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The Red Road

SundanceTV’s second wholly owned original series, while not quite as compelling or direct as Rectify, has an impeccable cast and crew, led by writer Aaron Guzikowski (Prisoners), producer Sarah Condon (Bored to Death) and showrunner Bridget Carpenter (Friday Night Lights). It’s set in a fascinating location, the mountains of Northern New Jersey, where Lenape Indians and suburban whites grimly coexist, collide and conflict, sometimes violently.

“People up here are pretty fed up, and they’re going to dump a hundred years of bad [stuff] back on your wife,” as returning ex-con Philip Kopus (Jason Momoa) tells local cop Harold Jensen (Martin Henderson) in episode one. The drama mostly pivots around these two characters, as Kopus covers up a possible misdeed by Jensen’s deeply troubled wife, Jean (Julianne Nicholson) and forces Jensen to help cover up Kopus’s crimes.

Jensen, a star high-school footballer before the game broke his back, has a hard time fulfilling his roles as a cop, husband and father. The lakes of the polluted forests hide past and current crimes, but not forever, and there’s a high probability of collateral damage when Jensen and Kopus have their inevitable confrontation. The Red Road (which we’re told is a metaphor for walking the right path through life) is grim and murky, but the performances are strong, the characters are complex and not always predictable and you’ll find yourself wanting to know where it all leads.