Bloodline - Season 3
There will be spoilers through Season 2
For a more general review, skip to the end
Bloodline is some of the first original Netflix content, but I only started watching a year ago a while after Season 2 premiered. The two weeks I spent binging both were fairly good. I thought Season 1 was excellent. The mystery surrounding the family was always engaging and compelling, the drama and tension was always palpable, and watching the death of Danny Rayburn in the last episodes was incredibly heart-wrenching, despite knowing it would happen since the cold open in the pilot. The second season had problems. Its admirable that there wasn’t a time jump, but there were a few episodes that felt like the show was spinning its tires. The reveal that Danny had a son was partially the reason. It never felt like anything more than a predictable season-ending twist, and the show’s insistence on holding onto Ben Mendelsohn for flashbacks didn’t do it any favors, either. Even still, it was entertaining when it needed to be, and had me wanting more after leaving Kevin Rayburn standing over Marco Diaz’s dead body.
Season 3 picks up right there: Marco’s dead, John Rayburn is leaving his family, and Eric O’Bannon is now fucked out of immunity. Kevin is scrambling in panic, trying to call John for his help yet again. Roy Gilbert finds Kevin and agrees to help cover it up. In the process, Kevin takes a bullet to sell the story that Eric killed Marco and shot him after finding them. John comes to his senses, returns, and ultimately helps perpetuate the false narrative. From then on, the season turns into a court drama as Eric is tried for killing Marco. The Rayburns do their best to convict while a state-appointed lawyer sees the holes in the story while serving for Eric.
The season sets itself apart from the rest of the series with the court case. It's not quite The Night Of, but it’s engaging and impactful. The courtroom scenes are used sparingly, only to highlight the holes in the Rayburns’ story, and the testimonies are tense as they dig Eric’s grave before him, but the season is held back by tired “trouble” sequences. Someone does something illegal, calls John Rayburn, things get worse, repeat. Kevin Rayburn and Roy Gilbert’s arcs is equal parts familiar and annoying. Kevin’s naivety is understandable, for the most part, but it’s almost out-of-character for him to be so easily manipulated so often. Had this arc been scrapped, it probably wouldn’t have been missed. If anything, it feels like an unfitting catalyst to propel the series to its finale. Along the same lines, whenever there is a lull, the camera itself tries to keep the energy from previous situations going with an insane amount of bobbing and shaking. It creates unnecessary tension, making it seem as if someone is going to pull out a knife even during perfectly relaxed scenes.
Now, since this is the last season, I want to talk about how the show ends. I will be specifically going into the last two episodes because they can’t be ignored. Before I get to it, if you’ve liked the show at anytime before, you’ll enjoy the season. If you share my thoughts on Season 2, then you might find this better, like I have.
Spoiler For Last Episodes
Well… “Part 32” (S3E9) is something. The previous episode ends with John’s drowning, so it was hard to imagine what the remaining episodes would look like, but what we got is either infuriating or incredibly profound. Why does the episode lead with 40 minutes of misleading visions or dream-like sequences or retreads of earlier scenes from the series with different dialogue? I can’t tell you. Watching the episode whip between seemingly different realities (John trying to kill himself; in the eye of state troopers; Sally Rayburn tragically dying; and Danny still alive in most of these scenes, too), tried my patience. If you’ve read any of my reviews, you’ve no doubt seen that I like digging into subtext, but the majority of the episode feels like nonsense. On the other hand, there are brief moments that shed light on the fundamental relationship between John and Danny. They look into John’s bottled-up resentment, which forced him to keep Danny down. There was also a great vision of the two when John was first rejected by his future wife, and how she might have had something with Danny when they were kids. I want to say it was a genuine flashback, but having it buried in this web of events that are either misrepresented or false makes me think otherwise.
The show returns to reality in the last episode and twiddles its thumbs until the third act. It doesn’t feel like a final episode. A lot of the weight washes away between “Part 31” and “Part 32,” and the significant amount of time devoted to the Kevin and Roy arc is underwhelming. Kevin’s arrest doesn’t seem to fit. The episode turns around in a moment with Sally. She fails to sell the inn and learns it’s worthless, leading her to a mental breakdown in which she recalls how each of her children was born. Danny was a landmark occasion. Kevin hardly had the strength to live. John destroyed her. These are heavy statements that loom over memories of previous events. It’s intense and distressing and something I probably shouldn’t have watched after midnight. As the episode closes, John turns himself into his sergeant for his brother’s death, among others things, but it ultimately leads to nothing since the sergeant has just decided to leave the force. He tells John to sweep it under the rug for the greater good, in some sense. Later, John goes to tell Danny’s son, but it ends right before they speak. I can see both sides of the ensuing argument: it’s either abrupt and unsatisfying or exactly what needed to happen. A lot of the show has been about the Rayburns covering up their every misdeed, and here, with the Rayburns finally face the music, the moment is monumental. At the same time, it’s still what I would consider a weak and lackluster end.
As it stands, Bloodline is worth the watch. It’s not a high-tier series, but it’s entertaining, and something you can lose hours into as you invest in the Rayburn family. Would I recommend watching past Season 1? It's hard to say. Proceed at your own risk, but if you do, it’s mandatory that you finish through Season 3.
- Alex B.
"Curtains" is where you can catch movie reviews by the Metal Lifestyle staff.