The future for 'Bloodline'
"We're not bad people, but we did a bad thing." — John Rayburn, "Bloodline"
The second season of the Netflix original series "Bloodline" dropped on May 27. By now, many have made their way through this latest adventure of the Rayburn clan. But if you have, you probably can't help but notice there is a shadow over the whole thing.
In terms of plot, that shadow is the murder of Danny Rayburn (Ben Mendelsohn). In terms of the series, it's Mendelsohn himself.
The first season of "Bloodline," which debuted last year, was a fascinating look at a family living in the Florida Keys. There are four siblings, Sheriff's Deputy John (Kyle Chandler), lawyer Meg (Linda Cardinelli), entrepreneur Kevin (Norbert Leo Butz) and the black sheep, Danny. The first season was about Danny's return, and what that sparked in the family, leading to the confrontation with John that ended his life.
Mendelsohn was by far the best thing about the first season of the show. His performance was great, and his role in the plot was what helped it pop. Knowing his character was killed, it was fair to wonder how the show could move forward. The second season tries to answer that question.
The answer it provides is, unevenly and not without help. Mendelsohn appears in all 10 episodes of the second season, usually briefly through flashbacks that help round out the story. The show also adds new characters and some strong actors in John Leguizamo and Andrea Riseborough. But none of that covers up what's missing — the shadow cast by Danny the character and Mendelsohn the performer.
The show wisely reduced its episode count — from 13 in season one to 10 in season two — but it can't escape the shadows hung over the narrative and the show. Part of the problem is, though two full seasons, Danny is still really the only interesting character in the narrative. Worse yet, the show feels painted into such a finite corner at the end of season two it's hard to imagine where it goes.
The entire series starts with John Rayburn saying, "We're not bad people, but we did a bad thing." But after 23 episodes, that feels like the biggest lie of all. Who do you root for? Who do you invest in? There are no easy answers, which is what makes "Bloodline" one of the most frustrating series from Netflix.