Netflix has done it again! Last month, the streaming giant debuted a new original series called Bloodline that is sure to make the word “family” a dirty word. Unlike other family dramas that have come before Bloodline, this family drama is a much darker and more honest portrayal of interfamily relationships. If you haven’t seen it yet, I’ll do my best to give you the highlights of what you’re missing, but keep in mind that it is definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of intense, well written dramas.
For starters, the casting is nothing short of amazing—and I think that word is overused just as much as you do. While everyone does an excellent job of convincing you that they are indeed members of the Rayburn clan, it is the performances of both Kyle Chandler, who plays the second eldest son John, and Ben Mendelsohn, who plays the eldest son Danny, that steal the show. And that says a lot, given that legendary actors Sam Shepard and Sissy Spacek are cast on the same show slaying lines left and right. But beyond the incredible casting, the writing is also superb.
Secrets and Lies
No family is perfect, and that is certainly true of the Rayburns, a well respected family living in the Florida Keys with a successful inn called The Rayburn House. And though The Rayburn House is viewed as a peaceful retreat for out-of-towners, it also houses a litany of secrets and lies for the family that runs the nearly 50 year old establishment. As you can imagine, there are more than just a few secrets that members of the Rayburn clan are keeping amongst each other and from one another, but probably the biggest and most devastating one of all involved an incident with the eldest son Danny, nearly 20 years ago; an incident that forever changed the trajectory of his life.
Depending on which version of the story you believe, Danny’s or his younger brother John’s, details of the event can get a little murky. But, what they do agree on is the fact that Danny took his younger sister Sarah out on one of the family boats—without adult supervision—and when Sarah lost her necklace in the water she dove in below never to return. Sarah died that day, which obviously impacted the entire family. However, the dad, Robert Rayburn, lost it altogether, physically lashing out on Danny in a violent rage. He dislocated Danny’s shoulder and gave him quite a few bruises that day, the same day that the entire family had just lost Sarah. To make an awful situation even worse, the family then began to corroborate a lie—come to find out as a result of Mama Rayburn’s instigation—that Danny’s arm was broken because he was hit by a car. John was the first to tell that lie to the detective investigating the events of that day. Not too long after, Danny left home only to return for a few short visits over the years…until the family reunion.
The Prodigal Son Returns and All Goes to Hell
Despite everything that had transpired in the past with his family—some of which he apparently forgot about—Danny could never stay away for too long. However, little did he know that this time his visit home would be his last.
Given his past transgressions, it was no surprise that the family cautiously welcomed the return of the prodigal son and with good reason. Danny had a track record of coming into town and causing trouble and he was always in need of a loan. As his brother John stated, Danny was “always a constant f*** up,” and while John was always there to “stick up” for his brother—which really was out of guilt for scapegoating him for Sarah’s death and lying about his injury to the cops—he really resented doing so.
Sadly, this time Danny’s return was no different than the past. He may have come home with seemingly good intentions, but things quickly went awry when old wounds between him and his father, in particular, were reopened. Danny didn’t stand a chance against his old reputation. So, ultimately he would succumb to this old ways—especially after the patriarch died—getting involved in criminal activities to earn more money than what he was making working at the family inn; a move that would put the entire family’s safety and business in jeopardy. Luckily, John was a detective in the local police department and could lend a hand, but not in the way you’re thinking.
After a heated confrontation with Danny about how the he and the family were going to get out of the current mess that Danny had created for everyone, John lashed out and attacked his brother. He then proceeded to drown him to death and torch his body on a boat to make Danny’s death look like an act of revenge by the hands of the criminals he had double-crossed. The crazy part, however, is that John never seemed to be remorseful about it. He seemed more relieved than anything.
Of course, getting rid of Danny doesn’t mean the end to the family troubles. As we saw in one of the final moments of the last episode of the first season, Danny has a son who comes to John wanting answers about his father’s untimely death and why he saw his uncles removing items from his father’s apartment in Miami. In the final episode, it was alluded to that the mom was finally clued into what had been going on with her children and it’s also quite possible that John’s potential promotion could help expose everything. I, for one, can’t wait for season 2 of Bloodline.
What did you think of the Netflix original series Bloodline?