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Bloodline: Part 11

"I want them to know what it's like."

Danny Rayburn has gathered quite a storm. No matter what his family does to try to weather it, he finds a way to knock them back down. I know he's pretty much the villain and a bit of a creep, but I can't help rooting for the guy.

It's probably because he's got such a tragic backstory; those always get me.

Sympathy for the Devil

Even as he casually maneuvers around cops and criminals in the present, Danny remains trapped in the past. Trapped in the moment when, at 15, his family was disintegrating before his eyes. He watched as his sister was exposed to it, and left in his hands as his mother was running out on them. Trying to comfort her, he took her on a boat ride out to the ocean on a beautiful day. And she drowned when her seahorse necklace fell into the water and she went in after it. Danny couldn't save her. His father beat him and his family covered it up. And he became the black sheep of the Rayburn family.

It's heartbreaking. And it brings to light that muddy gray area we often see in true crime stories like In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. Stories that show us the flawed but unmistakable humanity that exists within those who appear to be evil, sociopathic outlaws on the surface. They are the kind of stories and characters that inspire catharsis, but also enlighten us to the fact that every normal person has a breaking point, the passing of which can tarnish ideas like peace, civility, law and order.

Danny's been well over the edge for awhile, but now his siblings have begun to join him. John picks up Carlos and intimidates him into revealing the drug shipments he and Danny have been packing into the Rayburn House storage shed, which Meg found last episode. John threatens to kill Carlos if he ever returns, which is doubtful.

Blurred Lines

Now that they all know Danny has been running drugs through the inn, John, Kevin and Meg discuss the moral dilemma they are facing. John wants to take what he now knows to the DEA, to hopefully get ahead of the situation, and arrest Danny. But he and Meg know that telling the authorities there are drugs on the Rayburn property will spiral into an investigation. Sally's business will be seized and may never recover, meaning they lose everything their family has worked for all their lives, starting with the Rayburns' pristine reputation. Meg suggests they move the drugs off the property to avoid this outcome, despite all three knowing that this will make them felons.

But, of course, they have to take the moral high ground in this case. John tells Clay from the DEA about the drugs, and is forced to accept it when told that a protracted investigation will be inevitable. Defeated, John leads the DEA to the storage shed. But all of the drugs are conveniently gone when they arrive.

Danny is brought in for interrogation, and so is Meg for being the one who brought the shed to everyone's attention. They both walk away, though, since there is no evidence to hold them on. Though he's now been taken off the Lowry case, John insists that the DEA keep tabs on Danny.

Of course, this all plays into John's ruse. Before he went off to inform the DEA, John had Kevin and Meg move the drugs from the shed to Kevin's boatyard. So much for that moral high ground.

They nevertheless succeed in hindering Danny, flipping the power dynamic in their favor. Now that he can't deliver the drugs to Wayne Lowry's hitman, the hitman is going to hunt him down. And that's if the feds don't catch him first. John gives the defeated Danny the chance to run, driving him to the bus station once again.

The Ghosts That Guide Us

Before this, the brothers guilt-trip each other in regards to Sarah's drowning. John insists, as his younger self did, that Danny never should've taken Sarah out on the boat without an adult. Danny's side is slightly ambiguous. He claims that John should have been with her, but he was too hesitant and afraid to do anything wrong.

I can't tell if he means they both should have been there, because they might have been able to save her together, or if he means John should have been the one to take her instead of Danny, since he was always so much more reliable.

Anyway, it looks like the storm has passed for everyone. But it's only a brief respite.

On the dark, dreary bus ride, Danny once again encounters the mysterious woman played by Mia Kirshner. And this is where it finally becomes clear that this is not a real person Danny is talking to. It's the ghost of Sarah Rayburn, or rather the woman Danny imagines Sarah would have become had she lived past the age of ten.

She acts as a personification of his subconscious. She encourages his actions at times and questions them at others, when it's really him either indulging his own darkness or shying away from it. The symbolism is all incredibly fitting, though. The memory of Sarah has haunted Danny his entire life, dictating its course in a sense.

And it's this conversation that leads Danny to come back and continue making his family feel what he feels.

"Scary Uncle Danny"

We've seen Danny develop a nice bond with John's daughter, Janie. But he has clearly been using this relationship to get under John's skin, knowing how much John fears anything happening to her. This is the first time he truly exploits it in order to hurt him.

John arrives late to pick up Janie from school and discovers she was picked up by Danny, then learning he took her out on the charter boat and left him a message saying "she's with an adult." John, understandably, goes into full-on panic mode and teams with Marco to go after Danny.

The scene with Danny and Janie on the boat is a remarkable work in suspense. The staging of it all really made it seem like Danny was going to recreate history by drowning his niece. Luckily, he just splashes around in the water with her and does something even more subtle. He gives her a seahorse necklace, just like the one Sarah had.

On the surface, it looks like he just took his niece out for a fun day on the ocean and gave her a gift. But John knows he did this to show how easily he can get to him and the people he loves. Not only that, the necklace is Danny's way of ensuring that John remains just as haunted by Sarah as he is. He's deliberately cast Janie in their late sister's role, so to speak. Now John will never be able to forget.

This show is brilliant.

Bits and Pieces:

* We learn the origin of that untraceable gun Kevin gives to John in the flash-forward scenes. Danny bought it from Eric O'Bannon as insurance against Wayne Lowry's hitman. He stashed it in one of the suitcases full of drugs, which is how Kevin finds it later.

* It's interesting how Eric O'Bannon initially seemed like a bad influence on Danny, when Danny ended up being the one who got them involved in something truly dangerous. Still, I like that, despite all of this, there is still a genuinely loyal, brotherly friendship between Danny and Eric.

* Having finally figured out the circumstances behind his attack, Kevin actually makes the point that Danny isn't doing what he's doing just because he owes money to people in Miami, but that he's also doing it as a way to methodically hurt his family. For once, he's right.

* Belle, Kevin's estranged wife, tells him she's moving to Orlando. Part of me wonders if his whole bid with buying up more property for the boatyard wasn't just to save his business, but to impress her as well.

* I know it hasn't been subtle in these reviews, but I am immensely fascinated by the way this show portrays ghosts. They aren't ghosts in the classical sense. It's a psychological thing. The way we create our own ghosts, derived from our guilt, regret and personal demons.


Kevin: I know you're too big of a pussy to come after me yourself, so what'd you do? You send Eric?
Danny: ... I was wondering how long it would take you to blame me. Just remind me again, what are you blaming me for?
Kevin: You know what.
Danny: Yeah, but I sent Eric after you because...
Kevin: Chelsea, Danny.
Danny: Why would I be mad about that? You apologized. As long as you apologize, it makes everything else alright.
Kevin: I didn't say that.
Danny: I mean, you can do whatever you want... as long as you say you're sorry. Then again, I've been saying sorry my whole life. Never seemed to make any fuckin' difference to any of you.
Kevin: I hear you saying all this bullshit, but I don't hear you denying it.
Danny: Let's say that I did send Eric after you... I apologize. I mean, from the bottom of my heart.

John: You shouldn't have fuckin' been out there with her.
Danny: But you should have. But you wouldn't come. Too fuckin' scared of breaking the rules. I just wanted to make her feel better. The world was going to shit around her, and no one gave a damn.

Danny: I just thought I could make them understand-
Sarah's Ghost: They can't.
Danny: But you understand.
Sarah's Ghost: They don't see what I see.

Young John: You can't take her without an adult.
Young Danny: We're the only fucking adults here!
Sarah: (to John) Come with us!

Four out of four untraceable revolvers.

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