It has been three episodes now and, to tell you the truth, things are going okay. And 'okay' is fine if all you're after is 'okay.' But, to be honest, I was expecting a little more than 'okay' from you.
You are a handsome show, I will give you that. It's what drew me to you in the first place. Your tan-skinned, pot-smoking, edgy vacation vibe is cool as hell. On episode one, when you dropped me into this island paradise, made foreboding by Kyle chandler's guilty, yet determined voice-over, I was ready to go all the way with you. However, if I look past your slick and desirable aesthetic, I start to wonder if maybe you’re not all that you’re pretending to be.
Your characters seem interesting enough on the surface. There’s John Rayburn (Kyle Chandler), the sheriff of the island and family peace-keeper, Meg Rayburn (Linda Cardellini, who made me do a double take when I realized she was Lindsey from Freaks and Geeks), the philandering lawyer and baby of the family, Kevin Rayburn (Norbet Leo Butz), the hot-tempered mechanic/margarita drinker, and Danny Rayburn (Ben Mendelsohn, another reason I tuned in in the first place), the prodigal son whose return to town is the catalyst for all of the anxiety that is building up. The siblings are all ruled over by their hotel-running parents who have amassed what seems to be a pretty sizable fortune. In principal, I love this. The picture-perfect family with a dark past simultaneously trying to repair and destroy itself. Great stuff. But three episodes in now, and they all still feel a bit like they don’t amount to much more than the descriptors I listed above. I keep getting hints that each one has their own deep, dark secret, but I’m not really seeing it.
And that’s the other thing. Each episode so far has been peppered with flash-forwards that let me know that, by the end of this, the siblings are all going to turn on Danny, and he’s going to end up dead and lit on fire in a boat. I know that from episode one. So now I’m just kind of playing the waiting game. Each flashback only gives me a little tease as to what the terrible event to which the repetitive Kyle Chandler voice-over is referring is going to be. Which would be fine if the siblings felt tender toward Danny and his attempt at redemption. “How on earth are they going to end up killing him?” I would ask. But everyone has been pretty aggressively against Danny returning home from the get go, which means that now all I’m asking is, “how long is it going to take?”
I don’t want to be overly-critical. I know this is early on, and you’ve got a lot to be proud of. Your cast is doing an excellent job. Ben Mendelsohn’s Danny has a very complicated relationship with his father and siblings and seems to both loathe and at times embrace his outsider status. It seems, at some point, he decided that he would be the opposite of everything his father wanted him to be, and now, after living out that rebellion for so long, he is trying to find a place at the table and realizing that no one wants to make room. I’m dying to find out what he was going to read at the party on the first night he was back, what he’s running from, and who that girl he keeps seeing is.
The way you toy with memory and hallucinations, allowing objects to creep in and blur the edge of the frame, distorting the image is subtle and well executed. However, I’m sorry to say that, unless I start to get the sense that you have some real substance that doesn’t need to be conveyed in this mysterious, ominous, and heavy tone to seem profound, I’m afraid that I am going to have to start watching other shows.
All my best,