Shots, cock-fights and marital discord dominate ‘Part 8’ of Netflix’s Bloodline.
Let’s bitch it out…
Here we go. While still operating at a slow boil, things are finally starting to pick up in ‘Part 8’ as Danny (Ben Mendelsohn) begins building his criminal empire and freaking out his family. It’s still not clear if getting in with Wayne (Glenn Morshower) and his mohawked henchman Rafi (Gino Vento) is the extent of Danny’s ambition, but he’s already scored himself a lucrative spot at the table after passing Wayne’s test moving powdered sugar. To do so he first exonerates Carlos (Eliezer Castro) – courtesy of some well timed threats by Rafi to scare off the witness – and then puts Carlos to work (or blackmails him, depending on how you choose to interpret their interaction at the cock fight). It’s the start of a new empire for Danny, even as he begins to push away his family with his abrasive behaviour.
We’ve heard week in and week out about Danny’s history, but there have never been flashbacks to help us identify exactly what the other Rayburn children are referring to specifically. Mendelsohn’s revelatory performance suggests that Danny has always walked a tightrope: he’s clearly charismatic and the life of the party when he wants to be “good” (just look at how seamlessly and shamelessly he engages the good looking blonde at the bar), but his dark side is malicious and a little ruthless. When he spots Meg (Linda Cardellini), he lays into her for deceiving him about their father’s will, and even when she reminds him that he threatened her, Danny acts like she’s the guilty person for stabbing him in the back. Danny clearly not only feels owed by his family, but that no amount of forgiveness or welcoming will appease his hurt feelings. You can see it on his face when he sees the “family” picture of Jane’s (Taylor Rouviere) birthday on John’s (Kyle Chandler) fridge – he hasn’t felt like a member of the Rayburns for quite some time and he doesn’t think that they consider him one.
So he goes to work on them – guilt-tripping them, accusing them, and menacing them. In addition to his loaded conversation with Meg, the big event of the episode is when Danny recruits John for a night of binge drinking at the Caribbean Club. The pair discuss John’s tendency to try to resolve everything and Danny (not incorrectly) armchair psychoanalyzes that part of John’s problem is that he has never left town. John’s counterargument is similarly truthful and mean: he had commitments that prevented him from venturing out. The suggestion that Danny left because he had no ties speaks to the rift between him and the family; we still don’t know exactly what happened to prompt Danny’s departure or when, but the inference that he left of his own choice doesn’t exactly gel with everything we’ve seen and heard, particularly from his interactions with Robert (I always assumed that Robert asked Danny to leave, or paid him to, or flat-out disowned him).
The drinking scene is lengthy, but it is key for what’s to come. John gets a glimpse of Danny’s manipulativeness when the conversation shifts to John’s 17 year long marriage to Diana (Jacinda Barrett). Danny’s insistence that he and Diana had a “moment” (a vague term if there ever was one: a flirtation, an eye-fuck, a literal make-out?) riles John up, prompting him to distinguish himself from Danny by suggesting that John attracts “quality” women whereas Danny is capable solely of “quantity.” It’s a crude distinction and one that addresses the class difference that has lingered on the periphery of the series. While I personally would put Kevin (Norbert Leo Butz) on par with Danny, the economics are visually distinct. John owns a large bungalow…Danny sleeps on his couch. Meg has a job as a lawyer…Danny entertains children with snorkelling and carts fish around the family property.
The end of the episode suggests a shift. After Danny (drunkenly?) drinks John home, Danny and Diana have an emotionally charged interaction (another moment?) that sets the stage for her morning after intervention with John. Danny menaces her in a subtly threatening way – you can see her discomfort at his proximity, his tone and his words. And yet when she raises the issue with John the next day, his good guy mediator syndrome kicks in and he refuses to support her. We know that John senses something is off – there’s a point of view shot when John sees Danny threatening him with a knife (in reality Danny is simply carrying the car keys) which reveals that John fears his brother. It’s unclear if John blames the booze or simply because he feels poorly after how Danny has been treated, but the family mediator isn’t ready to give up on his older brother, despite his gut feeling.
As we see from the return of the flash forwards and the voice over, however, this is a big mistake.
- I did not miss the flash forwards or voice over. It still feels like neither offers anything to the narrative, and after several episodes without the presence of either, it’s jarring when they suddenly return.
- There’s a nice bait and switch seeing Kevin in his office in the future and the aftermath of last episode’s beating. While the rain is a clear giveaway of future-set scenes, it is still disorienting and easy to conflate one time with another.
- We also get confirmation that Eric (Jamie McShane) is the one who beat up Kevin when Eric offers Danny a cut of the money he stole. Unfortunately for Kevin, the break-in and the loss of revenue means his loan falls through, which completely screws him over financially.
- Sally (Sissy Spacek) reminds me a great deal of John in her willingness to trust Danny. He starts off small by suggesting that they change the menu, then suddenly he’s making hiring decisions and practically running the place. He clearly has his mother under control.
- John and Marco (Enrique Murciano) catch a break with the case when they find the father of the murdered girl. He ultimately identifies Rafi, which brings them one step closer to Wayne…and Danny.
- Congrats to Meg and Marco, which finally get engaged (just as Kevin reveals to everyone he and Belle have separated and John and Diana hit the rocks). At this point Bloodline‘s perspective on marriage is pretty damn depressing. Should we be cheering for anyone to get hitched?
- Finally, there’s nothing overly graphic about the cock fight, but iit’s still really uncomfortable/disturbing to watch. Why would anyone enjoy this activity?!
- Danny (ominously standing over a drunken John): “You know you gotta watch out, you are not a man that is used to being out of control.”
Your turn: how far is Danny willing to go? How long before John realizes he should have trusted Diana’s warning? Are we happy that Meg and Marco are engaged? How long before John discovers Danny’s mixed-up in the people smuggling? Is Sally too trusting? And do you care about the flashforwards? Sound off below, but please refrain from posting spoilers about upcoming episodes.
Bloodline is now available in its entirety on Netflix.