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The End Of Bloodline Explained

Netflix hit it big with the drama series Bloodline, which premiered on the streamer on February 9, 2015. The show had a lot of big names attached to it, including the late Oscar-nominated actor Sam Shepard as the Rayburn family patriarch Robert, and Oscar winner Sissy Spacek as his wife, Sally Rayburn. In Bloodline, the couple runs a beachside inn in the Florida Keys and they have four children — John (Kyle Chandler), Meg (Linda Cardellini), Kevin (Norbert Leo Butz), and Danny (Ben Mendelsohn).

The story of Bloodline follows the Rayburn family as Danny, the black sheep of the family, returns home and starts to create trouble for everyone. Bloodline slowly reveals the complex relationships of love and guilt that have steadily broken down in the family over the years. It all seemingly started after Sarah Rayburn, the fifth sibling, died in an accidental drowning years earlier, with many blaming Danny. The series is largely told from the perspective of John, who acts as the leader of his siblings and makes a lot of decisions for the family.

Bloodline had three seasons on Netflix, finishing up its run in 2017. Mendelsohn was nominated for three Emmys and one Golden Globe for his performance, winning the Emmy in 2016, while Chandler was also nominated for two Emmys for his role as John. Unfortunately for fans, Netflix canceled the series after season 3, and Bloodline used the last ten episodes to finish up the story of the Rayburn family.

Here's everything that happened at the end of Bloodline — explained.

The Rayburn family is left in pieces

Throughout season 1, Danny creates a load of problems for his siblings and parents, while John and his father try to get him to leave again. Then Robert dies and it only gets worse, as Danny gets John, Kevin, and Meg wrapped up in his drug smuggling. John makes an executive decision in the heat of the moment and drowns Danny. Sure, that gets rid of the current problem, but it creates a bunch of new issues, the biggest of which is John's morality, as he and his siblings are quickly willing to do anything to keep the crime a secret from everyone, including their mother.

In season 3, this all comes to a head, with more and more blood on John, Kevin, and Meg's hands. Are the Rayburns bad people? According to John, "We're not bad people, but we did a bad thing," but at this point, that's debatable. Even Sally, who seems relatively innocent throughout Bloodline's run, is not free of blame and misdeeds. At the end of season 3, Meg escapes Florida, moving across the country and changing her name, while Kevin is on his way to prison. Meanwhile, John might finally be coming clean about Danny's death, but after everything that's happened, people genuinely think he's crazy and don't believe him, or they just don't care. 

With the inn about to literally fall into the ocean as the water level rises, the Rayburn family is swallowed up by the strange darkness of the seaside town where they live. Though they may not face legal consequences for their actions, the Rayburns, save Meg who gets out, all fall victim to the moral and psychological repercussions of their bad choices. 

The series ends with John opening up to Danny's son

One of the biggest questions Bloodline leaves unanswered is what happens after the finale episode cuts to black. The last scene shows John approaching Nolan (Owen Teague), Danny's son who comes to the family for answers about his father's death. John walks towards Nolan on the dock behind the inn, possibly with the intention to tell him the truth. The final episodes feature John having visions of Danny as he considers the best course of action. Even in this final scene, John appears to question if it's better for Nolan to have the answers, or to maintain his innocence. So what does John say? Well, we don't know. 

The episode ends right as John gears up to talk. According to Bloodline co-creator Todd A. Kessler, "The intention of that ending is to really have the audience pick up where that leaves off. It's not meant to be coy. But we're not answering it." Kessler spoke with The Hollywood Reporter, explaining that they wanted the audience to understand that "these characters and their search for meaning and identity continues and is not something that is wrapped up," so fans can consider what might come next for John, Nolan, and the others.

Although viewers like to think that John's finally seeing the light and will tell Nolan the truth, it's entirely possible that he could fall back into the Rayburn family's habit of keeping secrets. Considering everything that happens in Bloodline, it's clear that the family isn't above lying to each other either. For Kessler, the final moment of the show is John, "the moral center of the series," "looking at the next generation and figuring out whether he can change the direction of this family or if that's even possible." What do you think he decides?

Why Bloodline had to end with season 3

While the general consensus is that the first season of Bloodline is the best, the show still had many fans throughout seasons 2 and 3, and there were a lot of people who wanted a fourth season. Regrettably, when Netflix renewed Bloodline for a third season in 2016, it was also announced that it would be the show's last, and there are a handful of likely reasons for Netflix's decision. The first, and most obvious, is that viewers were losing interest in Bloodline. Yes, the actors were still churning out fantastic performances, but after killing Danny at the end of season 1, there was only so far they could go with the remaining story. Compared to the first season's 81% on Rotten Tomatoes, both seasons 2 and 3 got a 53%, which is not bad, but is technically considered "Rotten." The audience score for season 3 was also the show's worst.

The second reason for the cancellation is money. With Bloodline, the show filmed on location in the Florida Keys, and the first two seasons were able to take advantage of Florida's tax incentive programs. The program ended in 2016, making it a lot more expensive to film the Netflix series (via The Hollywood Reporter). According to Vulture, Netflix was paying around "$7 million and $8.5 million per hour — or $70 million to $85 million for a ten-episode season." Without tax incentives, a huge fanbase, or awards justifying Bloodline's existence, the series inevitably had to be cut. At least Netflix gave the series a heads up that it would not be coming back, allowing the show to actually plan out season 3's story with an ending in mind.