Rectify’s Aden Young previews an Angry Daniel in Season 3

Curtis Baker
Curtis Baker

When viewers last saw Rectify’s Daniel Holden he had just confessed (again) to the murder of his high school sweetheart as part of a plea deal that would see him banished from his hometown. Season 3 of the Peabody Award winning drama returns to SundanceTV on Thursday night and The TV Junkies caught up with Daniel’s portrayer, star Aden Young, to see where Daniel and his family go from here.

Young says that Season 3 sees the pressure building on Daniel “with the idea that his banishment is lonely and what has happened with Teddy Jr. has come to the floor.” This will lead Daniel trying “to find a way forward that he just doesn’t know where to go and where to turn and whether or not he’s going to be strong enough to survive it,” previews Young.

Read on for more thoughts from the Toronto native, who moved to Australia when he was 9, as he gives us more ideas on what to expect from the slow moving but powerful drama’s third season.


The TV Junkies: What’s Daniel’s mindset like going into Season 3?

Aden Young: Well he’s angry. He’s angry that he’s been forced into a position where he’s had to confess once again to murdering his childhood sweetheart in order to get something. We saw a bit of that in Season 2 where he says ‘you promised to call my father,’ when he’s making that confession. It’s ‘if I tell you will you let me go?’ and that’s the reality that was put in front of him so many years ago and it’s a horrific reality.

In doing so he’s going to be driving a wedge between his family and so much will change based on his decision, but what other choice does he have if he’s going to stay out of another death sentence? He can see no other way forward. So he’s furious that this has come to be, especially with the evidence given to him–he knows the reality of the case but he also knows the reality of the mindset willing to put him back on death row and executed once and for all. He has no choice. He knows the authority he’s about to walk back into and he can’t stand it.

TTVJ: Will we see him regret his confession at all?

AY: I think he regrets having to be put in that position. Perhaps he made some wrong choices or perhaps he could have embraced life a little easier, but the show is much more about looking at Daniel and recognizing all that has happened. A strange thing happened one day, we were shooting a particular sequence where I had to hop off the back of a pickup truck on the way to my parole meeting. As I hopped off I was fine and felt quite agile and we went to do another take and I said, ‘This is ridiculous it was only 6 weeks ago I was in a coma with cracked ribs. I’ve got to show them that.’ So without telling anyone we did another take and as I hit the ground I sort of winced and everyone screamed ‘Cut!’ as if I hurt myself and it’s like ‘No it’s only 6 weeks since he was in a coma. He’s just got sore ribs is all.’

TTVJ: I do think with the slow pacing of the show you lose sight of the concept of time, for instance that the first season was only a week or so.

AY: That’s right and the second was only 5 weeks or so. When I leapt off the truck I recognized something physically that I had been recognizing mentally, which is that Daniel is extremely wounded by this entire experience–not surviving stays of execution, not surviving the hell of death row, not surviving the sentencing, not surviving the death of his childhood sweetheart, not surviving the skepticism from those that have loved him but surviving the reality of what it is to live again. As I was saying to someone recently, death is incredibly complex but try living. It’s been quite a journey and a lot of the season focuses on how Daniel is going to cope moving forward but at the same time restrained by that authority once again. How will he react?

TTVJ: How does his family react to his confession? What will the dynamic be like between Daniel and his family in Season 3?

AY: That’s a good question. That’s what we hope to look at and I don’t want to give too much away. Imagine the family was created on some sort of ceramic jar where you can see all the players, and the morning of the phone call where they say ‘your son has been arrested,’ that vase is smashed forever. They have to rebuild it into some sort of strange mosaic in order to go on with their lives and Daniel comes back and haunts them. He’s almost a living ghost. He’s not meant to be there. He smashes that vase again and that’s what we’ve seen in Seasons 1 and 2.

Now with Season 3 it’s about the family looking at the pieces everywhere going ‘Do we even want to put him back together again? Can we even put this family back together again?’ Too much has happened because of this release of our loved son back into our lives, this innocent man that has suffered a terrible injustice. Who knows?

Daniel McFadden
Daniel McFadden

TTVJ: I think one of the family members that would say they definitely wanted to help him is Daniel’s sister Amantha (Abigail Spencer). Will we see him start to realize the importance of having her in his life?

AY: Yes, you will see him reach out to her in one particular way. The way that he reaches out to her is pure Ray McKinnon (Rectify’s creator). It’s just wonderful, it’s madness, it’s glorious and it’s wonderfully Daniel and it’s wonderfully evocative and wonderfully realized and Rectify. Does it work though? That is also the story of Rectify. Nothing works the way you think it might.

TTVJ: What will Daniel and Tawney’s relationship be like in Season 3? Is Daniel feeling any guilt over her breakup with Teddy?

AY: We know that Daniel cares immensely for her and that Tawney cares immensely for Daniel, but the reality of them being in a world where they can communicate with each other without it being dangerous is very hidden. They both recognize what it means to have such a path behind them.

In Season 3 we really begin to delve into Tawney (Adelaide Clemens) and her story and who she is. That’s the very intriguing structure of Rectify, it begins with the story of a man released into life again and we look at it with a certain complexity but with that complexity we suddenly begin to open doors into these other characters. We meet them with the same level of focus that we’ve met Daniel with and that becomes the true story of the show. I think Daniel and Tawney are haunted by what happened between Daniel and Teddy Jr. How that will affect the family? How that will affect Daniel’s freedom? Where can they find each other in such a minefield is the question.

TTVJ: In the past we’ve seen Daniel branch out and interact with people other than his family such as the junk store owner Lezlie. Does he have any similar experiences this season?

AY: We do revisit some characters and there’s a certain great weakness in Ray’s structuring of that. One of the characters that really becomes a four-dimensional character is Sheriff Daggett (J.D. Evermore) because he has to investigate the possibility of Daniel’s involvement in the death of George Milton. In doing so he begins to uncover a series of truths that lead him to the secrets of the town and what the reality might be that lays beneath all the trauma associated with Daniel’s conviction.


Are you looking forward to another season of Rectify? Sound off with your thoughts in the comments below.

Rectify airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on SundanceTV.