So I read about Bloodline and thought I would try it. Having pretty much run out of regular terrestrial TV. Bloodlines is looking pretty good. I did nearly ditch on the drama. Several times in all. But for the interesting voice-over in the husky voice of the younger Robert Mitchum look-alike, John.
I must or do like a voice-over. Plus the voice-over is accompanied by a future flash forward in time scene. To tempt us with a story. That we cannot quite see. Although it all looks quite exceedingly serious.
This scene is soaked in thundering rain and its protagonist stomps through the bayous of the Florida Keys where the drama is set. In full OK not quite full yet, Southern Comfort movie style.
Certainly there are narrow winding waterways, the hanging, trailing branches, the tortuous passageways throughout. Where the fishermen sit, anchored, fishing for crawfish. ( I think) Or I may just have made that bit up.
Of course as all movie lore goes, there is alligators in the swamps. In them there swamps as characters in movies set in Louisiana are sometimes known to say.. Or I could be thinking about crocodiles.
Bloodline is set in the Florida Keys. As we see from the air which is useful. As I was confused to see the father of the Rayburn family canoeing in the sea. Is it the sea? I wondered. It could be. But no.
The land runs up like a finger with inlets of water on each side.
(nb. I think the top tip of the land could meet the sea)
We later learn that the head of the Rayburn family was kayaaking. This seems to be his daily constitutional. We assume that he is very fit. The father is a famous American actor who I cannot momentarily name. Chole Sevigny makes an appearance as a parolee/ ex-convict’s sister.
The story centres on the Rayburn family. Dad, Mom and three children, two brothers and a sister. All ostensibly happy. Running what is described as “paradise” by one of their guests. A hotel right on the edge of the bayou.
The Rayburns are celebrating the forty fifth wedding anniversary of the parents. With a huge extended Rayburn family gathering from all around. Well I don’t know for sure as all the relatives might live nearby. I am just presuming.
The next day after this Anniversary party will be the dedication of a wooden pier to the Rayburn family. The pier will be named the Rayburn Pier. That’s the gist.
On the way to this family gathering in the seemingly blissful utopian sunlit existence by the sea: is the prodigal long lost son. Or rather the black sheep of the family as he is described in the preview.
He is disconsolate and alone. Looking wrung out, strung out, even hungover. He is on a long coach ride. He is plagued by visions, or an actual woman (we are not quite sure) on the bus. She plays with her gold seahorse necklace. He watches this in close-up. As do we.
To cut a long story short otherwise I might be here all day
(I never set out or meant to write so much which must be a good sign perhaps)
from being a fairly boring family reunion with what does initially seem indeed to be a black sheep of the family: things start to go all awry.
As in off.
For me it was approximately half way through the second episode
(where I was thinking of giving up on Bloodlines) when something happened between two men. Brothers. I cannot, strangely, recall or pinpoint the exact moment or scene.
However suddenly Bloodline came alive and I thought: Yep this is interesting. Something just happened there that was a bit unusual and unexpected. Bloodline is going places. And it did.
The final defining moment for me deciding that yes, I’m going to stick with this. Things are really getting good: was the astounding shot of the hero or is it anti-hero of the piece, the black sheep of the family sitting disconsolately swigging from a bottle.
The bottle is in a crumpled brown paper bag and he is lit incredibly beautifully in aquamarine shadows. Leaning, sat up against a night black wall.
When I say awry as in when the characters you initially thought were the good guys suddenly start switching around in our perception. And the black sheep of the family is changing over sides.
Everything that seemed assured, fixed in the drama is becoming questionable in our minds. Nothing is now what it seemed.
An intense dread has developed and hangs like a damp miasma of fog over the drama. Bloodlines is heavy. Myself I think that two episodes a go are enough for me. It is not like Lillyhammer, that’s for sure. Where you are itching to watch the next one. I needed a break.
Oh yes and Sissy Spacek is in Bloodline. It is lovely to see Sissy Spacek in a drama. It has been too long. However in Bloodline Sissy Spacek as the Mother is prone to rather over-long freeze frame moments. Which go on a bit too long..
At first I thought this device was to signify that her character might have Alzheimers. But nobody had noticed. Early stages. However I think not. I believe these staring sessions are meant to be flashbacks. We just do not always see her vision. Only one so far. so perhaps she sees it, her vision and we don’t. Not every time. Who knows.
Apart from this minor quirk, Bloodlines is swiftly and severely descending into a dark Stygian hell. It would seem. Getting worse rapidly in leaps and unpredictable bounds. Wrong footing us the viewer every time. The sands, or the swamps are shifting. All is not well in paradise. And it’s raining.