Netflix’s Bloodline Season 3 features a renewed, tighter focus to conclude the Emmy-nominated series highlighted by Kyle Chandler’s terrific performance.
Netflix’s Bloodline always felt like a one-and-done series to me. Stretched over 13 episodes, Season 1 featured a defined beginning, middle, and end that effectively wrapped the saga of the beleaguered Rayburn family. When Danny (Ben Mendelsohn) Rayburn’s son showed at the end of the freshman season, I groaned a silent groan. Did we need to further explore this family’s trauma? Season 2 plodded its way through 10 episodes, never feeling like essential viewing. Sure, the performances continued to excel, but the central story failed to stand on its own. Bloodline Season 3, however, gives the series the closure it needs and probably deserves. It is good enough to make a convert out of me.
Bloodline Season 3 continues the dramatic events of Season 2’s cliffhanger ending. John Rayburn (the great Kyle Chandler) wants to flee the Keys as he feels his family turning against him. Siblings Kevin (Norbert Leo Butz) and Meg (Linda Cardellini) wanted to turn John in to save their own skins, but naturally Kevin ended up killing the cop. (As one does when confessing???) And matriarch Sally (Sissy Spacek) finally drifts into knowing exactly how her kids were involved with Danny’s death. The first few episodes deal with the aftermath and with John making critical decisions regarding his family and the extent to which he’ll protect them.
All the actors deliver good-to-great performances. I’ll never understand why Norbert Leo Butz wasn’t higher on awards lists for his volcanic performance. Ben Mendelsohn’s great work tended to overshadow Butz, I suppose. Now, with Mendelsohn largely out of the picture, Butz takes advantage of his expanded role. His Kevin struggles with the consequences of his actions. The one Rayburn poorly equipped for such events, he needs John’s guidance to protect himself and his newborn child. His scenes and overall plight make for compelling drama, and Butz excels in the attention-grabbing role. The same goes for Sissy Spacek’s Sally. She’s given at least three huge, actor-friendly scenes that, in any other year, would almost certainly net an Emmy nomination. Actually, Sally may be my favorite Season 3 character given the bone-chilling revelations and choices she makes late in the season.
But Bloodline remains Kyle Chandler’s series. He pushes the stoic John Rayburn into uncharted territories. He toys with taking the selfish way out, and he chooses to protect his family at the expense of all others. Chandler’s face registers vacant stares, inner rage, deeply felt sorry, and haunting regret. He even receives a Leftovers-like episode that unexpectedly takes the series down a path unique to its noir realism. If an Emmy-winning actor could be underrated, then Kyle Chandler belongs on that list. He received two nominations for the series thus far. A third feels almost guaranteed.
Bloodline Season 3 finally delivers exactly what the overall series sorely needed: focus. Netflix’s 13-episode series model doesn’t always fit the material (see: Iron Fist). This series filled its first season, but the pacing often felt languid and meandering. Season 2 lacked a point. Season 3, however, excels because the end approaches. It offers the tightly wound family drama initially promised. It’s not a perfect show. Season 3 never really manages to deal positively with characters outside of the central Rayburn family with John Leguizamo particularly given the shaft in terms of story line. However, Bloodline Season 3 sends the series out on a very high note thanks to excellent scripting, taut direction, and those fantastic central performances. This is how every series should exit.
Bloodline Season 3 premieres Friday, May 26, on Netflix.