Danny (Ben Mendelsohn) learns the truth about his siblings’ betrayal and goes on a bender as Netflix’s Bloodline approaches the half-way point of its first season.
Let’s bitch it out…
The Rayburn clan are mostly kept separate this week as nearly everyone has their own personal story lines (and issues) to deal with. Still, the dominant focus remains the challenging relationship between the eldest siblings – Danny (Ben Mendelsohn) and John (Kyle Chandler) – who continue to be framed in a combative sense.
‘Part 6’ opens on the heels of the last episode as both men listen/reflect on the interview John gave to former Detective Leonard Potts (Frank Hoyt Taylor). There’s a surprising amount of exposition surrounding the tape – almost as if Bloodline‘s writers don’t trust us to connect the dots about John’s lies, Robert’s abuse and Danny’s role in Sarah’s death. Didn’t we figure these things out last week? The conversation between Potts and John provides confirmation of many of the details we speculated about, but it’s not exactly relevatory.
More interesting is the way that Danny reacts. He is clearly agitated when he approaches Sally (Sissy Spacek) to ask for some time off and his destructive behaviour spirals as the episode progresses. First he buys coke from Eric (Jamie McShane), then pounds back tequila shots and, when confronted with sympathy from Tricia the bartender about his father’s death, he jumps to a dance bar frequented by kids half his age. Things escalate quickly as two drug vultures descend on him and the scenes that follow simulate their high as the action speeds by in blurs of colour, lights and frenetic editing.
There’s a pervasive sense of danger in all of Danny’s scenes: will the young couple assault him and take the drugs? (No) Will he be beaten up by the Army guy in the bar? (Yes) Will he be assaulted by the sketchy man in the truck who picks him up hitchhiking? (Surprisingly no). When the police bust up the party and Danny pulls a gun on John after a scuffle, we’re left wondering if this is the incident that really initiates the murder that opens the series (although by this time the presence of Mia Kirshner has become a very obvious clue that Danny is hallucinating).
Ultimately the real danger is not a threat posed to Danny; it’s the danger that Danny poses. In the final scene of the episode, John tries to make amends with his brother by apologizing for lying about their father’s abuse as a child. It’s an olive branch that follows John’s adamant statement to his other siblings that if Danny is cut out of the will, he will opt out of his share, too. John is clearly making an effort in the wake of Robert’s death. For Danny, however, it’s too late: you can see it on his face that he doesn’t believe his brother’s apology is genuine (or he simply wants no part of it). When they part, John thinks they’re okay, but even before he walks away, Danny smirks and delivers a striking blow to the fish he’s just caught.
The chop isn’t subtle and we cut to black and the credits, the meaning is pretty clear: that image of Danny striking a blow is foreshadowing for what he’s about to do. Danny feels betrayed and he’s going to make his family pay.
- I found Meg’s (Linda Cardinelli) subplot involving Carlos (Eliezer Castro), a former employee of the resort she hesitantly agrees to represent, really poorly integrated. Much like John’s ongoing case involving the people smuggling, there’s a suggestion that this is part of a larger narrative, but as an introduction it feels super awkwardly inserted without some kind of context.
- Talk about bad timing. After finally breaking things off with Alec (Steven Pasquale) in person, Meg tries to maneuver Marco (Enrique Murciano) into proposing to her at breakfast (because her father’s death “clarified things”). Unfortunately Marco isn’t having it. Is this the end of their relationship? It’s not very clear.
- The details about Kevin (Norbert Leo Butz) and Belle’s (Katie Finneran) separation come into focus when Kevin snoops on her laptop and discovers an open online dating profile (reason #1582 for logging out of everything when you leave the house). Kevin later spots Belle on her date, but refrains from making a scene or mentioning it when he gives back his house keys. On the plus side: thanks to Danny’s verbal abuse, Chelsea (Chloë Sevigny) may now be more amenable to hooking up with him.
- Still not quite sure what we’re meant to make of Kevin’s interest in buying up Sue’s property aside from the fact that he needs a whole lotta money (which explains why he’s uninterested in giving Danny a share of the will). Is there anything more to be made of this?
- I’ve argued that Danny already knows he’s been cut out of the will, but perhaps he doesn’t. Why else is the scene when he wanders through the house include a close-up of the paperwork that contains the will on the kitchen table included in this episode?
- Finally, John goes to interview a woman who was involved in a similar smuggling operation five years earlier. Her description of the experience is horrifying, but there’s nothing substantial in the way of clues or leads. I simply don’t understand what we’re meant to take away from the scenes involving the case – it’s not moving forward and it has no bearing on the other aspects of the series.
Your turn: did you need the confirmation of facts from Potts and John’s discussion or was that extraneous? Was Meg’s case awkwardly inserted? Is Danny gunning for his family now? Will Kevin hit it off with Chelsea? Did you like the way that Danny’s drunken/high escapades were visually depicted? And did you identify that his dramatic confrontation with John at the party was a hallucination? Sound off below, but please refrain from posting spoilers about forthcoming episodes.
Bloodline is available in its entirety on Netflix.