TUBE TALK: 'Bloodline' mystery engrossing

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By Robby O'Daniel

The first season of Netflix’s “Bloodline” is such a well-crafted story, a grounded tale about family that is engaging in its own right on the surface, with persistent hints throughout the narrative that there is something more.

Some of it is not mysterious. Everything from the beginning of the series to the very promotional tagline of the show — “We’re not bad people, but we did a bad thing,” — is very out front with it: something big and shocking happens here.

The basic premise is that Danny Rayburn (Ben Mendelsohn), a sort-of prodigal son, returns home for a pier dedication in honor of his family.

But Danny has the reputation of the ne’er-do-well, the troublemaker, and everyone seems to be on pins and needles as to whether Danny will embarrass everyone.

The story is more than its rather simplistic basic plot, though, and there are plenty of secrets and twists and turns that take the story in unexpected directions.

Viewers see some scenes from near the end of the season at the beginning of earlier episodes to further tease the conflict to come. Out of context, the scenes make no sense and really do not even give satisfaction to the viewer after everything plays out chronologically. They are pretty much shown early to reaffirm the show’s promise: the climax of this season will be eventful.

The series parses out information on family secrets in the form of the occasional repressed memory coming to life for a character. The series is a poker player with a decent poker face. It leaves you guessing as to what exactly is being hidden, but the viewer keeps getting told that something is definitely there.

What further makes the series really work is its cast, which is outstanding. The cast boasts of names like Linda Cardellini (“Freaks and Geeks”) and Kyle Chandler (“Friday Night Lights,” “Early Edition”).

Mendelsohn is perfect in the role of Danny, a demanding part that requires a lot of strong acting. Much of the real meat of Danny’s role is in the way he conveys information, not so much what he says but how he says it. Also the story gets bite from just how creepy Danny is, especially as the series progresses.

The show, which debuted March 20, is streaming on Netflix.

Robby O’Daniel is the sports editor at the LaFollette Press. He can be reached at robby@lafollettepress.com.