I recently completed a binge of the new Netflix series, “Bloodline”, a story that delves deep into the Florida swamps to dissect the evil lurking beneath the fabric of an All-American family unit. The family in question, The Rayburns, an institution of entrepreneurial relevance and community involvement. Momma and Poppa Rayburn, played by Sissy Spacek and Sam Shepard, founded the Rayburn House, a resort with accompanying ocean tours, ages ago, and now the family reaps the spoils of their hard work and dedication.
The couple’s four siblings all went off in their own directions, but stayed close to the family business. The star of the series, John Rayburn (Kyle Chandler), is the police chief, and tortured soul struggling to make things right with everyone. Meg Rayburn (Linda Cardellini) is a hot-shot lawyer with an itch for the city life and random sexual encounters. Kevin Rayburn (Norbert Leo Butz) owns the town’s struggling dock and boating repair business. He’s a hot head, and it shows frequently. And then there’s the ultimate X-Factor, Danny Rayburn (Ben Mendelsohn), the oldest of the clan… A grifter that left town, and remained in trouble through most of his adult life. The consummate black cloud of the Rayburns has returned, and no one is happy about it, except Danny.
The story of Bloodline revolves around Danny’s return home in order to help out with the family business. Although he claims pure intentions, he begins hanging out with old friends, and slips back into his old ways. Danny’s wayward antics draw the suspicions of his siblings as he leaves a trail of death and destruction in his wake.
The overall story of Bloodline is gripping and nerve-wracking at the same time. Give yourself 2-3 episodes to fully grasp the plot and intentions of the show. It’s slow-paced, but with good reason, it’s a chess match between Danny and the rest of the world. His reckless behavior and generally malevolent intentions made me nervous during the entire season. Mendelsohn does a crafty job of displaying the truly sociopathic nature of Danny, and his desire to destroy everything his family holds dear.
Bloodlines is intimately intriguing, but a bit of a downer. There’s not much light at the end of this tunnel for the Rayburns, so don’t expect to be inspired or enthralled with hope. This show is about the essence of human depravity, anguish, pain, lust, deceit, and betrayal. And those are the high points. As I mentioned before, the pacing of the show is slow, so if you’re looking for something with explosions and a “Dawson’s Creek” soundtrack , this isn’t it.
The suspense really hits home on the last 3-4 episodes, with the finale twisting the knife for the ultimate in painstaking viewing pleasure. If you’re looking for something with dark and sinister undertones that basically makes you feel weird inside, “Bloodline” is it.