I got so sucked into season 2 that I watched it all in five days. Back to the Florida Keys with the Rayburn’s I went, eager to see if John, Meg, and Kevin could keep their secrets hidden.
Bloodline is all about lying and keeping up appearances and the tremendous stress that goes with it. Some people are good at it, others are not. Meeting the Rayburn’s last year, we met a well-respected family that entered a dark period when the eldest son, and black sheep of the family, Danny, came back home. Turns out the Rayburn’s have some shameful skeletons in the closet that they’ve managed to hide away for a few decades. Danny flips everything over by pulling his family into a drug smuggling ring. By the end, everyone has crossed boundaries.
Season 2 starts not long after the end of one. Danny might be physically gone but he made some contingency plans. The defense put up by Meg, Kevin, and John to throw off the authorities has more than a few holes in it. The number of lies that it took to cover up Danny’s involvement in Wayne Lowry’s criminal enterprise is simply overwhelming. They lie to everyone, they turn to drugs and alcohol at every turn to try and cope. It never gets better.
I love the setting of Bloodline. The muted and desaturated pastel colors of Florida. Everything and everyone looks beaten by the sun. Day or night. always hot and uncomfortable. The pace and editing of the show mimic the slowed down feeling of being exhausted and stressed all the time.
There are some new wrinkles added to the black shroud of the Rayburn family tree. Danny had a son (Nolan) with a woman (Evangeline) that no one knew about. They enter the picture with Danny’s side of the family story and keep those old wounds from closing. Along with them, comes Ozzy, Eve’s now boyfriend and one of Danny’s partners in crime. It’s bad news on top of bad news (awesome casting for all three characters, I especially like John Leguizamo as Ozzy and Owen Teague as Nolan is an amazing find. He looks and acts just like a young Danny).
The Rayburn’s are an interesting lot. Sally, the matriarch, has swept up so much misery under the rug that it’s amazing she’s been able to function for so long. She dismisses everything as a coping mechanism and cannot deal with confrontation. She does try to make it up to Nolan and Eve, despite her being blindsided by the whole thing (she was kept in the dark about a lot of stuff). I think she’s the saddest of the bunch, I often found myself pitying her.
Kevin, the one who’s been trying his whole life to maintain a standard of not being the biggest screw up in the family. It was interesting to see him try to navigate his problems but good lord is he weak. He makes bad decision after bad decision and when he gets mad, he is a colossal baby. The guy doesn’t realize how spoiled he is with all the times he’s been relying on others to bail him out.
Meg tries to get out of Florida and gets sucked right back in. I think I feel the worst for her. The youngest of the family she had the least responsibility for the event that made Danny…Danny. She does her best to help in every situation but just about every situation that comes at her is one that’s forced on her from someone else. She loses her NYC job, driven to drink, embarrass herself and drive a spike between herself and Marco so deep that it could never be undone (Meg trying to reason with Kevin about not going to Marco is one of my favorite beats).
John is the golden child who is far from one. The guilt from lying about Danny’s injuries when they were kids was just the start of his problems. For being the most responsible one, he can be a huge baby too (Meg should have told him to check himself every time he started demanding things from her. The one where he screams at her to get Roy Gilbert’s full support was the real turning point). John has the most conflict in him. He feels like he has to handle and fix everyone and every situation. He gets in so deep with handling Danny that it splinters his relationships (much like Meg). When pushed he’s capable of crossing the same lines that Danny has. And he makes bad decisions, just like Kevin. Going ahead with running for sheriff is probably the worst thing he could have done and he goes ahead with it. It’s a mindboggling stupid decision. He puts himself in the spotlight with added scrutiny when Danny’s actions are still haunting him and his family. It puts more targets on his back.
The hubris of the Rayburn family is loyalty and protection. The family never talks to each other. In an effort to keep other family members safe (and innocent in a courtroom) the kids omit things to the others (those are called lies). “The less you know, the better” is often the creed. When some sort of success is made, it’s often undermined by no communication (Kevin’s smooth move of going to Lowry comes to mind). John, Meg and Kevin are all in the same boat together but they leave each other out of the loop until it blows up in their face and they can’t hide it any longer. If they just talked and planned things out together, they could have avoided a lot. It’s how Danny got out of control, John did what he thought he had to do with the intentional/unintentional go ahead by Meg and Kevin. They keep doing the same thing and what happens? History repeats itself. When Eric is discovered to be their next biggest threat, John is sent in again to handle it.
The end is pretty nuts (both good and bad). Watching Kevin and Meg turn on John was something to watch. A whole lot of resentment and anger came out of that one. It had been building and seeping out here and there and was long overdue. The season ends right in the action, though. At 10 episodes, it’s cut at least an episode short. The set ups for next season (we better get one) are numerous but we’re left in a complete lurch. Cliffhanger isn’t the word for it, made me mad when the last credits rolled.
I’m totally invested in these characters (the cast rules). The ties that make them a family are pretty amazing on a writing front. I admire how they layer each Rayburn child as different but so alike. The overall story arc is kept strong with some thoughtful planning based on Danny’s past that goes on to pay off well. The new characters are all great and the intensity is kept up through every episode. There’s some useless fat that could be trimmed here and there (that weird shower subplot with Sally) but nothing that broke my suspension of belief. I can see getting one more really good season out of this to bring all the threads to a satisfying end. I’m looking forward to it.