TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 3, Episode 12: “Homecoming”
Directed by David Rodriguez
Written by Eliza Clark
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Jackpot” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 3 finale, “The Hyenas” – click here
Pope (Shawn Hatosy) is picking up some knock-out juice, helim, and other items in order to give his mother “a beautiful gift” of “dignified” death. So, it’s easy to see how he’s dealing with the revelation that Smurf (Ellen Barkin) is the one who had Baz murdered in cold blood. This is gonna get really fucking ugly.
At home, mom’s keeping house, as usual. Craig (Ben Robson) gets a $10K envelope from Smurf to show she’s keeping her word on all the cash. She’s got lots to fence before the rest is paid out. In the meantime, she wants to throw a party, too.
Existing in a strange liminal space between part of the family and not part of the family, J (Finn Cole) has made good with grandma by saving her from a bullet. But what’s next for him? He gets his cut, as well. Plus he gets the one belonging to Baz, given that Smurf tells him he’s the dead man’s son. Yet there’s a lingering uneasiness about the business side of the family when it comes to grandma and grandson.
At the house, Pope arrives pissed at his mother. He’s found Lena’s (Aamya Deva Keroles) things gone back at his place, so he goes straight to her. Smurf reveals Lena is “coming home today.” Grandma was able to get her back before the foster family could adopt her. The law won’t let Pope keep the girl, which means grandma will be able to adopt her instead. This is such a weird space for Pope now— part of him is glad Lena will be back with the family, part of him continues to want her death for what she did to Baz.
There’s also Smurf’s situation with Morgan (Laura San Giacomo). She figured out the lawyer has been skimming behind her back, after talking to J about things he signed recently. This all prompts Morgan to scramble. She doesn’t help J, either, letting grandma know about his recent interest in setting up a few businesses.
Elsewhere, Craig is playing dress up and acting with Frankie (Dichen Lachman), infiltrating a beautiful mansion with a bunch of douchebag bourgeois dummies having a garden party. The hors d’oeuvres will “blow your dick right off“! They play their parts well. And Frankie’s got plans.
We find Adrian (Spencer Treat Clark) in a bad spot, agreeing to smuggle drugs for someone. Not his usual wheelhouse, somewhere Deran (Jake Weary) would be more comfortable. He clearly didn’t want to ask his man for help. Could be big trouble. You just know Deran, if he finds out, will be upset and want to get involved to help. Speaking of Deran, he’s out looking at apartments with Adrian, unaware of what’s going on.
Together in the same room as his mother Pope struggles not to kill her right then and there. Especially once she talks about Baz in a less than positive light, claiming she always believed he was happy to see Pope kept down and weaker. The tension breaks once Lena comes home, making him much happier. Later he decides he’s taking Lena away. She puts guilt in her uncle: “You‘re always sad.” She tells him about the nice foster home and family where she stayed. He maybe starts to see how things were better for her away from the Codys.
On the waves, J is up to serious shit. He finds Morgan out for a swim, kidnapping her. He’s in a bad mental state, which looks to be leading someplace dangerous, possibly fatal. He stops far out then chums the water with fish guts. He’s going to leave her “10 miles” out from shore with a deep flesh wound. She manages to cut him once before he tosses her overboard. Holy shit, man. J’s crossed over into absolute corruption, maliciously leaving a woman out there to most likely die.
As the party continues at the mansion, Frankie takes Craig to look further. Again we’re privy to good beats, courtesy of whoever fills the Animal Kingdom soundtrack out! (Nice tune right here.) They get to know one another better, too. Frankie reveals her father was an “art thief” who stole famous Rembrandt once upon a time. She wants to help Craig out of the world Smurf created, one filled with violence and horror, as opposed to thieving based on finesse and skill.
Pope talks real with Lena for the first time, telling her about his childhood, being an angry kid who was picked on because he was quiet and different: “Everybody thought I was terrible.” The deep thing about his character is, we know he’s done terrible, unforgivable things, yet there is a wounded animal in his heart. He tells Lena his sister, her father, and her mother were the only people who treated him well. Then he leaves Lena with the foster family again.
Back at the house, Pope tells Smurf about it. He makes clear she’ll accept it, or else he tells everybody about what she did to Baz. He borders on physical threat, which mom plays against him, again making him feel like a little boy, as she does so often in her games of control. Smurf makes a deal— her son stays at home where she can watch over him, she’ll let Lena go. “I‘ll forget she ever existed” is an awful cold comment.
What a whopper of an episode! The penultimate chapter before we end Season 3. Lord, I can’t believe it’s already over. The best one yet, even if we’re without Baz— all the same, his absence has painted the whole season and drives much of the action. “The Hyenas” is next time, our big finale.