‘Bloodline’ was good for the Keys, and good entertainment

Kyle Chandler stars in the Netflix original series ‘Bloodline,’ made mostly in the Keys.
Kyle Chandler stars in the Netflix original series ‘Bloodline,’ made mostly in the Keys. Netflix

The three-season Netflix series “Bloodline” has concluded. Filming is done, the crews gathered up their equipment some months back and headed back to the mainland. And we are left with 33 episodes of compelling drama.

Season 3, the final season, debuted on May 26. The wildly popular series ended part because the state discontinued its film production tax credit plan last year. Our Florida Legislature considered the credits Hollywood handouts and instead is counting on the state’s inherent lure to continue to attract business.

Sure, some have yet to view Season 3. Some may have opted not to view it at all or don’t subscribe to Netflix. But there’s a fairly large contingent of locals who are die-hard “Bloodline” fans. So here’s what we would say about the final season, and this is spoiler alert-free.

The writers did a phenomenal job of developing and progressing the characters in the Keysmade family drama, so much so you felt like you knew them or could predict what they would do next. Forget the fact that for parts of three years, the cast and crew dined in our restaurants, shopped in our stores and were generally here among us. We didn’t really know the actors but we sure did know the characters they were portraying.

Sissy Spacek, matriarch of the fictitious Rayburn family, could be seen dining at Chef Michael’s in Islamorada. Lead Kyle Chandler and villain Jamie McShane could be seen shipping packages from Eye Catcher Signs in Islamorada (hopefully they were shipping Keys mementos back home so they could treasure our island chain forever).

They were here among us conveying an intoxicating story of deceit and we all got to live vicariously through the intricate workings of this dark family story. And even if the dream sequences throughout were sometimes tough to digest, and even made the writers appear to have been on an acid trip as they constructed episode nine of Season 3, we got hooked and stayed that way through three seasons.

So what exactly did the filming of “Bloodline” do for the Keys?

It certainly shone a big bright light on the Moorings Village and Spa property, the Islamorada set for the Rayburns’ hotel. Not many of us ever get to step foot on the property, much less inside, and this was that one chance for all of us to experience that magnificent property.

Local spots like the Caribbean Club in Key Largo, the Whistle Stop Bar in Islamorada and (quasi-spoiler alert) Woody’s Gentleman’s Club, also in Islamorada, got a fair amount of air time.

Marathon wasn’t featured particularly favorably as one character was heard to say, “Kevin would never go to Marathon; he hates Marathon.”Neither was Miami, since it seemed to be the point of origin for some of the dastardly characters that found their way to the Keys.

Local business people capitalized on the series, like Sheryl Rose, owner of Florida Keys Food Tours, who created a “Bloodline” pub crawl to take tourists to film locations like the Miss Monroe Boutique, the Coral Bay Marina, Pierre’s Restaurant and the Green Turtle Inn.

Those who watched intently probably noticed a few flaws, or shall we call them film-making liberties. For instance, most locals know you can’t fish off the Jewfish Creek Bridge and there is no sign approaching that bridge that indicates you are “Now leaving the Florida Keys.”Plus the relative ease in which a seaplane delivering a large shipment of illegal drugs was able to slip in to Keys waters undetected was a stretch.

But here’s what we did glean.

“Bloodline” was a made-for-streaming series that many locals embraced because the Keys were the star of the series. It wasn’t the Rayburn family as most viewers outside the Keys assumed. We were the centerpiece, with our glistening sunsets, gorgeous panoramas, and sun-soaked islands on full display.

The Monroe County Tourist Development Council is smiling today because of the success of “Bloodline.” Local merchants who sold goods and services to the film crew and the cast are smiling. And the Keys were portrayed mostly as an idyllic and attractive locale, which should cast a positive light on the Keys as a travel destination.

So many of us didn’t want the series to end and some remain in a state of denial, hoping that maybe, just maybe, some other network or production company picks up the series. But even if that never happens, we sure are glad “Bloodline” gifted us with its presence.