BLOODLINE closes out the season, and the series, in a disappointing and ambiguous way. An accident happens which makes John question reality, Kevin’s relationship with Roy Gilbert backfires on him, and Sally attempts to sell the Inn and pass the money down to her grandchildren.
I’m not sure what happened in these last three episodes while the creative minds behind Bloodline sat around and decided how to close the show out. Clearly someone wasn’t thinking about the integrity of Bloodline, because the final three episodes tarnish what had been a fairly entertaining series. I tried to give this season the benefit of the doubt, as you can see if you go back and read my other reviews, but somewhere in episode eight things shifted and took a hard left turn into ridiculousness. It ends so badly, that when I finished the finale I told my wife I wished Bloodline would’ve stopped after the first season.
It’s hard to get so down about a show that had some wonderful performances in it. Sissy Spacek delivered an intense scene this season that was emotional and devastating. Kyle Chandler plays John with such a world weary and tired physicality that it’s clear the weight of a life’s worth of family lies have taken a toll on him. Ben Mendelsohn made the first season of Bloodline one of the best seasons of television I’ve seen, which makes his lazy return to the final season all the more disappointing. I can’t believe I forgot to mention Linda Cardellini, Chloe Sevigny, and Sam Shepard. This cast alone is stellar enough, but with writing this off base, and plotlines that go nowhere and then conveniently wrap themselves up, you can’t put all of the weight of carrying a show on their shoulders. It’s hard to polish a turd, and let’s be clear; this season was a turd.
Some of the blame is on Netflix for cancelling the show before announcing the 3rd season would be its last. It didn’t give Bloodline a lot of time to wrap itself up neatly, but a lot of the blame still goes on the writers and showrunner. They could have dealt with all of the plotlines and weaved them together for a satisfying ending. It’s true I don’t know what kind of constraints they where under creatively or technically, but my lord, I can’t remember another show that flopped it’s landing this hard. Bloodline makes the lack luster ending of Lost seem genius by comparison. There was absolutely no cohesion to this final season, and the poor finale did nothing but drag down the rest of the series with it.
Ozzy was one loose thread that never made any sense. They could have killed him off at the beginning of the season since Gilbert’s men were taking him out to the middle of nowhere to do just that. His appearances throughout this season did nothing for the plot, in fact he could have been erased from the whole thing and it wouldn’t have made a lick of difference. He inserted himself into Eric’s criminal case as a friend who knew the truth, but his help did nothing. Ozzy was no longer a violent criminal, and was actually just trying to help the truth come out, led by his spiritual visions to help coerce the Rayburn’s into doing what was right. Instead of giving Ozzy a satisfying arc with a solid ending, it seems the writers just ran out of time with him, so had him commit suicide in the back of Gilbert’s goons car. What a convenient way to not have to resolve his season long arc. I’m pretty confidant I swore at the television when this happened.
Kevin ends up deeper in trouble with the Cubans, now setting the terms of the deals Gilbert makes with them. When there’s trouble, it’s also Kevin’s trouble. When a deal goes south, and it appears the feds are after Gilbert, he conveniently has a heart attack and dies leaving Kevin holding the bag. Kevin almost commits suicide, which would have been absolutely ludicrous given he murdered someone and didn’t even think of it at that time. He only keeps from doing it at the urging of his wife. John sets everything up so Kevin can turn himself in to the DEA, but Kevin skips town with his family and heads to Cuba. Unfortunately for him, his wife left her cell phone on, so the feds follow her GPS signature and arrest Kevin anyway.
Gilbert’s death also throws a wrench in Sally’s plans for selling the Inn, and without his powerful connections, the sale falls through. Instead of finding another buyer, she gets drunk, feels sorry for herself, and has an epic argument with John and Kevin. She’s unhappy with how her life turned out, and the person she blames for all of the problems the Rayburn family has had, including the deaths of Sarah and Danny, is John. There’s a vile hatred for her own child that’s raw, deadly, and cuts John to the core. Everything he did was to protect the Rayburn family from the very first moment she had him lie to the police about how Danny ended up in the hospital as a kid. The season finishes with the Rayburn family completely shattered. John and Danny’s son Nolan stand on the end of a dock about to have a conversation about Danny. Will John tell Nolan the truth about murdering the kid’s father, or will he do as his hallucination of Danny asks and not say anything about it. We never know, because the series ends ambiguously, leaving the viewer to wonder how that final conversation went.
Episode nine is where Bloodline really jumps the rails though. It was a complete detour of an episode that went nowhere and did nothing for the momentum of the season. In fact, if the episode was removed and you went straight from episode eight to the finale, you’d have no idea you missed anything at all. The episode takes place after John either nearly drowns diving or tries to kill himself. It plays out like Groundhog Day. John keeps waking up in the hospital, and each time something different happens. The history of who’s alive and who’s dead is all scrabbled, leaving John unsure of what is real and what’s a hallucination or dream. Sure John and Sally have spoken to hallucinations of the dead since the second season of the show, but this takes things way too far, and shoots the credibility of anything and everything we’ve seen in the third season. Tacking Ben Mendelsohn onto the last two episodes of the series diminishes his performance, and actually somehow takes the power out of what has so far been a stellar performance by him in the series.
I can’t remember the last time I’ve been so pissed off by a season of television from a series I once loved. The feeling isn’t a good one, and writing like this about a show isn’t something I enjoy. Disappointment has been washing over me in waves all day since I finished watching the season. It’s as if something special died way before its time.
Season 3, Episodes 8-10 (S03E08-10)
Bloodline streams on Netflix
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.
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Jeff Iblings | Contributor