Netflix-BloodlineNetflix has become synonymous with first-rate television series, and it’s hit another home run with Bloodline, a drama that debuted March 20 and that tackles the sticky topic of family ties that bind and gag – and ultimately kill.

Starring Kyle Chandler (The Wolf of Wall Street, Zero Dark Thirty) as John Rayburn, the good son who tries to keep the family together at all costs, Bloodline weaves a tale of sibling rivalry, betrayal and murder against dreamy backdrop of the Florida Keys. You almost expect Jimmy Buffet to make a cameo.

Like a sunny postcard picture, the Rayburns seemingly have it all as pillars of the community and successful businesspeople. They can do no wrong, so it seems, even having a local pier named after them. But this drama ends up evoking much more darkness than sunshine.

Purveyors of a 45-year-old Bed ‘N Breakfast hotel operated from a plantation-esque compound, there’s much more to the Rayburns than meets the eye as something sinister boils under the surface, stoked by an incessant consumption greed mixed with alcohol and cocaine.

While Robert (Sam Shepherd) and Sally Rayburn (Sissy Spacek) run the hotel, where cocktail glasses never go empty, son John is a detective with the local Sheriff’s Office. He and wife Diana (Jacinda Barrett) have two teenage kids and seemingly everything they’d want out of life, including a successful nursery. But John carries with him much guilt derived from a decades-old traumatic incident that is sure to be his undoing.

From episode one, the story unfolds in a series of flashbacks and foreshadowing intertwined with the present as “other” brother Danny returns home, shrouded in mystery. Viewers sense from the start that something is off about him, and indeed he’s the Black Sheep. Yet the writing team of Glenn Kessler, Todd Kessler, Daniel Zelman and Jonathan Glatzer evoke sympathy even a morbid affinity for the character. Despite his shadiness and vague interpretation of the law, Danny is a tortured soul who you just want to reach out to and hug, as if that will make everything all right.

Danny’s antagonist, we quickly learn, is none other than Robert, the patriarch. John and youngest sister Meg (Linda Cardellini) share guilt over the chilled relationship and how Danny came to be Danny. But Kevin (Norbert Leo Butz), the other brother, unmistakably harbors ill will. Even as Robert and Kevin can do nothing but display their disappointment in and resentment of Danny, as well as their suspicions over his return, Sally remains blindly overjoyed at her prodigal son’s return.

Even as Danny reconnects with a childhood friend who leads him back into a life of crime, we learn that the other Rayburns are far from perfect. While they all have drinking problems, there’s Meg, the attorney, who’s on-again, off-again engagement to John’s partner is threated by a tryst with a rich client. Then, there’s Kevin, who is separating from his wife, probably due to his drinking and rage issues that are repeatedly on display. All the while, John battles his own demons linked to one fateful afternoon decades ago that sent the family spiraling downward.

And, as the series deliberately unveils, all of theses apples don’t fall far from the tree planted by Robert and Sally. It is Danny’s desire to right the past wrongs by enacting revenge that brings a family lie to the surface no one is able to survive.

Season 1 of Bloodline more closely resembles a full-length feature film broken in 13, one-hour parts that starts slowly a la True Detective yet builds to a tantalizingly frenetic pace. The locomotive builds steam, but even as the characters begin to derail the story never does. We’ll have to wait and see where things go from here, as Netflix ordered another season.

And what a delicious wait we all have to see where the story will flow, like blood, from here. Let’s just hope the pulse remains strong.

About Ryan Gray

An award-winning, professionally and academically trained journalist. I'm a reporter and editor of news, business, sports, and entertainment and manager of the entire production process for print, online and multimedia/interactive for my company. I drive our brands and those of our clients via storytelling and audience engagement. I also direct curriculum development for related conferences and provide quality assurance on all projects and facilitate teamwork throughout the company and convert traffic and readership into dollars. In my spare time I enjoy music, playing with my daughter, blogging and consuming great TV shows and films. Specialties: News/feature reporting, editorial direction, editorial production management, video direction, multimedia, blogging, content marketing strategy, social media, editing/proofreading, page layout, HTML, public relations, photography/videography

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