Bloodline: Part 12

"It's just a big brother-little brother thing."

Talk about your crimes of passion...

We've gotten to the point that the show has been building to since "Part 1": the death of Danny Rayburn. It's amazing how much they were able to develop this character, whose demise is set up as a foregone conclusion. And even more amazing that his death still shocked me, even though I knew it was coming. Granted, I did not know how it was coming. And that is an important detail the writers were able to cleverly manipulate until the final scene.

I assumed it would be some high stakes scenario, with John confronting Danny in the rain and being forced to gun him down to stop whatever nefarious thing he was going to do next.

Turns out, the untraceable pistol was a red herring. The moment actually comes at the breaking point in the ongoing conversation between Danny and John.

But before that, a lot of bad things had to happen for the brothers to finally have that conversation. After ambiguously "threatening" his daughter, John is at a loss for what to do about Danny. He orders Diana to take their kids out of town.

The other siblings are on edge too. Kevin arms himself with Danny's gun and goes looking for him on his own. Meg is making plans to run away to New York.

Despite their huge flaws, the Rayburns are easy to empathize with. Sally's knack for making the best out of bad situations is often undercut by the way she tends to blind herself to her family's deeper issues. Kevin's life is in the gutter, and he lacks the emotional fortitude to deal with it. After spending her life trying to be everything for everyone, Meg is desperate to escape when she can no longer meet people's expectations. And John is being crushed under the weight of his many conflicting responsibilities. Then, of course, there's Danny.

It also cannot be overlooked that John, Kevin and Meg are all practically living in fear of Danny. Fear that isn't misplaced, since we now pretty much know what he's capable of.

"Part 12" acts as a bit of a swan song for Danny. And there's a lot of great payoff in that. For instance, he is able to confront each of his family members one last time. He intimidates Meg again, guilt-tripping her about the will. He turns Kevin's poorly-hidden insecurity against him again, which was kind of awesome. And he keeps relentlessly wresting control away from John. He even insults Wayne Lowry to his face. And I especially liked that he got to say goodbye to Chelsea and share a last kiss with her.

Danny was confident that he could resolve things with John and remain home with the family, apparently banking on John's need to save him. But he underestimated the overwhelming pressure he's been putting his brother under, and didn't think of what John might do to resolve this problem that never wants to go away.

Wayne Lowry's hitman beats Danny's location out of Eric O'Bannon. Fearing for Danny's life, Chelsea tells John he's staying at the Red Reef Motel. John stakes the place out, and calls Danny to set up a meeting. While they're talking, he watches a hitman approach Danny's room and then leaves him to his fate. He hears over the police scanner that there were shots fired and a man was killed. He lies to his family that he and Danny are meeting tomorrow. This is quite a dark turn for our noble detective.

John knows he crossed the line. Or, at least, he would have. He comes back from throwing up his lunch and finds Danny downstairs, alive and well, talking to the family. And he knows what John did.

This leads to what might be the most satisfying moment of the season. For starters, we get Danny's eerily calm demeanor after having just bludgeoned a hired killer to death with a large ornamental seashell. Then, he matter-of-factly comes clean to his mother and siblings, and calls them out on their hypocrisies. It's like he's proud to confess, to finally let them know how much he truly resents them.

Now that the truth has all come out, the family is in disarray. It's no wonder Danny was the only one who wanted to speak when Sally claimed they all needed to talk. Meg comforts Sally. Kevin gets drunk and high on cocaine as he contemplates shooting Danny to soothe his bruised ego; he gives the gun to John before he does anything stupid. And John confronts Danny at one of their old hangouts, an isolated spot on the shore of the ocean, to have their last conversation.

John tries delicately persuading him to leave, but Danny firmly intends to stay. Displaying the seahorse necklace, John states that he can't forget about Danny using his daughter to get at him. The conversation then breaks down as it all comes back to Sarah's death. A shouting match between the brothers ensues. We see once more how these two middle-aged men are stuck halfway in the past, forever experiencing the pain of their boyhood selves. The argument might have been funny, the way they throw the blame back and forth, if it weren't so realistically intense.

Danny tells him the only way he'll leave is if John begs him to, the way Danny has begged to stay his whole life. John refuses to give in to his brother, and Danny walks away, triumphant. John asks, "When's it gonna end, Danny?" And he keeps asking it as he attacks Danny, knocking him to the ground and dragging him into the shallow water. Danny just laughs, until John holds him down and drowns him.

What's most interesting is that it was not done out of hate or in cold blood. John couldn't hate Danny, but that only made living with him worse. Danny would continue reining chaos, his presence would keep resurfacing the past, and John would be the one forced to pick up the pieces every time. It was all too much, on top of the enormous guilt he was already feeling. John snapped. Like, he didn't even realize what he was doing until after Danny was dead. A flip got switched, triggering his lifetime of rage, and that was it. Maybe part of him thought this was the only way he could finally be free from Danny.

Well, John is in an entirely different trap now. Now there's the matter of his older brother's corpse...

Bits and Pieces:

* Meg meets with Marco to see if there is any hope for a future with him. There isn't. Marco makes it clear that he is done with her. Ouch.

* Marco is also coming into conflict with John, since he's smart enough to see that John is keeping secrets. Like realizing John probably had something to do with moving Lowry's drugs away from the inn. Uh oh.

* Sally reads the toast Danny wrote for the party in "Part 1", which he did not give. We still don't know what it says, but Sally breaks down into tears of remorse after reading it.

* Danny's death was even more unnerving than I remembered. So sad that he was killed the way Sarah died: drowning in the sea, unable to come up for air. Ben Mendelsohn and Kyle Chandler were both electrifying in that scene.

* John's tirade at the end was enlightening; it might have been his most expressive moment yet. We see how alike he and Danny are; they both deeply resent their family and each other for various reasons, both try to use the past to justify their actions, and now they're both murderers. He's the flip-side to whatever coin Danny existed on.

Quotes: It's all Danny this time.

Danny: (to Meg) This thing between John and me. We will work it out. Eventually. But what you don't want to do -- what you really don't want to do -- is get in the middle of it.

Danny: There's no way that he's gonna destroy that evidence, because he wants to use it.
Wayne Lowry: For what?
Danny: To take you down. I don't think he gives a shit about the drugs. It's the girls.
Wayne Lowry: What the fuck are you talking about?
Danny: I guess a guy just draws the line at torching immigrants.

Danny: I just gotta chill that family out.
Chelsea: No, you don't. You've just gotta forget them.
He should have listened to her.

Danny: What about you? Anything you wanna say to me?
Kevin: ...
Danny: No? Wow, usually you can't keep your fuckin' mouth shut. Now you look just like the little boy John and I spent so much time ignoring.
Kevin: (flashes gun) Get in the car, Danny.
Danny: Hey? You shoulda led with that.
Kevin: Get in the fucking car.
Danny: Yeah, I don't think so. Put the fuckin' gun away, Kevin. You're gonna hurt yourself.

Danny: So clearly, I'm in danger, 'cause these guys are really pissed off; I don't know what they're gonna do to me. But, since I used the inn to bring the drugs through... now you're all in danger. (shrugs)
Sally: What do you mean you "used the inn?"
Danny: Normally, I'd say "I'm sorry." But I'm not, because you're all liars.
Sally: Oh Danny, please! Would you please just stop it?
Danny: And you are the worst! You always took dad's side. You never protected me. I never felt safe in this house. And now, none of you are safe in this house.

John: What the fuck do you want?
Danny: I want you to know how it feels. Just to know what it feels like to have to beg. To have to go through your whole life apologizing for everything! I want you to know. You want me to leave? Beg me. Get down on your knees and you beg me to go. Beg me!
John: ... When is this gonna end?
Danny: It doesn't end for me, John. Why should it end for you?

This is probably the best chapter in the story. Four out of four bloodstained seashells.

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