Bloodline’s second season has been a showcase for two things: great acting and subpar writing. It’s just not as engaging as it was in season one. The show was certainly hurt by Ben Mendelsohn’s reduced role, but it’s also been dragged down by inconsistent plotting and character development. Before we make final judgments, though, quite a few plot threads need to be tied up in the Florida Keys.
John Rayburn (Kyle Chandler) is a shattered man. He killed his brother Danny (Mendelsohn), and the lies he’s told to cover it up have eaten him alive. He remembers a young Danny showing him how to smoke for the first time, and how he talked about leaving town. One day, he said, he would just get in a truck and drive off. It’s interesting that Owen Teague still plays young Danny, as he did in season one. That’s one of the reasons why John responds so negatively to him. He looks exactly like his father; he’s a living reminder of John’s crime. Speaking of Nolan, John is typically dickish to him as he leaves the house: “Yeah, you take care of yourself” is about an inch from “Don’t let the door hit you on the ass.”
Marco (Enrique Murciano) reveals to Meg (Linda Cardellini) that he knows she lied about Alec being at her house that fateful, rainy night. Why did she do it? Meg claims that she got the dates confused. He gives her a chance to come clean, but she doesn’t take it. The Rayburns stick together. Meg and Kevin can’t turn on John. They formed an unbreakable bond in childhood, when the three of them were forced to lie to protect their abusive father.
Meanwhile, Chelsea (Chloë Sevigny) and Eric O’Bannon (Jamie McShane) are dealing with their sick mother. Eric is a bit distracted by the fact that almost everyone in the Keys wants him dead. Marco shows up on cue, asking more questions. Eric connects the dots, realizing that John saw Danny the morning after the Red Reef incident. Eric didn’t know that John said he had a heart attack the next morning and never saw Danny. He knows that’s a lie. “He met with Danny.” Eric knows he needs protection. He wants immunity. He didn’t realize the extent of John’s lies. Eric has long been the powder keg of Bloodline. Has he finally been lit?
Meg tells John that Marco is no longer a friend. Duh. John tries to reassure her that Marco only has a case if the Rayburns turn on each other. Meg confesses to leaking the information about Aguirre (David Zayas) and his ex-wife (Vivian Fleming-Alvarez). She tells John that Marco responded to Aguirre’s domestic-violence call — and, curiously, he doesn’t reveal that he already knew. Nevertheless, this is their chance: Marco and Aguirre will be stuck in an Internal Affairs investigation. They won’t be able to go after the Rayburns. John wants to unleash the hounds; Meg can’t do it yet. “He’s never done one thing to hurt me,” she says. She’s still trying to protect Marco, totally unaware that he’s ready to take them all down.
In an important development, John asks a local businessman for security footage from the access road to the beach where he killed Danny. He wants to get it before Marco does, but the guy impolitely declines to hand anything over without a warrant.
Ozzy (John Leguizamo), who got his payoff in the previous episode, comes in with a new guitar for Eve (Andrea Riseborough). Too bad she’s already gone: Eve packed up and left him, taking all of her stuff with her. In another great scene, Leguizamo subtly turns Ozzy’s joy to anger. He did all of this for her. How dare she leave him? And where the hell did she go? It turns out that she went to the Rayburn property, where Nolan will help out in the bungalows and Eve will finally have the family she’s sought. How will John and Ozzy respond? Neither man wants Danny’s family to make this move.
In an interesting scene, Diana (Jacinda Barrett) expresses happiness that Nolan left, though she’s concerned he may know what happened to his father. John doesn’t want to talk about it. “Should I be worried about him?” she asks. It’s a deliberately vague question. Does she mean “worried about what he knows” or “worried about what John might do to him”? It could be both.
John needs help getting those security cameras, so he brings whiskey and cigars to his ham radio “inside man,” knowing he can get the footage for him. Meanwhile, the increasingly mysterious Roy Gilbert (Beau Bridges) offers Kevin (Norbert Leo Butz) a deal that everyone with a brain would know is too good to be true. He takes it, of course. After driving his company into the ground and dealing with addiction, does Kevin really believe that Gilbert would let him remain in charge of all operations? Why does everyone trust Roy? Later, Meg will basically ask him to bankroll the Ozzy situation. Much like the rest of this season, the Gilbert debacle happens far too easily.
We jump back to Marco, who comes out to talk with Jane (Taylor Rouviere). (There’s a great character beat here: For a brief moment, she freaks out the way a cop’s daughter would when she sees her father’s partner.) Jane tells Marco about the missing necklace, and Diana sees them talking. This little meeting gets back to John, who learns that Marco is looking for the necklace. Tough luck, John. Along with that guilty conscience and potential legal problems, you’ve got an angry and paranoid spouse on your hands.
While Marco talks to Aguirre about an immunity deal, Eric walks into a pawn shop with an “Aguirre for Sheriff” sign on the register (nice touch), where he gets back something vital to the entire series: the necklace. After giving Marco a hard time for talking to his daughter, John watches the security footage on his laptop, and his face is clearly seen driving to the beach.
Sally (Sissy Spacek) gives Meg the warning that Roy Gilbert cannot be trusted — duh, redux. Her reminder encourages Meg to look a little more closely at the contract he’s proposed to Kevin. Baby Bro won’t have it, though: “I don’t want this, I need this!” Kevin is desperate, and he’s about to do something stupid … again.
After John goes to see Aguirre’s ex-wife, he leaks the story about Marco’s role in the cover-up, effectively siccing Internal Affairs on his new nemesis. This should freeze the investigation, but John just sold out his partner and friend. It’s amazing that people with so many skeletons in their closets would be so aggressive. Did Marco and Aguirre never consider that their major cover-up could be exposed? Marco calls Eric, knowing that he needs to nail down that immunity deal or he might lose his new inside man. Eric remembers talking to Danny about how he was going to meet with John on the beach. When Eric came back later that night, he basically tripped over the necklace, which he’s now playing with in his truck. What’s his next move?
Elsewhere, Ozzy surprises Eve with an envelope of cash. She won’t take it; she’s a Rayburn now. Meg sees the whole conversation going down. The connection between Eve and Ozzy will get back to Sally and John — a tragic development, since it happens while Eve dumps Ozzy and refuses to take the blackmail money. Meg watches her give Ozzy what appears to be a kiss good-bye, but she doesn’t know the truth. Meg runs to Sally, asking why she trusts Eve. She doesn’t want her around, but the Rayburn matriarch stands firm: “Nolan and Eve are not going anywhere.”
Cut to Kevin’s marina, where a limo pulls up in the middle of the night. Is Roy Gilbert going to use the dock for illegal means? Oh, look! It’s Luis, the mysterious drug enforcer. Remember how he served as middleman between Lowry and the kingpin? Well, Gilbert is that kingpin. Which means Kevin just became the new Wayne Lowry.
Before that can sink in, John figures out what Eric knows. He’s creeping around the least-staffed police station in the world and finds the Danny Rayburn case file. He looks at Marco’s notes and sees the request for witness immunity. What does Eric know? John goes back to the security-camera footage. He sees himself driving in. He sees Meg coming to the beach and returning with Kevin. He sees Danny coming in earlier that morning. And even further back, he sees Eric’s truck. We cut to Eric knocking on Marco’s door, showing him the missing necklace. We end on a shot of a ghostly John. He’s in serious trouble, and he knows it.
- Chandler has done a good job progressing from panicked to the walking dead. His emotional disintegration has been largely internal, with no major monologues to use as crutches — only his increasingly dead eyes.
- It’s too bad they couldn’t give Beau Bridges a real character. Gilbert is essentially a plot device. Hopefully he’ll be the antagonist for season three.
- An interesting theme: How should people use what they know? Ozzy tried to use his knowledge for profit. Will Eric use it for good? And what will Marco do? We’ll find out in the finale.