Overall, “Sown with Salt” has more flaws than either of the previous episodes this season. It’s the third Rectify episode to be directed by Billy Gierhart (the other two being series classics “Sexual Peeling” and “The Great Destroyer”), who has also worked on shows like The Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and who directed my favorite episode of The Shield, ”Possible Kill Screen.” Where his direction in the other two episodes was fairly nuanced, though, here he seems to be bringing his action series expertise to the table. In the final scene, in which Daniel paints the pool at Amantha’s apartment complex after an intense interview with Sheriff Daggett and Jon Stern, is shot so tackily that it undercuts the point of the scene.
There’s also the part where Daggett interviews Trey about George’s death, which is straight out of a police procedural (John Mulaney describes this trope as “guy who, while being questioned by homicide detectives, will not stop unloading crates”). Tawney and Teddy also have their first scene together this season, and it unfortunately tells us nothing new. Teddy is predictably upset that Tawney has started seeing a counselor without him, and then Tawney leaves. Compared to their terrific scenes in “Thrill Ride,” this feels like a wasted opportunity.
These flaws are less frustrating, though, because so much of the episode works, beginning with Amantha’s scene at a Thrifty Town managerial seminar. The head of the seminar is trying to get attendees to tell stories “that only you can tell,” and when Amantha gets called on, she only has one thing on her mind. As she tells the story about getting her convicted murderer brother out of prison, only for him to sign a plea deal saying he did it, we get another glimpse at how much this is affecting her. When she says, “He said he did it,” as if there’s no doubt that he did, we see how much the turn of events last season have changed how she views Daniel, who she used to have seemingly unbreakable confidence in.
Amantha later has a fascinating encounter with a stranger, Forrest (played by Michael Varta), in a bar, which leads to him coming up to her room. Their scene, while often a little too on-the-nose, is pretty necessary. At a time when Amantha feels like she’s wasted years on a lost cause, somebody telling her that she’s her own person and, better yet, that that person is good, is something she needs.
The scenes with Janet and Ted, meanwhile, work much better than Tawney and Teddy’s material, since there’s a lot more subtlety. Janet has grown to resent Ted, who brings in Teddy to help him fix the kitchen. While the majority of the damage have been caused by Daniel, he’s still her son, and Ted’s treatment of him as a problem to get rid of means that their marriage can only go downhill from here.
The best part of “Sown with Salt,” though, is Daniel’s scenes with Daggett, the first of which opens the episode. Daniel has a meeting with his probation officer (played by Roxana Brusso), who informs him that he’ll have to attend weekly meetings and take part in drug tests, both scheduled and random. As he’s about to take his first test, he’s confronted by Daggett, who informs him of George’s death. One thing that’s great about Rectify is that, more than any show since Breaking Bad, its timeline allows characters to keep finding out about things that happened seasons ago. It’s strange to think that Daniel still didn’t know about George’s death when we witnessed it in the first episode, and there’s still so much that characters have to discover.
Later, Daniel and Jon meet with Daggett, who questions Daniel about his trip to Florida with Trey. Daggett asks Daniel, “Do you see yourself as having a temper?” “I do,” he replies. “Do you think you have trouble controlling your impulses?” “Sometimes,” he replies, looking at the ground. “Did you kill George Melton?” Daniel looks Daggett right in his eyes and says, “I did not.”
Upon finding out that Daniel assaulted not only Trey, but Teddy too, Jon is frustrated. He tells Daniel that he needs to get help, that he can’t just attack people, and that he could go back to prison if convicted of assault. “Would that be so bad?” Daniel asks. “Yeah, it’d be bad,” Jon immediately responds. “You know why? Because you haven’t given this a chance.” Will Daniel ever give the outside world a chance? The one person that seemed capable of giving him the strength to go on living outside of prison, Tawney—who he describes in this episode as “Someone I could trust…with who I am”—has yet to speak to him since his plea deal. She may still be his only hope.