The Breakdown: ‘Bloodline’ Season 1
“WE’RE NOT BAD PEOPLE, BUT WE DID A BAD THING.”
This portion of the review is SPOILER FREE.
Bloodline is another valiant effort from your favorite binge dealer, Netflix. Still riding high from the continued growth of House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, Netflix may have another winner to throw into the mix.
READ: ‘Bloodline’ Season 2 Review
Bloodline follows a Floridian family known as the Rayburns. There’s your standard mama and papa, then there are the four kids: John, the golden boy; Kevin, the fun one; Meg, everyone’s sweetheart; and then there’s Danny, a s**tstorm of s**t—a lot of it. Danny is this story’s catalyst, and everything rests on his decisions and their consequences.
If you aren’t patient enough to let Bloodline strategically lay its tracks before the train comes raging through, this isn’t the show for you. The show is dense, so binging does help. If this still appeals to you, you will be treated to a show where family drama takes precedence over any other theme. This is very much a dramatized story with a grounded feel. Each character has a spectrum, some more than others, but many shades, nonetheless.
This is a mature show, and it presents the content with maturity. The violence isn’t overbearing and the language is warranted. The structure of the show may bother some, with there being a mix a flashbacks and flashforwards, with the pieces coming together rather slowly at times. But once again, this show takes patience, and if you have it, you won’t be disappointed.
Bloodline stars Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights), Ben Mendelsohn, Linda Cardellini and Norbert Leo Butz as the four Rayburn children of focus. All 13 episodes are available to stream now on Netflix.
Each breakdown was written after viewing their respective episodes. The following breakdowns go into detail about every episode. SPOILER ALERT!
“Part 1” did a lot in a short period of time, but it did so in a way that worked. The opening primed us for what kind of characters the four Rayburn children are. Further solidifying this was the speech from their father given at the dinner. It looks like John (Kyle Chandler) and Danny will be the heart of this story, but I do hope the other siblings, Meg and Kevin, aren’t just backdrops in the overall plot. I don’t quite know how horrible of a human being Danny is completely, so I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him when everyone decided to lay the hate on thick throughout the episode. Seeing as how John kills Danny and begs for us not to judge him or his siblings, Danny must be a horrible person and John must not be, right? I do hope the death of Danny comes sooner. I would love to see the aftermath of all of this extended a bit, but maybe that’s what Season 2 will deal with.
75/100 – Good
“Part 2” ignited the fuse “Part 1” laid down. While the old drama cliche of someone with the answers being conveniently in a coma is in play here, Bloodline gave us the truth by this episode’s end. With the reveal, it all seems to lead up to us hating Danny’s siblings—mainly John and Kevin. Danny is up to some shady business with his friend Eric O’Bannon, so it’s too soon to tell if his eventual death will be justified. The stakes were raised when Kevin found the witnesses of his father’s canoeing accident. This was sandwiched between the trio of John, Kevin and Danny verbally sparring outside of the hospital and Kevin physically attacking Danny—with the latter triggering a bad memory within John. The episode ends with Kevin handing John a handgun, which you can bet isn’t for shooting gators. Things are heating up, and if the show can keep up this mid-burn pace, Netflix could have yet another winner.
86/100 – Great
Whereas “Part 2” focused more on Kevin and his dark decisions, “Part 3” put that weight on Meg. Storm Danny seems inevitable at this point, but currently he’s playing the role of the good son, whom no one has faith in. We found out that Meg has another man on the side, one who offered her a trip to New York whenever she wants. This may be an option for her once the season culminates with not only Danny’s death, but the death of whomever was in that trunk. The scene between Meg and Danny where he confronted her about the motel key he “found” felt a little blackmail-y, so that may be the pivot that turns Meg completely against him. Robert Rayburn awoke from his coma thankfully—a whole season of that would have been exhausting—but his memory is a bit spotty. Due to this, we learn about Sarah, most likely the oldest of the Rayburn children, who isn’t in the picture for some unknown reason. With John, Kevin and now Meg’s flashforwards shown to us, we’ll see what format “Part 4” takes on.
81/100 – Great
“Part 4” was a slower episode. The first trilogy of episodes closely followed Danny’s three siblings, whereas this one focused on the Rayburn family as a dysfunctional unit. The episode was seeded with flashbacks of Sarah’s death, which weighed heavily on Robert, making him a shell throughout. The drama was minimal, but that is a result of Danny actually being good, something he’s shown more of than the notoriously bad he’s known for. With that, the impact of Robert attempting pay Danny to leave was that much more intense. Hell, even Kevin came around to Robert about letting Danny stay. Meg’s plot isn’t the most interesting, given she’s still cheating with her work friend. On the other hand, John’s story was interesting this week. On the surface, the investigation was dry, but I believe there were tons of seeds planted. We now know that the two guys Eric and Danny are working with are the same two guys most likely responsible for the deaths of the young, Hispanic female burn victims. Additionally, it was said that the gasoline used to burn the boat from the opening scene isn’t found in Florida, so maybe that’s what John uses to kill Danny in order to divert suspicion.
78/100 – Good
When something is lost, something is gained indeed. “Part 5” kept with the slow-burn pace, but I could definitely feel the show moving forward. Robert Rayburn died at the top of this episode, and now we’re dealing with the aftermath. Weaved throughout this episode is the revelation that Robert was a violent man. It’s clear now that Danny’s injury was caused by Robert beating him after Sarah was hurt. The ending of this episode proved that when—to the effect of editing—Danny and John both are reminded of that tragic day via cassette and old case files, respectively. Robert’s old war buddy, Lenny Potts, made his debut on the show, ultimately giving Danny some answers. Kevin and Meg both experienced relationship issues, with Kevin’s demanding more sympathy than Meg’s, given her morality. On a side note, the Rayburns have serious issues with hallucinations.
79/100 – Good
Meth is bad. Danny is starting to transform into the man John eventually kills. For no clear reason besides, “This is what I do,” Danny decides to go on a coke/alcohol/meth binge. “Part 6” helped us understand what really happened on the day of Sarah’s death, albeit within far-from-sober Danny’s hallucination. The idea of her death being deliberate was played with a bit here as well. Danny’s good streak is over, and now I speculate we’ll be seeing an intense downward spiral for him that’ll take all other Rayburns down in some way. Speaking of the devils, they all had solid plots this episode. Meg is helping out Carlos, the brother of a worker for the family inn. This may seem harmless, but I feel this could lead to more shady requests for favors for Meg. John’s case made some headway, as he talked to a girl who survived a similar case as the one he’s investigating. With John on the trail of the two guys Danny is involved with, Meg helping out (minor) criminals and some unknown person/people buying the yacht space Kevin wants for way above market price, I’m really hoping all of these stories crossover, with commonality not being a far cry here.
83/100 – Great
Danny O’Bannon? Danny has disowned his family and adopted Eric and Chelsea as the only one he has. With that, his new family just waged war on his old. It was evident throughout this entire episode that Eric wanted Kevin to suffer for messing around with Chelsea, even trying to get Danny riled up about it. Before the credits rolled, Kevin was beat down by Eric. It’s unknown currently if this was just Eric acting alone or on the request of Danny, but the fact that it happened as Danny talked to Chelsea about abandoning his family can’t be a coincidence. Kevin is now broke and busted up and will most likely seek revenge. We now know how his window was damaged, which is the lens we see a defeated Kevin through in the flashforward from “Part 2.” Other revelations include Danny finally meeting the head of the operation he’s been working for, the same man John is hunting. There’s still a lot left unanswered, but Danny’s layers are being pulled back with each passing episode.
80/100 – Great
“Part 8” was a dense episode. From the jump we find out Danny was indeed behind Eric’s attack on Kevin. The messed up thing about it was that it wasn’t for money, but instead just to hurt him. With each passing episode, we peel back the f**ked up layers to Danny’s character, and we see truly how little his family means to him. Danny is doing some very shady drug (sugar) smuggling business now, all in the heart of the Rayburn’s inn. I had a feeling that Carlos and Danny would eventually cross paths again, and Danny has no problem bringing anyone into his web of disaster. This is Danny’s story and has always been, and he has his hand in everyone else’s plot, unsurprisingly. He’s causing trouble in John’s household, with John’s wife warning him that Danny is trouble. With Meg, who’s now engaged, finally, he talked to her about having each other’s back, another conversation that felt blackmail-y. Finally, Kevin’s inability to hold on to his property even has something to do with Danny. The fact that his property was damaged made things quite difficult for him to get his loan (thanks Obama!). The four corners of Bloodline’s story are all nearing the center, and we all know how that ends.
85/100 – Great
“Part 9” put us on an even faster track to the big finale. At the top of this season, I was sympathetic with Danny. Although I knew he’d eventually do wrong, I just didn’t see it. Now, I’m rooting for everything to come crashing down on our antagonist. He’s managed to infect John’s family with his problems, leaving a stench that lingers in arguments even when he’s not there. Ben Mendelsohn has done a great job thus far showing the devolution of Danny’s character. Each episode he does something more and more disgusting; it’s a subtle burn and I love it. Watching him toy with Meg right in front of innocent company was a thrilling moment within itself. All will be right soon, though, as John is hot on Danny’s trail. Eric is now in the tank and will surely talk, or possibly even let it slip that he was the one who attacked Kevin. It’s all very intense at the moment. John has come face-to-face with Wayne Lowry and Rafi Quintana, and now has discovered Danny’s dirty money. I should also mention that I don’t like when Danny is nice to people. The fact that he’s so close to John’s daughter Jane and Sally Rayburn makes me feel uneasy knowing what Danny is capable of. It’s going to pack quite the punch when everyone is hit with the consequences of Danny’s wrong doings.
85/100 – Great
Whew! Things are getting very thick. Before picking up where we left off in the last episode, “Part 10” teased us a little bit with the aftermath of Danny’s death. Not much was revealed, but any glimpse post-murder is appreciated. Bloodline soon returns to the tank where John is questioning Eric about what he and Danny are up to. This all spooked Eric but Danny isn’t worried. I’m hating Danny as a character, but he’s very addicting to watch. The investigation into Wayne Lowry and Rafi Quintana seemed to be mining answers way too quickly. Granted we’ve only seen John and Diaz’s part of the investigation, but it seemed like all of these suspects were quickly discovered for the sake of plot. Nonetheless, it all made for an intense moment. The hunt for Rafi and Danny’s slow-burn confession were juxtaposed well here, which made everything that much more intense. While I didn’t expect Rafi to step out of the vehicle at the beckon call of the DEA, I couldn’t help but linger on Danny’s words as I fully expected him to confess. Great time for a phone call, huh? Rafi was taken out in the end, and the death count will likely increase. The other Rayburns had their issues as well. Meg finally told Diaz about her infidelity, which leaves the wedding up in the air, and her taking up the job offer in New York certainly doesn’t leave things in a bright place. Meg is also onto Carlos and what’s happening out in the shed. It’s no surprise that everything will lead back to Danny.
88/100 – Great
“Part 11” felt like two separate, albeit thrilling, episodes. The first half dealt with Danny and the discovery of all of the coke in the shed. This whole segment felt as if we were watching the s**t his the fan in slow motion. Danny’s selfish choices left the three other Rayburn siblings in quite the rut, where doing the wrong thing or the right thing would sink them is someway or another. Deciding to move the drugs and eventually sink them in the ocean was a ballsy, necessary move. As Kevin searched through the drugs, he found Danny’s gun, the same gun we see Kevin hand John in the flashforward from “Part 2.” The second half of the episode focused on Danny and his heavy guilt of Sarah’s death, a guilt that still weighs on him. I felt it was a bit cheap for Bloodline to fake us out with Danny “drowning” Jane, but it caused for some dark territory to be explored. John’s frantic search for his daughter propelled the drama sky high. Although Jane was unharmed, Danny has given John the ammunition he needs to justify taking Danny’s life.
90/100 – Superb
Danny is dead. The moment we’ve been waiting for since the end of “Part 1” has finally risen to fruition. “Part 12” didn’t fall in with the pattern of a consistently increasing intensity as previous episodes have done. We were treated to an episode that resembled the pace of one of the earlier parts of the season, something I didn’t expect from the penultimate episode. With the slow down, some benefits were birthed. We really got to see the slow collapse of the Rayburns as Danny revealed that his selfish actions have endangered his family’s lives. Ralph Lawler, Wayne’s hired gun, was threatening, but he seemed to be no match for Danny and his shell. We haven’t seen much violence on the show, but I was hoping in this case we’d see Danny go head-to-head with the killer. With all of this drama and now the death-by-drowning of our main character, other stories such as Meg’s engagement trouble pale in comparison. Finally, it turns out that John didn’t need the gun to end the plague that was Danny. Danny’s gone, and we get a full hour of the aftermath. Let’s hope for something great.
80/100 – Great
“Part 13” was a finale done extremely well. There was wrap-up, then a beautiful transition into set-up. Post-Danny, John, Kevin and Meg’s lives all seem to have had a brighter light shone on them. John is being considered for sheriff, Kevin settled with the realtors and Meg had success in her interviews in New York. That was a preview of the calm after the storm, so in Bloodline fashion, we got sent back to the storm. This was the most thrilling aspect of this episode. John was truly lost, so it was nice to see his siblings pull through and help him. Whereas Danny served as a symbol for dysfunctionality, the other Rayburns siblings always stood for doing what’s best for family. As a result of their values, family ones at least, the covering up of Danny’s murder was an all-for-one effort. The unity of the three remaining Rayburn children was something I absolutely loved to see, and I’m hoping Season 2 produces more scenarios like this—which it has to do, naturally. You can’t cover up a murder without obstacles (don’t quote me on that), and there were many. The most intense one was Meg being stopped by a local trooper for swerving with a dead Danny in the trunk. Heart-pounding moments akin to this were seeded throughout this finale. Eventually, our trio of Rayburns managed to pull everything off. We end this inaugural season with everyone in a very happy place: John is still contemplating a position as sheriff, Kevin and Belle are having a baby and Meg is living it big in New York. We are left with two big twists that are sure to make Season 2 great. Our first: Lenny Potts reveals to Sally that her kids are lying to her about Danny. Our second: Danny has a son and wants answers. And now we wait.
93/100 – Superb
Do you enjoy the slow-burn pace of a show? What was your favorite moment of ‘Bloodline’’s first season? Tweet me your answers @NerdDotMe on Twitter or let me know in the comments. Also, be sure to follow us @YouNerded.
Additional editing by April Soller. Thanks.
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At last, intelligent dimensional drama in a senseless media age for real connoisseurs of episodic crime drama. Five stars for Bloodline and the Kesslers and I for one will be glued to Season 2 to see how the ghost of Danny and the progeny “Diehard” Rayburn (Danny Jr.) pick up where sociopath papa left off. Can’t wait to see John spin his role in the homicide during election campaign for sheriff=great irony. Kevin and Belle are headed for more rough times, I expect the baby’s arrival will not be without consequence and whatever the writers have in store for Sissy Spacek is going to be a keeper (don’t write her out of this show). Really hope Meg will implode at Alec’s shallowness in NYC and return to Marco and her roots but she has to fall down from the pedestal of escapism.
The finale was a total farce. They should have killed Danny an episode earlier. They could have wrapped the whole thing up via Potts’ revelations, so that by the time John is holding court with his campaign supporters-to-be Marco could calmly walk in and say, “John we need you to come with us…” I will not be watching Season 2 because it will suck.
I will be watching because I like the dynamic that we got at the end between the Rayburn trio. The ending could have been better in places, but I feel the intensity will be there. I hope a trailer will change your mind.
I liked the show, not sure if I’ll stay around for season 2 as the ending to this season was eye rolling. Some of the flashbacks were also bad particularly the one with Kyle Chandler’s character saying not to go out on the boat without an adult. Sorry but that’s not how children talk.
The acting is good. Ben Mendleson is convincing. Linda Cardellini is looking as good as ever and I’ve always felt underrated as an actress. Kyle Chandler is playing the same role he always plays but he’s good at at. A few script problems aside it’s good show.
There’s definitely room for improvement. With Danny gone, I’m hoping Bloodline can improve its story and not drop in quality. I’m also not sure if I see potential for longevity plot-wise, but still room for great storytelling.
I enjoyed the show. Great acting and scenery. I really liked trying to piece together all the little mysteries presented. Like how everything actually went down in the flashbacks and flashforwards. And then seeing it all come together was very satisfying. I didn’t much care for the tease with Danny’s son and I’m unsure how the show will be without Danny at the center going forward, but I will definitely tune in to find out. Great review!
It will be weird not having Danny at the center. I think it’ll be a far cry that his son will be able to take his place. I do hope John’s character can keep the show going strong. Thanks for the kind words.
Awesome review, dude. I should probably add this to my ever-growing backlog…
Definitely set some time aside, but awesome to hear. Thanks.