'Bloodline' Co-Creator on How Sooner-Than-Expected Final Season Affected Storytelling

Netflix's dark family drama returns for its third, and last, installment on Friday.
Courtesy of Netflix
Kyle Chandler in 'Bloodline's' third season

"When's it gonna end?"

For Netflix's Bloodline, in which the above question serves as a repeated refrain for its characters, the answer is this Friday.

That's when the third and final season of the dark family drama begins streaming on Netflix. But the last set of 10 episodes arrived sooner than the show's creative team, and fans perhaps, had hoped. Bloodline was renewed for a third season over the summer, but, as The Hollywood Reporter first revealed, it soon emerged that the Kyle Chandler-starring show's next season would be its last.

After the second season, Florida cut its tax-incentives program, making the series, which was set and shot in the Keys, more expensive to produce. Netflix also reduced the third-season episode order on the Sony-produced series from 13 episodes to 10 and slashed licensing fees.

While the third season gave the cast and crew the chance to properly wrap up the series' storylines, the co-creators had long indicated that they had planned as many as five or six seasons, so they were forced to reach the characters' conclusions sooner than expected.

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter earlier this month, co-creator Todd A. Kessler explained that they had to modify storylines they'd planned to explore in greater depth, knowing they only had 10 episodes to wrap things up.

"There were ideas that we thought we might do in a third season leading into a fourth season and beyond," Kessler says. "But it's storytelling, so working with amazing actors and great collaborators and directors, we had to figure out how to shake it out and say, 'OK, here are all of the moments that we want to hit' and give each character as great a story as possible that will hopefully create emotional resonance and be entertaining, because the primary goal is to entertain."

Kessler indicated that he and the writers on the series he co-created with his brother Glenn and longtime collaborator Daniel Zelman sprinkled parts of planned storylines into the last batch of episodes.

"To be able to pull a lot of ideas that we had for future seasons and put it into this season and hopefully create a very entertaining third and final season was the goal from the moment [Netflix] said that was what it wanted," Kessler says.

He also suggested that he didn't fight Netflix on the decision to end the series with season three.

"Netflix has been a great place to work and to do the series, and they're the buyer. So we had initially planned for there to be more seasons, just in terms of storytelling, and when they called and said they'd like us to wrap it up at the end of the third season, they had their reasons, which they didn't share, but the feeling was it's a great opportunity to tell 10 more episodes of a story that we love and care deeply about and actually be able to provide an ending for the series," Kessler says. "It's always met with a little bit of, 'Wait a second, we thought this might be going longer and have more real estate in terms of storytelling time.' But we feel very excited about this season and how the whole series comes to a conclusion."

The third season picks up right where season two left off, with oldest brother John (Chandler) speeding away from the Keys; youngest brother Kevin (Norbert Leo Butz) standing over the lifeless body of John's detective partner Marco (Enrique Murciano), who Kevin attacked when Marco revealed he knew Kevin, John and Meg (Linda Cardellini) were all involved in oldest brother Danny's (Ben Mendelsohn) death; and Meg having told her mother, Sally (Sissy Spacek), "there's something [she] need[s] to know."

Over the next 10 hours, the show gets to a point where "each character [has] a conclusion without wrapping everything up in a nice bow," Kessler says.

One of the themes the third season will continue to explore, as indicated in the trailer, is the ongoing conflict between the Rayburns and Danny's friend Eric O'Bannon (Jamie McShane), continuing a story of two contrasting families.

"So much of the Rayburns are about appearance and running this inn and how people come down and project onto, 'Oh, you're in paradise and what must it be like to live here and raise a family here and all of these things?' Meanwhile, we're showing that that's not the case, that things aren't always what you think they are when you're on the outside," Kessler says. "So throughout the season, you really have somewhat of a contrast between the Rayburns and the O'Bannons. Not that the O'Bannons are saints and the Rayburns are awful. It's not all black and white. There's a lot of grey in there."

Viewers will also see the threat posed to the family by outside acquaintances throughout the final 10 episodes.

"None of the other Rayburns except for Danny did we ever see their friends really in the series, and Danny's friends were Eric O'Bannon and Chelsea O'Bannon [Chloe Sevigny], who really cared for him. Those friends are somewhat of a threat to the Rayburns and the core family structure, and that continues to play out throughout the rest of the season, just the impact of what the Rayburns do to protect the family," Kessler says. "The O'Bannons just provide a different perspective on what it means to be a friend and what appears to be a tight-knit family from the outside isn't always what it seems."

Stay tuned to Live Feed for more coverage of Bloodline's final season.

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