First, a little math. The debut season of Bloodline was 13 episodes. The second season was ten episodes and ended in a surprising wave of cliffhangers. The first three episodes of this season wrapped up most of the show’s lingering plotlines — and now Bloodline jumps five months later. Anyone else think those first three episodes were originally intended to close out season two and this is the real start of the show’s final year?
We open “Part 27” with a little bit of cleanup. Eric O’Bannon (Jamie McShane) is in jail, framed for the murder of Marco Diaz (Enrique Murciano). He needs a doctor; the cops don’t care. Marco’s funeral is tomorrow and master criminal Roy Gilbert (Beau Bridges) is worried about Ozzy (John Leguizamo) being the loose end that still needs tying up — he needs John Rayburn (Kyle Chandler) to find him. Meg Rayburn (Linda Cardellini) skips Marco’s funeral; Kevin Rayburn (Norbert Leo Butz) sends a card; John speaks on behalf of the department. The man who knows his brother killed his partner has to pay tribute. It’s amazing he doesn’t just have a mental breakdown in front of everyone.
Cut to five months later. Where’s everyone at?
• John and Diana (Jacinda Barrett) are still separated, and John looks like total shit — like he hasn’t had a good night sleep since that funeral speech.
• Kevin and Belle (Katie Finneran) had their baby and the cop killer seems to actually be in a really good place. We know that won’t last.
• Meg is missing.
A lot of the action of “Part 27” centers on the funeral of Eric O’Bannon’s mother. Roy Gilbert (Beau Bridges) convinces Kevin to sign a letter that attests that he believes Eric should be allowed a furlough to attend it. Roy claims that it will look good for the upcoming trial, but jury members are unlikely to be allowed if they know about it, so that smells immediately suspicious. Is Roy trying to get Eric into a position where he could be taken care of? Or build political capital for himself? Or something else entirely? Whatever the reason, it pisses off John and Aguirre (David Zayas). Maybe that’s the reason.
Roy is also trying to insinuate himself further into a patriarch role within the Rayburn family. He keeps currying favor with Kevin, giving him more and more projects, despite the suspicions of Kevin’s staff. He’s encouraging Kevin more than anyone else in his life, including his family and lawyer (played by Mario Van Peebles, who directed the previous episode), who gives his client homework to prepare and grills him in preparation. It’s interesting to see Kevin in a lower register this episode, especially in the scenes with his kid. Butz is so often forced to go drunk/screaming/panicked/etc. that it’s nice to see his range.
Roy tells John that Ozzy, who is doing a short stint for stealing cars, will be getting out soon. He’s still a loose end. John doesn’t trust Roy, but the mastermind claims that he’s on the Rayburn family’s side. Almost hysterically, he yells, “Let the past be the past!” Never gonna happen on this show.
Kevin just wants to party, ignoring the storm clouds overhead. It’s been too long since they had an event at the Inn, so he’s going to have his child’s christening party there. And he wants John to be the godfather. It’s fascinating to watch Kevin, the character who should be the most weighed down by murderous guilt, just want to bounce back to normalcy. Of course, he soon realizes he can’t, drowning his sorrows in booze after his brother calls him a disappointment, a word his dad used all the time. He’s dumb enough to convince himself everything will be alright, but only alcohol can silence the regret and feelings of failure.
Meanwhile, John Rayburn has a new partner! And she wants to sleep with him! On a stakeout at the bar, they play a game of Truth or Dare. When he’s asked the worst thing he’s ever done, John quickly switches from “truth” to “dare.” When his partner wants to go home with him, he declines. John isn’t very good at this game.
Perhaps it’s because he still has feelings for Diana, who shows up late one night, too wasted to go home. She’s emotional and tries to kiss him before passing out in his bed. God, even people who marry into the Rayburn family are screwed up by them. While not sleeping beside her, John has a dream of Eric getting shot while he’s being let out for his mother’s funeral. Could it have been a prophecy?
This strong hour ends with a christening and a funeral — a beginning and an end. John is missing from the former and Eric is late for the latter, being taken on a slow ride to the cemetery. While Roy stands in for John as godfather at the church, we learn that John is actually at the funeral instead. And that Eric is being taken so slowly to the rite that he’ll miss it as a punishment by the cops. Ouch. They even claim that the car’s transmission is shot, stopping entirely, denying someone they think is a cop killer a chance to say good-bye to his mother. Did John make sure that happened? Was it to protect to Eric? Chelsea (Chloë Sevigny) tells John that a van was at the cemetery to take pictures, but it could have been someone planning to take out Eric instead. Did John just save the life of the man he framed?
• The song choice of “God Bless the Child” as Kevin drives home is a smart one, not only thematically relevant to the upcoming christening but somewhat comforting for our most naïve Rayburn, who sometimes acts like a child and hopes that God will bless and save him.
• Great work this episode from Chandler, who is often a victim of the over-plotting in this show. He’s allowed some nice, varying character beats here.
• This episode’s script is stronger than average, too. (It was by Bill Cain, a writer from House of Cards.) Loved the closing-scene parallels and when Kevin gets called on his “God grant me the serenity” bullshit. Sometimes you can change more than you think, Kevin. You just gotta try.
• I’m starting to feel sorry for Belle, who seems to have to no idea she’s married to a murderer or how deep the sociopathology of the Rayburns goes.
• Who else misses Ben Mendelsohn right now?