Welcome to Rayburn House – a quaint family inn situated in an idyllic part of the Florida Keys. It is the perfect place to forget troubles if you’re there on vacation. But it is a near constant reminder of tragedies that have plagued the family who own and operate the resort. The place in the sun the Rayburns enjoy is one they have carved out through hard work and determination guided by the vision of their folksy yet menacing ex-sailor/ex-ranch-hand patriarch Robert Rayburn (Sam Shephard) and his adoring yet industrious wife Sally (Sissy Spacek). Their dutiful children – John the cop (Kyle Chandler), Megan the lawyer (Linda Cardellini), and Kevin the boat captain (Norbert Leo Butz) each maintain their own strong presences in the community whilst helping run the inn in various capacities as needed. John and his own wife (Jacinda Barrett) and children live in one of the bungalows the inn used to rent out. The periodic return of the troubled eldest son Danny (Ben Mendelsohn) elicits feelings of anger and guilt for all of them. Often an embarrassment, hard-living low-level criminal Danny is their chief tormentor yet also the victim of past family excesses. His cringe-inducing antics are continuously forgiven because they know they own the biggest stake in why he is the way he is.
This show is excellent. You have to be able to stick it out. The first episodes are mostly drama that seem like they’re leading to something, but so subtly so that a lot of folks will just find it boring. As the plot thickens and the characters and potential plot become more apparent, it grows on you. It becomes more of a crime drama after the first 4-6 episodes. A thriller at that point. The final culmination is surprising, but maybe you know what its all leading to if you look at it closely. Family secrets unravel, the same problem surfaces and resurfaces in their family history. It makes you question things such as family reputation, family, what is right, mistakes made, just everything in that realm. I’ll be honest, at the last 4 episodes or so, it stressed me out. It went from a slow burn to a very intense drama.
If you love character driven story lines, then you will probably like this show. The purpose and what drives the show is not so much in packing it with exciting and tense events, but the exact opposite: a small event will happen and you watch as the characters react to it and each small event builds upon one other slowly through the course of the season until a final crescendo. Make no mistake about it, it is indeed slow. They take time to develop each character, which means that there are many things they develop in episodes that don’t necessarily tie in with the overarching plot, but are solely to develop that individual character.
Bloodline is nothing less than exceptional viewing worthy of multiple Emmys particularly for writing and for the acting portrayals delivered by the entire brilliant cast. A show this subtle, nuanced and thoroughly appealing could only be on cable or Netflix.
Bloodline gets an 8.5/10.