TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 3, Episode 13: “The Hyenas”
Directed by Christopher Chulack
Written by John Wells

* For a recap & review of the penultimate episode, “Homecoming” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 4 premiere, “Janine” – click here
Screen Shot 2018-08-22 at 12.34.44 AMAt the new apartment, J (Finn Cole) spends time with Mia (Sohvi Rodriguez), mostly fucking, doing a bit of drinking. Y’know, the usual. The place isn’t exactly a home yet, more so a space with things in it. J spends “most nights at the house” because he can’t yet claim independence from grandma Smurf (Ellen Barkin). Breaking away from the Cody matriarch is a process, one neither of her sons has done fully. Deran (Jake Weary) is consistently trying, and consistently dragged back in. Craig (Ben Robson) is lost, floating from place to place, currently spending most of his time with Frankie (Dichen Lachman). She sees his mom as a “survivor,” whereas he knows mama all too tell and advises not to get too close: “Smurf doesnt really like women.” And then there’s Pope (Shawn Hatosy), trapped all over again in the clutches of his mother, perhaps permanently— at least until one of them is dead, anyway.
On the beach, Deran’s with Adrian (Spencer Treat Clark), having a swim before the latter heads off to South Africa. Little does Deran know his lover is planning to take drugs through customs and traffick for some cash. They’re so sweet together. I hope nothing horrible happens to Adrian, yet it feels like bad stuff is coming.
Smurf’s worried about Morgan (Laura San Giacomo), who’s been missing. We know she was left by J, out on the open ocean with bloody wounds. Mama takes her boy Pope for a drive to the lawyer’s house, where everything looks like it was left in a hurry. Literally nothing is missing, not even the luggage. Makes them both highly suspicious. Meanwhile, the lawyer’s corpse is washing up on the shore.
Screen Shot 2018-08-22 at 12.34.09 AMMoving ahead with his personal expansion, J’s purchasing the bowling alley, trying to assure the current owner nobody will be losing their jobs. It’s only a shell company, after all— a way to launder money for the family, and more specifically for J, as he tries to break further from the moorings of his dangerous bloodline.
Smurf keeps digging into what happened to Morgan. She finds part of the paper trail back to the sales of properties Morgan was offloading to take a cut. She knows J signed them. She discovers money stashed away under company names labelled by the initials of the Cody brothers. This only deepens Smurf’s paranoia. They go looking for someone called Charles Martinez in a care home. He’s an Alzheimer’s patient, supposedly the notary on all those documents. Just so happens, J lived with his mom a couple blocks from the place, too.
Elsewhere, Frankie and Craig go to the fancy house where they attended the party recently. There, they begin to get ready to steal “absolutely everything.” She’s got the whole thing set, items ready to sell in various countries and guys to act like movers. However, they’re wearing gloves, she and Craig, but she offers him a drink – not taking one herself – and he’s about to put his lips right on the glass. (Is she setting him up?) After they’re finished, she breaks out the ice cream and they do some crack, “freebasing” in celebration.
Deran is looking to move out into his own place with Adrian. They’ve found a spot near the beach— expensive but nice. The son’s going to mom so he might get money to put in for a down payment. She agrees to help, on the unspoken condition he starts spending more time at the house. Smurf’s got bigger problems, once she gets a call letting her know Morgan turned up dead. She and Pope immediately keep a close eye on J, increasingly suspicious of him. Smurf also goes to see Pete Trujillo again, in need of his services. Speeding off towards the border, Pete takes Mia with him. He asks why she’s still hanging around J and the Cody family. He warns against the “Romeo and Juliet shit.” Oh, man. None of this is any good.
Screen Shot 2018-08-22 at 12.51.43 AMAt home that night, Smurf tells J about Morgan— her death, her thievery. He acts like he’s surprised when he hears of all her supposed conniving behaviour. But he starts to worry, knowing grandma probably knows more than she lets on. She slyly asks him how “smart” he is, and then, under the guise of talking about his relationship with Mia, Smurf warns her grandson: “Be careful.”
As suspected, Craig wakes alone in the morning at the mansion. There’s nothing left except broken glass. Frankie’s written a note on him in lipstick saying she won’t rip him off. Has she taken off? I worry for him. Keeps looking as if he’s been taken in hard by Frankie.
In Mexico, Lucy (Carolina Guerra) gets in her car, only to see Mia in the backseat. She takes a bullet to the head. Her son is held at gunpoint, but let go, and the hit is complete. Smurf was having some dirty laundry taken care of, who knows what else she’s got set in motion. Simultaneously, J is getting rid of his own dirty laundry, such as the notary stamp, documents, and more, which he keeps hidden in a car amongst a junkyard. He takes them to the beach and burns them. Poof— evidence gone.
Deran is being drawn into things from his past. A parole officer comes looking for Ox, the guy who took a bullet recently during the botched heist. He died in Mexico after a doctor there worked on him. This obviously caused him to break parole. Deran feels partly responsible, and worse when he hears about the guy’s mom believing he’s “missing.” Another thing for Deran to take on his shoulders. He actually goes to see Ox’s mom, making the guilt harder to bear.
At the house, Pope gets a visit from a sex worker, hired by mom to help him “relax.” Doesn’t help the woman’s incredibly similar to Smurf. The sexual act itself brings him to tears. There’s so much conflict in Pope as a character. He’s a murderer, a horrible person, but I feel for him due to what he experienced at the hands of his own mom. We see him not long after, driving wildly down the street. He crashes into a woman, whose car he attacks with a tire iron. He’s almost in a dissociative state. Where does he go? Amy’s (Jennifer Landon) place, after all this time. He doesn’t know where else to go, though she isn’t excited to see him.
Screen Shot 2018-08-22 at 1.02.18 AMIn her apartment, Mia finds someone from her past, an old flame who’s been in jail a while. This could certainly cause problems for her, for J, for everybody. She lets him climb on top of her. It gives her no pleasure, looking like borderline rape. She worries about his lack of a condom, too. Ultimately, he’s an abusive, exploitative, and useless piece of shit.
At home, Smurf gives out “the titles” of the family’s properties. She split things up financially between the boys. Craig also gets the “deed to Bazs” house. J gets an engraved watch originally meant for Baz, only the engraving is both a gift and another warning. This sets the grandson on a mission of revenge. Pope’s too busy raging to care about any of the family business, though mom assures him: “I will always be here for you.” I can’t help wonder if her oldest boy killed that sex worker.
Adrian heads to the airport for his flight. He goes through security, and right away he’s hauled into a backroom by police. They drill into his surfboard, where all the drugs have been stashed for his little trafficking trip. Fuck.
Love the dynamic between Pope and J, they’re two men ruined by the same woman, albeit in different ways. It’d be fantastic to watch them come more together next season in the name of taking mom down. Seems they’re both on a similar path. That image of J in the last scene hovering over a sleeping Smurf is a direct callback to the image of Pope doing the same.
Screen Shot 2018-08-22 at 1.13.41 AMCannot wait for Season 4! My god. This was a great finale, and it revs up the intensity for the next season. Animal Kingdom is so awesome. One of the reasons for that is it’s a constantly evolving series. The relationships and the power dynamics are never stable, which provides a lot of avenues for the writers. Bring on more.

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