TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 4, Episode 13: “Smurf”
Directed by David Rodriguez
Written by Eliza Clark
* For a recap & review of the penultimate Season 4 episode, “Ghosts” – click here
* Season 5 to come next year!
Back in the day, Smurf (Leila George) was recovering from giving birth, still at Jed’s (Joseph Morgan) place. She wanted to get out. His wife, Laney (Sarah Hunt), brought meals, unable to help Janine get free because she wasn’t free herself. She played nice and tried to give newborn advice. Eventually, she told Janine where Jed hid his weapons and all the goodies.
At the house, Deran (Jake Weary), Craig (Ben Robson), and Pope (Shawn Hatosy) await their nephew, wondering if the cousins are going to come after them. When J (Finn Cole) gets there he suggests a memorial. He’s also experiencing a rougher relationship with Uncle Pope all over again. The uncle calls him “a leech” and says none of the family trust him— J is out on his ass in 24 hours.
Deran’s got new passports and IDs for him and Adrian (Spencer Treat Clark). This upsets Craig, who’s just become a father. He doesn’t want to lose his brother. “We can finally do things our way,” he says. But there’s nothing to be done when it’s run or else Adrian goes to prison. Sadly, they’re free of Smurf’s iron fist influence, yet the life she built for them has only ruined everything in the end anyway.
“Codys don’t mean shit anymore”
A will arrives at the house for Julia, Deran, and Craig. Angela (Emily Deschanel) signs for it. J runs into Angela at the bowling alley later. She brought the will. Apart from the three receiving “enough to get by,” the entirety of Smurf’s estate goes to a woman named Pamela Johnson, including the house. Pope gets a trust he can’t manage himself, that’ll definitely go over well. Angela is such a snake. She’s now trying to convince J they should all stick together.
When Deran shows up at the bar he’s got someone waiting— his father, Billy (Denis Leary). Didn’t think we’d see him again. He’s got money to repay his son after robbing him. Deran’s not what you’d call happy. Billy heard about Janine’s death. He’s trying to get sober, supposedly, and we wants to “be around” for the first time in his kid’s life. Ironic with his son about to leave for good.
Someone else drops by the house— a woman called Marjorie (Renee Props), who did a few things for Smurf. She’s expecting to be paid. Reluctantly Pope goes along, also inviting her to a party. It’s clear he’s not mentally prepared to deal with all the side effects of Smurf’s death, along with all the responsibilities.
Younger Janine went to see Pam with nowhere else to go. She got a few bucks and a gun. She went to find the old gang, catching Jake (Jon Beavers) alone. She introduced her children to him, sleeping in their tiny wooden crate, and Jake offered shelter. Somewhere along the line we’ll see exactly why Smurf has decided to leave all she had to Pam— the same woman who robbed their gang a while back. She was a complex woman.
In a bar, Billy and Jake (Jack Conley) drink, talking about Smurf, each a father to one of her boys. They both had quite different relationships with her, and they’ve got vastly different relationships with their boys, too. Jake’s contemplating whether he’ll tell Craig who he is, as we simultaneously see more of his history with Janine in the late ’70s.
A party’s going on. Super awkward, between the cops in attendance and an old dude talking to Craig about hooking up with Smurf. Later, Billy and Jake stop by, pissing Pope off. Janine’s oldest boy confronts Billy with a gun, asking why he bothered to show up. The guy wants to make amends for the way he treated Pope as a kid. Two things happen: Pope starts to understand that, despite all his issues with mom, Janine loved him most, in a twisted way, and he also discovers Deran’s leaving. Oh, my.
Pope goes right to Deran. He knows what’s going on. His little brother comes clean about the “20 years” his boyfriend was facing, and how Adrian refused to take a deal, not willing to rat. He says he’ll come back, but Pope knows this is what his brother needs: “You‘ve been trying to get away from us since you were a kid.” The oldest brother has no choice but stay, unlike the others.
Angela’s brother Mike is out of prison— the same one she ratted out to get a reduced sentence. She and her brother worked together, robbing people, before she was facing hard time. Mike wants to kill her. Angela’s basically trying to make sure someone is there to protect her, though she does plead the case for family— i.e. J— to try and steer Pope exactly where she wants him.
Deran tells Adrian he can’t leave his family. His boyfriend won’t go without him. Deran knows it’ll come down to Adrian talking in prison, and he knows he can’t protect him, not even from his own flesh and blood. Adrian says: “You‘re the worst thing that ever happened to me.” He offers “I love you” with it, but the cold hard truth is evident, to them both.
And he’s gone.
J receives a visit from Pope at the bowling alley. He tells his uncle about the things he bought with the money he robbed from grandma while he had power of attorney. He also shows him the will: “She cut us out.” Perhaps the uncle and nephew have something binding them together after all. J suggests they destroy the will and rig things in their favour. He offers his services, built on everything Janine taught him.
The boys sit around with Smurf’s ashes. They remember her briefly before Pope wants to get down to business. He’s done grieving. Time to make sure people know the gang’s “still here.” Elsewhere, Angela confronts her brother. She’s brought the Cody brothers along, too. They lay a beating on Mike and his buddies, with help fromAngela, as people watch and record on their iPhones. Point being, the Cody strength didn’t die with Smurf.
These men will survive, for better or worse.
The song Janine starts singing along with is “Can’t You See” by the Marshall Tucker Band; the song the boys give the beat down to is a Math Club Remix of a song that clearly samples the Marshall Tucker Band.
Solid way to end the season. There are great new things setup for Season 5, and we’re going to continue to see younger Smurf, which ought to provide insight into Pope and Julia’s upbringing. Wonder if we’ll see how dark the relationship between mother and son truly became? Well, Season 4 was killer, and they’ve got lots of steam behind them for next year. Let’s see where the Cody legacy goes when the series returns.