damaged person who’s been given a raw deal, and she’s going to stick by him and do all she can. (The word “damaged” comes up a couple times in this episode, first by Rebecca, who says of Tawney, “We’re all damaged, Ted. Tawney just got an extra dose.” If Tawney got an extra dose, what did Daniel get?)
On the opposite end, there’s Jared, who was much more interesting when the series began. Now, he’s merely the person everyone’s keeping secrets from and who’s unhappy about people keeping secrets from him. The writers have been keeping his character so tightly wound that, when he makes an actual joke (“I’ve always wanted to watch paint dry,” referring to Daniel painting the pool), it’s a relief.
At the end of the episode, Daniel asks Janet to go on a road trip with him, a sweet mother-and-son moment that’s made somewhat eerie by a passing line: “It’s over, mother.” Since the next episode is the season finale, I can only wonder what this line insinuates, and whether it is truly over.