Published May 26, 2016Last year, Bloodline offered a new mode for Netflix binge-watching by delivering a slow-burning story across a long, 13-episode run. Its glacial pace allowed for a compelling character study, as viewers were given a focused look at the various factors that brought one family to dysfunction. Factor in the fascinating Florida Keys backdrop and its stellar cast, and Bloodline came out of the gates as one of television's best new shows. Unfortunately, the series has started to show some major flaws in Season 2.
For one thing, it was an audacious move to kill off Ben Mendelsohn's chilling Danny Rayburn in the first season. While his death was hinted at from the very first episode, he was clearly the emotional centre of the show. Season 2 attempts to demonstrate his lasting negative impact on the Rayburns, but though he still pops up in the odd flashback and apparition, they're sparse (likely due to Mendelsohn's Star Wars commitment), and without him in every episode, the show flails as it attempts to tread water.
Mostly, Season Two is all about revisiting the details of Danny's death, and as a result, it often feels like we're rewatching the same slow story all over again, with diminishing returns. Danny's death also brings in a batch of new characters, but they too are a mixed bag — while John Leguizamo is appropriately creepy as sketchbag Ozzy Delvecchio, Danny's ex Evangeline (Andrea Riseborough) is far too grating a presence to match the show's muted tone. Furthermore, after surfacing in Season 1, Danny's son Nolan starts to feel like a Danny impression from actor Owen Teague.
It's not just the new characters causing problems, either. Sissy Spacek's matriarch was once a quiet source of strength on the show, but her plot lines tend to meander here, without reason. Frustrating idiot Kevin Rayburn (Norbert Leo Butz) continues to fuck everything up at colossal levels, and his sister Meg (Linda Cardellini) continues to flip-flop on her various life choices.
It's only John Rayburn (Kyle Chandler, in his best paternal role since Friday Night Lights' Coach Taylor) who manages to hold anything together, both in the Rayburn family and onscreen. His stoic, slightly grumpy presence is a pleasure to watch, even as everything around him will make you want to cancel your Netflix account.
Hour after dull hour, Bloodline finally gets riveting in its last ten minutes or so. Here's hoping Season 2 is just a mere misstep for this otherwise compelling series.