Netflix's dark family drama has been renewed for a third season, giving fans hope that the many issues left up in the air might finally be resolved, but when? And how?
[Warning: The following story contains spoilers from the first and second seasons of Bloodline.]
Bloodline viewers are likely cheering the third-season renewal of Netflix's dark family drama. The fate of the Florida Keys-set series was uncertain after the state ended its tax-incentive program, leaving nervous fans on edge, particularly after the series' second season ended with multiple cliffhangers.
The 10-episode third season, for which the co-creators already indicated they had story ideas, will hopefully answer some of the more immediate questions remaining at the end of the second season, like where Kyle Chandler's main character, John Rayburn, is going as he drives away from the Keys, what Meg (Linda Cardellini) thinks her mom "need[s] to know" and, after getting bludgeoned repeatedly with a statuette, is John Rayburn's detective partner Marco Diaz (Enrique Murciano) dead or alive.
While the cast members have insisted they don't know what comes next for their characters, the co-creators have dropped some hints about what's to come. Who knows how long the show will last? But even before the first season premiered, co-creator Daniel Zelman said that they had ideas for potentially five or six seasons and recently co-creator Glenn Kessler indicated there's plenty to explore with the Rayburn family.
"If we keep going, we have a lot of story to tell and there's a lot more we're going to learn about these people," he said.
What sort of things might those be? Read on for insights into 15 burning questions still remaining after Bloodline's second season.
When viewers last saw John Rayburn, he was speeding away from the Florida Keys but his destination remains unknown. Even the ghost-like apparition of Danny, who appears in the passenger seat, asks where the two are bound, a question that the actor who plays Danny, Ben Mendelsohn, says also amounts to a sort of, "now what?": "There is that whole thing of like, 'What are we doing now?' Like, 'What exactly is the plan now?'"
Meanwhile, the actor behind John Rayburn, Kyle Chandler, wouldn't yet speculate as to John's destination telling The Hollywood Reporter that he expected that would be revealed in a third season. But Glenn Kessler says a hint to what John's doing can be found in the flashback scene in the second season’s ninth episode, when, as teens, Danny is teaching John to smoke and telling him that he plans to get out of the Keys.
"He warns John that if you stay here you'll never get to be who you really are, never get to be free. That resonates with John, so by the end of the 10th episode in this moment of crisis, he kind of has an epiphany and the actions he takes kind of follow through on what teenage Danny said to him: ‘Get out and save yourself,’" the Bloodline co-creator explains. "Absolutely a third season will pick up on that idea and what John does with that [and how it affects the family] now that he's taken the action that he's never been able to take in his life: Slough off his responsibilities to the family and look out for himself.”
Also John's exit from the Keys, depending on how long it lasts, calls into question the future of his campaign for sheriff.
At the end of the second season, a tearful Meg shows up at the inn saying, "Mom, there's something you need to know." Sally hugs her daughter but the audience doesn't see or hear what Meg has to get off her chest. Does she tell her mom the truth about what happened to Danny? Part of the truth? Something else? That all remains to be seen. But Meg's frustration with continually lying, voiced earlier in the second-season finale, and Kevin coming clean around the same time would lead one to suspect that Meg has decided to confess to her mom.
Speaking to THR at Bloodline's second season premiere, Cardellini said of why her character needs her mom, "I think that Meg really misses her mom and all of the secrets have very much fractured the family, and I feel like she's really lonely for her mother. Her mother and her had a really good relationship before everything happened, and now she can't even look her mom in the eye. She's very alone."
Glenn Kessler previously told THR, "There is a horrible, horrible scenario down the road where their mother finds out." And speaking to THR just a few weeks ago, he indicated that that could happen sooner rather than later.
"It's exciting because moving forward Sissy Spacek's character, who's been out of the loop for much of the first two seasons in terms of what's been going on with her family, she's now being brought in so it's going to be exciting to see how she participates with her children," he says.
Sally began the season suspicious about what her kids weren't telling her about Danny's death but had seemingly put away those concerns by the end of the season. In fact, if Meg is set to tell her mother the truth, Sally's not ready for it.
When asked what her character thinks Meg is going to tell her, Spacek told THR, "I have no idea, but I know that she can't even begin to imagine or would never think it was anything like what's going on. I know that for a fact. It could be she ran over her neighbor's dog, she's pregnant, who knows. All of these things. Meg, she's the only girl, she's always been the one that was closest to Sally. And she expects it's going to be some other drama and they'll get through it. I don't think she can even comprehend the seismic proportions of this thing she's going to learn — this secret."
One of the biggest mysteries to emerge at the end of the second season centers around Beau Bridges' Roy Gilbert. After initially presenting himself as a businessman and family friend supporting John Rayburn's run for sheriff, Gilbert's motivations and interests become murky by the second-season finale, particularly after individuals affiliated with the drug-trafficking ring Wayne Lowry (Glenn Morshower) was a part of start to get involved with Kevin Rayburn's (Norbert Leo Butz) marina after Gilbert invests in the property and Gilbert is seen listening to the tape Danny gave Lowry. Glenn Kessler previously told THR that Gilbert is connected to the drug-trafficking ring and that he does pose a threat to the Rayburns.
"He is out there as a force of antagonism to the Rayburn family," the Bloodline co-creator says. "That was one of the fun propositions of the end of the season was to understand that Gilbert … is not who he represented himself to be and has strings in many different areas of illicit activity…This is a man who under the front of being a legitimate businessman has a whole underbelly that puts the Rayburns in the crosshairs. Now with John running for sheriff going forward and being beholden to this guy, there's a great possibility and there's a great probability that this is all going to come to a climax between them."
The exact nature of Gilbert's involvement with the illicit activity Lowry was connected to remains unknown, but Gilbert's dark side makes his arrival on the scene in the fifth episode of the second season, after Lowry is killed, seem suspicious. Did he take Lowry's place and get involved with the Rayburns in a longer, more intricate way of getting them to enable the sort of illegal activity Lowry tried to blackmail John into helping with? Or is it merely coincidental that Gilbert showed up after Lowry died?
Enrique Murciano's detective character certainly wasn't moving after youngest Rayburn brother Kevin responded to learning that Marco had figured out that John killed Danny and Meg and Kevin helped by repeatedly hitting him with a statuette, blood splattering onto his face and clothes. Kevin then dropped his weapon on the ground but Marco's fate remained up in the air, creating a classic "dead or alive?" cliffhanger in the second season finale. Even if Marco is dead, the Bloodline co-creators, who previously co-created the legal thriller Damages, have made it clear they're not shy about having the recently deceased appear as visions seen by still living characters (see: Danny Rayburn and Damages' Ray Fiske and David Connor).
When viewers last saw Kevin, he was standing over Marco's lifeless body after repeatedly bludgeoning him with a statuette. Now what? The youngest Rayburn brother went to Marco to confess and get out from under his involvement in Danny's murder. But while Kevin didn't have a hand in Danny's death, just the subsequent cover-up of the murder, he's clearly actively involved in what happens to Marco. Kevin's interaction with Marco comes after he's gotten clean after having problems earlier in the season with cocaine and alcohol abuse. He also has a baby on the way as his wife is pregnant. As Glenn Kessler tells THR, in trying to set himself on a straight path, Kevin seemingly created more problems for himself.
"He has so much to lose now. He's sober and he's expecting and he recognizes that he wants to put his feet firmly on the ground," he says. "But it's too late because he's already a co-conspirator in a murder, so in order to protect the life he wants and has the potential of having, he takes an action that in effect jeopardizes it all over again."
And depending on whether Marco lives or dies, what will Kevin do? Will he admit to what he's done and if so to whom? Or will he try to cover it up? In a family with a lot of secrets, whose individual members have shown a tendency to suppress bad things they've done, it seems likely that Kevin will continue the family tradition of lying.
In the second-season finale a rift developed between John and Meg and Kevin, with the two younger siblings seemingly united against their brother. But Meg didn't join Kevin at Marco's house. Instead she went to the inn, where she told her mom, "there's something you need to know." So will Meg and Kevin remain united or is it now every Rayburn sibling for himself or herself? Glenn Kessler indicated after the first season that the series was ultimately headed in this direction. But is it there now?
For her part, Cardellini recently told THR that she doesn't even know what Meg's next sentence is let alone can she speculate about whether her character will stick by Kevin or go off on her own. John has already blamed Meg for Danny turning against the family, saying in the speech that served as a voiceover in Bloodline's first season that she made a mistake and maybe shouldn't have done what she did in terms of disinheriting Danny and not adding him back into her father's will after Robert Rayburn (Sam Shepard) wanted him out. As Zelman told THR after the first season, "What that is creating for John, and we may hear more of this going forward, is John is creating a motive for why Danny turned against them, so John can one day say to people, 'Well, my sister did do this thing, and I think that's why he became angry and I think that's why he started dealing drugs.… He went off the rails' … The echoes of that speech will continue to play out in future seasons." Could this speech, and Meg not adding Danny back into the will, come back to hurt her?
When viewers last saw Ozzy, one of the men affiliated with Lowry's drug-trafficking ring had told him to come with him and threatened him with a gun if he didn't comply. That man appears to be an associate of Gilbert's, also representing his interests at the marina. And indeed Gilbert was seen looking at Ozzy's mugshot in the second-season finale. Before that, though, it seemed as if Ozzy would continue to use what he knew about the events around Danny's death to extort money from the Rayburns, even paying a creepy visit to Sally at the inn. Will Gilbert's own intentions with the Rayburns take Ozzy down a different path or will Ozzy's blackmailing factor into Gilbert's plans?
Despite his character dying at the end of Bloodline's first season, Ben Mendelsohn returned to the Netflix series for its second season, playing Danny Rayburn in flashbacks and as a ghost-like version of the eldest son envisioned by his killer, younger brother John.
But as of early June, when it was unknown whether Bloodline would get a third season, it wasn't clear how much longer Mendelsohn would be on the series, even if the show came back. The actor, who will appear in the Star Wars spinoff Rogue One and Steven Spielberg's upcoming Ready Player One was non-committal about his future on Bloodline. When asked how long he would be playing Danny, Mendelsohn simply said, "I'm not sure. There's not been any solid discussions one way or the other on that, so I'm not sure."
Meanwhile Glenn Kessler told THR that he and the Bloodline crew love working with Mendelsohn and his work on the show and “would love to continue to keep him as a focal point in some way." Beyond that, he indicated that Danny's influence on the family would linger even if the actor who plays Danny wasn't present.
"It feels like the DNA of the show is really informed by Danny's influence on his family, so that will always be there, either in death or being haunted by his memory. At the center of this tragedy is the effect of this black-sheep brother on the family. So we never want to get too far from his murder and we never want to get too far from the influence he had on his family," Glenn Kessler said, pointing out that the second season probably only spanned three months. "The immediacy and proximity of this horrible act that the siblings have committed, it would never be about getting so far away from that so that they're still under the crucible of these pressures they're living under and living this double life."
Mendelsohn was listed as part of the cast in the press release announcing the series' third-season renewal.
It's clear by the end of the season that Marco knows the truth about what happened to Danny. But whether he'll get to tell anyone that or use that knowledge to make an arrest, or three, largely depends on whether he lives or dies. One person who is still alive to tell his story is Eric O'Bannon (Jamie McShane), after John stopped himself from killing him. But while Eric seems quite confident that John killed Danny, it's unclear if he knows of Meg and Kevin's involvement. Zelman says that it remains to be seen if one or all of the Rayburn siblings will get caught and points out that all three may not suffer the same fate, but they may already emotionally be paying the price for their actions.
"I think there definitely is a scenario in which they could get away with it and that's part of the tension and that's the big question that hangs over the whole thing," Zelman says. "There's a literal way of being caught and ending up in jail, and we have ideas about that in terms of the long-term arc of the series and where the series would ultimately end up. The other way in which one has to deal with the consequences of what they did is the internal consequences that they come up against."
If nothing else, it's clear by the end of the second season that the Rayburn family has a lot of secrets. Who knows what mysteries have not yet been revealed, but Glenn Kessler recently indicated to THR that if given the opportunity to continue with the show, more could be uncovered.
"If we keep going, we have a lot of story to tell and there's a lot more we're going to learn about these people," he said.
The second season ended with the traditionally responsible John Rayburn seemingly turning his back on his family obligations. But the question remains of whether he or any of the Rayburns can fully escape their family. Mendelsohn indicated that Danny would be skeptical of John's ability to really do that.
Meanwhile, at the beginning of the second season, Meg tried to break away by going to New York for a new job, but it didn't work out as she ultimately found herself pulled back to the Keys and the Rayburn family drama.
"I think New York was as far as she'd ever really tried to get away from them. And she had a very very good chance and she tried to hold onto it," Cardellini recently told THR. "But there's no escaping what she did and I don't know that she was ready to leave her family [and her mom and John]…If she leaves [John] on his own then everything starts to fall apart. And also they're sort of fighting for survival so if one of them falls they all fall. I think that's something that she can never really get away from."
Both co-creator Daniel Zelman and star Kyle Chandler have indicated that viewers have not yet seen how truly dark John Rayburn is.
"I would think that he's a very messed-up character. He's got a tremendous depth of pain and anger. He's got a lot of dark corners that are not explored yet that are possible for him to go to. He could be very self-destructive. I think he could hurt other people. I think there's a point where there's almost — his mind could push him from behind into anything, without him doing so willingly, which is very dangerous," Chandler says.
Zelman, meanwhile, said that in working with Chandler for the first time, he and the rest of the Bloodline team have discovered that the actor has "a capacity for darkness" that allowed them to further sharpen the character of John Rayburn and where he could go.
At the beginning of the second-season finale, John's wife, Diana, who's already somewhat figured out that her husband killed Danny but doesn't want to know the specifics, responds to him telling her that their family isn't safe by telling him not to come home that evening, adding that she can't even look at him. But as John is speeding away from the Keys at the end of the episode, he gets a call from Diana that he doesn't answer. What does the future hold for this couple whose relationship grew especially rocky this season? Was Diana just trying to protect her kids until John dealt with whatever threat was out there and wants him to come back or will the two go their separate ways? Since O'Bannon is still out there, ready to tell his story, John's still not safe and perhaps his family isn't either.
While John and Diana's daughter Janey (Taylor Rouviere) has shown herself to have a rebellious streak — smoking, defying her parents' orders not to associate with Danny and mouthing off to her grandmother, which led to her getting smacked across the face — viewers haven't seen much of their other child, Ben. Sure he pops up at larger family gatherings and was seen in one episode telling his parents he was heading to a friend's house to work on a school project. So is he just a normal kid working on his homework? Given the Rayburns' capacity for darkness and keeping secrets, it wouldn't be too surprising if he was hiding something somewhat scandalous.
There was no information in Wednesday's renewal news about where the third season of the show would be filmed. The future of the Florida Keys-set show was uncertain after the state's tax-incentive program came to an end. So the question remains now, will Netflix and production company Sony Pictures Television fork over whatever additional money is necessary to film in the Keys sans tax breaks or will production of the show relocate to a state with an incentive? The Bloodline co-creators filmed Damages for five seasons in New York, which has an active TV- and movie-production business, and part of Bloodline's second season took place in New York, with Meg taking a job in the Big Apple at the end of the first season. Bloodline certainly left itself open to having part of the third season set outside of the Keys as John was seen driving away from the Florida locale in the second-season finale. Perhaps he was headed somewhere with a generous tax incentive.