Hello everyone and welcome to Bloodline! If you’ve been counting the days till Kyle Chandler (Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights, a.k.a. the BEST MALE HUMAN in the history of the world) returned to television, you are most definitely not alone. But, quite honestly, this entire cast is insane. Let’s talk about living legends Sam Shepard and Sissy Spacek as the heads of this family drama. Then there’s the incredible character actor Ben Mendelsohn—whom you may have seen in the truly terrific 2010 Australian film, Animal Kingdom. (And if you haven’t watched that movie, I highly suggest you do as soon as possible.) We have Freaks and Geeks‘ lovely Linda Cardellini; Broadway star and Tony winner Norbet Leo Butz not to mention Chloe Sevigny in a supporting role. I mean… Netflix, how do you do it? But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We begin with some beautiful wish-you-were-here vistas of the Florida keys. Coach Eric Taylor, whom we’ll all soon learn to call John Rayburn, darkly says: “Sometimes you know something’s coming. You can feel it. In the air. In your gut. And you don’t sleep at night. The voice in your head is telling you that something is going to go terribly wrong and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. That’s how I felt when my brother came home.”
The brother, in question, is a real down-and-out looking Ben Mendelsohn, full on, mouth-open asleep on a bus. We also get a quick look into what the other Rayburn siblings are up to. There’s John (Chandler), looking alert and capable while driving a big car. There’s Kevin Rayburn (Butz), who wakes up in his underwear, curses when he sees the time, and appears to be sleeping in an office. Parked in a car and getting it on in the backseat is Meg Rayburn (Cardellini) with an unidentified man. Back to John: riding shotgun is his wife (hey, it’s Jacinda Barrett! Remember her from The Real World? She plays Diana Rayburn), who reminds him that this weekend is supposed to be fun. Kevin gets on a boat and told to party like it’s 1999. Meg gets interrupted in flagrante by the phone and tells Alec (hey, it’s cute campaign guy from The Good Wife, Steven Pasquale!) she has to go. He’s all, oh say hi to your mom for me and they laugh and laugh the way you do when you’ve just had excellent backseat car sex.
Sally Rayburn (Sissy Spacek, looking amazing) exposits to some guests that they can’t stay at the hotel even though it’s their favorite on the Keys because, as we’ll learn, there’s a private party. This is a beautiful place that I would like to stay in, all green lawns and palm trees, blue waters and sun-faded buildings. Sam Shepard, who plays patriarch Robert Rayburn, sea kayaks in a funny hat and watches a dolphin dive. Even dolphins cannot resist the power of Sam Shepard. (Not that any of you guys care, but I feel compelled to tell you that Sam Shepard was a formative crush for me growing up and my love for him only grows with the years. A television program with both Shepard and Chandler? Breaks my poor mind in half.)
John is tasked with getting Danny from the bus. Kevin, in a very believably brother way is all, isn’t he a grown man who can get himself home? Cut to Danny on the bus. He pops some pills and sees a mysterious dark-haired woman playing with a gold seahorse necklace. “Did you write something for tonight?” Danny looks spooked, throws his paper in his pocket and abruptly realizes this was a bad idea.
Meg arrives home and is immediately busted by her mom… but for stopping to see the wrong dude. Apparently she dates a Marco and not an Alec? Uh-oh. Sally/Sissy is all aflutter with arrangements and Meg tries to calm her down with the not encouraging words that with friends and family in attendance what can go wrong? HAHA. Just you wait!
Speaking of waiting, John is at the bus depot looking for his brother who does not arrive. Kyle Chandler says a curse word I cannot repeat and man, it is weird to hear Coach Taylor curse. (This happens a lot and the strangeness of it never seems to go away.)
Back at the Rayburn House, people are arriving. Hugs, alcohol, children, etc. Kevin puts his arm around his wife and says she’s the most beautiful woman in the world. She replies he’s never even left the Keys. “I went to Orlando once. But it was too cold,” he replies.
The Rayburns are the kind of family that drinks a lot and has rope-pulling competitions. Of course. John isn’t there because he’s still waiting at the bus station. Another bus, still no Danny.
Danny is instead hanging out at the bar, telling the waitress a thing or three about how bad the food is. What’s crazy is that Ben Mendelsohn has managed to make his chameleon face look just how you’d imagine the son of Sam Shepard and Sissy Spacek. He listens to the voicemail from John asking where he is and hangs up before it is finished. He then runs into an old friend—we later learn this man is named Eric O’Bannon—who promptly gets him chillin in a boat and smoking a joint. We learn the big celebration all the Rayburns have been assembled for is because the pier is being named after their dad. We also learn that Danny opened and closed a seafood restaurant. This tracks. Eric offers him a way to make some cash. Uh oh. Eric’s phone rings, and it’s John Rayburn. Eric is all, listen Sheriff, I’ve been seeing my probation officer! And John is all, no dude. I’m looking for my brother. Eric covers for Danny and says he hasn’t talked to him.
We get a scene of Rayburn rivalry at its best as the rope pulling competition begins and John arrives back sans Danny. John is left with the task of telling his mother that Danny didn’t show up. Sissy Spacek crushes this scene as her face falls. She reassures her son she’s okay—but seconds later Danny shows up, his dirty T-shirt and jeans a stark contrast to everyone else’s bright florals and linens. Sally’s joy at seeing her eldest cannot be contained, even as John’s face registers a fairly obvious oh-god-he-is-here-now-what expression.
NEXT: Things are looking even darker in the future