TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2, Episode 1: “Eat What You Kill”
Directed by Christopher Chulack
Written by Jonathan Lisco
* For a recap & review of the Season 1 finale, “What Have You Done?” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Karma” – click here
The boys (and mom) are back in town! Season 2, baby.
No telling where things are headed, after Pope (Shawn Hatosy) did the unthinkable to Catherine, leaving Baz (Scott Speedman) to wonder where she’s gone. Little Lena (Aamya Deva Keroles) is the only one who knows for sure. Well, except for that eerie connection between Mama Smurf (Ellen Barkin) and her boy Pope, that provides another tense side of the entire relationship between Baz and the Codys and everything in between.
Speaking of Smurf, she’s been drinking a lot, so it seems. Waking up to a drink isn’t healthy. Meanwhile, her boys – Pope, Craig (Ben Robson), Deran (Jake Weary), and the newest addition Josh (Finn Cole) – and Baz are out doing what they do best: cheat, rob, steal; in no particular order.
Of course J’s been fully indoctrinated. He is a Cody, through and through. It’s troubling. Because these aren’t honest, Robin Hood-type thieves. Smurf is a damaged and dangerous person, as is her son Pope. Although that’s probably much to do with her own… predilections. And as Pope’s mental state worsens, his actions becoming more desperate as the end of Season 1 proved, it’s tough to see a young man like J – a mostly good person – become wrapped up in his family’s brutality. Question is, will he escape it, or will the Codys swallow him whole?
On their latest job, the Cody boys and Baz do a ton of work only to come out with a couple small stacks of cash; barely $500. Yet at home awaits mother with her pie, their family ritual after a robbery. So surreal, how they sit around and chat after a major crime. But things are deteriorating, between Pope and his dark headspace, and Smurf getting fucking hammered as she leads the clan. Mom and her oldest boy are especially having issues. Wonder how that’ll pan out re: Pope’s nasty little secret. Baz tries cooling everyone down, though I don’t know how well his word will stand.
Deran’s got a $50K deal, meeting a woman in a small bar where he hands over an envelope of cash. Not all of the agreed price, naturally. Their recent short-changed job didn’t do him any favours. So, is Deran trying to go straight? Is he making an investment in that bar, or another place? I think he’s trying his best to get out from under Smurf.
Crazy, crazy Pope, he goes out to the place in the desert where he buried Catherine. His psyche is damaged, and it was long before. By killing the woman he loved, something altogether new is happening to him. And for the first time in his life it’s as if he’s feeling genuine guilt, remorse, rather than floating through life like he does usually devoid of emotion.
At a family meeting, Baz leads the charge to try changing things with Smurf, to lessen her iron grip on their gang. She’s drunk and takes it personally. She uses failures from the past, recent and long ago, to bite back at them. Including taking Baz in from his horrible father. Things explode eventually, as he can’t take it anymore. None of them can.
Craig: “No more suckin‘ mommy‘s dick!”
Everyone’s wondering what to do with J. On one hand, Deran suggests he and Craig out to bring the kid in while he’s confused, torn across the family. Maybe Deran’s concern is for his own secret, worrying J will out him. On the other hand, Pope and Baz have their own feelings about him, whether he’s trustworthy.
Smurf gets a visit about her payments to Manny – $5,000 a month. Or, so she thinks. Apparently he’s dying and Smurf has to go pay respects. She refuses to leave. We discover more and more about the Cody matriarch, her well of young men runs deep and there’s so many questions about the destruction she’s caused through her lifetime. Curiouser and curiouser.
Turns out that Deran IS looking to buy up the bar. He wants to take over the lease, after the owner died and left his wife with the place. At least, despite his own flaws, the guy has plans outside of robbery for his life. And at home with Smurf, J is trying to figure out his own life. He’s conflicted, about everything. Likewise, he’s complicit in everything in which the Cody family is involved.
What we do see is who Smurf starts favouring. Earlier, Craig’s credit card – paid by mom – is cut off, and Deran, too. But now she’s given J his own card. I worry that either on purpose or inadvertently, she’s going to put him in a bad position with the uncles.
And what about Nicky (Molly Gordon)? She and Craig have been an item all this time. He’s not loving it, though. The difference in age is apparent, yet is it? He’s still depending on mom, she’s still in high school and living on the whim of her father. However, there’s absolutely trouble coming from this end. If the film Animal Kingdom is any indication, and they stick to the character arc where Nicky ended up, she is headed somewhere grim.
Latest Cody robbery? Possibly a yacht job. They’re all on different pages, each pairing’s got their own ideas – Pope and Baz against Deran and Craig. Then, we still have poor Baz going off the rails, yelling at his own daughter, his head too caught up in making money to pay attention to his own blood. And Pope, he makes what amends he can by showing the little girl some attention. Even Deran and Craig at odds, the latter sniffing coke making things even more unstable.
Still, they all go back to Smurf’s house for supper. Despite their relative silence, everyone reaches for a toast: “May we all get what we want, and never what we deserve.” Things aren’t as bad as they seemed before. Mom acts fine with their new efforts to be more independent. When Pope has the chance, he warns J about getting too close to her.
A fantastic, low key episode to start Season 2. I’m super curious about Manny, his connection and importance to Smurf, as well as Javier (Alex Meraz), whose history with her clearly goes back a long way. Lots of stuff to mull over! Great start to this new season.
Next episode is “Karma” and I’m hoping to see more of the Cody family problems create tension as time goes by. I wonder who’ll be the first to meet a tragic end? Y’know it’s brewing.