Why Bloodline Gave John That Big WTF Episode, According To The Co-Creator

john in the hospital bloodline

Spoilers below for the entirety of Season 3 of Bloodline, so be warned. And watch out for Kevin.

Throughout the majority of Bloodline's third and final season, the story was tethered to Kevin's trial, and all of the machinations involved with keeping him from paying for his own crimes. And then came Episode 9, which was a complete format and story overhaul, with John at the center of a mental breakdown that doesn't get overtly explained. And as jarring and fan-splitting as the episode was, co-creator Todd A. Kessler makes it sound like a necessary element in understanding John's mental state so close to the end. In his words:

From our point of view, as crafting this and why this episode, the ninth, the second to last, why take an episode to do this for John, is to really enter into his psyche and to put the audience, once again, in the shoes of John where he's confused and he doesn't know what's going on and he doesn't know what's reality and what's not reality. It's very much in essence a mental breakdown for John. It moves off of the format of previous episodes for the entire series because this is really delving into John's subconscious. And it allows Danny to reappear; it allows us to explore more of John's subconscious, what he's thinking and wrestling with and his true showdown with his own identity in his role within the family. There was no way of getting to that level of storytelling without taking John on this journey.

Todd A. Kessler's answer there is somewhat like the episode, as well as the season and series as a whole, is that one can be of two minds about it. On the one hand, everything he's saying is completely understandable, because John's fractured psyche and Kyle Chandler's performances are so much of what Bloodline can hang its hat on. With an abundance of the plot sticking to Kevin and Roy Gilbert's burgeoning relationship early on, John doesn't get all of the focus that he arguably deserves, and giving him his own unforgettable standalone installment was a solid way to capitalize on that.

On the flip side, it becomes harder finding common ground concerning the placement of this episode as the entire series' penultimate installment, especially while fans were still trying to grasp the importance of Mark Valley's just-introduced "best friend" character. Taking a step back and knowing that Netflix had kinda screwed Todd A. Kessler, Glenn Kessler and Daniel Zelman by chopping episodes from Bloodline's third season months after dropping the initial cancellation, then it's slightly more understandable why things felt somewhat cobbled together. Slightly.

But even if not everyone could agree with how successful the episode was from a narrative standpoint, it's hard to deny just how confusing it all was. And Kessler told THR that creating that viewer fugue was part of the point.

It's very much about John and so much of the series has been about John and he's the one who has the greatest crisis of conscience. And he's the one who obviously killed Danny. So [we wanted] to take an episode and really delve into not only what John is thinking about but also put the audience in John's shoes and have it be uncomfortable. John has committed this action at the end of the first season of killing Danny, and that's never going to be settled for him personally whether he gets arrested, doesn't get arrested, any of that. It's a crisis of conscience episode.

It's likely John won't ever get arrested, though, as the bonkers finale had John legitimately confessing his major crimes to Aguierre, who bewilderingly brushed it all off and chose to pretend that John was just so stressed that he was talking crazy. And it's possible that John will make his confession to Nolan about having killed Danny, but the show ends things before fans can know what happened. And as Kessler also says, those final moments were what really resonated with the creators, as they felt it was best to have audiences answering their own questions where the scene's outcome is concerned.

Unfortunately, Bloodline has completely wrapped its run, with no more stories from the Rayburns coming in the future. You can currently catch all three seasons streaming on Netflix now, and our 2017 Netflix schedule will show you all you need to know about what's coming, and our summer premiere schedule will show you everything heading to TV in the near future.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.