TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 3, Episode 1: “The Killing”
Directed & Written
by John Wells
* For a recap & review of the Season 2 finale, “Betrayal” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “In the Red” – click here
Baz (Scott Speedman) is being put in an ambulance, bleeding out from being shot in the driveway. It’s unclear if he’ll survive, he’s losing lots of blood. Only question is, exactly what happened in the aftermath. Because meanwhile, Smurf (Ellen Barkin) is sitting in prison, locked up, and Lucy (Carolina Guerra) has taken off with all that cash belonging to Baz and the family.
At home, Pope (Shawn Hatosy) looks after Lena (Aamya Deva Keroles), and he’s still dealing with his own guilt, too, despite any forgiveness offered to him by Baz. Then there’s J (Finn Cole), back together with Nicky (Molly Gordon), and they’re perpetually caught up in the toxic environment of the Cody family. Totally normal for a young man such as J to be keeping a gun on the bedside table, carrying it to the sink with him. Totally. Normal. Grimly fitting, though, seeing as how Baz, who COULD be his dad and at the very least is his sort-of-uncle, is lying in the hospital with bullets in him. On the beach, Craig (Ben Robson) lounges with Ren (Christina Ochoa), rekindling whatever relationship they can, and at the bar Deran (Jake Weary) tries to work, but he’s always stuck in some existential struggle.
Everybody’s going about their morning, unaware of their lifelong friend’s critical condition. And soon enough, Baz dies on the table. He’s gone. Wow.
On the crime scene is Pearce (Gil Birmingham) and other detectives surveying the scene. Forensics are combing the driveway for clues and any evidence. Pearce knows the Cody family, of course, and he knows there’s a “long list” of enemies who could’ve possibly shot Baz. He warns his colleagues about Mama Smurf.
Soon, officers go to the Cody residence, as well. Pope is the first to discover Baz’s murder. This sets him on edge, he goes looking for J, who’s out for a run. He and Nicky go find J, rallying the rest of the family for an emergency meeting. Except for Craig, he and Ren are heading for Mexico. They’re all spooked, obviously. Nobody knows anything. Not even the police. This leaves the family scared, and Pope orders the others to track Craig down for his own safety.
In jail, Smurf gets a visit from Pearce. He tells her about Baz getting killed. And lord, is it ever weird to see what looks like genuine upset from Janine. I wondered if she was the one who’d decided to knock him off for a moment. Seems all too real to me. Then we see a Mexican man, Pedro Trujillo (Reynaldo Gallegos), going to the stash house where Lucy hauled out all that stuff. He was sent by Smurf. Hmm.
Pope, Deran, and J are polishing weapons, getting bullets ready. They’re also in-fighting, trying to figure out exactly what the hell is going on right now. They wonder about Javi’s crew, they also don’t know whether to believe if Smurf was in on the killing. So many things crumbling down around them all. Not to mention J knows a little more than the rest of them, and he’s back to keeping his eyes peeled constantly around his own family.
Later, Smurf gets another visit at the prison, from J. She tells him that Baz was his father. What’s her game, really? She’s onto asking her grandson if he stole those things from the stash house. I can’t help but think she’s only manipulating, further and further, like how a spider spins a web in such intricate detail.
On the way home, Pope has to tell Lena about her dad, kind of, and she understands a little. It’s an emotional moment, despite him being the one to have murdered her mother. Afterwards, he takes J home from jail, too. When they get back, who’s there? Lucy, acting innocent. This is when little Lena fully hears her “dad‘s dead.” Not a great way to hear it, if there’s any good way to hear it, anyway.
On their trip, Craig and Ren do some dancing at a bar. But he gets pissed when some guys are staring, talking about them. He buys a bottle of tequila, offering them shots and trying to speak a bit of Spanish. She hauls him out of there before any crazy shit goes down. When they get service in one spot, Craig gets all the notifications on his phone about Baz.
Pope wakes J in the night suddenly. He believes it wasn’t Javi’s crew, which means it was Smurf, and he lumps J in there with her, too. Not a good situation. Much more scary than it ever was, even when J got there originally after his mom died. So many things have happened since, it’s only gotten deeper and darker every time. The next morning, Craig gets back, torn up by his brother’s death. They all want vengeance. And I keep thinking of one of the last shots from Season 2, where J returned with his gun, wearing clothes awfully similar to the person who shot Baz.
In prison, Pearce tries getting Smurf to give up her family. He’ll spare J, though not all of the others will be so lucky. He’s pretty sure the family is going to “fall apart like a cheap suit” sooner than later. Not so sure he’s wrong, to be honest. This death will alter the Cody family irreparably.
In the meantime, Lucy is hanging around, as if she didn’t rob Baz blind and leave him there on the street to bleed. Pope isn’t entirely welcoming, he’s not exactly suspicious enough, either. She seems devastated, which is why I don’t feel she had any part in Baz being shot up.
A group of friends and family go surfing together, gathering in a circle, in remembrance of Baz. They toss a bunch of leis into the water as a kind of ceremony. Everybody takes a moment of silence in his memory, saying goodbye in their own special way. In jail, Smurf sits by herself, left with her thoughts, and possibly her own guilt.
Fantastic opener for Season 3. Excited for more. There’s going to be a ton of new relationships in this season as things go further sideways. Denis Leary shows up, too, as Deran’s dad. That’s gonna get wild. Considering the Cody family are hurting for cash at this point. “In the Red” is next time.