TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2, Episode 13: “Betrayal”
Directed & Written
by John Wells
* For a recap & review of the penultimate Season 2 episode, “You Will Be Gutted” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 3 premiere, “The Killing” – click here
Baz (Scott Speedman) is feeling disconnected, from a lot. Even Lena (Aamya Deva Keroles) wants to spend more time with Uncle Pope (Shawn Hatosy). Meanwhile, Lucy (Carolina Guerra) keeps feeding the discontent, the disconnect, trying to move him away and get him to take over the empire, to take back the money. Although I’m not so sure it’s all in his better interest. Feels like she might be more in it for herself.
Poor mama Smurf (Ellen Barkin) is still on the inside. Mean muggin’ and acting like she’s as hard as the rest of them. She sits by herself in the cafeteria and a bunch of Latina ladies take a seat next to her. “J sent us,” one of them tells her. Wow, looks like J (Finn Cole) really is taking care of grandma from the outside.
What about Pope? Sure, he’s got Lena. But that little girl is essentially the only connection he has left to the world. He’s like a ghost, sort of walking through the lives o everyone around him. Haunting them, haunting himself. But at the same time we can see how a life of shit has crushed him into submission. He’s a responsible adult, yet around him are his brothers, irresponsible and half crazy. Not to say Pope ain’t crazy. He’s been forced into being an adult, all those mental health issues left festering in the dark. Ready to explode.
Then there’s J, ready to graduate. Our boy is growing up! Nicky (Molly Gordon) insists he’s going to the ceremony, that they’ll have a party with everyone at the house afterwards.
At the bar, Deran (Jake Weary) and Craig (Ben Robson) mull over how things will be with the kid in charge of power of attorney. They’d much rather it that way than Baz, the distrust is strong against him, exacerbated by their mother pulling strings.
Baz and J head-to-head is the worst of it all. The older of the two, after all this time, starts bringing up J’s mom. He tells a story about Smurf not wanting to send her to rehab. One night a guy broke in, raped her as she was in a stoned coma. Smurf only cared because she lost a condo deal. 9 months later? Baby J. Hoooooly fuck.
However, stay with me… could Barry have told that story on purpose to light a fire? And maybe that story isn’t true.
Smurf isn’t overly thrilled about the legal situation, her lawyers are telling her she could be in there 6 months. Later, she gets a visit from an old face, a detective. He’s there about a string of bank robberies lately. Says the robber from the footage, “how he walks” reminds him of somebody: Pope. Of course mom doesn’t know the truth about her son, that he’s been out pulling jobs by himself. Six banks in a single day, then nothing at all.
All the rest of the gang are meeting at the house. Baz called a meeting, so everyone’s heading in packing heat. Just in case, y’know. The man wants to talk about the power of attorney, he’d like to talk about things. Except he’s confrontational, angry. Not everyone’s on his side, either. He says they weren’t “strong enough” to know what he was planning on doing to Smurf. Shiiiiiit, there’s some bad stuff brewing.
Continually, we see Baz shirk the responsibility of his daughter. He’s going to Mexico now, looking for a place. He’s leaving her with Pope. Again. “You‘ve gotta step up and be more of a father to her,” Pope tells him. All he gets in return is lecturing bullshit. Sad when I agree more with the guy who killed Catherine than her own husband.
You know what finally struck me is that Lena’s the single innocent light in the midst of all the darkness. Even J, he’s done some shit being involved with his uncles, same with Nicky. That little girl is the only good thing that’s sprung from the Cody tree; even then, not by blood.
Graduation day isn’t exactly going as planned. Nicky’s parents didn’t make it, J’s late. So they decide to say fuck it. Another sad, symbolic moment. Seeing their innocence tossed aside with Nicky’s corsage in the pool.
Baz goes to see Smurf finally. Face-to-face. She talks about the offer from the detective. They chat about her being framed for killing Javi. And Baz just plays it all off. BUT NOW WE’RE SEEING IT COME OUT. NOW. Smurf says that “Pope knows” what happened to Catherine. Oh, my, fucking, GOD! I can’t believe she’s doing this, she’s actually going to put Pope in the line of fire – not that he doesn’t deserve it – and if things go sideways, there’s no more loyalty. Not if he finds out mom gave him up.
Smurf: “Pope loves you, and he loved Catherine. But Pope will always love me more.”
And goddamn if she doesn’t actually call to tell her son that Baz knows, that he’ll be coming soon. Christ almighty. That woman’s cold. So then Pope heads out, gun ready. Scares the shit out of Deran and Craig when he shows up crazy, asking if they’ll take care of Lena should anything happen to him.
Baz goes to find Pope, who’s waiting. Pope quickly admits to it: “She didn‘t suffer.” He explains what he and mom thought, that she was ratting the family out. It was always about their brotherhood, about Smurf and her hold over the boys. About punishment. This all sends Pope into a rage, brokenhearted that the family never once gave him a thought. So he asks his adopted brother to kill him. Begging. Instead of doing it, Baz forgives him. “I‘ll take care of you, always,” he repeats, hugging him. He’s ready to believe that Smurf is the driving force. Which she was, though I find it hard to see how he can give Pope a pass.
Stupidly, J and Nicky break into a house. When an old guy shows up with a shotgun, they flee. Fast. But she gets hit with a bit of buckshot. This is more of their deteriorating youth, going to waste on madness and crime. They’re spiralling.
Craig is taking off for a bit, to let things cool down. He goes to see Renn (Christina Ochoa) in hopes she’ll go, too. Simultaneously, Lucy and Baz are getting ready for Mexico.
But in the car, Baz takes several shots to the chest through the windshield. Someone in a hoodie runs off while he gives chase before falling down. Then Lucy leaves him in the street as police sirens fly in the background. Heart of stone. She goes directly with Marco to take the rest of Baz’s shit and sell it off. Whoa.
So who did the shooting? My guess is J. He’s sitting by the pool, a similar hoodie on. But you never know, it could’ve been someone sent by Smurf. I’d still place a hefty wager on J.
This was a WILD season! I cannot wait for Season 3. Simple as that. Give me more.
Will Baz survive? I think he will. And if he does, there’s gonna be some hell to pay. Paranoia will reign supreme.