WE KEEP DOING BAD THINGS.
Note: The following section is SPOILER FREE!
Bloodline is a series that prides itself on its slow burn formula. The first season of the show executed this brilliantly, setting the series up for a bevy of one tense situation after the other. The pace and the continued build of intensity that made Season 1 a great get for Netflix makes Season 2 less impressive.
I’m always willing to let a show take its time to tell the story it needs to tell, if it makes sense. Here in Season 2, Bloodline feels as it didn’t have the meaty content of Season 1, but still applied the “take our time to the climax” philosophy. This results in a season that drags a bit more than needed, even with only 10 episodes this time around (down from last year’s 13).
The big event that forever changed the Rayburn family steps its legs into this season, fittingly, although there are elements and dynamics missing this season that defined Bloodline previously. Some features from Season 1 are salvaged in the form of flashbacks. I’ve never been a huge fan of flashbacks in any medium; they’ve always felt like retrofits for things the writers didn’t properly set up in previous entries. However, the frequent use of flashbacks in this season at the very least is interesting and at the very most, necessary.
Kyle Chandler, Linda Cardellini and Norbert Leo Butz as the Rayburn sibling trio—John, Meg and Kevin—do their best work when they share one scene. The three all have consequences to answer to, and them working to void themselves of responsibility is where this season excels. Season 2 is a weaker season, but what it sets up could potentially top anything the show has given us yet.
Note: The following section goes into detail about the season. SPOILER ALERT!
There’s a feeling when you are around family and you have to censor yourself—that’s what talking about this season spoiler free felt like. Now, I’m around my friends and I can say f**k and other fun words. Once again, spoilers follow.
Ben Mendelsohn’s Danny Rayburn made Bloodline worth the time commitment. His lack of tangibility this season made it a shadow of its predecessor. There’s no way the show could let that presence slip away entirely, though. Danny’s death looms over John, Meg and Kevin. While Meg and Kevin have hands in Danny’s murder, John’s the one that physically took Danny’s life away. With that, Danny acts as a pervasive reminder in John’s head that John is the bad guy. It’s a play on the classic idiom of “An eye for an eye…” In trying to stop evil, John in turn becomes what he tried to suppress. “We’re not bad people, but we did a bad thing” is the quote that set the show’s theme. Now, these people are just bad.
Another way Danny’s life was extended this season was in the form of last season’s cliffhanger, Nolan: Danny’s son. However corny it was to tack that on, Nolan actually became a fitting addition to the story. The writers really wanted to show that Nolan was Danny’s son, be it the way he acted, the way the Rayburns treated him or literally mimicking similar shots from Season 1 with Nolan taking Danny’s place in the frame. In addition to Nolan entering the story, his mother, Eve, wasn’t too far behind. These two served as two more perspectives on Danny—a once selfless and compassionate man, something this season explores. It’s obvious the show is in love with Danny, but his death limits what they can still do with his character. What is done was done well, succeeding in keeping Danny as a character present, but never treating him as a revived presence.
Despite losing a major player last season, Bloodline utilizes its current roster with great accuracy. Marco Diaz and Eric O’Bannon were two characters who were, for the most part, side pieces for the show. This time around, they were given the task to uncover the secrets of Danny’s murder. I never got the sense that the show propelled these characters forward for the sake of plot. Instead, they naturally flowed into their respective positions this season. Bloodline is a show with plans. This allows the narrative to follow a cohesive path paved by the writers, and this is excellent especially given Bloodline’s binge-friendly platform.
Bloodline Season 2 on its own is still great television. The drama is never in your face; it’s more of a gentle shoulder massage that quickly pivots to a chokehold. The show is aware of itself—past, present and future, and the latter is looking mighty dark. The truth about Danny’s murder is steps away from the light, and now there’s even more blood on the floor. John is on the run, Meg is confessing to their mother and Kevin killed Marco: what a mess we’re left with. Watching the Rayburns do some housecleaning should make for a thrilling Season 3.
Did this season suffer without Danny? What do you think will happen in Season 3? Tweet me @NerdDotMe. And be sure to follow us @YouNerded.
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