'Bloodline' wraps up
"The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist. And like that... he is gone." — Verbal Kent, "The Usual Suspects"
"Bloodline" was hailed as the next big thing for Netflix when it debuted three years ago. And it makes sense. Kyle Chandler, Sissy Spacek, Linda Cardinelli, Sam Shepherd, and Ben Mendelsohn headlining the cast, and a premise that seemed perfect. But it wasn't received as such.
The show begins with John (Chandler), a straight-arrow cop, saying of his family that "We aren't bad people, but we did a bad thing." And that was the set up for what was about to happen — a show about good people getting pulled into a bad situation and making the wrong choice. Seems simple enough.
And, for the most part, the first season kind of followed that premise. At least that's what they tried to sell you on. But for the final two seasons, 20 mores hours, that got harder to believe. It revealed that John, Meg (Cardinelli) and Kevin (Norbert Leo Butz) were, indeed, awful people.
Worse yet, the final two seasons were a slog that left one reasonably wondering whether it was worth watching at all. In fact, after finishing all 33 episodes, I'd say it wasn't. It was a high-profile, high-promise Netflix series that didn't deliver.
That seems to be happening to Netflix a lot lately. "Sense 8" was cancelled this week, too, a project from the directors of "The Matrix" that never brought in the viewers.
So what went wrong for "Bloodline?" Well, for starters, Mendelsohn was the best thing in the show, and his character was killed in the first season. That led to some weird creativity to keep him coming back for all the second season and periodically in the third. The ghost thing works for an episode or two, but for 20? That's a bit much.
But the thing was, while there might have been a great plan for season one, there appeared to be no plan for season two. Then the writers had to steer into the skid for season three, which included a final two WTF episodes that left me wondering what I had just seen. Episode 3.09 was like a weird fever dream, while the finale ended without any real resolution on anything.
Sure, I'm fine with a little ambiguity. I didn't expect everything to be perfectly resolved. But I expected some answers and some consequences. But that wasn't in the offing.
In fact, for much of the season Meg was MIA. John's family imploded, so did his mental state, but it kind of seemed like in the end it all worked out. We left with him having confessed to killing his brother, but not being believed, and instead appearing to be promoted to the position of Sheriff. Meanwhile, his sister had a mental breakdown and ran away, his mother had a mental breakdown and disappeared, and his brother got arrested for drug trafficking. Yay....
Netflix needs some new blood and some things to hit. Maybe "Stranger Things" will be it. But it feels like the kind of lightening in a bottle that can't be replicated. Maybe it will be "The Crown," but that's one that played better with critics than with fans. "House of Cards" is going strongish, but how much longer can it roll. Same with "Orange is the New Black." Netflix has a whole slew of Marvel shows, but that's some niche fair.
Three years ago, "Bloodline" looked like it could be the next hit for Netflix. A week ago it unceremoniously dumped its final season that went out with a whimper.