Bloodline: Part 20

"Sooner or later, I'm gonna hang a body on you."

There are always patterns to be found, if you're willing to look.

Take the three Rayburn siblings for instance. John, Meg and Kevin have hidden a few pieces of their puzzle, so most people on the outside don't even know what they're looking at. But when the people close to them start to really examine it, they see the patterns and no longer need the missing pieces. They get to a point where they can see the picture clearly enough, even as others still fail to see.

Janie and Diana

We see a bit of this from John's daughter, Janie. After learning of her family's dirty laundry, Janie is disgusted and basically starts telling everyone what I imagine most viewers have been shouting at the screen half the time. Even she is able to see how the violence within her family is all connected, which bleeds over to her mother.

This is the first time Diana really felt like a main character to me. A lot of this episode is from her point of view. She begins to slowly see the patterns: John's secrecy, his enraged outbursts whenever she questions him about anything related to Danny, his bruised hand (from beating Ozzy), and finally his speech about domestic violence near the end.

Again and again, she faces extreme cognitive dissonance; telling herself they have to trust John, that he's protecting them, while at the same time being repeatedly confronted with the cycle of violence within his family. Until the end, when Diana comes to a horrible realization.

Marco and Meg

Of course, Diana isn't the only one facing the nasty truth about the family. It seems to be destroying Meg and Kevin on the inside. They're basically telling people as much as they can about their tragic past without giving away the hand they had in their brother's murder.

They're still very gray characters, though. When Marco begins questioning Kevin and Meg again at Aguirre's behest, they're all calculated deceit. With John's guidance, Kevin uses his drug addiction as an alibi and provides false information that helps confirm Wayne Lowry as the one behind Danny's murder. Too bad Marco is still suspicious of Meg, his ex-fiance. He's wondering why she was so distressed when he saw her the night before she left (when he nearly caught her hiding Danny's corpse).

Little does Marco know, Meg's got some leverage over him: Marco may have got his job as a detective by covering up Aguirre's spousal abuse. However, she doesn't want to hurt this man she still has feelings for. Meg goes to his house and comes clean about her family, no doubt breaking the pedestal Marco held them on as well. While her grief seems sincere, her words are a bit emotionally manipulative. She tells him about the skeletons in her closet, possibly hoping he will relate. Then she tells him he has to choose who he is loyal to, Aguirre or the Rayburns.

Marco's too busy having sex with Meg after this to really contemplate the deeper meaning of her ultimatum. Not that it really matters, since not even making sweet love gets rid of the gut feeling Marco has about Meg. When she lies and tells him she was so distressed back then because he almost caught her with the man she cheated on him with, Marco is only concerned about the man's name. Because he's probably gonna look into that. He may have corruption in his background, but you can't say he's not a dogged policeman.

John and Violence

While all our main characters all dealing with their personal experiences with family violence, John might have the most oddly karmic plight in this episode when Meg forces him to give a speech at a support group for domestic violence in order to exploit the Aguirre controversy. This is a man who likes to keep his inner turmoil all bottled up, until it explodes and he goes ballistic. Now he's forced to directly draw from that private drama and relate to everyone else. It's a good thing that, despite his obvious discomfort, John is good at telling just enough of the truth without looking too suspicious. He ends up making a rather poignant speech, and succeeds in winning people over.

The destructive consequences of domestic violence and dysfunctional families is definitely a huge theme of the series, but this is the first episode where I feel they've firmly addressed within the dialogue.

John made the mistake of speaking from the heart a bit deeper than he should have, though, as he did with his father's eulogy. After the speech, Diana leaves to go to her sister's. When she comes back later the next day, she very carefully reveals that she's figured out what John did when he sent her and the kids away. And this is where Diana, who until now had been very moralistic and critical of Sally, shows that she's no different. In fact, she might be worse. Despite knowing the truth, she tells John she doesn't want him to confirm it or say anything about it. I get that it's so she can have plausible deniability to avoid any jail time and take care of the kids. But still, Diana is willing to go on living the same lie as her husband, knowing that her righteous husband killed his own brother and covered it up. Telling the truth and doing the right thing doesn't mean as much to her now that it's her and her children who are in jeopardy.

When he discovers she knows, John seems to revert to his stunned adolescent self again. Before, he had angrily shut down any attempt she made to get at the truth. Once she found it, though, it was like he was naked. Petrified by his own guilt.

Interestingly, no one else is even really considering the possibility that John killed Danny. They're all assuming he or someone else in the family were trying to help him escape justice. Man oh man, are they wrong about that. But if his own wife has figured it out now, others can't be too far behind.

Bits and Pieces:

* Speaking of threats to the Rayburns, Ozzy recovers from his beating at John's hands. He ignores Eve when she pleads with him not to screw up her relationship with the Rayburns -- not realizing she may have already done that herself by turning Janie against them. He gets his gun back from Eric and goes after Meg with his blackmail plot instead of John. Despite coming on like Robert DeNiro in Cape Fear, Ozzy is really just an egotistical punk with anger issues. He spends most of his time bullying guys who are weaker than him and threatening women.

* This is the first time I truly felt sorry for Kevin. The dude's struggling to keep it all together, yet he's forced to keep telling lies that eat away at his soul and his sanity. For a moment, I thought he was going to confess to Marco.

* Sally wants Nolan to take her to see Danny's restaurant in Miami, or at least its burnt up ruins. That ought to be a nice little bonding experience for those two.

* Janie is looking for the seahorse necklace Danny gave to her. John remembers holding it right before he murdered Danny, after which it was lost.

Quotes:

Janie: So Papa Ray beats him, Uncle Kevin attacks him, and now Mama Ray hits me for telling the truth?
John and Diana: ...
Janie: What is it with you people? This family is so fucked up.

Kevin: I think, looking back, I wasn't really living in reality. You know? But in the past few months reality has really come... Knocking, knocking at my door. Or, really, kind of crashing at my door. Um... I'm starting to see that I'm maybe not the person I thought I was. My family's not who I thought they were...
Something rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

Nolan: I was afraid you might tag me. Heard you've got a killer right hook.
Sally: Yeah well, that was a mistake I'm not proud of.
Nolan: Don't worry, I'm sure she deserved it.

Sally: What did your father tell you about us? The family?
Nolan: He said that you were all fucked up. That he didn't want to be the kind of dad that his dad was. Said that being born a Rayburn was the worst thing that ever happened to him.

Meg: It's awful. And the more you know about us, the more horrible it gets. We're not the people you think we are. That's why I had to end it, with you. Because I wanted to get away, I wanted to leave, I wanted to never come back, but I couldn't. Because of my fucking family. (sobbing) I fucking... I fucking hate them...

Like five seconds later...

Meg: You need to decide who you're loyal to. Him or us?

John: Violence is particularly difficult when it happens in the family, and I have experienced that as well. Many of you that have been through it here, I can tell you that I understand. Not just... Not just the sadness involved with it, but the guilt that's associated with it. You wonder... You wonder if you're to blame, because it is so very easy to be silent when there is violence in a family. It's very easy to be ashamed when you don't speak up. I think that's why it's so very important that we're talking about this. To remind each other to be on guard. As much as we're... As much as we're scared to admit it, that violence lies within all of us. We're all capable of it.

Maybe they laid the message on a little too thick in this one, but it's an important message nonetheless. This show does a superb job of illustrating it. Three out of four ice packs.

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