Spoilers for the entirety of Season 1 of Bloodline below. If you haven’t watched yet, read this and get to it immediately.
Generally, the television rule of thumb is “give audiences something they enjoy enough to keep coming back for more,” but Netflix is the footnote exception. Sure, they’re just as invested in repeat success as a network, but they don’t have to be. Their newest drama Bloodline is truly one of the most engrossing dramas I’ve ever seen in my life, and its fantastic ending, combined with the all-encompassing storyline, makes it the perfect contender for a one-season-and-done series. As such, there’s presumably no way this show could be anywhere near as effective if it gets ordered for Season 2.
Bloodline is all about the guided-by-problems Rayburn family, and how the group at large is affected by the homecoming of the written-off brother Danny, played to perfection by Ben Mendelsohn. Every single person’s storyline is tied to the revenge-minded force that is Danny Rayburn, from patriarch Robert’s death to detective brother John’s immigrant-trafficking case to sister Meg’s crumbling love life. Not to mention how he’s involved in brother Kevin’s injuries and inability to get a bank loan, as well as how his history with matriarch Sally is so invested in the events following the death of his younger sister Sarah. Danny is the catalyst for everyone’s misery, and this show can’t possibly go on without him.
And should a Season 2 ever get ordered, it would have to happen without him, as John drowned him in the second-to-last episode. It was an event that shocked the ever-living shit out of me, as I expected creators Glenn Kessler, Todd A. Kessler, and Daniel Zelman to milk this storyline as much as possible to ensure a Season 2 order. I definitely wouldn’t have been angry with that, as this ensemble cast is as exquisite as one could hope for, but the bold choice to kill him off created one of the most engaging endings for a single season in any TV show out there. Not specifically the finale, which was great in and of itself, but as a general story wrap-up. It may not be that surprising, since episode names were replaced by “Part 1,” “Part 2” and so on, making it all seem like a standalone narrative over something that should exist for multiple years.
Now, I’m sure some out there would argue that a second season needs to exist because of the cliffhanger ending, in which someone comes to John’s house introducing himself as Danny’s son. That would definitely be an interesting storyline to track and would give Mendelsohn a chance to return for flashback segments, as would almost everything else involving Danny’s past. But it isn’t necessary to find out who this kid is, as his existence gives depth to repeat viewings, adding weight to the many skeletons in Danny’s closet. I also don’t need to know the details behind Danny’s failed restaurant to give it narrative strength. We don’t need this show to get all Lost on us.
In the same vein, we don’t need to see the drug lord (and former human trafficker) Wayne Lowry go down for his crimes. His entire storyline served as a way to connect Danny to his “best friend” Eric, as well as John’s detective work. The drugs and fire-based mode of immigrant murder were both incorporated into the Rayburn siblings’ plan to eliminate Danny from their lives, so actually seeing John and Marco take Wayne down is completely beside the point. Wayne has served his purpose.
Had Bloodline not relied so heavily (and enjoyably) on its use of flash-forwards and flashbacks, perhaps a second season might not seem like such an off-putting concept. But those tricks, particularly the Sarah-based callbacks, were a lot of what made Bloodline so damned gripping. If we’re being completely honest with ourselves here, I would absolutely watch more Rayburn drama in a second season of Bloodline. I just don’t need to, and neither does anyone else, because Season 1 will always be there for us.