Bloodline Recap: No Hard Feelings


Part 2
Season 1 Episode 2
Editor’s Rating 3 stars
Jamie McShane (Eric O'Bannon) and Ben Mendelsohn (Danny Rayburn) in the Netflix Original Series BLOODLINE. Photo Credit: Saeed Ayani ? 2015 Netflix, Inc. All rights reserved.


Part 2
Season 1 Episode 2
Editor’s Rating 3 stars
Photo: Saeed Ayani/Netflix

Bloodline’s pilot left us with an explosive cliffhanger, which, as it relates to this episode, remains unexplained. What we do know is that Danny’s still in town, and he intends on sticking around. Why? Well, classic Danny: It’s complicated. Right now, he has one foot in two camps: He wants to avoid whatever he was escaping in Miami — and he’ll do whatever is necessary to do so; he also wants to set things right with his family and entrench himself in their collective future. If the first episode convinced you Danny’s character was complex, the second does the same for nearly everyone else in the Rayburn clan.

After skipping his bus home, the black sheep’s faithful douche-pal Eric comes to his rescue: Danny can crash with Eric’s sister (Chloë Sevigny) under the radar, as long as he helps on a sketchy job for some dangerous people. Back home, Kevin spreads the news that Danny’s headed back to Miami and has essentially been voted off the Keys by his siblings. The first to learn this is Papa Rayburn, who seems to be riding whichever noncommittal bandwagon is most convenient. (First it’s Well, you guys vote, I don’t care anymore, I have kayaking to do. Then it’s Wow, he’s my son, he’s your brother, I totally could’ve had him back.) The patriarch’s capriciousness is frustrating, but it’s a nice detail from the writers. You can see this sort of emotional claustrophobia coloring John, too. He and his father seem well equipped to deal with their professional lives — to lead and care for others — but less so when it comes to making tough decisions about their lives at home. Robert, inexplicably, is even more lost on this path.

Returning home (again), Danny ostensibly tries to reach some sort of closure with his dad before it’s too late. In their surprise confrontation — Danny meets his dad at the middle of his kayak route — something happens that puts Robert unconscious in the hospital. As much as this episode was about what Danny did or didn’t do to Papa Rayburn, a lot of the emotional meat here actually concerns Kevin, his quickly fragmenting life, and how he responds to Danny’s unwanted presence.

“Part 2” opens with shots of Kevin that look cribbed from SE7EN; then it closes with the revelation that this brother, who has an unyielding disdain for Danny, hands John an untraceable gun. We also learn that there’s marital dysfunction boiling beneath Kevin’s happy-go-lucky, carpe diem exterior, and that he’s prone not only to flying off the handle, but also obsessing over minutiae. You can argue that Kevin’s pursuit of the truth regarding what happened to his dad is loyalty, but Kevin, in more ways than one, is much more of a ticking time bomb than Danny. Watching his more manic moments in this episode (shelling out $60 to strangers for non-answers, attacking Danny on the dock in front of his family’s hotel), it’s clear that, if pushed over the edge, Kevin can be more of a bullheaded threat than someone as off-kilter as Eric.

Around the midpoint of the episode, the writers douse us with flashbacks and the episode takes a turn for the surreal. We see Sally remembering Danny’s childhood hospital visit for his shoulder injury, we see John recall how that same injury happened (not a drunk-driving accident; he was kicked and beaten by his psycho father), we see Meg weeping in the hotel as she looks at a tense family picture. A lot of this felt like filler. Did we need all of it? It would’ve been nice, instead, to see Sally have a more palpable reaction to what was going on in her head (she’s been fed so many lies), rather than flashbacks galore, or the heavy-handed scene in which she chastises Kevin for “always being so suspicious of your brother.”

Of course Kevin’s not the only one. John tries to track down his brother when he bails on the family at the hospital, and thanks to his Coach T. senses, knows Eric’s involved. Don’t forget that this show is also 10 percent Criminal Minds: The girl John and Marco found in the mangroves — dubbed Juanita Doe by the coroner — was burned and then drowned to death (this means she was kept alive for the pyromania, which is insane). Again, not much else is shed on this situation, so file this back under “Okay, weird.” With Eric breaking his parole, bad guys stealing gasoline, and Danny back in town all at the same time, I’m inclined to say that there’s a connection. Or that there will be. (Sherlock, I know.) That said, what’s weird is the most terrifying people in this episode are still Kevin and Robert, the latter of whom we now know has anger management problems just like the party-animal son.

As far as Danny’s concerned, he’s much less menacing than this show lets on — at least here. Throughout the episode, each scene feels more and more like cheap sleight of hand and emotional manipulation: Danny’s confrontation with his dad is tinged with an insidious vagueness (“I thought maybe we could work things out before you die”); Danny’s initial summary of what happened to Robert comes off as someone piecing together a last-minute lie; Danny’s exploits, trafficking stolen fuel with Eric, don’t help; and his sheepish interaction with his siblings reek of guilt. If the flashback at the end of the episode isn’t Danny projecting, however, then we learn, quite simply, that he just sucks at telling a straightforward story. Robert did have a stroke. Boo. If anything is wrong with Danny here, it’s that he won’t fix his decades-old shoulder injury and his painkiller addiction is out of control.

Next up, Meg drama.

Swamp Talk

  • Now the smartphones come out.
  • Kevin’s headband kind of looks like a dickey when it’s not on his head.
  • Also, his compliments are from another decade. Smokin’.
  • “Hey, you’ve reached Danny. Do it.” If this doesn’t reveal a lot about Danny’s character, I don’t know what does. What a voice-mail greeting.
  • Meg was a champ this episode, but just wait.
  • Eric’s sister still thinks she’s 16.
  • Can’t wait to learn more about Juanita Doe. Seriously. Actually, really need to know what the hell is going on here ASAP.
  • Sally has got to be so exhausted at this point. Someone get her a Bloody Mary or a Long Island Iced Tea.
  • Lesson of the episode: Don’t trust anyone. Be as cynical as possible.
  • The three-brothers-fighting scene was pretty fantastic. I love that Kyle Chandler is able to unleash in this show, but only after a few seconds of hesitancy. And then there’s the obligatory heavy breathing. Never change.
  • Remember when Kevin just gave $60 for nothing? He should’ve demanded a refund. That was lame.
  • The lies from episode one are already starting to rip apart the family. Fantastic.

Bloodline Recap: No Hard Feelings