In my first piece on Bloodline – which I wrote just after I watched the pilot-, I wrote how I sympathized towards Danny. Click here for a refresh. After watching the full series now, my feelings are mixed. Spoiler Alert: commentary onwards will contain spoilers, so do not read more if you intend on watching the full series.
I still, surprisingly, still empathize with Danny despite his behavior towards his family (laundering drugs on his parents property, blackmailing his sister, having his friend beat up Kevin). I’ve concluded that how the series unfolded is why it was hard for me to completely dislike Danny. The pilot instilled those initial sympathetic feelings and subsequent episodes built upon those sentiments right before Danny’s actions turn against his family. The series slowly uncovers why Danny is the outsider. When Danny and his siblings were kids, Danny took his sister Sarah on a boat to help ease Sarah’s pain; Sarah overheard her parents’ fighting and her mother, Sally, asked Danny to look after distraught Sarah. Danny takes Sarah on the boat despite John’s warning to not go without an adult. While on the boat, Sarah drops her necklace in the water, chases it, and gets her hand stuck in the rock. Danny tries to save her but fails. Sarah drowns.
Danny’s father takes out his sadness on Danny and beats him. When the police come to investigate Sarah’s death and find out why Danny is in the hospital from the beating, the Rayburn children lie and say that Danny was hit by a car. As the series unfolds, Danny learns the truth that his siblings lied because their mother wanted to protect their father.
I felt incredibly sad on Danny’s behalf when I got to this part about the lie. How incredibly isolating and hurtful that no one ever stood up to Danny’s father and defended Danny. On top of that, the Rayburn family doesn’t entirely forgive Danny for Sarah’s death. Their treatment towards Danny is partly one reason he doesn’t have his act together. He doesn’t have a steady job, never commits to the family, and disappears randomly. When Danny returns to the Keys, Danny’s past actions still haunt the family. He tries to show he wants to re-integrate back into the family and help the family business, but the family remains suspicious. The worst and most painful moment to watch was when Danny’s father tries to pay him to go away. Who actually does this to their own child?
I don’t condone Danny’s decision to get involved in drug trafficking and use his parents’ hotel in the process. His motivations are partly to get money and partly to get back at his family. In addition, Danny does get a little bit creepy in his behavior towards Meg and Kevin; he threatens to tell Meg’s fiancee about her affair and has his friend rob and beat Kevin.
Though I don’t like his behavior, my understanding what happened to him helped me empathize with how he ended up the way he did. Danny’s family did not provide him sufficient emotional support post Sarah’s death. Knowing this treatment made me wonder what kind of person Danny would have been had his family nurtured him more.
Image Source: Netflix