TV Review: “Bloodline”- A Bright, Slow Burn

Written by Michelle Young April 07, 2015

bloodline

You never give up on your family. That’s the mantra of the Rayburns, the family at the center of Netflix’s new original series “Bloodline”, which premiered in full on March 20th. But as touching a sentiment as that philosophy may seem, it ultimately plays into the downfall of this once happy family. From secrets, lies, and anger from old wounds that never seemed to heal, the series examines the lengths a family will go to to protect each other, even if that means sacrificing one of their own. “Bloodline” is ultimately a bright new flame in Netflix’s arsenal of original programming, but that flame seems to burn very, very slowly, which can be both good and bad.

The Rayburns own and operate a successful inn in the Florida Keys. The first episode sees them celebrating the 45th anniversary of its opening. But with the celebration comes the return of the Rayburn’s wayfaring, outcast eldest son Danny (Ben Mendelsohn). His arrival, and ultimate decision to stay, leads to family tensions as trouble always seems to follow Danny wherever he goes. We get a good taste of the rocky relationship the rest of the family has with Danny within their first few interactions, but the real shocker comes at the end of the first episode, when it’s revealed that blood might not be thicker then water.

“I always thought the greatest thing that ever happened to me was being born a Rayburn. Now, I’m not so sure.”

From there, the mystery beings to slowly unravel and we’re taken on a journey through flashbacks and flash-forwards as we try to figure out what has caused these shocking events to unfold. It becomes clear that the troubles of the Rayburn family have been brewing for a long time and not everyone is as innocent as they presume to be.

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With a cast that includes Sam Shepard, Kyle Chandler, Sissy Spacek, and Linda Cardellini, there is no shortage of talent in the acting department. And while all of these actors deliver great performances, the true star of the show is relative unknown, Ben Mendelsohn. As Danny, he tows the line between likability and spite in a way that creates an interesting character that you truly invest in, but also hate at the same time.

“We’re not bad people, but we did a bad thing.”

The main downfall of the show also happens to be one of the reasons it keeps you watching: the pace. The story unfolds at the same speed as a ball of chewing gum rolling down a hill made of Velcro. The slow burn can, at times, make it feel like the story isn’t going anywhere. Considering the cliffhanger at the end of the first episode, this can get pretty frustrating. There’s more stuff that happens in the last three episodes than the first ten combined. But I also have to appreciate the pace, as it allows for the build up of great tension and suspense; the Netflix ‘whole hog’ style of releasing content actually allows the cliffhangers to mean something.

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“Bloodline” is a suspenseful mystery with plenty of twists and revelations that make it an awesome show. It can get a little frustrating with the slow pacing, but just as the Rayburn family philosophy says, “you never give up on family” you shouldn’t give up on “Bloodline” because the payoff is great. I’m already looking forward to the next season.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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