TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 3, Episode 5: “Prey”
Directed by Megan Griffiths
Written by Addison McQuigg
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Wolves” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Broke From the Box” – click here
Pope (Shawn Hatosy) isn’t happy to see Billy (Denis Leary) and Frankie (Dichen Lachman) still kicking around in the morning at Smurf’s (Ellen Barkin) place. He doesn’t want anybody extra in the house, let alone someone like one of his mom’s old lays. He confronts Billy about why he’s there. Billy claims he’s looking to do the long lost dad thing with Deran (Jake Weary), saying he never came around before because Smurf didn’t want him there.
In the meantime, Deran’s banging Lincoln (Damon Williams) on the floor in the back of the bar. They clearly had a good night, plus a better morning. They got to know each other a good deal, too. Lincoln talks about the “26” or “27” surgeries he had over the years while he was still competing. Maybe there’s a relationship budding somewhere in there. If Deran can let his guard down.
At home, Nicky (Molly Gordon) and J (Finn Cole) are navigating the choppy waters of their relationship, after she admitted to banging someone else. Not as if he didn’t sleep with Mia (Shovi Rodriguez). Regardless, neither of them are sure where they stand with one another.
Out on the waves, Craig (Ben Robson) is being himself, just having fun like always. Only he’s getting dirty looks from some guy. It’s a surfer, mad about $5,000 that Smurf usually kicks in to a local competition. With her in jail, it’s not happening. Looks like the financial family fallout’s begun in more ways than one. Deran has further issues with the bar, too. He’s got “unemployment insurance” woes with the state— he hasn’t been paying any.
What’s most interesting about Season 3 is we’re really seeing the Codys in a tough spot. They’ve never had to deal with a lack of funds. It’s usually always been readily available, even in the days where they had to wait after a heist to spend any cash. So, with all that’s going on, they’re all hurting. A great montage sees J paying bills, running around to get money orders, as Nicky’s at home doing laundry and crying.
But we’re seeing that Nicky really isn’t doing well. She’s seeing a rapid decline in her life. Before it was all coke and parties and sex and fun. Now it’s responsibilities, addiction, murder, and jail. A girl like Mia’s used to it because she grew up in a gang. Somebody like Nicky’s not accustomed to the darker side of the lifestyle. She gets so low that she actually calls her dad in Guam, leaving a sad voicemail.
In prison, Smurf gets a visit from Dt. Pearce (Gil Birmingham), who’s been watching J closely. The cop knows about the money orders the kid’s been paying, and he’s going to try using that as leverage on grandma. Other than that J has more to deal with after Deran turns up, asking about unemployment, taxes, and all his payroll needs. And Smurf is calling to ask him to come see her.
Smurf gets another visitor: Craig. He asks her about the surf contest for the kids. Turns out there’s a tragic story behind everything, including a guy in a wheelchair Craig was responsible for after being high and getting in an accident. Essentially Smurf’s paying penance for her son. There’s so much nastiness to her, yet there’s a loyalty about her that’s undying. Later, J goes to see Smurf, who orders him to get the surf contest money + kick Billy out of the house. She warns that cops are watching, as well. She’s not pleased with anything.
At the bar, Billy’s waiting for Deran. He talks to his estranged son about his own “shitty dad” and his terrible childhood. He tells him about meeting Smurf, back when he used to sleep on the beach after leaving home. Deran also tells dad he’s gay, which doesn’t particularly bother Billy: “Ride lots of guys, give rides to lots of guys. I don‘t know the tops and bottoms thing…” However, he soon gets around to talking about who’s in charge of the family. What he really wants to do is get closer to the money.
Nicky is on her way to buy a ticket so she can get away from her life. Her father Paul (C. Thomas Howell) calls, only to disappoint her by saying he doesn’t have room for her to go live with him. This makes her feel trapped, and that’s worrisome. No telling what she might end up doing.
The ever suspicious Pope has already questioned Mia some, so he heads to prison, where he talks with Tina Trujillo (Yuly Mireles), wanting to know more about the girl. He at least knows there’s something not right. He already knew, but it’s only serving to make him more paranoid and more angry. He’s also got to deal with Lena— she cut off a girl’s ponytail at school. All this tension is driving him over the edge, and the poor little girl’s traumatised with loss.
J has to go around to tenants and make sure they know what to say if cops come asking about rent. The problem comes when one old woman with dementia can’t keep her answers straight. Poses a tough spot for the kid, wondering if he has to get rid of her, or what other options might be available. So he heads to Deran for advice. They take the old woman and her cat out to a bench in the middle of nowhere, dropping her off. That’s fucking cold, man.
We see Billy’s a junkie, shooting himself up while nobody’s around. Although Nicky walks in, and given her hopeless state it doesn’t seem good she’s discovering intravenous drugs. What worries me most is, for those who know the original film Animal Kingdom, I’m starting to wonder if maybe this will lead towards the eventual fate Nicky found in that plot. We’ll see.
Many things are happening. With Billy around all bets are off. Plus, Pope is at odds with him, as well as Mia. Then Deran and Craig are both getting keen on Billy, at least a smidge. There are too many good threads coming together and unravelling all at the same time. “Broke From the Box” is next time.