TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 4, Episode 12: “Ghosts”
Directed & Written
by John Wells
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Julia” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 4 finale, “Smurf” – click here
In the late ’70s, Janine (Leila George) mourned the death of Colin, the father of what she’d come to eventually realise is a pair of twins. In present day, we see Smurf (Ellen Barkin) waking up on a yacht after a likely bacchanal evening of food and drink and who knows what else. She’s a far cry from nearly ready to create life as a younger woman, now as an older woman about to pass over into death.
And we see more of the shaky relationship Janine had with Jed (Joseph Morgan), whose treatment of a pregnant woman is no surprise after seeing how he treated his wife. She nearly had to subject herself to sexual humiliation just to get out of there. She chose to kick the shit out of him. He gave chase when she ran, choking her. His own wife stopped him from hurting Smurf. This put the pregnant woman into early labour.
At home, Pope (Shawn Hatosy) and Angela (Emily Deschanel) keep playing house together while J (Finn Cole) is left unsure of the future. All the boys have to meet Mama Smurf there because they’re going to pull off her insane job. Meanwhile, Deran (Jane Weary) and Adrian (Spencer Treat Clark) are mulling over their own plans to get away from Oceanside, free of the Cody family.
Soundtrack note: The opening scene features “Black Willow” by Loma
Before they head off on the job, Smurf hilariously, though fittingly, dumps Angela’s food in the trash. She won’t have anybody else doing the baking while she’s still alive. She dumps her pills, washes out the pan, and goes with her boys. She chooses J to drive her, and Pope doesn’t dig that. On the ride, grandma tells her grandson Adrian’s talking to the cops. (UH! OH!) At the house, Angela takes Smurf’s medication, after first spitefully trying to flush it down the toilet. She gets fucked up and takes a bath, nearly drowning in the water after passing out for a moment.
In the culvert, J, Deran, and Craig (Ben Robson) start the hard work. While they do the tunnelling, Smurf and Pope head into the belly of the beast. She takes him out to the tree where she laid Colin to rest. “Your father‘s buried here,” she says. They don’t have much time and Jed (Chris Mulkey) shows up with one of sons, Odin (Matt Bushell). Weird family reunion.
The rest of the fam are cutting through the bunker wall to start robbing all that sweet, sweet gold. Pope’s not doing a great job of pretending while his mother tries to make sure Jed and his sons are all where she needs them to be, as his uncle goes on about family, showing off pictures of his brother from the ’60s and ’70s. Simultaneously, J, Craig, and Deran make it through the bunker’s backdoor to the bounty on the other side.
Soundtrack note: The song playing as Craig cuts through is “Polluted Blood” by k?d
“Still fiddlin’ while Rome burns,
Smurf acts like she’s there to buy guns, as usual. She has Jed take her to the bunker. Right as the other sons arrive, Janine puts a bullet in his gut, then one in his forehead. Pope knocks Odin out while his mom goes right at the sons. “Let‘s do this,” she screams, shooting at them. Her boy’s got to lay cover fire when she takes a bullet in the leg.
Pope gets them out of there and they meet up with the other three. Smurf FLIPS OUT on her oldest: “I‘m supposed to be dead.” This was how she wanted to go out. She frightens her boys, forcing Deran to hand over his gun and making Craig give his to Pope. She points the gun at Pope, asking him to shoot her. She begs him to help her die how she wants, and reveals she intended him to die with her out there. She’s going to kill him if he won’t kill her.
In contrast, we see Janine when she delivered her baby, discovering she had two inside her. Little Andrew was “born with teeth” meaning he’d be “fierce” when he grew up— an apt description of the child who’d grow to be Pope Cody. An unsettling moment to witness Pope’s birth in tandem with his potential death. Before Janine can kill her oldest boy, she’s shot in the head by her youngest, J.
Like that, the Cody matriarch’s gone.
They’ve got to make it look like she wasn’t shot in the head, that she died in bed of the cancer. Pope’s shattered by the loss of his mother, despite her being ready to murder him. Deran’s lost his mom, too. Does this make things less complicated for him and Adrian? Well, he wants to leave regardless. Craig and Renn (Christina Ochoa) won’t necessarily have to leave, either. They won’t have to get away from Smurf’s influence over their child. But they’ve all still lost the woman who gave them life.
And J’s got to wonder whether this will make things worse for him, or if Pope might, in the end, be thankful for what his nephew did and choose not to kick him out of the house. Will J use what he knows about Adrian as a bargaining chip? Hmm.
It’s a brave new world for the Cody boys.
Just wow. Ellen Barkin has been such a driving force in the show. It’s sad to see her go, yet there’s a compelling aspect to her character’s death. There’s a brand new dynamic between the uncles and the nephew. They’re all headed in their own directions potentially. Surely, with an episode left to Season 4 and Season 5 already confirmed, there’s going to be a great plot opening up with Smurf’s absence.
“Smurf” is next time.