Airtime: Streaming on Netflix
Episode: Season 2, Episodes 1-4 (S02E01-04)
Tweetable Takeaway: Danny’s ghost haunts all of the Rayburn’s as their lives spiral out of control on #Bloodline
BLOODLINE is back, and the ghost of Danny haunts everyone in the first four episodes as their lives fall apart, though they desperately try to hold it all together. The harder the Rayburn family tries to bury their past, the more things unravel beyond their control.
I absolutely loved the first season of Bloodline, and would put it squarely in the top ten shows of last year, but I’ve had a harder time getting into the second season than I did the first. The first season sucked me in hard, and the slow burn nature of the series left me satisfied and wanting more. It’s been a year or more since I last saw the first season, so the second season took me a bit of time to remember all of the ins and outs of the characters and their situations. This is an instance where a “previously on Bloodline …” little montage reminding us of what’s gone down before would be immensely helpful. It would actually allow the viewer to jump back in with no problems. As is, it took me longer to make connections between past events and present circumstances than I would’ve liked. It seems the best way to view Bloodline, is to go back and watch the entire first season and just barrel right into the second.
Bloodline is a show about family, but more precisely, it’s about a family falling apart and how one bad apple ruins the bunch. It’s a dark and intricate show, moody and deliberative, and it’s about what happens when good people do a bad thing. None of the Rayburn’s are bad people, they’ve just gotten into a situation with no great outcomes. No matter what happens it won’t be pretty, and no one will survive unscathed. It’s quality television, and I hope the second season matches the first’s wonderful storytelling.
Last season left us with Danny’s long lost son Nolan showing up. He arrives in the aftermath of John murdering Danny to protect the Rayburn family. Danny had threatened to take everyone down with him for his bad decisions. Meg and Kyle help him cover it up, and the weight of what they’ve done drags on them all as they try to move on with their lives. Nolan becomes a living reminder of their dark deeds. Not only is he the spitting image of a young Danny, but his mannerism’s and attitude bring Danny’s memory back to them in vivid colors. There’s something untrustworthy and slippery about him. He’s manipulative just like his father, and it’s hard to tell what he’s up to. Nolan definitely knows more than he’s letting on, and seems to be playing the Rayburn’s. Why is he there, and what does he want?
Not only is Nolan cozy with Danny’s friend O’Bannon, but he’s also running with an equally destructive friend from Danny’s past named Ozzy (played by John Leguizamo). On top of these two bad influences, his mother Evangeline shows up to try and shake money out of the Rayburn’s after secret monthly payments they made to her dried up after their father’s death. Does Nolan want to connect with his family, or is he out for some kind of revenge for never getting the opportunities Danny had?
Danny (Ben Mendelsohn) is back in the show in a big way this season even though he’s dead. His presence hangs over everyone like a shroud. There was a lot going on with Danny that no one knew about, and this season we begin to see some of those things in flashback. What was his life like in Miami before he came back? How did his successful restaurant career fall apart? It might have something to do with his friendship with Ozzy. Danny had a knack for making friends who led him down the wrong path. Last season it was O’Bannon who got him into running drugs and human trafficking for Lowry, and this season we find out it started with Ozzy convincing him to hold up a pharmacy for oxycotin and cash. Like most things in his life, the robbery goes out of control. Danny has a strange connection with a girl he’s taken hostage during the robbery. It’s Evangeline, the mother of Nolan. How did Danny track her down? Danny was wearing a mask, so maybe she never realized the connection.
John (Kyle Chandler) is still the one holding everything together and protecting his entire family, and it weighs on him. He’s begun to hallucinate. At first he just sees Danny, but as things begin to spiral out of control he begins to have conversations with him. Danny has found a way to continue to mess with John from beyond the grave. He’s made a cassette tape of all of the bad or illegal things his family has done and given it to Lowry, who now uses it as leverage to get John to help get the feds off of his back. Lowry threatens to give the tape to the feds if John doesn’t do what he asks, so once again Danny has put John between a rock and a hard place.
It’s equally fraught with peril since as a cop, John’s working a murder investigation he’s responsible for. He has to keep suspicion off of himself, and place it squarely on Lowry while he also fends off his mother’s prying detective friend Lennie, who’s found out some things that don’t look too good for John. He’s also running for Sheriff and will be in the public eye and under public scrutiny. It’s all a tightrope walk, and one wrong step could take the entire family down with him.
Meg is barely able to keep her life in New York together, and is drinking too much and sleeping at her office. Kevin is doing the cocaine he kept from Danny’s supply, and sells some of it for money when his marina business starts failing. One of his drug deals goes south, and he nearly ends up dead. Later the men who robbed him turn up executed. The cartel Lowry sells drugs for finds the cocaine Kevin sold. It was supposed to have been all seized by the feds, so it looks bad for Lowry. He’s in a tight spot with the cartel. John is a smart guy, and he uses this to his advantage when offering Lowry a deal. If he turns over the tape to John, he’ll assure Lowry his family will be in witness protection, he’ll only serve 10 years in prison, and they’ll take the cartel down. If Lowry can’t find out how the cocaine is back on the streets and where it came from, the cartel will kill him anyway. He offers to take the deal, and it seems everything is about to work out. Cue Kevin screwing everything up.
Kevin is the good-natured screw-up to Danny’s bad natured screw-up. He thinks he can get himself out of trouble if he just returns the cocaine to Lowry. Only when he does, he ruins John’s play by revealing the Rayburn’s have something to do with the cocaine disappearance. Lowry gets a second chance with the cartel, rejects the plea deal, and demands John help him with his first new drug run or all will be revealed to the cops. Does John go along with Lowry’s demands or does he turn himself in and tell the feds everything? John’s not a bad guy, so he takes his chances and helps the feds nail Lowry’s business associates. It’s the aftermath that makes John nervous, but things seem to go his way when the feds discover Lowry stabbed to death.
This being Bloodline, just when things seem to be settling, something will come along and kick up a huge mess. I don’t expect things to be calm for too long with Ozzy in town, O’Bannon in jail, and Evangeline trying to shake money out of the Rayburn’s. So far I’m enjoying the first four episodes and don’t understand all of the bad reviews. Maybe I’ll find out in the next installment, but so far I would recommend watching Bloodline’s second season.
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.
Jeff Iblings | Contributor