On-screen deaths, by and large, can really invigorate a show. Game of Thrones was catapulted into the stratosphere at the end of its first season when Ned Stark, at the time the main character, was beheaded (spoiler?). On the opposite side of the spectrum, The Walking Dead drew the ire of millions of fans when it ended its sixth season on a cliff hanger, unable to decide which character would catch a bat to the face. That’s why I thought it was so interesting — not to mention infuriating — that Bloodline killed off its best character and the end of the first season.
Netflix’s drama about a rich Florida family with a lot of interpersonal communication issues was one of the surprises for me last year. I tuned in because the cast was so strong, even though the premise never really interested me. But for all the faults it has (runs a little long, all-white main cast), Bloodline was a damn good show, managing to land in my top 10 for 2015.
As much as I loved season one, I was even more skeptical of season two because of a character’s death, which as I mentioned before, seems counterintuitive. Ben Mendelsohn played the oldest of the four children, Danny, and he has a legit argument for the low-key best TV villain of all time. He was charming, unpredictable, likeable and scheming. It never seemed like he wanted to actually hurt his family until he actually started to hurt them. His development as a bad guy was one of the best things about any show from last year. And he was killed.
Season two picks up right where season one left off, with John (aka Kyle Chandler aka Coach Taylor) “investigating” his brother’s murder and trying to figure out what to do with Nolan, Danny’s son. The two other Rayburn kids — Meg and Kevin — have far less interesting plots, though Kevin’s at least ties into the main story when he decides to sort of pick up where Danny left off, though with much better intentions.
Mendelsohn is still around, however, in flashbacks and when John starts to see his ghost, which is an eye-rollingly predictable thing to happen. Bloodline was never a completely chronological show, and the second season capitalizes on that to introduce new pieces of information that have an impact on events happening in the present. And that’s where the show really starts to lose me.
If Bloodline wanted Danny to be the main driver for the story it shouldn’t have killed him. A show about a bad guy has much more potential than a show about what a bad guy did before he died. Introducing new information into a story the audience is already familiar with makes it feel like the writers couldn’t come up with anything new, so the just double-dipped into material they knew everyone liked.
There are some interesting things happening that aren’t completely Danny-related, and it would behoove Bloodline to focus on those aspects. Danny and the drama surrounding him should be treated like hard drugs – fun to use sometimes but very bad to use too often. It’s entirely possible that the show does trend away from Danny since I am only four episodes in, but I really doubt it.
For those who liked Bloodline as much as me, the second season should prove acceptable. For those who didn’t like it (and for some reason watched it all?) or were on the fence, don’t bother. I thought after last season that it would work best as a one-season installment, and so far season two is proving me right.