BLOODLINE Review: Episodes 5-7

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Kevin needs to keep his story straight on as Marco’s murder goes to trial. Meg leaves her family and her troubles behind, starting a new life for herself, and Sally makes a heart rendering admission to the court that finally tells the truth about an event in her family’s past. Will the truth sink the Rayburn’s or free them from their guilt?

The most important thing for the Rayburn’s is that Marco’s murder investigation does not go to trial. The most effect way to deal with pinning the murder on Eric O’Bannon is to make him feel he has no other choice but to accept a plea deal. Eric has lost all hope of being cleared, so he agrees to plead guilty in exchange for a thirty-year sentence. The only thing hanging up the agreement is Marco’s family has to sign off on it, and they are not about to do so. They want to see the man they believe killed their son get the death sentence.

Making the manufactured eyewitness account blaming Eric O’Bannon for the murder is a tricky thing. There are all sorts of ways Kevin and John’s stories could have holes poked in them, so it’s in all of their best interests to never have to take the stand. John manipulates Sally into talking to Marco’s mother, and the conversation about her own loss of a child is enough to sway the woman. In order to escape the pain of a trial, she and her family agree to accept the plea deal. Everything seems to be going exactly to plan until Chelsea convinces Eric to fight the charges if he isn’t guilty. He knows enough to expose both John and Kevin for their crimes, but will he get an opportunity?

Lying to protect the family has become second nature ever since John, Meg, and Kevin were children. It’s something their mother asked of them immediately following the drowning death of their sister Sarah. When their father beat the crap out of Danny following Sarah’s death, a lie was created to protect their father after Danny ended up in the hospital. They lied to the police, they lied to the public, and they lied to themselves. Since John was the oldest, the weight of the lie lay heaviest on his shoulders, which is why as an adult he’s taken on the mantle of family protector. It’s clear he’s weary of it, which is why he attempts to run away, but family problems pull him right back in.

If Kevin is left to his own devices, he’ll end up deeper and deeper in trouble since he’s aligned himself with Roy Gilbert and whatever illegal business Gilbert is up to. Gilbert pretends to help Kevin and the Rayburn’s, but neither John nor Sally really trusts the man. Clearly he has ulterior motives, and there are definitely strings attached. Kevin finds out exactly how dangerous their relationship is after he ferries some illegal Cubans into the country, only to get mixed up in trouble whenever he’s with them. Kevin will never learn though. He has a thick skull, and he’s out to prove to John he can take care of his own business. Gilbert’s gifts and faux trust in Kevin play right to what’s missing in Kevin’s relationship with his brother, which could end up being a liability.

When Meg finds out the truth about Marco’s murder, it finally pushes her over the edge. The guilt and lying are too much, so she runs away, changes her name, and severs all contact with her family. The new life she’s started keeps her away from all the trouble until John tracks her down. Her testimony would help the case, and beyond that, Eric’s sister Chelsea has made up a story about Meg that’s made her a suspect in Marco’s murder. Things aren’t looking very good, and there’s the distinct possibility her escape may be short lived. John needs her, but envies her for leaving it all behind. The last thing she wants to do is return, but she’ll do it. John loves her and doesn’t want to cause her any more pain, so he keeps her from coming, hoping her escape can be permanent.

Eric’s public defender believes his stories about John and Kevin, but every time she brings it up in cross-examination she runs into a brick wall. Dredging up past lies the family told police to protect their father doesn’t earn her any points in court. Chelsea wants to help her brother. She knows the Rayburn’s are telling lies, but her connection to her brother is making life hard for her. She’s getting pulled over and harassed because her brother is believed to have killed a policeman, and she’s also getting bad reviews at work for the same reason. The Rayburn’s lies and her ill treatment are why she decides to tell her own lie about Meg, only Chelsea’s sworn statement becomes irrelevant once Sally gets on the stand to defend her family’s name.

It’s the prosecutor’s idea to put Sally on the stand, but she ends up being a wild card. She’s dealing with incredible guilt about her family and the terrible things they’ve done, and she’s also slipping into dementia. Sally has conversations with her long dead mother. In court, when she’s cross examined about the lie they told police about the reason Danny ended up in the hospital, she gives a heart wrenching admission of her guilt in covering it up, and her culpability in losing Danny the day she got the rest of her family to lie about it. It’s a moving scene, and I’d be lying if I said there weren’t tears in my eyes as she unburdened herself. The admission has Eric’s public defender chomping at the bit, but Sally ends up giving an alibi for Meg the night of the murder. This revelation ends up sinking Eric’s case so badly he’s stuck taking the thirty-year plea deal all over again. He did nothing wrong, and now he’ll spend the majority of his life in jail because the Rayburn’s pinned Marco’s murder on him.

With three episodes left in the series, I’m left wondering what in the world is going to happen to give Bloodline any meaningful sort of closure. This season has already been so disjointed, and part of it is to blame on Netflix, who decided to cancel Bloodline after this season. This decision basically made the of the show take what they envisioned as a five-season arc and condense it all into this final season. With that in mind, it’s partly understandable why this season feels like three mini seasons all stuck together. It sadly doesn’t make for the best television, despite the wonderful performances given by the cast. The other thing hurting this season is the glaring absence of Ben Mendelsohn as Danny. He did all the heavy lifting in the incredible first season of Bloodline, and this season suffers without his appearance.

More thoughts:

  • Ozzy appears out of the blue to Kevin and Sally, trying to put pressure on them. He’s already pissed John off so bad that John will likely kill him if he sees him again. What’s Ozzy’s angle now that Eric has plead guilty?
  • Nolan is back, and he feels guilty and/or responsible in a way for his father’s death. He’s tries to help Eric, and also asks for forgiveness from Sally, but what does he really want?
  • Will Meg stay safely away from the family, enjoying her new life, or will trouble pull her back in?
  • Kevin’s wife knows he lied in court, and she thinks John and Sally are lying too.  Will she discover just how deeply all the lies go?
  • Chelsea has lost her mother, her brother, and her . I fell sorry for her.
  • Sally is losing her grip on reality, and after the emotional trial, it seems like she’s meeting with Gilbert to arrange the sale of the family business. If this is the focus of the last three episodes it’ll be a real bummer.

TB-TV-Grade-B-

Season 3, Episodes 1-4 (S03E01-04)
Bloodline streams on Netflix

Read all of our reviews of Bloodline here.
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For six months out of the year Jeff is holed up in his home with nothing to do but shovel snow, watch television, write, and dream of warmer climates.
Follow Jeff on Twitter: @OfSoundnVision
Keep up with all of Jeff’s reviews here.

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