TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 4, Episode 1: “Janine”
Directed by John Wells
Written by Eliza Clark
* For a recap & review of the Season 3 finale, “The Hyenas” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Angela” – click here
A crew are pulling a job in a bank. They’re all wearing Halloween-style masks, from a George Washington to a Charlie Chaplin to a Fidel Castro and an Abe Lincoln and a green-faced witch. Things don’t go smoothly. A man goes for a gun at his ankle, getting shotgunned to death.
Are we seeing Smurf’s old gang?
And is that why the Codys are planning a bank heist in current day?
Soundtrack note: Opening heist sequence is set to “Too Many Hands” by the Eagles
We find Mama Janine ‘Smurf’ Cody (Ellen Barkin) watching her boy Andrew a.k.a ‘Pope’ (Shawn Hatosy) in an underground MMA cage match. Craig (Ben Robson) cheers him on, though worries about big bro. Later, he goes back to the beach surfing with Deran (Jake Weary). They’re concerned with why Adrian (Spencer Treat Clark) is losing lately. Meanwhile, Josh a.k.a J (Finn Cole) is at college trying to get an education.
Remember how Adrian got caught smuggling “five kilos” of coke? Yeah, he’s in deep shit. He’s being pressured to inform on the Codys for the Drug Enforcement Agency. Ironically, Deran doesn’t worry over talking about business in front of his man, whereas Craig’s reluctant. Adrian’s been throwing contests to keep from having to travel, which would mean more smuggling. It won’t last.
Mia Benitez (Sohvi Rodriguez) is out keeping an eye on a young girl who works at a diner. She goes back to see J at the bowling alley later. They’re casing the place, clearly. Who’s the girl? Mia’s curious. Likely it’s got to do with however they’re planning on breaking into the place, or a place near it, maybe the bank. Then there’s Mia and J’s complicated relationship. “You can‘t just come and go whenever you want,” she says.
Feel how you want about Craig, he’s one of the only people who genuinely cares about Pope. He’s scared his big brother will snap soon. He sees Pope acting “extra weird,” which is saying something for a guy who’s usually just shy of psycho. Pope’s not a great person. He’s been manipulated dangerously by a cruel mother. Worse, Smurf knows exactly what she’s doing.
At family supper, Pope chows down like an animal. When he’s gone the brothers ask their mom why Pope’s acting so strange, looking like a “human punching bag.” Except for Deran it’s only concern about the next job, not so much about his older brother’s psychological state or health. Doesn’t matter. Smurf’s going to push Pope to the brink, likely past it. Whatever serves her best.
Frankie (Dichen Lachman) turns up unexpectedly at Craig’s place, grinding herself a few beans for coffee while he’s still in bed with a woman. She sent him money for their big score, but did go and vanish after they got high on crack. He’s weirded out to see her again. She already knows they’re planning a bank robbery, advising against it. She warns: “Smurf‘s gonna get you killed.” She offers up a better, safer job.
Soundtrack note: “Nothing’s Older Than Yesterday” by Cari Cari plays in this scene
“Better make sure you’ve got your shit together, baby.”
At the diner, J sits at a table where the girl they’ve been watching, Rosie (Brielle Barbusca), serves him. He gets a coffee, then knocks it over, drawing Rosie to his table. He pickpockets her phone while she’s wiping up the mess. He texts Pope to let the boys know he’s got the cell.
This means go-time.
The brothers pull up, clear masks on. They’ve got a picture of Rosie to keep her father— the bank’s manager— under control. He gets them access to safety deposit boxes. Pope and Craig get to work inside, using a rig the former built to quickly drill into various boxes. A “silent alarm” got tripped by the manager. The brothers are left with only minutes. Everything’s fucked.
Deran uses bleach spray all over the truck and J gets out of the diner. The three brothers take off on their dirt bikes, escaping the cops. They make it into a massive field eventually that throws the police off. Only Pope turns around, and Craig follows him while Deran rushes to J with the truck elsewhere.
What’s Pope doing? He’s going nuts, headed straight for the blue and red with his gun. His brother hauls him away, and they cut it too close for comfort. They manage to get back to the truck, pack it in, and drive off, just before getting caught. It doesn’t leave everybody happy, either. (Was Pope trying to commit suicide by cop?)
Solid opener for Season 4. The looks at a younger Smurf are always interesting, comparing who she was with who she is now, what drove her to be this way. It’d be nice to see more of her and Pope, too. Both in today’s timeline, as well as in the past. Their tortured, twisted relationship’s at the core of the entire series.
“Angela” is next time.