If you haven’t watched Netflix’s excellent Bloodline yet, there’s still time over the holiday break to get caught up. The slow burn thriller features two powerhouse Emmy-nominated performances by the glorious Ben Mendelsohn and perennial Pajiba favorite, Kyle Chandler, as well as Sissy Spacek, Linda Cardellini, Sam Shepard, Norbert Leo Butz and Chloe Sevigny. I beg of you naysayers who found it difficult to get into to the groove, give Bloodline another chance; I promise you the Chandler/Mendelsohn dynamic hits a crescendo the likes of which you’ve never seen. Their broken relationship, fueled by love, pain, anger and loyalty plays out in one of the most complicated, fucked up penultimate episodes you’ll ever see, and as promised by the series creators, that was only the beginning.
Watching a family eat itself from the inside out might not sound like great entertainment, but as a character study of how that unit functions as a whole, Bloodline gives so much more. We’re spurred to ponder the way as parents, siblings and children, we love each other. How we think we’re taking care of one another, the way a family structure is created and reveals itself, these ideas are fascinating to explore through the lens of the Rayburns, and gives us fodder to consider our own worlds. What mind-twisting methods do we use to convince ourselves we’re the leader, the follower, the good guy, or the black sheep. Do we self-fulfill those roles whether we chose them or not? Do parents unknowingly cobble the shoes we’ll walk in the rest of our lives? Can we truly break away from what’s been laid out, or are most of us destined to dutifully slip into our assigned slot? And, If “bad blood” runs through parents’ veins, must it course through the whole family?
***MAJOR Spoilers for Season 1 ahead****
That’s the likely direction Bloodline’s second season will explore. By its very nature, the Rayburn family runs deeply dark. I’ve had many discussions about Danny’s (Ben Mendelsohn) choices, and whether he ever tried to break out of the role he was given. What little we know about the in-between periods unseen in Season 1, there are a few breadcrumbs to follow into the second round. This could be the story of Danny setting up his family to fall, or we may be witness to the Rayburn clan’s systematic breakdown of its own accord. Here are a few questions to ponder.
I love that the second season tagline could be taken two different ways. “None of you are safe” because that bad blood runs through all the Rayburns veins, or because Danny had plans to get back at each of his family members? Two down, four to go.
Why was Danny sending money to himself at his old apartment? Was it a merely a safe place to keep it away from whomever Danny owes back in Miami?
How long has his son been looking for Danny? Did Danny even know he had a son?
Could the son be involved in Danny’s plan to take down his family?
Was his own murder just the first step in Danny’s plan? Did he already set up Kevin, Meg and Sally’s downfall?
Did Danny just give up and push John (Kyle Chandler) to do what he knew his brother would do, because Danny realized he’d never break out of his set place in the family? Or was Danny so completely vile, he simply wanted John to see himself for who John really is? Did Danny want to prove to his brother that John isn’t really the good guy (cop) at all? (John always like to think of himself as his brother’s protector, the one who stood up for Danny, and sometimes he did.)
We’ve seen what John is capable of; was that just a one-off, a person pushed to his breaking point? I sincerely doubt it.
Can Meg live with her part in the cover-up of her own brother’s death by another brother’s hand? Will Kevin’s explosive temper bring him down?
How much will Lenny Potts (Frank Hoyt Taylor) uncover about the past and the present?
Ben Mendelsohn will return with the rest of the main cast for the second season, presumably in plenty of flashback scenes that will fill in some of the holes. New faces include John Leguizamo as Ozzy Delvecchio, a “charming, violent wild card” (probably the Miami debt connection) who had strong ties with Danny, and Andrea Riseborough (Birdman, W.E.) as Evangeline, another person from Danny’s past (and maybe his son’s mother?).
Bloodline returns to Netflix January 16th.