Bloodline Recap: Scary Uncle Danny

Photo: Merrick Morton/Netflix
Episode Title
Part 11
Editor’s Rating

It's been alarming to watch the truly psychotic things that Danny and his dead eyes have been capable of the last couple episodes. For the last installment, I wrote that Danny was a full-blown monster. One more chapter closer to the end, he's still not ceasing to amaze me in how far he's willing to go to crawl under his family's skin. "Part 11," written by Arthur Phillips, was a master class in crazy, as Danny threatened his niece and, like an emotional zombie, refused to leave the Keys peacefully.

The trickiest part about this portion of the series has to have been maintaining a semblance of the Danny we were introduced to in the beginning of the season, while balancing that with the desperation that's fueling his decadent descent. I loved the scene on Danny's bus ride home, in which he's talking to Sarah. The show did a good job of resuscitating the vulnerable Danny who we initially might've felt inclined to defend. When Danny's talking to Sarah's ghost (or whatever you want to call her), we see that even if it was ill-advised, Danny was trying to teach his family members some sort of lesson. There might've, at least initially, been a kernel of good intention in his coming home to make things right. Time and time again, however, that door was closed for what must've been the umpteenth attempt. A lot has been said in this show about people being unable to change — and that has been most true of the Rayburn clan outside Danny. "I just want them to feel what I feel," he tells Sarah. "I want them to know what it's like." Nobody was on the boat with him, so they'll never know how the events of their sister's death transpired. He's had to live a life of apologizing, to no avail, and he's carried the burden of his past on his shoulders for decades. Not that this justifies his actions in this episode, but it does seem like a sensible amount of bullshit and trauma to make someone snap.

"As long as you apologize, it makes everything alright," Danny tells Kevin in their confrontation about the marina break in. "You can do whatever you want, as long as you say you're sorry. Then again, I've been saying sorry my whole life. Never seemed to make any fucking difference to any of you." We've heard these sentiments from Danny, more or less, a few times in this series. At the heart of Danny's grief is the fact that nobody in his family has ever defended him or truly given him a second chance. The only people to accept him have been Chelsea and Eric. When pressed, Chelsea can stand up for Danny, but she can't express what she sees in him and why she's doing it. For Eric and Chelsea, they might just see camaraderie; it might also be a large dose of pity. But really, they're as much victims of Danny's manipulation and deceit as his mother is. 

The Rayburns come to the realization that it's not about getting Danny more money, it's personal. He's trying to hurt them. DING DING DING! It has only taken this family a few decades and 10 episodes to realize that their brother has been permanently scarred, not by his own misfortunes, but by his family's reluctance to bring him back into the fold. The idea of constant rejection from the ones who are supposed to love and support you is tough to stomach, and it's palpable in this episode. That's why Danny wants to cripple the business and ruin the family's name. For him, family doesn't exist. Right after Sarah died, Danny says he felt like his family washed their hands of him. This idea is driven home when John advises him to run, saying he's not his problem anymore. 

In this episode, most of the cast felt like furniture, the spotlight fixed on John and Danny. This episode saw the chasm between the brothers widen, as John pulled the rug out from under Danny's drug operation. As much as you might've been pulling for the Rayburn family not to implode, it was tough watching Danny's drug ring go to shit because it was the latest fuck up in his series of never-ending fuck ups. He's so unlucky — or misguided, or both — that everything he touches, he ruins. At least that's what John would have you believe. 

While Danny stayed true to his wild descent, John's character was compromised. At around the midpoint, John made a case for doing the right thing and going to the DEA to report Danny's obscene stash of drugs. The meeting doesn't go as planned because, as Meg said, the DEA would essentially flip the family business upside down to investigate. Then, without telling the audience, John and his siblings go rogue and become drug movers in their own right to ensure that the family business isn't ruined. For me, this was a jaw-dropping moment in the episode because it underlined what Danny's been saying all along: His family is full of liars, and they're all a little bit corrupt. (If we hadn't seen the flash-forwards in the first few episodes, this moment would've paid off even more. But hey, it still worked for me.) How far is this family going to go to save their name? Very.

The mood of the episode was appropriately menacing. Ed Bianchi's direction let this toxic installment flourish with dirty shots and shadows, the family on the brink of succumbing to the virus that is their brother. The phone call that capped "Part 11" was an expertly executed sick, twisted mind game that gave me the perfect amount of WTF to stay in this headspace for two more episodes. "I'm the only fucking adult here," Danny yells in the last flashback. The same message reaches John in the present to let him know not to fuck with Danny. Are you heartbroken that Danny's words were the truest part of his parentless childhood, or are you heartbroken for him because he let delusion drag him into an inescapable hole?

Don't be Chelsea or Eric. Danny wouldn't care what you think. Without his drugs, Danny's as good as dead. But when you see him reciting the Lenny Potts interviews, you know he's never been one to whimper. The homestretch is here, and it's deliciously terrifying.

Swamp Talk

-Honestly, bad stuff happens because this family is drunk 24/7.

-BELLE IS BACK; April Fools, she's moving. KEVIN, SHE WANTED YOU TO FIGHT FOR HER, you goose. 

-All Danny wanted to do was give his toast — I want to know what it said so badly. Maybe they'll read it at the pier dedication.

-What's more unsettling? Danny trying to be the cool uncle and giving Janey a cigarette, or Janey looking like she's 12 and lighting it like a pro?

-"You been hangin' out with Danny" is like the new sign of the apocalypse. If you ever hear someone say that around you, run.

-Marco must be stoked to be (not) marrying Meg at this point.

-There's that gun from the flashforwards!

-Danny is effed; Wayne's friend reminds me of Agent Smith. Game over.