TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2, Episode 4: “Broken Boards”
Directed by Emmy Rossum
Written by Etan Frankel
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Bleed for It” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Forgive Us Our Trespasses” – click here
An unusual thing for Smurf (Ellen Barkin), being alone in that big house. All her boys except for J (Finn Cole) having left, and even he’s teetering. But while he’s out at the crack of dawn working hard to stay fit, she’s at the house pulling a gun on the darkness. And of course Nicky (Molly Gordon) is still there, too. Awkward. She acts like it’s no big deal, though you can tell it weirds him out. Not as much as he should be unsettled by his grandma’s tightening grip.
Meanwhile, Baz (Scott Speedman) is figuring out the gang’s matriarch changed all the codes, security, bank, otherwise. Deran (Jake Weary) is working on getting his bar ready to open, he has to refuse underage Nicky coming even with Craig (Ben Robson) whining. Trouble’s brewing between that couple, has been for a while. The new bartender might speed all that along.
And Pope (Shawn Hatosy), oh Pope… if he weren’t a murderer, I’d genuinely feel for him. He’s a fish out of water, coming out of Folsom and into the world, especially the world of the Cody gang, he can’t even really live life correctly. He and Amy (Jennifer Landon) are going out on a first date, so he ends up getting matched for a lavender shit that goes well with his “skin tone” according to a saleswoman. Seeing him in a store, picking out a proper shirt, so jarring in a humorous way.
After letting slip about Deran’s bar to Smurf, Nicky says “sex and drugs” are the only way she relates to Craig, they don’t truly love one another. Even though she acts as if she does. She’s more in for the romanticised version of Craig, the tough thief who likes to fuck and has blow all the time.
Smurf gives her this piece of advice: “Do you have any idea how powerful you are? Y‘know what that power is? It‘s the one thing you have that every man wants. You just have to let them think they have the power. But they never do. Ever. Unless you give it to them. And don‘t ever give it to them.”
On the latest job, J offers to help the gang when Deran isn’t there. The boys gear up, putting together a length of air ducts, hose and all. Into which J and Craig are cramped until the heist is ready to go. Baz mainly wants the kid in on it because he knows about J pulling a job with Smurf, worrying she has her hooks in deep already.
Deran’s busy telling mom about the bar. It’s a tense conversation. Although it ends with him inviting her to the opening. She agrees. However, I’ve got to wonder: is she going to do something, make a scene? Can’t help thinking she’ll be compelled to nastiness, lashing out in anger at one of her boys branching out on his own. She’s already being vindictive with Baz, about the code to their storage unit where he’s got his tools. She’d go to any length to make herself feel better. Actually starts turning him slightly against the others, using his status as outsider to fuel his paranoia.
Craig’s always thinking with a criminal mind. He steals a beer truck on a whim from a store while the driver carts a load inside. It’s like he unconsciously needs to fuck up his brother’s new business, ’cause you know that’s where he’s headed with the beer. When he does bring it to the bar Deran refuses to take it, he doesn’t want anything to ruin this venture. He’s serious about making a change, separating this business from the thievery of his family. Above all, separating himself from his mother.
Amy and Pope are bonding, particularly after she revealed to him the situation with her son, the mistakes she’s made, what brought her to God. He wonders how she “lives with herself” because he wants to know how he can live with himself, as well. After all he’s done. Despite her situation, it isn’t the same or as dark as Pope’s sins. Not even close.
Baz calls the boys out to the beach. He apologises for his “bullshit.” He wants the old days again, when they were close, hanging out, loving life together. So, what’s the plan? A bit of extreme fun. You know how the lads get down! They climb a massive crane over the shore, jumping stories to the waves below. A nice, quick thrill before beers. Baz even says he’ll do the “shit work” and get in the duct for the next job, proving he isn’t like Smurf.
At the same time across town, Smurf takes J up to see a nice apartment she owns. A beautiful loft looking out over the ocean. Janice Brown owns the place, actually. Among other fake tenants who own other apartments, so on and so on. Money laundering. Looks like grandma wants to start bringing J into the fold with her, pulling him away from the others. She’s letting him on everything behind the family business. Almost grooming. She wants him to help with the books, unlike any of her boys.
The bar is starting to get going, people pile in. Smurf heads out, but on the way feels like a small plumbing van is following her. She readies a gun, just in case. But off they go. Why so paranoid? Is she waiting for somebody to come?
Baz and Pope both head down to the bar, along with a crowd of surfers and others. Deran says he’s named the place The Drop from now on. And then Smurf arrives, a look of disbelief on her face, tender words for her baby. Not so nice chat for Baz, though. “We‘re never comin‘ back, Smurf,” he replies. She replies: “I didn‘t ask you to.”
More tension when Deran finds Craig snorting cocaine with people in the bathroom. He kicks them out, throws the coke away, prompting a brief fight. We’re seeing so many different fractures, the various relationships. Craig is probably the biggest piece of shit out of them all, purposefully acting like an idiot.
Then a familiar face shows up – Adrian (Spencer Treat Clark). Long time, no see. You can see Deran lights up when he comes to the bar. Truly hope these two will get together again. Now that he’s trying to get away from Smurf. And LAAAWD is she ever making it easy to hate her, telling an embarrassing story about his failed dreams of surfing in front of the bar. God, it’s brutal to watch.
Smurf: “So here‘s to the runt of my litter, my beautiful baby boy – to Deran.”
He confronts his mother afterwards Admitting to her he’s gay. Then the real harsh truth comes out. Does she like having the boys around because she, deep down, wants them sexually? Clearly there’s a strange connection with Pope, something happened there. Now Deran wonders if she never loved him because he can’t fuck her.
YIKES! We knew this possibility of incest was all a part of the Cody family. Just hearing it aloud in this scene is… compellingly disturbing.
Funny how the one to comfort Deran, after all that’s gone on in this episode, is Craig. Maybe he’s not a piece of shit, merely unaware of his idiocy and the kind who tries making up for it later. He and his brother take the broken boards the surfers brought in and put them up on the wall, still close, even if the fractures are starting to split the Codys to pieces slowly.
Great episode! My favourite so far this season. Disturbing, also touching and emotional in a way. Pushes a lot of things forward. Love that Emmy Rossum directed it, too. She’s fantastic, as an actress and a director. “Forgive Us Our Trespasses” is next week.