To paraphrase Charles Dickens, let’s call it a tale of two series coming to a close, with the third and final season of Bloodline launching on Netflix late tonight, and the third and final season of Kingdom debuting on AT&T’s Audience on May 31. And, let’s be clear, you should make sure both get a proper sendoff.
Although the former has been planned for a while and the latter saw the plug pulled suddenly only last month, the respective conclusions of both the Florida-set family drama created by Todd A. Kessler, Daniel Zelman, and Glenn Kessler and the Byron Balasco-created MMA series are worth checking out. If for no other reason than both Bloodline and Kingdom go out swinging. Of the two, the show led by Frank Grillo, Joanna Going, Nick Jonas, Matt Lauria, Kiele Sanchez and Jonathan Tucker seemingly still has more story to tell, as I say in my video review above, but aims toward a fulfilling conclusion nonetheless.
Part of that, as the Kulina family of Kingdom and those close to them are pulled apart by defeats, dashed expectations, social media shaming, sex offenders, booze and baptism, is due to an excellent performance by Lauria as the conflicted current champ Ryan Wheeler. Also never tapping out on the limited or bad choices the Venice, CA-based characters too often make, recognition once again has to go to now American Gods alum Tucker and to Jonas for their efforts as brothers Jay and Nate. With the older brother trying to navigate the straight and narrow after his defeat in the cage last season and the younger brother trying to find his own way but not reveal too much of who he really is or loves, the actors both truly exercise an even greater range this last season.
Ending in many ways where it started with the added vinegar of more family secrets laid bare and their consequences, the 10-episode end of Bloodline is bittersweet. Like the Kulinas, the scheming Florida Keys-based Rayburns of the Netflix show are in battle, especially with themselves and with the idea, real and idolized, of what family is – or at least what their family is.
Like Kingdom from its late-2014 premiere and subsequent seasons, I have been a fan of Bloodline since its debut back in March 2015 and beyond. I found the killing of black sheep sibling Danny (Emmy winner Ben Mendelsohn) by his brother John (Kyle Chandler) one of the most stirring things on the small screen that year. After bringing the show back last July, the announcement last fall that the streaming service was ending the series spurred the Kesslers and Zelman to take what they intended to be a five-season tale and fit it all into one last and third cycle. While it might feel overwrought in places, they have succeeded for the most part in tying up the plotlines and wounds of the series.
Part of that success, in a cast that also includes ER alum Linda Cardellini and the return of sorts of Mendelsohn, is the standout performance in Season 3 of matriarch Sissy Spacek and youngest son Norbert Leo Butz. Walking the wire in a way that previous seasons have prodded and pushed them to, their work in this last stretch takes on added purpose as we, the likely bingeing audience, know it’s all over.
Click on my dual review of the third and final seasons of Kingdom and Bloodline above to see more. For fans new and old, there is still a lot of fight left in both shows and you should watch.