This Bloodline review contains spoilers…
“It’s one of the worst-kept secrets of family life that all parents have a preferred son or daughter, and the rules for acknowledging it are the same everywhere: The favored kids recognize their status and keep quiet about it – the better to preserve the good thing they’ve got going and to keep their siblings off their back.” – Jeffrey Kluger
Danny’s return has upset the balance in the family and those nearby. Danny’s a barometer of what has happened in his absence. His siblings and parents are not without their faults, troubles, and setbacks. Perhaps it was best he left town and lived his life away from scrutiny.
This might be a spoiler alert for some who’ve not been paying attention to the first two episodes, but John has health problems and a stressful job, Kevin’s marriage has fallen apart, and Meg’s cheating on Marco. Perfect families don’t exist, and at this point in the story most are keeping secrets from each other. I’m willing to bet that Sally would disapprove of Meg’s behavior and condemn Kevin for allowing his marriage to wash out to sea. She’d probably give John a pass on the hypertension with her husband in a coma.
The trouble with conspiring siblings is that their lies can’t withstand their mother’s desire to have Danny home fulltime despite all of his past mistakes and pain he inflicted on everyone. Conniving siblings can’t outwit a father who regrets things he did and said. He wants Danny’s forgiveness before it’s too late.
Family’s supposed to stand for something, and mean everything to its members. However, everyone will not feel the same. Each person has goals, dreams and secret desires they’d rather let incubate and later spring on unsuspecting family. Family life requires work, and everyone’s not up for the challenge. Some people are loners, and thus have no need for maintaining and progressing an idea of a tight knit family.
There are always expectations, at various times unrealistic, while sharing the same roof or living within the same neighborhood. The beauty and tragedy of passing time is that people evolve differently. There are no scripts or magic pills to ensure groupthink and continuity. Each person has an individual experience. The data recorded and replayed on the mental tapes differs based on personality type and intellect.
Why do the Rayburn children dislike each other? Why does the black sheep, Danny, return and continue disrupting the music with his cymbals? What value does he gain from being the person everyone fears and suspects is worthless?
There’s an inherent pressure in trying to live an ideal version of a loving family. A natural desire for some is to act out. Far worse, is taking said disdain or outright hatred public, and tarnish the perceived pristine reputation. Neighbors are observant and/or nosey, and gossip. I imagine a large number of families don’t try to be perfect, and enjoy calling others out on their hypocrisy.
The Rayburn children are blood relatives, but one might think otherwise when watching how they interact; they behave more like rivals than relatives. Is this nature versus nurture? Did their parents consciously pit their children against each other in tests of love and loyalty? Viewers have yet to discover why Sarah didn’t survive childhood.
There’s a palpable uneasiness in the air among the Rayburn clan. Their plotting and scheming is ingrained in their DNA. I think Danny is one of those “bad seeds” who just can’t help sabotaging himself and attempting to do the same with others within arm’s length. This family is damaged, and it appears they’re on fast track to destroying each other rather than rebuilding and strengthening their bond. Danny has underestimated Meg, who has more to lose as the apple of her father’s eye and the remaining daughter. Perhaps she’s suffering from survivor’s guilt. Viewers don’t yet know by episode three. If only Danny knew the chips were stacked against him. Meg’s always had complicated relationships with men. Her father and brothers aren’t immune to her.