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Bloodline second season review

What else is out there?


The first season of “Bloodline” will never be outdone by its following years. Not a chance with Ben Mendelsohn’s (The Dark Knight Rises, The Place Beyond the Pines) Danny in the grave, relegating the show’s most interesting character to flashbacks and guilty conscience scenarios. The Netflix original show began with a literal “bang!” and told the story of how these selfish characters arrived at such a dark, twisted explosion. The initial thirteen episodes told a captivating bookend narrative featuring the death of the privileged Rayburn family’s prodigal, black sheep, oldest sibling, Danny. The next ten episodes cover the fallout of his departure as the family whose secrets have secrets get pushed and prodded to a boiling-over point. Although Mendelsohn doesn’t appear as often to carry the series as he had before with suspense, danger, and mystery in spades, the returning principal cast shares an undeniably strong camaraderie in their respective performances. Daniel Zelman and the Kessler brothers (“Damages”) present a worthy follow-up that ultimately falls short of the excitement, shock, and drama presented in season one. 

Nolan, Danny

Despite the fact that Danny died, “Bloodline” is still all about him. John, Meg, and Kevin face the world each day in the aftermath of their oldest sibling’s death and have difficulty knowing what they know, complicit as they were. Kyle Chandler (Super 8, “Friday Night Lights”)stars again as John Rayburn, now considering a political run while also making sure his tracks remain covered. Chandler’s John plays it cooler than the rest of his siblings, carrying Mendelsohn’s Danny around as a ghost to haunt him into some honesty and perpetually vex him as he often had in life. These sequences mirrored Danny’s scenes with an imagined, grown-up Sarah from the first season. Linda Cardellini’s (“E.R.,” Avengers: Age of Ultron) Meg begins the season in her new job as lawyer in New York City, feeling guilty to a distracting, work-suffering degree.  Kevin (Norbert Leo Butz—Better Living Through Chemistry, “Mercy Street”), the youngest sibling, slips from one substance addiction to another as a coping mechanism while simultaneously handling a foreclosure and other unexpected news. For these three siblings, nothing is harder than just playing it cool.

Oscar-winner Sissy Spacek (Carrie, The Help) returns as the Rayburn family matriarch, Sally, who feels exponentially guilty at the prospect of mothering horribly for all of her offspring… especially with the recent arrival of Danny’s son, her grandson, Nolan (Owen Teague—Walt Before Mickey, Wild in Blue). Teague not only plays Nolan as he had in one scene last year, but also a young Danny for John’s childhood flashbacks. With Danny gone, Teague’s Nolan rises as the most interesting character, carrying a lifetime of mystery with him despite his young age. The very sight of Danny’s child drives each and every adult character into extreme guilt and depressing shame and it shows. Jacinda Barrett (Poseidon, School for Scoundrels)also continues her role as Diana, John’s wife who knows that her husband still hasn’t come completely clean about the events leading up to Danny’s death. Diana asks a lot of good questions and exercises her intuition well in the new season, however, Barrett frequently drops her Australian accent and this can be distracting throughout the season.
Nolan, John

Familiar bad guys also find their way back in 2016 to wreak havoc, get paid, move drugs, and generally torment the Rayburns. Jamie McShane (Gone Girl, “Murder in the First”) still lives as Danny’s best friend, Eric O’Bannon. Eric, having gotten Danny involved in the drugs and human trafficking in the first place, spends the second campaign dodging cops and robbers alike who want to know what he knows and, probably, to murder him. With the departure of his best friend, Eric also rises as one of the more interesting, unpredictable characters lurking around the Keys. One man looking for Eric is Glenn Morshower’s (X-Men: First Class, Transformers: Dark of the Moon) Wayne Lowry. Lowry showed up on a few instances in the first season as the leader of local organized crime who employed Eric and Danny for smuggling drugs, and is behind the murder of Cuban refugees who trusted him to get them safely to America.

In the middle of all of this confusion, remains returning deputy and family friend, Marco Diaz (Enrique Murciano—“Without a Trace,” Dawn of the Planet of the Apes). Murciano’s Diaz really gets his role amplified for season two beyond fiancé to a cheating Meg. Marco wants justice for Danny to benefit his friend John, and the Rayburn family as whole. However, Marco begins turning up stones that keep him from completely confiding in the family he once thought he knew. As Marco delves deeper and deeper into uncertainty and lies, the viewer can rest assured that the deputy won’t care for what dirt he digs up to light. Marco can’t completely call himself a better man than the Rayburn siblings when a questionable domestic violence case from his younger years as an officer surfaces during his investigation of Danny’s death.

The new season of “Bloodline” also greets a host of new characters—none of them reputable. Character actor John Leguizamo (Chef, John Wick) joins the series as a drifter from Danny’s past. He keeps his intentions and motives close to the chest, but the viewer quickly learns that this man only showed up for a pay day courtesy of the Rayburn family. Andrea Riseborough (Birdman or [The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance], Oblivion) also stumbles into town as Eve, a woman with a past tied to Danny, Nolan, and the mysterious drifter. Eve, despite some obvious selfishness, still has mostly decent intentions in the end. Riseborough transforms into Eve as the actress herself looks unrecognizable in her new role as a struggling singer/ songwriter with bleached blonde hair and dark roots. Eve and the drifter have a fountain of information about Danny, but do the Rayburns want to hear them tell it? The final new character appears in the form of Sheriff Aguirre, played by David Zayas (“Dexter,” “Gotham”). Aguirre serves as the incumbent running against John with ties to the case from Marco’s past. He desperately wants to win the election—at the potential expense of dragging the entire Rayburn family through the mud.  (I wouldn’t vote for him, but I probably wouldn’t vote for John, either.)

The loss of Danny attracts a litany of characters to crawl out from under the woodwork during the second season of “Bloodline.” Where the first season presented a privileged, damaged family, the second presents a cast of bad human beings with varying degrees of guilt. Nolan, Marco, and Sally really come out on top as the few people a viewer can root for while still not hating one’s self.  The three living Rayburn siblings committed a selfish act last year, and continue on selfish endeavors this year as if they already got away scot-free while their mother continues grieving and their nephew searches for a family. The series may have dipped in quality by adding Danny to the list of the dead, but he appears just enough to appease fans and to better allow the fallout of his death to fully flesh out among the cast. Viewers with adult brothers and/ or sisters should especially enjoy the continuation of this suspenseful series on Netflix.




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