TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 1, Episode 9: “Judas Kiss”
Directed by Christopher Chulack
Written by John Wells

* For a review of the previous episode, “Man In” – click here
* For a review of the finale, “What Have You Done?” – click here
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After the intense finish of last episode, Josh (Finn Cole) is left pondering a decision with Alexa Anderson (Ellen Wroe). Her suggestion was to call Detective Sandra Yates (Nicki Micheaux). But will he risk that in the face of Grandma Smurf (Ellen Barkin) and her gang?
Baz (Scott Speedman), Pope (Shawn Hatosy), Craig (Ben Robson), and Deran (Jake Weary) are headed into Camp Pendleton. They pass the vehicle inspection, then they’re in.
At home, Smurf is left wondering where Josh is – he’s busy switching the SIM card out of his phone because his grandmother tracks him, plus all his uncles. Now, he’s meeting with Dt. Yates, as Alexa pulls him in deeper into a scary situation.
Out at the base, the Cody Boys head into the paintball course, gear on, masks ready. They get into a pretty good game with a ton of other players. Until they break off from the pack to their target.  Lieutenant Commander Paul Belmont (C. Thomas Howell) slips them a key to open a locked gate from which they emerge dressed in Navy camouflage.
Up at the Cody house, Catherine (Daniella Alonso) shows up with her daughter, as grandma does her daily cleaning. There’s lots of tension, though, and Catherine is trying her best to play into whatever Smurf expects of her. She even tries apologising, mending bridges. I’m not just worried about J anymore. I’m worried for Catherine. Even worse, she steals a bunch of money from behind the dryer while Smurf is in the other room. Scarier still? Catherine’s daughter lets slip that mommy’s friend has a car with “a siren” and she’s not supposed to tell daddy about that. Holy. Fuck. This is getting very worrisome.
The boys are moving steadily through their mission at Camp Pendleton. They’ve made their way into the warehouse and find the lot where the money’s held. Baz, Craig, and Pope get to work bagging money while Deran waits outside the warehouse. The amount of money is staggering.
Simultaneously, Josh is meeting with Yates, as well as Patrick (Dorian Missick), the cop who knows Catherine. Either way the truth is coming out about Smurf, the uncles, and Yates makes clear: “Youre expendable, Josh. And you know it. Youre like the colt who cant keep up with the herd when the wolves arrive. And the wolves are circling, Josh.”
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Josh is being pressed by Yates to give up more information. He refuses to talk about Nicky (Molly Gordon) and her father. Yates is offering a way out, however, none of the police ever think truly about what it’ll be like for someone, especially a family member, after they rat out those close to them. And speaking of people in danger, Smurf’s already discovered the cop friend, now it looks as if she’s found out about Catherine stealing money. None of these issues are going to pan out well.
At the warehouse, the Cody Gang find soldiers kicking around. Luckily for them they’re not headed for the cage where the money’s being stolen. A pulse pounding moment or two. Afterwards, the boys load the cage with the dummy money they prepared, they wrap and seal the plastic again, strap the pallet in, and nobody’s the wiser. What a plan, too. They wrap the money in bags, snap GSP locators on them, then dump it into barrels of diesel or something similar. Tricky, tricky.
With J, things are getting sketchier. Yates wants him to wear a wire: “He might just do it for pussy,” she says wondering if Alexa might “open her legs” for J to get things rolling. Although Patrick doesn’t feel morally capable of letting that happen.
Something I’ve not mentioned enough is the music. The score for the show is absolutely amazing, such an impressive addition that works alongside all the suspense, the tension, the adrenaline. Courtesy of Samuel Jones and Alexis Marsh (Preservation).
And after all their treachery, the Cody Gang heads back onto the paintball course, just like nothing ever happened. They head out, have the SUV chopped, each doing their little part to finish the job off right. True professional thieves. Back at the house, Smurf has a nice big apple pie waiting; a tradition after the latest job. She’s glad to have her boys back following their haul. Meanwhile, Baz is taking “first watch” on the money, as Craig and Deran eat their pie, fire up some weed.

 


Now Alexa is trying to draw J into the web of deceit of the law. They want him to talk, by any means necessary. Yates needs Alexa to seduce the young man, and that may prove to be just as dangerous as anything else. He’s still a teenager. This could do a lot of damage to him. They fall into bed together, though Alexa cries the entire time. She’s not making it better for herself, or for him. The cops need somebody else other than J to make their case. This, none of it, will end well.
At the same time, Smurf tells Pope about Catherine – the money, that she may be talking to police. This troubles him. “Shes a user,” Mama tells her little boy. “We brought her into our family, but that girl she only cared about herself. I watched her lead you on.” Smurf continues dripping poison into her boy’s ear. That’s another dangerous element. She pounds the betrayal of Catherine into him. Worries me how he’ll deal with all that.
So he goes to her place in the night. He tells Catherine that Smurf knows about the money, the cop. Well, she plays it as being nothing. Problem is that Mama Smurf doesn’t believe that Catherine is not a threat. Everything starts to get creepier. The tension mounts and we begin to wonder exactly what Pope is there to do. This sends Catherine into a frenzy, trying to find any weapon possible nearby. That is, until they start stripping each other, kissing, and they wind up between the sheets…
…where Pope smothers her to death, crying as he does. Probably the most intensely emotional, disturbing scene that’s happened in the entire series so far. Not only was that Baz’s girlfriend, she left behind a little daughter, as well.
The cops are really pressing Josh. Things have changed, though. He’s now roped into Alexa and her physicality. He calls Smurf to let him know he won’t be home, staying at a friend’s, all that. But you can see Grandma Smurf is not pleased when Craig tells her that J is banging his teacher. “Hot as shit, Id be banginher, too,” he tells his mother. The look on her face says it all. She doesn’t like when her boys are into anyone else too much; anybody that isn’t her.
One of her boys is being really naughty. Out digging a grave. While he’s hauling Catherine’s corpse out of the vehicle, her daughter lies asleep in the backseat. How infinitely sad and tragic.

 


In the morning, Deran takes over the money watch post, as Baz heads back home. To nothing. Simultaneously, Josh is finding the cops applying more pressure: they want him to wear a wire. Yates says he wears the wire, or maybe Smurf finds out where he’s been all night, talking to the police. She spins a hard tale about the Cody uncles. You can see that Patrick isn’t as keen as Yates, he doesn’t like to see Alexa clinging onto Josh and pushing him to a decision. I’m thinking this will make everything more difficult at some point.
When Baz gets home in the morning, he finds no Catherine. Only their little girl.
And Smurf is left alone with her thoughts, imagining what sort of madness comes next.
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Another near perfect episode! What an awesome penultimate Season 1 chapter. The last one is titled “What Have You Done?” and I’m betting all the Cody secrets are about to spill forth. Stay with me.

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