Netflix’s swampy part-detective, part-familial drama Bloodline is back for its second season, and while some complained that it wasn’t exactly the heavy, “prestige” drama that it appeared to believe it was, it’s hard to deny that the story of the Rayburn family in season one was one hell of a ride.
That ride ended with a decidedly fiery conclusion, most notably leaving season two to move forward without the enigmatic and arguably most interesting character, black sheep brother Danny (Ben Mendelsohn). As the second season kicks off, showrunners Glenn Kessler, Daniel Zelman, and Todd A. Kessler (known collectively as KZK) work to give the opening episode a balance of the past, the present, and the future. Guilt, paranoia, and mystery are all on center stage during the season’s opening hour, along with the introduction of a couple key players, giving “Part 14” the necessary elements to once again hook viewers on the story of truly dysfunctional Rayburn family.
To say that the Rayburn children, or those remaining, are wracked with guilt it to put it incredibly mildly. You can already begin, mere moments into the second season, to see the seams beginning to split, seams that seem poised to burst entirely sooner or later.
Unsurprisingly, John (Kyle Chandler) is the only one who seems able to at least put on a good face, which is essential considering he’s still assigned with finding those responsible for Danny’s untimely demise. This isn’t going to be such a simple task, despite John’s insistence that everything will soon die down — no pun intended — and their Danny-related issues will be forever behind them.
Both Kevin (Norbert Leo Butz) and Meg (Linda Cardellini) seem less sure that their collective transgressions will be so thoroughly swept under the rug; even as they begin to get on with their respective lives, the cracks of their lies begin to show. Meg’s in New York City trying her best to put her attention squarely on her budding law degree, but instead is stumbling and bumbling her way through pangs of guilt and a few too many glasses of wine. Upon finding out about some secret dealings concerning her late father, it’s clear that although she may be doing her best to distance herself from her troubled family, she’ll undoubtedly be drawn back in.
Kevin, on the other hand, is doing very little to distract himself from his problems. That is, except for some occasional cocaine usage. Considering his obviously damaged consciousness, along with the youngest Rayburn’s clear immaturity, I can securely say he’s my pick for the loosest lips of the Rayburn gang.
Even though Danny — and the wonderful Ben Mendelson — aren’t exactly present in this year’s installment, reminders of Danny are hard to escape in the idyllic resort town that is the Rayburns’ home. First and foremost of which is Danny’s own flesh and blood, his son Nolan (Owen Teague), who made his first appearance in the waning moments of season one.
Nolan, a pierced, chain-smoking rebel of a teenage boy, not only looks spookily like his late father, but has the same kind of ornery, no-shits-given temperament that made Danny such a black sheep. Nolan’s early scenes with John seem intentionally similar to some of the best Chandler/Mendelson sequences last year — which were also some of the best of the series. What exactly Nolan represents, aside from a constant walking, talking reminder of Danny, is yet unclear, but when we see him meeting up with Erin O’Bannon (Jamie McShane) at episode’s end, it seem he likely has a major role in whatever twisted web Bloodline‘s second season has yet to weave.
So all is set, the pieces are in place. Episode one of season two prepares us for where this story of the Rayburns will go now that their black sheep brother is decidedly out of their lives forever…or perhaps not. What Bloodline — and many of Netflix’s made-for-binging shows — has consistently done so well is ending each episode with a twist that makes that next 30 or so seconds till episode two seem nearly a lifetime. Yes, Danny’s still dead, but Wayne Lowry (Glenn Morshower) — the big bad from season one — shows up to a secret meeting with John in possession of a yet-unknown cassette tape, the things we thought we knew throughout the episode are all thrown into disarray. Lowry has something, although what it is yet is unclear. What is clear is that, dead or not, Danny will continue to cast a long, dark shadow on the Rayburns for some time to come.