Warning: Spoilers for Seasons 1 and 2 of Bloodline discussed below.
It’s a rare move for Netflix to cancel its original series. So far, only Lilyhammer and Hemlock Grove have met early ends, but since Netflix also notoriously does not share its viewer numbers, we have no idea how successful any of its series are, or by what metric they make the decision to keep things going (at the moment, Netflix has almost 30 original series, and is only continuing to expand).
But, THR is reporting that Netflix has alerted Sony Pictures Television (who produces the series) that its family drama Bloodline will conclude on their platform with Season 3, airing next year. The episode order will also match Season 2’s reduced 10 count (instead of the 13 of the original run) and has had its licensing fees reduced. As THR also points out, the creative team behind the series — Todd A. Kessler, Daniel Zelman, and Glenn Kessler, who also created Damages — have spoken before about conceiving of the series as a five or six-season drama, so it’s unclear whether or not Sony will try and continue the series on a different platform (especially since they have their own: Crackle).
The other element to this is that Florida recently ended its entertainment tax incentive program, which most majorly affected Bloodline and HBO’s Miami-set series Ballers. Bloodline’s Florida Keys setting is an integral part of its story, informing the series tone in a way that truly makes it stand out, even when its narrative waivers. But the fact that the show will now be that much more expensive produce also doesn’t bode well for it.
Update: KZK have confirmed alongside Netflix that Bloodline will end its story with Season 3.
In a statement to TVLine, Cindy Holland, Netflix vice president of original content, said, “Bloodline season three will be the show’s final season. Todd A. Kessler, Daniel Zelman and Glenn Kessler (KZK) are thoughtful and visionary storytellers, who lead a prestigious cast, that includes Kyle Chandler and Ben Mendelsohn, who have both garnered two Emmy nominations for their roles on the series. Together, with our collaborative partners at Sony Pictures Television, they created a seductive show that Netflix viewers worldwide love and continue to discover. We are looking forward to the exciting climax KZK have in store for the series conclusion in May 2017.”
Is the show ending with Season 3 really a bad thing, though? Season 1 was one my favorite series of that year; flawed, sure, but utterly engrossing with some of the finest acting I’ve seen from an ensemble in a long time. The flash-forwards never felt gimmicky to me — as a fan of Damages I was conditioned for them. I also loved the puzzle aspect, even though as the season progressed it became more and more unbelievable that the show would get rid of its most powerful asset, actor Ben Mendelsohn, in a luminous performance as the family’s black sheep, Danny.
Still, there seemed to be a lot to explore in Season 2 regarding the fallout that the family — played by Kyle Chandler, Linda Cardellini, Norbert Leo Butz, and Sissy Spacek — would undo as a result of Danny’s death. Yet Season 2 stalled out, wasting promising subplots regarding Danny’s son and and his ex, as well as failing to flesh out more of the island culture that the Rayburns were such an important part of. The series also dropped its flash-forward structure, depriving it of its urgency. Treading water could only get the series so far, though given the strength of the actors and the beauty of the shooting locations, I was willing to see where it landed … until the huge mistake that concluded Season 2.
Chandler’s John Rayburn’s most famous line in Season 1 was the show’s tagline, “we aren’t bad people, but we did a bad thing.” Season 2 showed that maybe these actually are bad people, really bad people, with John being the foremost among them (Chandler told us on a set visit last year that he would love the show to kill John off). It’s a show that never found a hero to make us want to root for, yet the characters also are shown to be too morally ambiguous to want to see them burn. Bringing Mendelsohn back as a spectre of John’s imagination in Season 2 might have earned him another Emmy nod, but it wasn’t the Danny of Season 1 who was so mesmerizing in his machinations.
Like Homeland — another series with an extremely strong first season that lost its way before finding it, somewhat, again — in hindsight Bloodline feels like it might have made for a fantastic miniseries. And though the KZK creative team say that their plan is for a sprawling drama, the series never felt built for it after the Season 1 finale. So while it will be interesting to check in on the show next summer and see how it finds a way to conclude, which will hopefully restore some of its narrative urgency, the key is that (much as I hate to say it) it is probably time for it to end.
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