Legendary actor/director Robert Redford launched SundanceTV (formerly the Sundance Channel) as a premium movie network and destination for independent films back in 1996, but only began expanding into scripted series territory with the debut of Rectify in 2013. The thought-provoking drama was joined by international acquisitions Les Revenants (The Returned) and Top of the Lake, two series that fit in well with the network’s emerging brand of methodically paced character studies. It was joined by Sundance’s second original program — the short-lived Red Road starring Jason Mamoa (Game of Thrones) — the following year.
For the past three seasons, Rectify has followed the story of Daniel Holden (Aden Young), a former death row inmate who struggles to adjust to life in a small Georgia town following his release from prison, thanks to DNA evidence calling his 19-year conviction for the rape and murder of his girlfriend, Hanna, into question. Now, the compelling story is coming to an end.
TVLine is reporting that the show’s upcoming fourth season will be its last after being canceled by SundanceTV. Production on season 4 will begin in April for a fall 2016 premiere. It’s unclear how many episodes will be included for its final run.
Rectify creator Ray McKinnon (Sons of Anarchy) confirmed the news in a statement:
“’Rectify’ is in many ways an existential story that was allowed to come to life during an existential era in serial storytelling. It was a case of perfect timing with the perfect partners. I have always felt that ‘Rectify’ could end at any time or just as easily continue. Well, not easily. But there’s no perfect ‘end’ for this story nor for these characters. They will continue to live on. We just won’t document them any longer. And the timing of this ‘non-end’ end feels exactly right.”
Rectify, which was first developed by SundanceTV’s sister network AMC, received universal acclaim upon its debut for its beautifully rendered scenery and subtle yet riveting portrayal of a damaged man and his family in crisis. While never a ratings hit, the series placed near the top of many critic’s year-end lists throughout its first three seasons, and received some awards attention despite being on a little-seen network, including a Peabody Award last year. It’s currently nominated for three Critics Choice Awards, including best drama series.
The cancellation leaves the fledgling cable network — which seemed poised to take up the mantle of AMC as it pivoted away from prestigious dramas such as Mad Men and Breaking Bad to genre fare — with no other returning original series on its schedule. However, it does have several projects in development that may finally put the channel on the map.
Despite the fact that Sundance is pulling the plug on the drama, McKinnon harbors no ill feelings towards the network, instead praising them for allowing him the creative freedom to tell the story he wanted to tell:
“SundanceTV has been a dream to work with on this journey; I am so grateful to have been allowed the freedom to tell the tale I wanted to tell, in the way I felt it should be told, with the mad and beautiful collaborators who joined me on the ride… Oh wait, we haven’t shot the final season yet. I’ll get back to you.”
Although it’ll be sad to say goodbye to the series, it’s often better to follow the British model and go out before the show overstays its welcome and starts to spin its wheels. It’s also fortunate that McKinnon and the show’s talented cast have been given the opportunity to give their character’s a proper send-off, with the knowledge of it being the final season. It remains to be seen whether the questions regarding Daniel’s guilt or innocence are finally answered in these final set of episodes.
Rectify will end with season 4 in fall 2016.