Friday, March 27, 2015

REVIEW: 'Bloodline' - Robert is Released From the Hospital and John Loses the Narration in 'Part 4'

Netflix's Bloodline - Episode 1.04 "Part 4"

The family adjusts to Danny's new role at the inn. John and Marco discover a burned boat connected to their murder case.

The most annoying and unnecessary part of Bloodline so far has been Kyle Chandler's narration of events in the future and character traits. It either provides clunky information that helps explain a character despite their actions having already told the audience all that information or vague and ominous threats about what is going to happen to this family in the near future. None of it is particularly well done. Even though it's always nice to hear Chandler's voice, it simply doesn't have a strong place in the narrative. So, when "Part 4" ditches the concept altogether, things do become much better. There is no narration and no glimpses into the future in this episode and the show is so much better because of it. It's not something I'm expecting to stick around for the remainder of the season. But it's nice to know the creative team can break away from the format and simply exist in the present emotional realities of these characters.

The family now isn't as uptight around Danny as they were at the start of the season. They have been arguing over whether or not he can stay and take over their father's responsibilities at the hotel. Meg has been struggling over Robert's will and whether or not to include Danny in it. It's a lot of talk that has been very dramatic so far. But now, they are starting to relax into the new family dynamic again. Kevin is no longer volatile and angry at Danny - and all it took was working on Robert's old truck together. That was rather abrupt. And yet, it was worth it to see the Rayburn men getting along at John's son's baseball game and taking the truck for a trip on the highway. It's because of their newfound ability of getting along and seeing how well Danny is when interacting with the hotel's guests that makes the concluding scene between Danny and Robert so powerful.

Since being released from the hospital, Robert has literally been wandering the grounds of his hotel plagued with the memories of what happened to Sarah. This is a beautiful place but there's tragedy here as well that still haunts the family - but especially Robert in this episode. These brief pops of Robert's memory are haunting images. The beauty and innocence of watching his daughter playing on the beach is paired with young Danny's desperate cries for help. It is shot in such a way that brings attention to itself and the deep personal pain the loss of Sarah has had on Robert. It's all underscored with Robert plucking away on his ukelele. That instrument and the noise that it makes is just as much a part of this place as Robert is. And yet, it is being used in the moment where the audience gets the true details of what happened to Sarah and how powerless Robert was in saving his daughter.

The memory of Sarah is deeply connected to Danny. Meg and Kevin are commenting on how Danny may actually be turning it around for himself this time. The audience is seeing that as well. He's not showing any kind of reckless behavior in this episode. He's not interacting with Eric - who continues to be up to some shifty behavior. Danny is simply fixing a truck and helping introduce a new family to the hotel. Danny knows the truth that he's not in Robert's will. And yet, he's still trying to win his family back. However, Robert will always see Danny as a reminder of what happened to Sarah. That is just as heartbreaking as seeing what happened to her. That final scene is fantastic. It's the only time throughout the episode that Danny and Robert are alone together. They do have an understanding between them. Neither one wants to put on a fake smile and act like everything is fine. Robert is trying to get better and Danny just reminds him of the pain he's experienced in his life.

Robert had no opinion over whether or not Danny should stay at the beginning of the series. He left that choice up to his other three children. They simply made the situation much more complicated. And then, Robert landed himself in the hospital. The audience doesn't get that much insight into his health. He is released but we don't know if the doctors ever found out why he had the stroke. That could be very dangerous later. However, Robert is back at home now. His family is surrounding him and he's trying to enjoy his life again even though it's not the same as it was before. He also wants to be practical though. He wants to discuss his will with Sally because Meg needs an answer for this situation. And now, Danny's continued presence is bringing back these memories and he's just not in that good of a state to deal with them. So now, it's easier for him to tell Danny to leave. It is painful but his presence is painful as well. That final scene is a great and nuanced sparring match between a father and a son. Danny wants to make his father happy even though that means living for good. It's not that easy anymore for him to do that though. His departure is going to cost Robert no matter what. Danny can either be in the will and get a fourth of everything Robert has or Robert can increase his offer to get Danny to leave. It's a painful sequence that Sam Shepard and Ben Mendelsohn play brilliantly.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Part 4" was written by Todd A. Kessler, Glenn Kessler & Daniel Zelman and directed by Todd A. Kessler.
  • The episode opens with the audience seeing what happened to the dead girl whose case John and Marco have been investigating. And then, they spend the rest of the episode in the dark speculating over what happened. It still remains very dull.
  • Sally, Diana, Meg and Belle having happy hour drinks together is a wonderful scene even though all of them are underdeveloped as characters. This really has been a show about the male characters so far. Sally and Meg have had a few great moments. But we really don't know anything about Diana and Belle - except who they are married to.
  • Speaking of Meg, she gets a job offer to join a big firm in New York City and it's based entirely on her work and not because the client she's sleeping with put in a very good word for her.
  • Even though it isn't directly addressed in this episode, Danny is still in just as much pain over Sarah as his father is. Why else would he picture the seahorse necklace back in the first episode?