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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Bloodline: “Part 6”

Illustration for article titled iBloodline/i: “Part 6”
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Bloodline’s sluggish pace has been its most divisive quality, with viewers expecting more of a thriller with some family drama versus a family drama with some thrills feeling especially bored by just how little happens in most episodes. It’s a tough show to binge, made even tougher by the fact that the scripts are always humorless. But Bloodline has crafted gritty and piercing drama that doesn’t rely fully on over-the-top twists to get the job done. “Part 6” features a coke-induced party montage, a ghost, and a deadly dream, but its most effective—and charged—moments are its quieter, reality-based ones.

Whereas “Part 5” meanders and could have cut a lot of excess or at least distilled its major points into sharper, leaner pieces, “Part 6” is much more committed to making every minute (and there are a lot here—57, to be precise) count. The episode is already long, but its subtext could fill a book. John and Danny dance around the interview tapes in their phone call at the beginning of the episode, with neither brother saying what they really mean. That tense disconnect squirms throughout “Part 6,” especially in the final scene between Danny and John, the fraught culmination of all of the anxieties both men barrell through all episode.


Even Danny’s joke to John about shooting himself at the start comes full circle when Danny takes a pistol to his own head in a drug-induced dream sequence. Fantasy sequences are useful for the same reason they can be irritating. They allow the writers to quite literally show us what characters are thinking, but that can be a lazy route, the definition of showing instead of telling. But it’s a justifiable choice when done with the right kind of carefully laid character work.

In the case of this particular daydream, the Bloodline writers have made it work, especially because of the build up to it. For most of the episode, Danny spirals deeper and deeper into self-destruction, and when we finally learn the specificities of his turmoil—that he has internalized the blame for his sister’s death after years of Robert blaming him—it hits hard. It helps that Kyle Chandler and Ben Mendelsohn really drive home the emotions of the moment. The dream sequence is the only time in the episode when either of them say what they really mean. Well, it’s Danny’s rendering of what they mean, but the dream gives the writers flexibility to show sides of these characters that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to discern because of how deeply in denial both of them are.


Mia Kirshner returns as the ghost of Sarah, and it’s another example of just how cautious and nuanced Bloodline is with its story devices. We don’t need Danny to address her as Sarah to know it’s her, and Kirshner is never overused, even in this episode which features her the most of any so far.

All that being said, the episode certainly could have done without Danny’s coke montage or, at least, Alex Graves could have shot the whole sequence differently without losing the same sense of havoc the scene evokes. Look, I love a drugged-out and disorienting dance party sequence laden with heavy beats and chaotic camerawork as much as the next person, but that kind of hacky style just doesn’t belong on Bloodline and felt particularly out of place in this otherwise thoughtfully shot episode.


Even though he remains the least developed of the Rayburn brothers, Kevin’s character motivations are starting to make more sense. Kevin and Meg—and Sally for that matter—are conspicuously missing from the flashbacks to the day Sarah died, making it harder to understand where each of them fits into the overarching conflict between Danny, John, and Robert that has driven so much of Bloodline’s emotional pulse. Kevin’s role since the beginning has seemed to be simply that of Devil’s Advocate, urging his siblings not to let Danny back into the fold for reasons largely unknown. Plus, last episode, he actually stood up for Danny, assuring their mother that he thinks he really has changed. Make up your mind, Kev!

With the will negotiations, however, Kevin’s alliances make perfect sense: He wants to keep Danny from getting a cut of the estate because that means more for him, and he needs the extra money to be able to buy the boatyard and save it from the yacht yuppies he seems so afraid of. As unlikable as it makes him, Kevin’s selfish motivations are easier to parse out than the anti-Danny feelings he spews out in the early episodes. Unless, of course, there’s more left to be said about Kevin and Danny’s past relationship. Overall, Meg and Kevin don’t have as much to do in this episode as John and Danny, but their father’s death continues to weigh on them in their own ways.


Stray observations:

  • Even the online dating profile created for Belle seems acutely aware of how undefined of a character she is. Interests: Baking!
  • One last thing about that drug sequence: I’m a strong believer that in the post-Black Swan era, no one else should try to do a flashing-lights-at-the-club drug sequence. But, hey, that’s just me!
  • Meg is all “you want me to do it?” when Marco doesn’t get down on one knee, and hello, Meg, would that really be that crazy? Monica Geller did it! It’s 2015! Women can propose if they want to!
  • Danny hacking off a fish’s head in the very last shot is a little on-the-nose for this show, but it still gave me the chills.
  • The parallels between young Danny’s fight with his dad and present-day shitshow Danny’s fight with the guy in the bar were really poignant.

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