Warning: The following article contains some spoilers about Netflix’s Bloodline.
“We’re not bad people, but we did a bad thing.” The gravelly voice of John Rayburn (Kyle Chandler) informs us of the moral shortcomings of the Rayburn clan. Bloodline’s first season begins with the message that something is askew at the scenic Rayburn Inn.
The lush Florida landscape is a fitting setting for this tale about a family who by all appearances seem to live on a perfect little oasis by the sea. Yet, family secrets and sins swim just under the surface. Slighted eldest son Danny Rayburn (Ben Mendelsohn) shows up after years of estrangement and proceeds to slowly threaten everyone in the family.
For those who’ve seen the first season, we know that Danny is not long for this earth. The flashbacks/flash-forwards of the series assist in painting a portrait of a man forgotten and mistreated by his family — and has come to have everyone pay for the wrong done to him. However, Johnny Be-Good won’t be having any of it and “takes care” of black sheep of the family.
The slow burn of season one lead to dramatic and well orchestrated moments of tension and release. Nearly every episode bordered on fifty plus minutes, small films in-and-of themselves that worked to ever so slowly unravel how a man who seems so evil and malicious can be sympathized with. In the end, we bid Danny adieu with his siblings John, Meg (Linda Cardellini), and Kevin (Norbert Leo Butz) getting their hands dirty in the process.
The season’s finale seems to have all sins and possible repercussions tied up neatly in a bow with skeletons tucked away in their respective closets. But wait! Unbeknownst to the family the Rayburn pariah had sired a son in the time he wandered the mean streets of Miami, and this little tyke appears at John’s doorstep looking for answers.
Not only does Danny Jr. present a problem by sniffing around, but also Mama Rayburn (Sissy Spacek) has detective Potts in her employ and might be more hip to the truth than her surviving offspring imagine.
And so, the board is set again for more of the elongated stomach-churning suspense the show seems to be so good at.
I would recommend watching season one of Bloodline first — it’s great television and a riveting story. However, the second coming of this familial drama rings as more of an over-extended dénouement wherein resolution, revelation, and catastrophe are played as one complicated note, while the tide of another rising action clumsily builds its strength.
Guilt is a major player, with the “Rayburn Three” attempting to keep their sibling secret without completely self-destructing. The nefarious Danny reaches beyond the grave to continue to fuck up the lives of his family members, and baddies start to get entangled in the whole affair. Despite the incredible performances, including newcomer Owen Teague who plays Danny’s boy Nolan — not only does he strike a resemblance, but his mannerisms from dramatic pause to icy stare reflect, but not mimic, that of his father — the plot seems to be beating the metaphorical deceased horse.
In summary, the second season — with episodes even longer by twenty (!) minutes than last — is for those who want to keep the rollercoaster going. The mystery and intrigue lives on, but for me, the tendrils have overreached their dramatic quality and are quickly approaching melodramatic, overwrought, over-complicated territory.
Buy hey, there are some interesting questions to be answered, number one being: Are the Rayburn Three going to be put in the slammer? Could happen. Maybe season three is all about their prison life? Is Danny’s son just as rotten to the marrow like his daddy? Who knows? But if you’re itching to know there’s ten plus hours with all the answers waiting for you, only on Netflix.
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