Bloodline: Part 17

"When's it gonna end, John?"

This season should have its own subtitle. Like, Bloodline: How to Make a Bad Situation Even Worse.

Before he was abruptly killed, Danny stated his ultimate goal to John: to make his family feel what he feels, what they've made him feel. It appears he is starting to get his wish. All it took was his life.

Danny's Ghost

Like Danny's criminal endeavors last season, John's murder of Danny and the subsequent cover up has started something he can't stop or control. And like Danny last season, John is haunted by the sibling whose death he is responsible for. In this case, it's Danny.

Danny's ghost -- while also giving us more of Ben Mendelsohn's excellent performance -- provides a deeper insight into John's headspace. As Danny plays mind games and taunts him, it's really John's guilty, self-loathing thoughts personified. He knows exactly how Danny would react to the mountain of lies and hypocrisies he's building. He knows, despite his noblest efforts, that he's gone down the same path as his father and older brother. Only it has taken him and his family to a far darker place.

He's forced to clean up after Kevin makes a huge mess of things at the start. Arrogantly thinking he could resolve the situation on his own, Kevin drove to Wayne Lowry's house to return the drugs he stole and sold. Kevin freaks out when Lowry has a henchman tail him, runs a stop sign and gets into a car wreck. He's found with cocaine in his system and is put in lock-up for a couple of days. That's the least of John's concerns, though.

Kevin's idea of solving their problem with Wayne Lowry only succeeded in giving Lowry an advantage over John. He gives the missing drugs back to his betters, earning himself one more chance to pull off another shipment. To accomplish this, Lowry's back to using his leverage over John (Danny's tape recording, Kevin and the drugs, etc.) to force him into compliance. He wants John to help his people evade the DEA, sheriff's department and the Coast Guard for his new drug run.

John is being overwhelmed by the dreadful decisions he's forced to make and all the lies he's spinning. Even as he convinces his mother and newfound nephew that he was only trying to help Danny, now his wife is starting to get curious about what happened when John sent her and the kids away for a few days. And John's livid reaction after she presses him on this will only make her more curious, I imagine.

It's a real onslaught for a guy who was already having trouble keeping things together from the start.

Meg and Kevin

Of course, his siblings are having a hard time too.

Due to her "family fucking emergency" in the previous episode, Meg loses her job in New York. She immediately breaks her phone in anger (Oops). Later, she gets drunk and seriously embarrasses herself and Marco when she sees him on a date with another girl. In the end, she bails Kevin out of prison the next day, and decides to just remain in Monroe County. Though she tries to take solace in talking with her brother or finally seeing her mother again, Meg's life was just seriously upended on account of her family. So John's not the only one who feels trapped.

Kevin is the most worrisome one of all, even if he does acknowledge that he needs serious help here. I didn't want to touch on it until about this point, but Kevin is basically turning into the new Danny. It really began when Kevin was attacked by Eric O'Bannon on Danny's behalf. After a lifetime of a lack of empathy, Kevin gets brutally beaten the way Danny was. From there it's a downward spiral, with Kevin becoming more and more like the brother he looked down on. He gets addicted to painkillers, and later cocaine. In his bitter, drugged up state, he becomes even more impulsive. This goes into overdrive as of recently, where he starts dealing drugs and consorting with criminals to solve his problems. He even keeps accumulating debts and empty promises to pay them, the way Danny was known to do. And, most notably, he is now the one giving John sleepless nights.

Maybe this was the reason Kevin seemed to love to hate Danny so much. Because he knew without Danny around, he's the disappointing one in the family.

Danny's Demons

Sally meets Evangeline "Eve" Radosevich, Nolan's mother. Apparently they had met before, when Eve was much younger. Despite being two very different, they are able to play nice well enough. Only it becomes apparent pretty quick that Eve is a bit of a bottom-feeder. Her real reason for being in the Islamorada is money. As we and Meg learned in the season premiere, Robert had a hidden bank account in which he made regular payments to Eve. The payments stopped recently, and Eve clearly would like to remedy that.

Meg tells Sally that she terminated the arrangement upon discovering it, assuming Robert was having an affair. After some deliberation, Sally decides that she won't be continuing with the payments, as it was never something that she agreed to. Eve is not happy, and later robs a couple staying at the inn through credit card fraud.

As much as they regret the past and how much it eats away at them, Sally and Meg like to proceed into the future with zero caution. Neither seem to realize what an impact their decisions have on others, with Sally especially thinking things will just work out for people. And no matter how you rationalize it, casually snubbing people who have fallen on hard times is ill-advised. Even more ill-advised when you have no idea what they're capable of.

Danny may be gone, but he left behind plenty of people who were close to him and grew to share his resentment of the Rayburns. The problem with Wayne Lowry may be solved in this episode, but that still leaves Eve, Nolan, Ozzy and Eric O'Bannon to contend with. None of whom have any love for that family.

John Rayburn is a Lie

While having a solemn chat with Danny's ghost, John weighs his options. He can do Lowry's bidding, knowing the gangster will likely continue bleeding him until the day he finally does expose his lies. He can refuse, taking his chances. Or he could do the bravest thing, which would be to simply confess his crimes, bringing this all to an end.

John is proving himself to be a hidden master of deception. We are initially led to believe he has caved and will help Lowry rebuild his drug empire. Then we see the sting on Lowry's people, thanks to John. In the end, he is true to his character as we know him. He won't be turned by scumbags like Wayne Lowry, nor will he let those scumbags get away with their crimes, but he's still too weak to own up to his own. He'd rather be exposed than confess himself. Unfortunately, it's rendered moot when Wayne Lowry is found stabbed to death in his bait shop afterward.

In the final scene, John and Marco visit Vicente Cruz, father of the first burned girl from last season, to inform him that his daughter's killer is dead. Cruz willingly confesses to his crime, even producing the murder weapon, having killed Lowry after he backed out of his deal with the DEA, fearing he might escape justice. He offers no resistance.

This episode draws a huge parallel between John and Cruz. Cruz himself sees them as kindred spirits of a sort, since he believes Wayne Lowry killed John's brother as well as Cruz's daughter. It makes the ending very poignant. Cruz states that did what John couldn't, but didn't know how right he was. He believed he was taking the revenge John, as a servant of justice, could not take. He may even believe he was the weaker man for this. But, in fact, Cruz truly did what John couldn't by immediately confessing to his horrible but understandable crime.

I must say I liked this ending much better the second time around.

Bits and Pieces:

* No Ozzy in this episode.

* According to Eve, she hooked up with Danny when she was very young and he was a lot older. And it seems they discovered how incompatiable they were after things had already moved too quickly between them. It sounds a lot like a more screwed-up version of Robert and Sally's relationship as we know it.

* This episode introduces Hank, a war veteran who monitors radio frequencies and a friend of John's. His help is vital in the DEA's takedown of Elena Cortez and Wayne Lowry's other runners in the end.

* The cops in this show aren't fans of conveying significant information over the phone, like murders and such. This is the third time John was surprised to discover who the latest dead guy is because Marco or the other cops like to be intentionally vague. Not at all for the sake of suspense, of course.

Quotes:

Nolan: My dad really never told you about me?
John: ... No.
Nolan: ...
John: Your dad may not have been a good father, but he was not a bad guy.
Nolan: Right.
John: I'm sure he meant to do the right thing by you. Sometimes it's hard to do the right thing.

Kevin: I made it right, John. I made it right with Lowry.
John: Trust me, you did not make this right.

Danny's Ghost: (to John) He's really got you backed into a corner, doesn't he? You're damned if you do, damned if you don't. Story of my life.

Marco: He says confession is good for the soul in his religion.

Four out of four soothing cigarettes.

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