This article contains spoilers for the third and final season of Netflix’s Bloodline, if you haven’t seen it yet you may want to come back when you have done so…
It’s hard when you’ve waited a whole year for the final season of a series you’ve marked down as a modern classic only to have the whole shaky edifice crumble before your eyes.
Bloodline’s third and final season has been one of the most anticipated shows of the year. Ten episodes that would wrap up the story of the Rayburns in fine style – or so we hoped. Instead what we got was a season that abandoned characters, storylines and in the end petered out to nothing more than a damp squib. Worse still the creative team of Todd A. Kessler, Glenn Kessler and Daniel Zelman completely disrespected the audience with the ninth episode that, instead of building the story towards a climactic tenth and final episode, entered a fantasy zone that was part Life on Mars, part Groundhog Day and part It’s A Wonderful (Terrible) Life and advanced the storyline not a single jot.
The season began well enough with the fall out of Marco’s murder by Kevin and the framing of Eric O’Bannon for the crime carrying us through the first three episodes – in fact it felt like the first three episodes were in fact the final three episodes of the second season.
From there it all starts to fall apart. The action fast forward’s 5 months and the only real storyline is Kevin’s growing involvement with arch criminal Beau Bridges’ Roy Gilbert. Other than that way too much time is spent on John’s angst .
The final three episodes saw the season fall apart completely, John Leguizamo’s Ozzy character hung around on the outer rim of the action, slowing losing his mind and harassing various members of the Rayburn’s whilst doing so. He bizarrely decides to kill himself in the back of a car belonging to one of Roy Gilbert’s henchment. Ozzy’s story went absolutely nowhere.
Roy Gilbert’s story also finally went nowhere despite taking a long time to get there. Gilbert ends up having a heart attack and dying in hospital. Totally pointless and another aspect that left us feeling somewhat cheated.
Meg’s departure from the series after the first three episodes (apart from one brief appearance later on and away from the main action) gives us another reason to think that the first three episodes belonged to the second season. It would be interesting to know whether Meg’s mostly non appearance was down to the creative team or Linda Cardinelli deciding not to get involved. Andrea Riseborough’s Evangeline also failed to appear this season, dismissed in a passing comment about pursuing her music career. Instead we had a couple of minor characters taking up unneeded space and again contributing little – there was Beth Mackey (who had made a brief appearance in season one) as a friend/lover of Danny’s and who hovers on the periphery of the action, seeming to have a role to play but again, other than offering advice to Nolan and Chloë Sevigny’s Chelsea O’Bannon her story and what secrets she may have been keeping went untold. John also got a female new partner who only seemed to be there to tempt him into bed following his marriage breakdown – not that stressed out John could do anymore than actually get into bed.
Episode 9 though – what can you say about episode 9. It turned out to be painful to watch. Ostensibly John has been in a diving accident with his old friend Mike but the episode consists of various scenarios playing out in John’s head, in most Danny (Ben Mendelsohn with very bad wig) is still alive and all of them seem completely pointless. It’s almost as if the writing team had forgotten they had an episode to write.
The tenth and final episode does try to wrap up a few of the storylines. Kevin with the DEA closing in on him, tries to escape to Cuba but is caught within 24 hours. John tries to tell the truth to Police Chief Aguirre but Aguirre simply doesn’t believe him – instead convinced he is burnt out and paranoid. It’s the most satisfying scene in the whole season actually. Finally John comes face to face with Nolan on the jetty at the inn. The season being what it is though we don’t even get to see whether he tells Nolan what really happened to his father.
In the end the slow burn that we loved about the first two seasons here just fizzles out like a damp firework. Such a shame especially as once again the acting, led by Kyle Chandler and Sissy Spacek, was fantastic.
In music there is a well known difficult third album syndrome, your first album is a knockout, using the songs you’ve accumulated down the years, your second capitalises on that and then by the time of your third album you’ve got to come up with new material and the pressure is on. Bloodline Season Three genuinely felt like that. Todd A. Kessler, Glenn Kessler and Daniel Zelman didn’t know where to take their characters and it showed.