Bloodline: Part 3

"If you want to be part of the family business you have to take responsibility for the family name. We all do."

Where the previous episodes were focused on the Rayburn sons, this one takes a look at the daughter, Meg. Like Kevin and John before, we learn of the way in which Meg has come to define herself. And how the return of Danny conflicts with her personally, which is especially interesting since Meg seemed open to Danny coming home and didn't appear hostile toward him at all.

We have to wonder how exactly Meg goes from a very professional attorney and caring family member to the unstable, soaking wet woman we see drowning her sorrows and hiding a corpse in the trunk of her car in the flash-forward.

Meg's Dilemmas

Meg is a good example of how good intentions can become twisted. John's narration describes her as a good person who does whatever she can to make sure everyone else is happy, and that this became impossible for her when Danny returned. From what we've seen so far, I could kind of buy that. At first.

Well, it turns out that present-tense Meg is not nearly as grounded and in control as she appears. In some ways, Meg is even more of a mixed bag than any of her siblings. She is a highly successful lawyer from a respectable family, charming, kind, responsible, all that good stuff. She's really concerned with pleasing everyone, yet also seems just as two-faced as her brothers. For instance, her boyfriend of five years gently brings up the possibility of marriage, and she quickly runs off to have sex with her lover.

Even worse is the way she handles Danny. Despite claiming to be completely accepting of her eldest brother's return, Meg later assures John and Kevin that Robert's last will and testament says nothing about Danny... before she goes to her office and removes Danny's name from the will. She tries to have the newly awakened Robert sign it, only to discover Robert's still out of sorts from his stroke (or mini-strokes, now) and is not fit to sign it. Then she repeatedly assures Danny that he's still in the will. Even after Danny reveals that Robert disowned him to his face awhile ago (which she knows is true), Meg tries to brush it off as nothing.

Like John, Meg is trying not to rock the boat and give anyone reason to be upset with her. However, she's still actively picking sides within her family. Not a good combination.

Danny's Designs

The wild card in all of this is still Danny, though. Now that he's made the decision to stay and help out at the Rayburn House, he seems to be going straight. He's avoiding criminal work with his buddy Eric. He is also taking over his father's work taking resort guests out to sea on charter cruises, which he seems really good at. And he continues to be a skilled cook.

But his presence remains sinister. Though he is doing well, Danny's taking every little opportunity to defy or rebel against his family. John tells him that he can't be hanging out with Eric O'Bannon if he stays, which Danny still does. He makes an excellent dinner for his mother and siblings, that he cooked with dirty hands while smoking over the food. His mother asks him not to smoke in front of guests, which he proceeds to do anyway.

It's because we know that Danny knows it was John, Kevin and Meg who decided he should stay gone, for the sake of their parents, ostensibly. Now he gets to play dumb and watch them lie about how a-okay they are with him staying.

He targets his sister first, easily recognizing that Meg is cheating on Marco and holding onto that knowledge until she starts talking to him "like a lawyer" in regards to his return home. Since she has as much control over his place in the will as their father, he pretty much blackmails her with the truth of her infidelity in order to secure his position. Interestingly, even as he's "not-threatening" her, Danny seems to empathize with her as well. Because he knows what is at the heart of her internal conflict.

Sarah

We didn't know until this episode that there were once five Rayburn children. 'Part 3' formally introduces us to Meg's older sister, Sarah, who apparently died as a child. This is likely connected to the "trouble" Robert was referring to during his speech in the first episode.

Meg starts to make more sense as a character when we think of her in relation to her late sister. Through old home footage recovered by John's son, we see that Meg was once a shy, bespectacled little girl who stood in the shadow of the bright and beautiful Sarah, even at her own birthday party. A shadow that still lingers over her, as seen when she has to remind her delirious father that she's Meg, not Sarah, and Robert is visibly disappointed. Meg, like her brothers, longs for her father's approval; this is why she agrees to marry Marco shortly after Sally tells her how happy it would make Robert. But she is starting to fear that Danny is right and that she will never measure up to Sarah.

Perhaps this is the reason her future self has a hand in Danny's death. Not only does he know she's cheating on Marco, he sees through to her deepest insecurities. Or maybe not. She looks pretty remorseful in those flash-forwards. Time will tell how guilty or innocent Meg truly is. As well as the Rayburns in general, I suppose. Right now, it's not looking good.

Bits and Pieces:

* Danny appears to be mailing half of his money to persons unknown. I can't tell if his angry insistence that he be paid more is because of this or his addiction to painkillers. Maybe both.

* Several people comment on the oppressive heat. I would have thought they'd all be used to that; Sally even lampshades this in the episode, with her trademark Sissy Spacek sass. The heat wave might count as this episode's Most Obvious Symbolism. The Rayburns' situation is only getting hotter and more oppressive.

* Nah, the Most Obvious Symbolism had to be Danny swimming underwater over the outstretched arms of that sunken Jesus statue right after Meg removed his name from their father's will.

* Meg's lover: Alec Moros. Cool, handsome, rich guy from New York. Appears to be trying to push through a development deal in the Keys, and Meg is one of the lawyers representing his interests.

* Chelsea tells Danny that all the girls loathed Meg in high school because she was very popular with the guys, apparently having an "army of boyfriends." She claims Meg went through one after another because none of them were good enough for her. Though, part of me thinks this might have more to do with Meg's need to please everyone. So to speak.

* Danny's affectionate nickname for Meg is "mister." That's kind of endearing.

Quotes:

Meg: Why are we having this conversation?

Kevin: She said she did not think I was ready to become a father.
Meg: Why?
Kevin: Um, she says I need to grow up. Uh, I'm too social. I'm too loud. I drink too much. Uh, I have a temper... I see you agree with her.

Danny: So this future that you're so concerned about? I'm still a part of it?
Meg: Yes. As it stands, we all are.
Danny: "As it stands?"
Meg: Yeah, there's a will and we're all in it.
Danny: Including me?
Meg: Yes, including you.
Danny: Wow, he must've changed his mind.
Meg: Or he never meant it. You know how he is, he gets angry and he says stuff.
Danny: ... Yeah, I know he gets angry. Hey, you wanna know if I'm invested in this place? Treat me like family. Maybe I'll stick around.

Meg: Are you seriously trying to threaten me right now?
Danny: No, baby, I'm not threatening you. I am not threatening you. I could fuckin' threaten you. I could do the whole big brother thing, bully around the little sister. That's never really been our relationship, though, has it? I have always looked out for you. Even when we were kids, I felt sorry for you because... Dad hated me, but at least I got attention.

The plot thickens with each episode. Four out of four hotel keycards.

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