Kevin (Norbert Leo Butz) and John Rayburn (Kyle Chandler) continue to linger on the edge of sanity, their descents into madness sped up by the impending trial of Eric O’Bannon (Jamie McShane) for the murder of Marco Diaz (Enrique Murciano). As they hope that Eric will accept a plea deal to finally close the final chapter on this cover-up, Kevin slides back into his dumb persona, entrapped into crime by benefactor Roy Gilbert (Beau Bridges), who now seems to be playing with the easily tempted young man just to see what he’ll do next. All in all, “Part 28” is as a solid episode dramatically, but a bit transitional given we’re already at the halfway point of Bloodline’s final season. Let’s hope the action and the stakes pick up shortly. It’s time to start punishing the Rayburns.
The plea offer in front of Eric is 30 years in a maximum-security prison without the possibility of parole. Marco’s parents think it isn’t enough, as the key players sit in a meeting discussing the offer. Would Kevin really be there? I get that John would be present as Marco’s partner and a police officer investigating the case, but Kevin is just the key witness. It seems unlikely. Nevertheless, Kyle Chandler steals the scene as John gives a speech about wanting his brother’s murderer wiped from the face of the Earth. He’s talking about himself, of course, and it’s time to start wondering if John may take himself out by the end of the series. Will he do something that sacrifices himself to pay karmically for his sins?
The best material of this episode involves Chelsea O’Bannon (Chloë Sevigny), who first ignores her brother for the way she ignored their mother in her final days and then comes around. It happens for two reasons. First, she’s screwed with by an asshole police officer, who pulls her over for no reason other than she’s related to a perceived cop killer. She realizes that she’ll always be Eric’s brother, so there’s no point in ignoring him. With that in mind, she remembers how much Eric protected her as a child, telling her stories every time that their parents fought. In a really well-written scene, it’s revealed that Eric didn’t just protect her, but that he told the same story. He’s not an imaginative fellow. And he’s told the same story about the Marco Diaz murder. She encourages him to tell it in a court of law.
While that subplot unfolds, we get the latest adventures of Kevin Rayburn on the edge of the law. He’s forced to ferry some Cubans to Florida at the behest of Roy Gilbert. He doesn’t like them. They don’t like him. They’re probably running drugs and other illegal goods, but Roy seems to be grooming Kevin for more. I can’t quite figure this out. Roy must know Kevin is a moron. He can’t honestly be thinking that he’ll be his partner in crime, can he? Sure, he has allegiance to the Gilbert family, but it’s starting to feel like Roy is playing with Kevin, waiting for him to crack.
While Kevin is about to have another night highlighted by violence, Sally Rayburn (Sissy Spacek) does something truly gross: She encourages Marco’s mother to take the plea deal. Marco’s mother may think that Sally is doing it to protect her emotions, but Sally is really doing it to protect her son Kevin, who she knows is the real murderer. After all, a trial could reveal that.
Even though the trial and the plea are haunting John, he has to go to family therapy with Diana (Jacinda Barrett), but Janie (Taylor Rouviere) is missing. She’s on a road trip with a friend to meet a mystery man, leaving her parents to talk to the shrink, who asks if they’ve been seeing other people. John quickly denies it, but Diana pauses. She went on a date. John claims to have no feelings about this, but of course, he does. He’s dying from the inside out. Will he implode?
The Cubans piss Kevin off by shooting a marlin while they’re deep-sea fishing and they want to make it up to him. Apparently, criminals make good in Florida by partying at a strip club called Woody’s — real classy stuff. Kevin used to be such a regular that the bartender knows his name and asks where he’s been. Then one of the Cuban dickheads pulls out a vial of coke in the middle of the club. This will only end poorly. Don’t forget: Kevin is on probation. Before you know it, he’s talking to a photo of his baby on his phone in the strip-club bathroom. He hears a ruckus outside.
Meanwhile — and this is an interesting development if you think about the timing — John comes home to find Diana gone (on another date?) and he answers a call from Janie. She claims to be at Charlotte’s, but she isn’t. She’s skipping town, and it would be best for her to run from the Rayburns as quickly as possible. A cigarette lights in such a Danny Rayburn fashion and we see she’s with Danny’s son, Nolan (Owen Teague). He asks if she’s homesick, and she says, “For what?” Moments later, we see John in bed with his partner, both of them looking like they had really bad sex. This means Kevin was either at the strip club for a long time or John Rayburn makes really fast booty calls.
As the bad hookup wears off, John gets a call from work and heads to Woody’s. The bartender tells him that Kevin was there, but she didn’t tell the cops. First, John angrily calls Roy, from whom he hears that Eric is going to trial. He tries to call Kevin and then goes to the dock, where he catches him on the return from ferrying the Cubans home. The two fight, Kevin puffing out his chest and claiming, “I’m not who you think I am.” After telling him about the plea, we see the whiny Kevin again, and John says, “You’re EXACTLY who I think you are.” Kevin tackles him and they fight on the beach. Of course, Sally is there to break it up.
• There’s some nice character work in this episode, particularly by Sevigny and Chandler, but it feels really transitional for a mid-season point. (Perhaps adding to my theory that this was originally written as the season’s second episode, while the first three were really meant for last year.)
• Good to see Mario Van Peebles directing again (and appearing in a supporting role as the Diazes’ attorney).
• Bloodline has played with timelines before, but never more so than John going home, talking to his daughter, finding his partner, and having sex all while Kevin is at the strip club. Was she just waiting in his apartment?
• Where is Meg? Her absence for two whole episodes means there must be some explanation or narrative revelation when she returns. What do you think it will be?