As Bloodline inches closer to its first season finale, the action finally starts to pick up.
Let’s bitch it out…
After listing for the majority of its middle episodes, ‘Part 9’ injects some action and urgency into the proceedings. It’s an hour that once again focuses primarily on Danny (Ben Mendelsohn) and John (Kyle Chandler), but the gap between the brothers is widening.
The episode finds Danny repeatedly bullying his way into results. In addition to his most explicit attempt to blackmail Meg (Linda Cardinelli) yet, he also turns Diana (Jacinda Barrett) from a weary bystander into a full-fledged enemy. His treatment of his sister-in-law is the most interesting example of Danny’s misguided priorities. Last week John informed Danny that he was on shaky ground, but rather than leave it alone, or keep his apology to Diana short and simple, Danny flips his switch and makes things worst. What’s most fascinating is that Danny berates Diana for coming in between him and his brother, despite the fact that Danny now knows that John was responsible for encouraging both Kevin (Norbert Leo Butz) and Meg to lie about Danny’s accident when they were kids. It’s almost as if Danny feels a greater kinship with the brother that he will inevitably try to destroy, but in the meantime he doesn’t want anything – or anyone – to come between them.
That decision may no longer be his to make, however, now that John has finally put his detective skills to use. The entire episode finds John wearing his professional hat and the difference in his agency is night and day from previous episodes. Instead of dedicating all of his time to playing the family mediator, John is freed to not only investigate Rafi (Gino Vento) and Wayne (Glenn Morshower) at the bait shop (and run afoul Bill Kelly’s Clay, the newly introduced DEA agent), as well as trace Danny’s history before he returned to the Keys.
It should be noted that Diana is actually responsible for setting him on this path. Diana is the unfortunate prognosticator in the series in that she’s seen the storm coming for several episodes, but until now she’s been powerless to convince anyone that something is amiss. After her run-in with the troubled Rayburn brother at work, she brings it upon herself to investigate what happened to the money that she and John gave Danny. That money has gone from a casual mention to a significant plot point in the matter of two episodes; we now know that Danny dropped out of school, used the funds to start his own restaurant in Miami and then, in a moment of desperation after falling into debt with some bad guys, torched the restaurant and booked it home to the safety of the Keys. These revelations are hardly surprising given the hints and suggestions that have been dropped thus far, but it’s nice to see John get confirmation. In fact, the sole surprising development is that Danny has been sending the packages of money to his old apartment and not his ex-flame Beth Mackey (Hani Avital), whom I anticipated would have an illegitimate child Danny was trying to keep out of sight.
The end of the episode continues Bloodline’s habit of teasing major dramatic conflict on the horizon (whether it is delivered sooner rather than later is another question). John now knows that Danny is up to no good and, in the final scene, pulls over Eric O’Bannon (Jamie McShane) to find out exactly what he’s up to. Fingers crossed this means that the remaining three episodes will amp up the heat and speed up the pacing a little as the two brothers enter into direct conflict as we catch up to the flash forwards.
- Sally’s (Sissy Spacek) history is teased out in a combination of vague flashbacks set on a bus and a few confessional discussions with Danny. We learn that Sally may feel more sympathetic to Danny because she has more in common with him than the other straight-laced Rayburn children. Over a shared joint, Sally reveals that she and Robert started their romance when she was underage and she ran away from her family to marry him because she was pregnant. It’s an interesting twist that both confirms and denies the fairytale romance that was inferred by the ceremony that kicked off the series – suddenly it seems more like Sally’s role in the family’s twisted history is a testament to Robert’s older, domineering presence than passivity. I’m not sure this excuses her actions when it comes to Danny’s injury, but it does offer some clarity.
- Meg and Danny butt heads when she questions his intentions in the family business. In this episode alone, Danny changes the menu and then tries to adopt a broader business model (the former accepted, the latter refused). Interestingly, although it is Sally who puts the kibosh on the second, Danny clearly blames Meg for questioning his intentions and expresses his wrath by dangling her affair in front of Marco (Enrique Murciano). There’s no closure, but the end of the episode finds the pair on even rockier ground than before. No wonder Meg strikes first in the flashbacks!
- Confirmed by Beth Mackey: the mystery hallucination in Danny’s mind (played by Mia Kirshner) is, in fact, Sarah. I feel a little stupid that I didn’t make the connection earlier. This reveal, however, is very telling: the sibling that Danny accidentally killed has become the devil on his shoulder that encourages his bad behaviour. I wonder why Danny has reshaped her in such a way (perhaps because he often sees her when he’s on drugs, when he’s clearly not in the best state of mind?)
- Finally, as much as I’ve enjoyed some of the series’ technical aspects, ‘Part 9’s repeated highlighting of the Rayburn family sticker on the company van when Carlos (Eliezer Castro) makes the drug delivery is frustratingly obvious. We get it: had Carlos been apprehended making the swap, the family business would have been implicated in drug trafficking, which demonstrates how laissez-faire Danny is being with everyone’s fortune. The implications are real, but the repeated shots of the sticker feel incredibly heavy-handed. Perhaps the intention is simply to foreshadow that this is how the truth will come out, but it plays like a dumb, obvious way to communicate something that is not that difficult to understand.
Your turn: has Danny burned too many bridges? Are you glad that John has finally investigated his past? Did the Rayburn sticker feel too obvious to you? Will Meg’s infidelity come out? And is Diana that saddest character because she’s taking the brunt of Danny’s wrath? Sound off below, but please refrain from spoilers from the remaining S1 episodes.
Bloodline is now available in its entirety on Netflix.