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The Rayburn family’s oldest son, Danny (Ben Mendelsohn), has come home. But his return is met with quite a bit of suspicion on the part of his siblings, John (Kyle Chandler), Meg (Linda Cardellini) and Kevin (Norbert Leo Butz). Even his father, Robert (Sam Shepard), is clearly uneasy around his oldest child. Only his mother (Sissy Spacek) is unwaveringly pleased to have her boy home. And though by the end of the first episode of Bloodline it looks like Danny’s leaving again, we know that for better — and for worse — he’ll be back.
As the new drama by Damages creators Todd A. Kessler, Glenn Kessler and Daniel Zelman‘s unfolds, viewers will slowly learn more about the seemingly delightful Rayburn clan, and how Danny became their black sheep. But after the first hour of the show, it’s clear we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of these family dynamics.
At the show’s recent press day in New York, its creators and castmembers were reluctant to reveal specifics about what will happen this season, but they did offer some teasers about the 13 episodes currently available on Netflix. They also have ideas about where the show may go in subsequent seasons, should Netflix order more. “Pop over, visit the Rayburns, strap your seatbelt on, and I don’t think you’ll ever regret the decision. It’s a ride,” Mendelsohn promised of Bloodline‘s journey.
Here are five things to look forward to from the slow-burning drama:
More action and intrigue.
The first episode is relatively slow-paced, apart from those final, jaw-dropping minutes on the boat that appear to be a glimpse of the future. But the story speeds up quickly. Something happens to one of the Rayburns shortly into the second episode, raising more questions about Danny and starting to illuminate some of the family’s dark secrets. In addition, viewers will get more hints about the events depicted in the show’s final minutes.
Read more ‘Bloodline’: Berlin Review
The story behind Danny’s siblings’ suspicions will be revealed.
All of the Rayburns, with the possible exception of Spacek’s matriarch, Sally, are a bit skittish around Danny — to varying extents. Sure, Danny seems to be in a bit of debt, has some drug issues and hangs out with a parolee pal who invites him to participate in what seems like a vaguely illegal enterprise. But it’s not entirely clear why Danny’s family is so nervous about him coming home.
Mendelsohn assured that the backstory will be revealed. “The family’s attitude to Danny is not a complete fantasy,” he said. “It’s not like there’s just nothing that ever happened, and all of a sudden, this guy’s going to be called the black sheep. There is something there. There’s no doubt their feelings are something and and some things. But it’s the supposition that they have toward him which pushes him as well.”
Chandler played his cards close to the vest, simply saying, “Danny makes everyone walk a little bit on eggshells. Danny makes us aware of the family’s shortcomings. And it’s a tough character to have to deal with.”
You’ll learn more about the other characters.
In particular, viewers will find out more about Kevin and Meg’s relationships and get greater insight into Sally Rayburn’s feelings about her children, which Spacek shed some light on.
“She’s fiercely protective of her family,” she told reporters. “Sally never really learned to back off and when Danny comes home, I think she’s just thrilled. Everyone else in the family’s feeling dread when he comes — and Sally realizes that unexpected things happen and they’re often hurt by Danny, and she’s been hurt by him. But he’s her first child; she had him at 19, and she feels responsible for a lot of problems that he has. She’s trying to compensate for that. She adores him — much to the chagrin of his siblings.”
And that development will continue, ideally, in subsequent seasons.
While Netflix has yet to order a second season of Bloodline, the creators and stars have a sense of where the show could go in its second (and even additional) seasons.
“When we started this, we’re doing a TV series, so even in our own mind, we’re asking ourselves, ‘Does this series have seasons in it?’ ” Zelman said. “When we pitched it and we thought about it, we were thinking five to six seasons down the line because we wanted to make sure it could hold that much material. So we certainly have ideas for where everything could go and hopefully where everything will go.”
Spacek also hinted that more about her character could be revealed in season two and Jacinda Barrett, who plays Chandler’s on-screen wife, told THR that which characters are central to the storyline will change with each season, and “in season two, there will be more for her [character] to do.”
Viewers may have expected a different kind of show, especially those who think of Chandler as his Emmy-winning upstanding father and coach Eric Taylor from Friday Night Lights. But Chandler was excited by the prospect of doing something so different. “What they told me about where the character will go in year two, three, four, was outside my wheelhouse of things I’ve done,” Chandler told THR. “Even the end of this first season — when I got the first script I was like, ‘I’ve never done anything like this before. Where do I go?’ But because the character earned each beat throughout and it’s not rushed, you’re like, ‘Oh, OK, I can do this,’ because it’s earned by the circumstances so well. It’s well put together. So I’m excited for that.”
You won’t know what happens right away — and neither did the actors.
There are plenty of questions remaining at the end of the first episode. Foremost among them: Why did John set his brother on fire in that flash forward? Viewers won’t know the answer after watching the next two episodes and might begin to question some of what they saw earlier. But don’t worry, Bloodline‘s creators told THR they knew where they were going.
“We were very, very aware of what this arc of the first season would be and it was really part of the DNA of the show,” Kessler said. “We knew where this would end. There are very significant events that we start to learn about in the first episode that get paid off by the end of the season. We knew the ride we wanted to take an audience on and we laid that groundwork very early on in the show. We knew where we were headed.”
And that destination might change the meaning of things from earlier episodes.
Glenn Kessler also said that viewers would find out how reliable of a narrator Chandler’s John Rayburn is. “Many of the elements that are present, in the first few episodes, particularly in the first episode, by the time the season’s over, all of these things come full circle and have new meaning,” he said.
Butz said not knowing everything to come was to the show’s benefit. “You didn’t get to know a whole lot. They kept things intentionally very, very vague, which proved to be a great boon, really,” he said. “It kept one from showing up on set without a preconceived notion about what a scene was supposed to be about. It kept you from telegraphing a performance or being too slick; you had to really discover it in the moment, and that was a great thing for the show.”
Netflix may be releasing all 13 episodes at once, but THR will be treating Bloodline like a weekly series, so check back on Fridays for more about key episodes in the first season. What did you think of the series premiere? Sound off in the comments below.
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