A man apart

Rec­tify helps a wrongly con­victed man be­come whole again.

TV Plus (South Africa) - - SHOWMAX -

Imag­ine spend­ing 19 years on Death Row, then be­ing told, “Oops, the cops made a mis­take – you’re free!” That’s “life” for Daniel Holden in drama series Rec­tify (2013-2016 – all four sea­sons are on in­ter­net stream­ing ser­vice Show­max. “It is al­ways more of an in­trigue not know­ing than it is about know­ing,” says Ai­den Young, who plays Daniel. “Al­low­ing the am­bi­gu­ity and the con­fu­sion of that night to reign as op­posed to the knowl­edge of that night and the facts of the case cre­ates a much more com­plex process of work­ing and I am in­trigued by that.”

Through­out sea­son 1 (the six episodes span six days), there is a con­stant un­ease in the fact that Daniel and the wit­nesses who helped con­vict him the first time can’t re­call that fate­ful night. He was ar­rested and pros­e­cuted for the rape and mur­der of his teen girl­friend Hanna [who’s never seen], to which he con­fessed af­ter spend­ing 11 hours in the po­lice sta­tion in­ter­ro­gated with­out a lawyer. But as each episode un­folds, it’s clear that there’s more go­ing on than an open-and-shut mur­der case…

Daniel has been re­leased thanks to con­flict­ing DNA ev­i­dence, dis­cov­ered 19 years af­ter his ar­rest. But most of the town hates him, in­clud­ing Sen­a­tor Foulkes (Michael O’Neill), the at­tor­ney who orig­i­nally con­victed Daniel. The only peo­ple who be­lieve in him are his fam­ily and new lawyer, who help Daniel with his jour­ney. And that re-in­te­gra­tion drives the series – Dan is still a teenager in his mind and strug­gling to process things like DVD play­ers, 24-7 quick­ieshops, even be­ing a man. But he isn’t alone, ex­plains Ai­den: “What hap­pens when such a trau­matic event in­vades the life of a fam­ily? You have no choice but to re­ally ex­am­ine who you are and who you were and what led up to that. It’s just hu­man na­ture”. But as dif­fi­cult as it is for Daniel’s fam­ily, he’s still suf­fer­ing the most with his new­found free­dom…


Daniel doesn’t know how to in­ter­act with peo­ple and it’s painfully clear as he stam­mers though a press con­fer­ence af­ter he’s re­leased in episode 1. The only peo­ple Daniel’s spo­ken to over the last 19 years were killers, rapists, crim­i­nals and prej­u­diced prison guards. While he comes across as hav­ing a men­tally di­min­ished mind, it’s clear later on that Daniel is im­pos­si­bly in­tel­li­gent.


A lot changes in a year, so imag­ine what it’s like for some­one who’s been locked up for 20 years! See­ing adult Daniel in awe of Wal­mart shelves packed with ev­ery­thing from knit­ting yarn and TVs to videogames and a kid with lights on his shoes is heart-break­ing. On a road­trip with his sis­ter Aman­tha (Abi­gail Spencer), Daniel asks, “When did they open a video­store there?”, to which he is told, “It was there for about 15 years.” Not only did Daniel miss the open­ing, he missed it clos­ing too!


Dur­ing his first week (which spans the first sea­son), Daniel fig­ures out what he does and doesn’t like about his new world. He tells his mom Janet (J SmithCameron), “I do not think I want to be com­puter lit­er­ate, or cel­lu­lar tele­phone lit­er­ate ei­ther.” What Dan does want is to en­joy things most take for granted – like drink­ing wa­ter, eat­ing a choco­late and feel­ing grass be­tween his toes.


One of Dan’s big­gest strug­gles is peo­ple, like his step-brother Teddy Jr (Clayne Craw­ford). Teddy’s dad mar­ried Daniel’s mom while he was in prison and Teddy Jr has had it in for his “new” step-sib­ling. Teddy Jr wants Daniel to leave town so that he doesn’t lose the fam­ily busi­ness “to a killer”, while Daniel just wants to be ac­cepted – and his bond with Teddy’s wife Tawney (Ade­laide Cle­mens) is a prob­lem in sea­son 1 episode 5 – Teddy over-re­acts and Daniel is forced to put Teddy in a choke­hold to calm him.

But while it seems that ev­ery­thing is fall­ing in place, Daniel is still strug­gling emo­tion­ally. He tells Aman­tha in episode 6, “When I con­fessed, it was such a re­lief. To be free of all that un­be­liev­able guilt. Af­ter I told them that I killed her, I could ac­cept that she was dead. But the guilt re­turned. That I sur­vived.”

Daniel (far left) is strug­gling be­ing free as much as his fam­ily are out of place with him at home.

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