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Third Season of Netflix's "Bloodline" is a Sad, Stunning, and Satisfying Conclusion: Review

TV Review: Bloodline Season Three

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It's no secret that Bloodline is one of my favorite shows. Created by  Todd A. Kessler, Glenn Kessler, and Daniel Zelman, the Netflix drama's final season was released on May 27. One of the main reasons I recommend that everybody watch this terrific show is for its killer cast, including Kyle Chandler, Linda Cardellini, Norbert Leo Butz, and Sissy Spacek. I enjoyed season one, even if it was too long and used too many flash forwards (which were also used to similarly-annoying effect on the creators' earlier show, Damages). Season two, on the other hand, was the absolute best thing on all of television in 2016. Season three falls somewhere in the middle. While not as heart-stopping as season two, the new season serves as a satisfying conclusion for the series, an epilogue of sorts.

Bloodline is, in a lot of ways, a modern take on Crime & Punishment set in the Florida Keys. It's a sun-soaked neo-noir about people trying to justify the terrible things they do. It's dark both thematically and literally, as a lot of the new episodes take place at night. Several scenes have half of a character's face hidden in darkness, the other in light and I don't know if the series has ever produced a more effective image. 

Image result for bloodline season 3Like season two, this season wisely gets the crime procedural aspect of the show out of the way in the first couple episodes of the season. But season two then introduced new elements, new stories to tell. Perhaps because the writers knew season three would be the last, but they seem afraid to introduce anything new this season. The remaining episodes are largely cleanup and deal with the fallout from the previous episodes. It becomes repetitive. I blame this on Netflix prematurely canceling the series when the producers had already stated their intention for it to run five or six seasons. While it might have seemed like a good thing to give advance notice before canceling the series, in this case, it was actually a creative detriment. 

I have reached the conclusion that Kyle Chandler is at his absolute best when acting opposite Jacinda Barrett, who plays John's wife, Diana. Speaking of Diana, she has a fascinating arc this season that happens entirely in the periphery of the show, kind of like Connie in The Godfather Part II. I wish we could have seen it play out onscreen. Also shortchanged are John's children, Janie and Ben, played by Taylor Rouviere and Brandon Larracuente. Larracuente was also in another Netflix show this year, the popular but poorly written 13 Reasons Why, although his character wasn't believable as a person and was at the center of the series' most obvious 'twist'.  Janie and Ben were never a big part of Bloodline, but had the series continued they could have become interesting. Why do we never see their reaction to the events of episode 4? That made no sense to me.

This is probably the most Kevin-centric of the three seasons and Norbert Leo Butz finally gives the performance I've been waiting for him to give. It seems like it took a while for Butz to figure out how to modulate his theatrical performance style (don't forget he's a two-time Tony winner) for the small screen, but this season he's excellent. I hope he's remembered by the time Emmy nominations come out. I'm also glad Kevin's wife, Belle (played by another two-time Tony winner, Katie Finneran) finally gets some good material to work with. 

Was Linda Cardellini working on another project? That is the only explanation I can think of for why Meg is in so little of this season. I can understand the impulse to conclude one of the siblings' story before the finale, but Meg's story never felt over to me. She tried running away from her family in season two and that didn't work, so why should we think it would work this time? One of my biggest complaints I have with the series is that it never addressed Meg's obvious alcoholism. One of the only scenes we see of her new life is of her getting drunk, so she clearly has not escaped the past as much as she says. 

Finally, Sissy Spacek gets scenes worthy of her talents. She's so good, especially as we find out Sally Rayburn is not the woman we thought she was. Although, I would have liked a little more clarification about her past with Roy Gilbert and what prompted her to leave the day Sarah died. The scenes with John Leguizamo as Ozzy Delvecchio feel misplaced this season. You could probably take every single one of his scenes out and the story wouldn't be affected at all. And a late-in-the-season revelation about his character feels like it came in from an entirely different show. And was Beth on the earlier seasons? I don't remember her but she sure was in a lot of this season and it seemed like the audience was supposed to know who she was. I didn't even know her name until the last episode. 

I've seen a lot of people complain that the pace of Bloodline is too slow. That's a dumb complaint. People who complain about the pace of movies and TV shows being too slow deserve to watch  nothing but Fast & Furious and Transformers movies. Bloodline season three isn't perfect, but it's still better than most shows on today. It's funny that it's even on Netflix in the first place because it is not the type of show I'd recommend binge watching. It's too dark and heavy to take in all at once. I watched it one episode at a time, which is why this review is coming out over a week after the new season hit Netflix. 

What did you think of Bloodline season three? Let me know in the comments!

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