Animal Kingdom – Season 2, Episode 13: “Betrayal”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2, Episode 13: “Betrayal”
Directed & Written
by John Wells

* For a recap & review of the penultimate Season 2 episode, “You Will Be Gutted” – click here
Pic 1Baz (Scott Speedman) is feeling disconnected, from a lot. Even Lena (Aamya Deva Keroles) wants to spend more time with Uncle Pope (Shawn Hatosy). Meanwhile, Lucy (Carolina Guerra) keeps feeding the discontent, the disconnect, trying to move him away and get him to take over the empire, to take back the money. Although I’m not so sure it’s all in his better interest. Feels like she might be more in it for herself.
Poor mama Smurf (Ellen Barkin) is still on the inside. Mean muggin’ and acting like she’s as hard as the rest of them. She sits by herself in the cafeteria and a bunch of Latina ladies take a seat next to her. “J sent us,” one of them tells her. Wow, looks like J (Finn Cole) really is taking care of grandma from the outside.
What about Pope? Sure, he’s got Lena. But that little girl is essentially the only connection he has left to the world. He’s like a ghost, sort of walking through the lives o everyone around him. Haunting them, haunting himself. But at the same time we can see how a life of shit has crushed him into submission. He’s a responsible adult, yet around him are his brothers, irresponsible and half crazy. Not to say Pope ain’t crazy. He’s been forced into being an adult, all those mental health issues left festering in the dark. Ready to explode.
Then there’s J, ready to graduate. Our boy is growing up! Nicky (Molly Gordon) insists he’s going to the ceremony, that they’ll have a party with everyone at the house afterwards.
Pic 1AAt the bar, Deran (Jake Weary) and Craig (Ben Robson) mull over how things will be with the kid in charge of power of attorney. They’d much rather it that way than Baz, the distrust is strong against him, exacerbated by their mother pulling strings.
Baz and J head-to-head is the worst of it all. The older of the two, after all this time, starts bringing up J’s mom. He tells a story about Smurf not wanting to send her to rehab. One night a guy broke in, raped her as she was in a stoned coma. Smurf only cared because she lost a condo deal. 9 months later? Baby J. Hoooooly fuck.
However, stay with me… could Barry have told that story on purpose to light a fire? And maybe that story isn’t true.
Smurf isn’t overly thrilled about the legal situation, her lawyers are telling her she could be in there 6 months. Later, she gets a visit from an old face, a detective. He’s there about a string of bank robberies lately. Says the robber from the footage, “how he walks” reminds him of somebody: Pope. Of course mom doesn’t know the truth about her son, that he’s been out pulling jobs by himself. Six banks in a single day, then nothing at all.
All the rest of the gang are meeting at the house. Baz called a meeting, so everyone’s heading in packing heat. Just in case, y’know. The man wants to talk about the power of attorney, he’d like to talk about things. Except he’s confrontational, angry. Not everyone’s on his side, either. He says they weren’t “strong enough” to know what he was planning on doing to Smurf. Shiiiiiit, there’s some bad stuff brewing.
Screen Shot 2017-08-30 at 12.25.30 AMContinually, we see Baz shirk the responsibility of his daughter. He’s going to Mexico now, looking for a place. He’s leaving her with Pope. Again. “Youve gotta step up and be more of a father to her,” Pope tells him. All he gets in return is lecturing bullshit. Sad when I agree more with the guy who killed Catherine than her own husband.
You know what finally struck me is that Lena’s the single innocent light in the midst of all the darkness. Even J, he’s done some shit being involved with his uncles, same with Nicky. That little girl is the only good thing that’s sprung from the Cody tree; even then, not by blood.
Graduation day isn’t exactly going as planned. Nicky’s parents didn’t make it, J’s late. So they decide to say fuck it. Another sad, symbolic moment. Seeing their innocence tossed aside with Nicky’s corsage in the pool.
Baz goes to see Smurf finally. Face-to-face. She talks about the offer from the detective. They chat about her being framed for killing Javi. And Baz just plays it all off. BUT NOW WE’RE SEEING IT COME OUT. NOW. Smurf says that “Pope knows” what happened to Catherine. Oh, my, fucking, GOD! I can’t believe she’s doing this, she’s actually going to put Pope in the line of fire – not that he doesn’t deserve it – and if things go sideways, there’s no more loyalty. Not if he finds out mom gave him up.
Smurf: “Pope loves you, and he loved Catherine. But Pope will always love me more.”
And goddamn if she doesn’t actually call to tell her son that Baz knows, that he’ll be coming soon. Christ almighty. That woman’s cold. So then Pope heads out, gun ready. Scares the shit out of Deran and Craig when he shows up crazy, asking if they’ll take care of Lena should anything happen to him.

Baz goes to find Pope, who’s waiting. Pope quickly admits to it: “She didnt suffer.” He explains what he and mom thought, that she was ratting the family out. It was always about their brotherhood, about Smurf and her hold over the boys. About punishment. This all sends Pope into a rage, brokenhearted that the family never once gave him a thought. So he asks his adopted brother to kill him. Begging. Instead of doing it, Baz forgives him. “Ill take care of you, always,” he repeats, hugging him. He’s ready to believe that Smurf is the driving force. Which she was, though I find it hard to see how he can give Pope a pass.
Stupidly, J and Nicky break into a house. When an old guy shows up with a shotgun, they flee. Fast. But she gets hit with a bit of buckshot. This is more of their deteriorating youth, going to waste on madness and crime. They’re spiralling.
Craig is taking off for a bit, to let things cool down. He goes to see Renn (Christina Ochoa) in hopes she’ll go, too. Simultaneously, Lucy and Baz are getting ready for Mexico.
But in the car, Baz takes several shots to the chest through the windshield. Someone in a hoodie runs off while he gives chase before falling down. Then Lucy leaves him in the street as police sirens fly in the background. Heart of stone. She goes directly with Marco to take the rest of Baz’s shit and sell it off. Whoa.
So who did the shooting? My guess is J. He’s sitting by the pool, a similar hoodie on. But you never know, it could’ve been someone sent by Smurf. I’d still place a hefty wager on J.
Pic 4Screen Shot 2017-08-30 at 12.50.51 AMThis was a WILD season! I cannot wait for Season 3. Simple as that. Give me more.
Will Baz survive? I think he will. And if he does, there’s gonna be some hell to pay. Paranoia will reign supreme.

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Animal Kingdom – Season 2, Episode 12: “You Will Be Gutted”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2, Episode 12: “You Will Be Gutted”
Directed by Larry Teng
Written by Jonathan Lisco

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Leopard” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 2 finale, “Betrayal” – click here
Pic 1Smurf (Ellen Barkin) is now in the custody of the police, processed, fingerprinted, the whole works. She does the whole bit as if it’s all old hand to her. I mean, she’s definitely done time before, right? At least a bit. Yet under the hard exterior is a softer side, one that’s terrified, never believing she’d find herself in this position.
So what’s her next move?
Well, at home the boys party like the kingdom is now theirs, and Baz (Scott Speedman), he’s king of the castle. He doesn’t tell Deran (Jake Weary) or the others why Smurf won’t be “coming back tonight.” J (Finn Cole) finds it strange grandma only told Baz she was leaving town. Kid is very perceptive, nothing much gets by him. At the same time, Lucy (Carolina Guerra) is kicking around, freaking Deran and Craig (Ben Robson) out after what went down with Marco; she’s a bad motherfucker. And she’s also pushing Baz further and further towards the throne.
What about Pope (Shawn Hatosy)? He’s not well. He has a gun, contemplating what looks to be suicide. Oh, my, lord.
Pic 1AThe wildest thing is that when Baz goes looking for Pope, he winds up at Amy’s (Jennifer Landon) place: the one who’s recently discovered the dark secret of what happened to Catherine. Certainly, she doesn’t know the name. But just seeing these two in one frame is enough to set off wild fireworks of imagination.
Then there’s poor little Lena (Aamya Deva Keroles). Dad forgot about her; again. She’s left at her uncles place with a party raging around her, orgies going on in Smurf’s bed. When she plays on her fake ATV, someone nearly runs her over in the driveway, before another quick thinker saves the day. Jesus. Of course uncle J is there to take care of her, along with Nicky (Molly Gordon). When he calls Pope, this is the thing that stops him from putting a bullet in his head. What a mess, the whole thing’s fucked up.
This sends Pope, pissed as hell, back home. Thing is, so much of this anger is self-righteous. He’s the one who killed Lena’s mom. Sure, Baz is a shit dad. But if mom didn’t get murdered the girl wouldn’t be in this situation. Shotgun in hand Pope sends everyone home, just as Baz arrives to break the news about Smurf.
In the light of day he shows the rest of the lads all the stashed cash, jewellery, et cetera, which Smurf filched on them. Likewise, he tells them about what he believes happened to Catherine, Javi getting shot in the head, so on. All out on the table. Outside, Lucy schools Nicky on being “more powerful” by remaining on the outside of the Cody brothers and Baz, rather than fighting to be within the inner circle.
What are the boys to do? They’ve got two decades of shit to sell off, to divide between them. Baz is moving to Mexico. He suggests they all do, together. Things are tense, tenuous. No telling exactly how everyone’s going to take things going forward.
Later on, J gets a call from Smurf in jail. Oh, shit. He plays along like a “good boy” for grandma. He gives her the scoop about who was and wasn’t in on everything. Now she wants him to get the surveillance footage of the house. Young man’s caught between a rock and a hard place. Only when he goes to get shit done he finds there’s no files where he’d hoped they’d be. Gonna be a bit tougher than that. And Baz is no slouch, he knows something’s wrong. Gets no better once he figures out he has no power of attorney anymore, either.
Pic 2We see that Pope doesn’t want to die until he’s taken care of Lena financially, for college and after that, to help her have a start in life. He cares, but it’s more so out of guilt for what he’s done. He has to make sure she’s okay before he can kill himself, maybe go out in a blaze of glory. Nicely set to “Less Than” by Nine Inch Nails, we’re privy to a montage of Pope going around stealing cars, robbing banks, stacking cash fast as he knows how.
Once he’s done he goes back to press his inside man from a former job, he works at a bank. He’s gonna have to deposit Mr. Cody’s cash. If he doesn’t they may have problems. Violent ones.
Smurf laments having taken Barry in all those years ago, though her lawyer (Laura San Giacomo) presses her on the more important issues. Like proving Baz is trying to frame her for murder. It’s either that, or she’s up shit’s creek. On the outside, Deran and Craig are wondering about the next step in their new lives; the former has other dreams in life than being a thief, the latter wonders if mom is “working an angle.” One thing’s for sure: they’ve gotta go visit her, if not she’ll believe they’re against her.
While Nicky’s falling down a rabbit hole of prescription pills and cocaine, J is trying to cope with his fragile position of power in the family, caught between Smurf and Baz. He goes to see grandma in jail. She has other things for him to do. Although he can’t help worrying about what Baz is gonna do now that he’s lost his own power. Smurf keeps playing the game when her other boys come to see her, sowing seeds of distrust against ole Barry. Making it seem like he’s out to fuck them all over. They’re not happy when they find out J’s got power of attorney, but they’ve also got to keep him safe for things to go well. HOLY SHIT! A tangle goddamn web.
Pic 3Lucy is still sniffing around, keeping an eye on Nicky, J, too. She also drops a bit of a hint, as if to say that Baz might in fact be J’s dad. That one’s still a mystery, officially. I’ve always thought it was the case. There’s never any sure bets, though. Not when the Codys are the subject of discussion.
When Pope takes Lena to see grandma, he says she won’t be around. For a long, long time. This, naturally, upsets the little girl. Her uncle says to say “goodbye” and she does. Most of all we see the heavy weight of guilt on Pope’s shoulders. Usually I’d say a parent isn’t fully to blame. Yet… in this case, I’m gonna say Smurf is very much to blame. She poisoned him from a young age.
Nothing’s right. The whole gang is more divided than ever before. Craig is depressed, feeling he’ll be left behind now because he has nothing except their life of crime; he can’t even have all his money around for fear he’ll blow it up his nose. Deran can buy his bar, try to live the proper life to some extent. At least they love each other.
Now Baz wants to go to the lawyer, settle things. J says he’ll play along. But will he?
Screen Shot 2017-08-23 at 12.56.26 AMGreat penultimate episode for Season 2. God fucking damn I love this series! So much happening, especially now that things are twisted beyond repair. Many tragedies are perched, waiting to happen. Can’t help but wonder if we’ll see one of those happen in the finale. “Betrayal” is next week.

Animal Kingdom – Season 2, Episode 11: “The Leopard”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2, Episode 11: “The Leopard”
Directed by Michael Morris
Written by Eliza Clark

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Treasure” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “You Will Be Gutted” – click here
Pic 1Craig (Ben Robson) and Renn (Christina Ochoa) are off gambling, having fun together like before; before he left her for dead to OD in a bathroom by herself. Not sure if that’s something someone can ever get past, though she did get him back pretty damn good. Either way, they’re having a ball. For now.
Back at the bar, Deran (Jake Weary) is flat off his ass busy. Then Adrian (Spencer Treat Clark) shows up, he’s got something for him: a picture of Deran surfing a wave. He found it while packing, heading out for “one last shot” at a competition. The picture’s from the last competition Deran won. They remember younger days, perhaps in many ways better times. The two kiss, and then Adrian heads off. These two are so sweet together, man. I want Deran to fully embrace his own life, his sexuality, and it’d be great to see the two of them last.
Hard to when things are going so sour. Baz (Scott Speedman) is looking through a bunch of Smurf’s (Ellen Barkin) belongings from storage. In a suitcase he finds fake IDs for her, a bunch of things. Including a file marked BLACKWELL, evidently containing police photographs of marks on a young Barry’s barely teenage body, bruises and strap marks all over the back. Like walking back into the past, into a nightmare.
Great juxtaposed pictures, from the better times in Deran’s life to Baz and the darkest moments of his own. Impressive, emotional visual that sort of weaves through the opening ten minutes here.
What’s more interesting? Last time Smurf was at Barry’s place, she left a bug. She hears everything he and Lucy (Carolina Guerra) are saying, about her, about Pope (Shawn Hatosy), Marco (Joseph Julian Soria); all of it.

 


Speaking of Pope, he and Amy (Jennifer Landon) are closer, but they’ve each got issues. She laments her mistakes, the situation of her son that she put him in. And strangely enough, in a weird irony, Pope’s the one giving her moral support. While his own morality is a topsy, turvy sea of shit.
Things between J (Finn Cole) and Nicky (Molly Gordon) are changing. She and Craig are officially not together. But that doesn’t necessarily mean these two are falling into a relationship, though it looks more possible now. J has other things to worry about, grandma’s rushing around rambling about cash, so he helps her dig up a box in the yard with a nice few stacks. She tells him about Baz ripping her off, too. Scared to see how she’ll manipulate her grandson here, if she’s going to find out his part in it.
Marco finds Craig in a pile of naked women, they were supposed to meet. He’s got keys for Craig, to take a car for him, bring it to another location. Drugs, he assumes. Until Marco leaves and Craig hears someone, muffled, calling from the trunk. Oh, fucking great! The Cody boys have got themselves in some bullshit again.
At the house, Baz comes over to talk to Smurf. He admits to stealing it, straight up. Even gives J a share before he heads out for the day. Baz is trying to cut a deal with her, to keep the family together. Essentially it’s a take the deal or not-type situation, except for the fact she doesn’t have much else left to lose, does she? What’s Baz really trying to do here?
Oh, and Pope, he’s following Catherine’s cop friend Patrick (Dorian Missick). Hope he ain’t thinking what I think he’s thinking…
Pic 2Not knowing what to do Craig takes the guy in the trunk to Deran’s bar. When they tie the guy down to take off his gag, the young guy tells them: “Youre dead.” Seems he’s got an important father. The gruesome behaviour he describes, sounds like a cartel sort of man.
There are big moves happening in the family. Baz has long had power of attorney over the family’s ultimate finances. Now, Smurf’s handing that over to J; he holds that power from here on. This could turn ugly. And I’m not totally convinced that she isn’t playing it that way.
Pope confronts Patrick at a restaurant, blaming him for putting too much stress on Catherine. Of course the cop believes Baz killed her, and he already knows that Smurf had her oldest son torch Catherine’s parents and their house. Pope is playing a dangerous game. Afraid he might be going a bit far off the rails.
Baz meets with his dad down at the scrapyard where he works. Pops is sober three months, working again obviously. His son shows him one of those Polaroids. Then he’s told about Smurf having him worked over with a pipe brutally back in the day. Deserved it, though. No happy reunion in this family’s future.
We see that the kid Marco took, Alejandro (Gustavo Gomez), has a dad who’s a cop. Likely a dirty one, by the sounds of what we’ve heard so far. A particularly nasty one, too. Simultaneously, Renn shows up; perfect timing! She’s there to get money she floated Craig for their trip to Vegas. “Baller” shit went down, apparently. Private plane, all that jazz. At the same time, Deran isn’t happy with his newer life being infringed upon by their family and their madness. This leads to arguments over him not being able to have anything individual, it’s always a Deran-Craig thing, from surfing to the bar to all their criminal idiocy. Deran says once he’s fully bought the bar, he’s out. Finito.
Pic 3Then they discover Alejandro escaped in the time they took to yell at each other. Good job, lads! They’re able to chase him down. In the process Deran takes a rusty nail to the leg, before Craig lays a beat down on him. But Alejandro says it’s only because he believes he’ll be killed in the process of him getting handed over. He’s afraid for his life. The plot thickens.
Pope brings the new information on Catherine, via Patrick, to his mother. He boils over with anger, screaming at Smurf that she didn’t talk to the cops. He’s so angry he could nearly kill her. It’s almost as if he wants to, then when he grabs hold of her he breaks down in tears. A tortured fucking soul.
Baz makes a call to the Sheriff’s Department. Is he about to drop a bomb(/a dime)?
Elsewhere, Pope meets with Amy. He asks if “forgiveness is possible” and says he’s done something horrible. He reveals that he killed a woman he loved. HOLY FUCK! This horrifies Amy rightly. This will only serve to alienate Pope further, and I can’t blame her for her reaction one bit. Also can’t believe he said that to her.
Later that night, Craig and Deran hand the kid over with Marco to the people waiting. Alejandro’s dragged away pleading. The Codys get a fat envelope of cash, for their morality. Before they can leave Lucy returns to pistol whip Marco. Far cry from the family just thieving, not hurting others.
And on her way home, Smurf gets pulled over by the cops. You guessed it, they’ve got her surrounded. Back at her house, Baz walks in. Getting a beer from the fridge. Like he owns the place. Maybe he does now. We’ll see.
Pic 4Fuck, there’s so much happening at once, and the major bit is what will happen to Smurf next? Baz has really put her in a corner. I worry she’ll come out swinging harder than he expects, harder than he can parry. Who knows.
“You Will Be Gutted” is the penultimate Season 2 episode. Great to know already we’ve got a Season 3 coming. Bring it, baby!

Animal Kingdom – Season 2, Episode 10: “Treasure”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2, Episode 10: “Treasure”
Directed by Josef Kubota Wladyka
Written by T.J. Brady & Rasheed Newson

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Custody” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Leopard” – click here
Pic 1J (Finn Cole) finds grandma Smurf (Ellen Barkin) in his bed, drinking. She’s worried about who robbed her storage unit. Naturally, the kid’s nervous. He helped uncle Baz (Scott Speedman) break in, though he wasn’t the one who told him about it; Barry did that all on his own.
Speaking of him, he’s checking out the haul from Smurf’s safes. Quite the goddamn loot, too. From jewellery to stacks of bills, it’s impressive. This is one time Baz is truly off on his own. He and the other lads are in two different directions. While he’s robbing his adopted mom, Craig (Ben Robson) is heading up the next actual job. He’s still dragging Nicky (Molly Gordon) around while doing shady shit. They’ve got it all planned. But I keep seeing her winding up in handcuffs. Meanwhile, Renn (Christina Ochoa) turns up again, warning the young lady about Craig not being “worth the ride.” She’d know, she nearly died after overdosing and being left in the bathroom to die by him. My only fear, that I know is justified, is that Nicky won’t figure that out before it’s too late.
Pic 2At the bar, Pope (Shawn Hatosy) goes to see Deran (Jake Weary) before they’re supposed to get going on their end of the job’s preparations. He’s not happy, he doesn’t like that Marco (Joseph Julian Soria) and Nicky both – outsiders – are part of the job. And these are genuine, smart concerns.
The younger brother doesn’t see it as anything more than simple risk. He also believes they “owe” Craig. But, if you look at the dude’s track record he’s a junkie, one who’s caused the gang a good deal of nonsense. Remember the first we really saw a lot of Craig he got himself shot? Yeah.
J goes to see Baz, worrying about the Smurf trouble. Knowing he went back on his own after the kid was gone. Baz suddenly plays the family card, after usually keeping J at arm’s length. Now he’s ready to trust him. Hope the kid is up to the task. Playing in the rough game his uncles do is dangerous shit.
Then there’s Smurf, going off the deep end. She has a cattle prod, pumping the storage locker attendant full of voltage to get answers about what happened during the robbery. She discovers it was indeed Baz, that he was alone. She also shows the guy a picture of J, but he didn’t see him there. “Thank you,” Smurf says before heading back to the car. Where little Lena Roo (Aamya Deva Keroles) sits with headphones on. Lord, what a piece of work.
The Cody gang are now pirates. Heading out to jack a boat. Craig leads them on the job, acting more responsible than we’ve ever seen him. He isn’t exactly the hard, heavy handed leader that we see in his mother. I guess he’s trying, at least. He wants to be taken seriously by his brothers, to prove to Smurf he isn’t useless, either.
And Smurf, she’s plotting the next step in her conflict with Baz. The father, as usual, isn’t around to take care of his daughter. He’s actually watching the place. He heads inside after Smurf leaves, to find the gun stashed in the fridge. Shit, man. He’s really escalating this little war. Would he go so far as to implicate Smurf in something, or perhaps turn in evidence to drop the law on her? Whoooa, if so.
Out on the open sea, Craig plays his role as member of the staff. Pouring drinks, being polite and tending to the newly married couple celebrating. All is well. On the boat he rented under a fake ID, Nicky is practising her lines, then she calls out to the response of the US Coast Guard. A nice distraction while there’s trouble on the ocean elsewhere. Craig’s setting everything in motion, throwing lines over the side and heading down below to cut off the boat’s communications, the rest of the sabotage required.
Pic 3All the while Baz is taking a walk out to a hill in the middle of nowhere. Looks very familiar. Maybe like the place where Javi was shot in the head, buried. Is he going to dig up the body? Seems to have brought the right gear – a shovel, a suit to keep from getting anything on him. Oh, my. Baz… this is fucking intense, dude. He digs the body out, puts a bullet in the head with the gun from the fridge, then covers it all back up. Not what I expected exactly. Still wild.
Simultaneously Smurf is at his place, searching for anything at all. She looks everything, top to bottom. Wonder if she’ll come across anything. Barry was dumb enough to let himself be seen at the storage unit. What else did he forget?
The ship is stopping, just like Craig planned. Out on the smaller boat, Nicky fumbles around acting innocently dumb for the Coast Guard who are towing her back. Then we’ve got the rest of the boys, Sea-Dooing to the ship. They’ve even got clear, creepy masks! They zip tie the crew, Pope controls the captain and the bridge, as Deran looks after the crowd with Marco, using his Spanish speaking skills. Then Craig is used as a decoy, getting his face and ribs beat in by Pope and Marco; the latter seeming to pile on more than agreed.
Nevertheless, the job goes over after the money, the jewellery, everything’s collected. When one woman will not give over her ring, Marco cuts the finger off with the ring intact. Fuck, that is horrifying. This went from a robbery to a bit of torture. Craig seems fine with it. Glad they’ve got shit done. I only wonder how far the Cody gang is willing to go morally. Doesn’t sit well with Pope afterwards, though. Of all people!
Pic 4What’s with Baz spending up cash? He’s bought a car, a house for him and Lucy (Carolina Guerra). Well, the house is a place for him to stash all his earnings. As well as the massive haul from Smurf’s storage unit. Although I’m not sure if Lucy’s down. It semi-impresses, and also freaks her out, I think.
And J, my lord, J! He’s become such a jaded part of the gang. When Smurf asks if there were any problems on the latest job, he dumps the ring finger out on the table. Then watches her throw it down the garbage disposal with some bleach. Also, he took a picture of the loot on his phone. Yikes. Not a good idea, bro.
Later he goes to see an old friend, his previous neighbour Dina (Karen Malina White). They’re having a bit of dinner together, for old time’s sake; something they’ve been doing lately, apparently.  Then he goes to her bathroom. Under the sink, in a secret stash he hides some jewellery. Where there’s already several stacks of cash. Hmm. Maybe the kid’s planning not to be part of the Cody shit show much longer.
Celebrating at the bar, J gets closer to Nicky while Craig rails coke, Pope goes home for an early night, and Deran swipes around on Tinder until he finds a guy to fuck. All’s good in the land of the Codys. Although Pope isn’t actually gone home. He’s off to see Amy (Jennifer Landon), having grim visions of making love to her mixed with killing Catherine. He isn’t doing so hot after all. And J, he runs into uncle Deran giving a blowjob this time rather than getting one; no animosity anymore, since he’s come out of the closet. Oh, and Craig’s trying to get a second chance from Renn. A very tenuous, rocky one, but a second chance nonetheless.
Not to mention he asks Renn on a trip to Vegas. Maybe he’s turning a leaf. Or maybe he’s just finding other ways to be irresponsible.
Pic 5Now, Baz tells Lucy he wants to leave with her. Go to Mexico, move in her with her, her son, Lena. A happy little life, away from the family, and away from Smurf.
Goddamn. Is this the ultimate plan? To get Smurf put away, then take off down south of the border? Might be a good plan, if I didn’t think she was slippery enough to get out of it all unscathed. There’s no telling to what lengths she’ll go in order to save herself. And Baz might’ve been adopted by her, taken in from a terrible family.
But remember: he ain’t real family.
Screen Shot 2017-08-09 at 12.19.31 AMWow, this was another intense slice of Animal Kingdom! A couple real interesting developments happening, from Nicky and J, as well as J and Deran sort of getting closer and less fist-to-fist, plus Pope’s mental state and now Baz v. Smurf. SO MUCH GOING DOWN. It’s unreal. Great Season 2, can’t wait to see how it closes out. We already know Season 3 is a go, that leaves me excited for how we’re going to head into a third outing. I’m feeling there’ll be a very suspenseful, suspicious, paranoid third season if things continue this route.
“The Leopard” is next week. Can hardly wait!

Animal Kingdom – Season 2, Episode 9: “Custody”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2, Episode 9: “Custody”
Directed by Gary B. Goldman
Written by Etan Frankel

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Grace” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Treasure” – click here
Pic 1Oh, the Cody lads are at it again! Having a bit of extreme sports-style fun, racing Sea-Doos together. Well, at least J (Finn Cole), Deran (Jake Weary), Pope (Shawn Hatosy), and Craig (Ben Robson) are having a laugh together. They’re actually scouting out the boat where Craig got the job, their next target for the upcoming job. Baz (Scott Speedman) isn’t around, though. The boys aren’t entirely pleased. At least Deran isn’t, Pope is fairly sure their adopted bro isn’t going to be down for the job. Not with the way his life’s been lately. Troubling things beginning to come to light.
Then there’s Nicky (Molly Gordon), she’s out looking at guns in a shop. As in serious fucking guns. You know who she’s starting to act and sound like? Smurf (Ellen Barkin). Only she’s not as smart as the older woman yet, she isn’t as experienced. This might either be her corruption, or her total downfall. I worry and wonder.
Pic 1AThe gang gets together talking over the job, Baz doesn’t take the thing hugely serious knowing Craig is behind the brains. But the dude’s got things covered, he’s trying to pull his weight in the family to prove he’s not a total fuck up. The crowd’s a bit bigger than they’re used to, though the man with the plan has an idea: he’ll get the shit kicked out of them to control people. Lucky for one of his brothers. Except for the fact Baz is out. Neither are the rest happy with the fact Nicky’s supposedly part of the job. Risky shit.
Suddenly Pope is willing to defend Smurf, saying she might’ve taken Catherine out for him, to protect them all. Not knowing the truth, Baz insists on not letting her “get away” with all she’s done. He wants Pope with him. Reluctantly, the adopted brother agrees. Knowing in his heart what he’s done. What Smurf had him do, what they conspired to do together.
Deran isn’t ready to accept Nicky working with them. He also isn’t sure they can pull the job without Baz, the only one of the group who can speak Spanish. Other than that they’ve got no one to trust who speaks the language. Deran knows a guy from juvenile detention who might fit the bill.
Oh, and Baz? He’s readying to pull a job on his own: ripping off Smurf.
Speaking of the big boss lady, she’s assuring Pope there is no heat coming for Baz. Per a “cop friend” she says. The look in Pope’s eyes, you can just see how confused and tortured and twisted up he is inside. He gives mom a hug, but there’s this vacant look that shows the guilt, bottled up down in the darkness of his gut. It’s powerful. She enjoys the hug, the first in a long time. She doesn’t recognise what she’s done to him over the years. She made a monster.
Pic 2The boys go to mom to get their money laundered. Deran would rather not, Craig wants to get the job done, one way or another. Meanwhile, Baz is trying to keep at least one person on his side, as he picks J up to help him with his shit.
Craig tells Nicky a story about 8-years old, pulling his first job with dear ole mom. Afterwards they went to Toys-R-Us with a $1K wad. Jesus fucking christ, no wonder he’s absolutely messed up. His life’s been a goddamn mess. Smurf’s truly and wholly corrupted her family, just about from day one. Later, he and Deran go meet Rafael (Scotty Tovar) for a hopeful Spanish connection. Their lives are on completely different paths now. “You see me turn into that guy put a bullet in my head,” says Deran. It was a hot minute ago he was talking about getting out of the life of a thief.
Baz takes J with him to the storage unit; yeah, that one. Doesn’t the kid already know this is where grandma has a space? He reluctantly helps his possible father cut a way through to the safes inside. Tons of money just sitting there, waiting for the taking. Baz uses this opportunity to make sure the kid knows: “Smurfs needs you, not the other way around. Remember that.”
What about Pope? He’s headed to the sheriff’s station. Almost as if he’s about to turn himself in. Then he goes to see Amy (Jennifer Landon). Calling himself a coward. He tells her he worries about his family falling apart, that he’s not strong enough to keep it from happening. And that it’s all his fault. Part of that’s true.
Pic 3Smurf gets a call and has to run out. Down at an apartment building in town she’s found Jake (Jack Conley). She gets the jump on his ass, Tasering him in the shower. Ouch. Bad enough getting the shock, really rough to get it while totally wet. More than that she makes him choose a knee, before popping a bullet into the other one. No more running, Jakey.
Pope gets an upfront view of Amy’s life, her mistakes, her failures. This is why he’s fallen in love with her, he sees the warts and all view. He equates what he’s done with what she did, and they’re not on the same level. Not in the slightest. When he’s willingly murdered; not in self defence, but out of self preservation in the most selfish sense. Amy made a mistake that forever altered her life for the worse, one she’s dealing with and accepting every waking moment.
Deran and Craig are trying to get their buddy Marco (J.J. Soria) to help them on the boat job. They need their Spanish connection. He’s not so willing, not anymore. These aren’t the old days. So the Cody boys pump liquor into him to get their answer. Relying on them agreeing to help him move some drugs. Uh oh. That ain’t their wheelhouse. Could mean bigger heat, bigger trouble than they’re used to with robberies. Also equals bigger consequences.
Now Baz has himself a shadow, as J follows him after their storage unit job. I can’t tell if he’s going to tell grandma. She’s just discovering the theft of every single bit of her stash. Baz is ready to hit her where it hurts, deep. A civil war amongst the gang. Gonna get nasty.
COVERAnother excellent episode in Season 2. Recently, TNT confirmed they’re giving Animal Kingdom a Season 3, so we’ll see plenty more of the Codys, what drives them, where they’re headed. So much more. And there’s still plenty of deviousness left in these last episodes of this season. It’ll get wilder yet.

Animal Kingdom – Season 2, Episode 8: “Grace”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2, Episode 8: “Grace”
Directed by Cherie Nowlan
Written by Megan Martin

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Dig” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Custody” – click here
Pic 1Pope (Shawn Hatosy) heads out late in the night, early in the morning. He seems on edge. What’s he doing? Where is he going? Back at Smurf’s (Ellen Barkin) place the weird vibes between J (Finn Cole) and Nicky (Molly Gordon) continue, as she’s still banging uncle Craig (Ben Robson). Plus, the girl finds out that “Javi cant come back” when she inquires about J’s gun. And the whole thing’s just… awkward, tense, strange.
Well, Pope is waiting for mom when she wakes up, watching as she sleeps. Creepy. She’s creepy, too. Naked under the sheets, calling her eldest boy in with just a sheet separating them to cuddle. Although he refuses; this time.
Pic 1AIn other news, Baz (Scott Speedman) worries about Smurf and her skimming. He makes the mistake of telling Lucy (Carolina Guerra), because the more people around him know the more they’re at risk. And everyone even near Smurf, or Pope, or Baz, are at risk, at all times. Doesn’t help that Lucy and Pope aren’t exactly friendly, either.
But he’s got issues with Baz, that’s where it all starts. I keep wondering when it’s all going to explode. He loves Baz as a brother, and there’s also a fucked up jealousy.
Deran (Jake Weary) is out of the closet, so he’s experiencing life as a gay man truly for the first time. Banging dudes without worrying. Even feels strange to him to get a compliment for fucking a guy well. I love him, he’s so innocent in a way in terms of his sexuality while simultaneously totally non-innocent in his life as a thief. The guy he’s with right now? It’s the dude from the local business owners meeting.
Pope’s still into Bible study with Amy (Jennifer Landon). During one of their studies the police arrive to speak with her, naturally worrying our man who’s acting so casual, so cool. Problem is the police are looking for Leon, an ex-con working with the church; he’s scared, not contacting them back. Looks like the boys’ robbery is putting others in harm’s way now. I continuously feel curious about whether he’ll be able to shoulder the weight of guilt throughout this whole ordeal, it’s always getting worse.
At the house, Smurf is making bullets, to help show J. She’s also contending with Baz’s prying, trying to keep him happy. And wondering about the self-destructive nature of Pope, how Baz can “take care” of him. Likewise she tells Baz: “I took you in because the minute I laid eyes on you I fell in love with you.” She’s trying to keep him close, close, close. As he keeps an eye on her, tracking her every move.
Pic 2 (1)Craig’s starting to scope out the next job on his own. Ingratiating himself to other employees of the company where he’s working. For a fuck up, the dude is charming. Very charming. And back in the garage, Smurf teaches her grandson to make “loads” for the gun, pressing their own bullets. Ah, family time! Grandma further works to pump him up again, to restore his confidence. She teaches him much more than just how to make a few bullets. They actually talk about his mom, as well. A rare occasion for Smurf, she obviously didn’t love her daughter the same as her sons, for many reasons.
We see a bit of the good in Pope, a glimmer of hope in his personality. He talks with Amy’s friend Leon, levelling with him about their time in prison, what it’s like to come out and deal with the real world. Seems the man’s got a drug problem. During the robbery, he was fixing on heroin. Doesn’t want his parole jammed up. So Pope suggests an alternative plan, to help the guy out. As well as to help out his own conscience from feeling worse.
Baz gets out to the storage place where Smurf’s got a stash. Since 2004. Whoa. That could mean she’s been skimming for quite a long time. He manages to bribe his way into finding the exact number of her locker. Using some shady gear to spy the safe inside.
When Pope arrives at his apartment later he’s got cops tossing his shit, some of the ones from the church. They’re suspicious, naturally. He plays it totally cool on the outside, a simmering anger inside and no doubt a fear of heading back to jail.
Pic 3But what does Pope do now? So much for that guilt, or that conscience. He plants a bit of evidence he still has kicking around on – you guessed it – Leon. What a low move, man. Just as I thought there was humanity left in him, he puts the frame on someone he doesn’t deserve it. You can tell it weighs on him, but what’s the good of a conscience when it does nothing, when it’s only a vestigial, useless psychological organ?
Smurf tries patching things up. She doesn’t “believe in sorry” so that means she hands over $20K to each of her boys, to make up for being such a control freak and ruining their collective trust. However, she requires something: she needs their cash, to launder through her business. Works both ways, though. Gets them a tax record. Choices to make for everyone. The trust isn’t quite there again, not yet.
Baz: “Thats a lot of free cash, man. What are you gonna do with it?”
J: “Nothings free, man.”
Now Baz is discovering there was a Confidential Informant file started on Catherine, by her cop friend Patrick. This is starting to lead our boy in quite a scary direction; scary for those who know more than they let on, who are involved more than anyone else knows.
Speaking of scary, I’m worried for Nicky, getting further into the family business with Craig pulling her in on the latest job. Not only that she’s trying to one up on J, to make him jealous. Scared this may lead someplace dark.
One nice bit? Adrian (Spencer Treat Clark) and Deran get together at his bar for a drink. They talk about life, where it’s headed for them both. Deran wants to buy the whole building where he has the bar, to “go legit” – Adrian wonders if his brothers will let him.
Closer and closer Baz comes to the truth. He believes Smurf will do anything, from stealing her boys’ money to having Baz’s wife killed. And expressing this sentiment to Pope isn’t the the smartest move. Little does he know.
Pic 4Pic 4AThis was a good episode because it didn’t have any wild action, or much of the thrilling robbery stuff. It worked well on a character development level, focusing on plot points headed our way in the near future. Specifically, we’re seeing more sides of Pope, more of his guilt, his lack of any morality, as well as Baz starting to discover more of Catherine’s disappearance. Where that leads could irreparably change the Cody gang and the Animal Kingdom series as a whole forever. “Custody” is next week, promising further intensity, as usual.

Animal Kingdom – Season 2, Episode 7: “Dig”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2, Episode 7: “Dig”
Directed by David Rodriguez
Written by Eliza Clark

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Cry Havoc” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Grace” – click here
Pic 1In the aftermath of Javi (Alex Meraz) attacking J (Finn Cole) and Nicky (Molly Gordon), what will Smurf (Ellen Barkin) do? Will Pope (Shawn Hatosy) and mom join together at least momentarily to take care of this family problem?
Meanwhile, J took a good beating. That nasty wound on his leg got opened up. Just vicious stuff. While he washes off, Pope and Smurf watch the security footage of Javi and his boys raiding the house. At the bar, Deran (Jake Weary) and Craig (Ben Robson) ignore mom’s calls, talking about their new, upcoming job, something they’re keeping secret until the time is right.
Smurf comforts J who’s feeling “shame” for not being able to protect the place, or Nicky. He wants to go after Javi. At the same time, Baz (Scott Speedman) is picking up Nicky over where she was dropped off. She doesn’t blame J for anything, it’s just him being hard on himself. Feeling the traps of faux masculinity knocking at the door. Hope it doesn’t drive him to do anything stupid, anything he doesn’t think real damn hard about first. Grandma’s doing her best to keep a lid on that temper.
Pic 1AFinally, Smurf has to explain to the boys about Javi, his father, all the tragic story from back in the day. Manny supposedly put Javi’s dad out of his misery, then he was buried at a construction site. That’s now on the street where they let Nicky go earlier. So, do the boys ride or die for big mama? Probably not. They aren’t too eager to help mom, particularly not Deran who feels “foster care” would’ve been better than being in the Cody family. That pretty much puts an end to their conversation. Although Smurf cautions: “This doesnt end until we end it.”
While normally I’d say she’s full of shit, J is involved, he was beaten, tortured. Now his uncles aren’t willing to help, when he’s put work in for them, done robberies, so on. Baz and Pope are a little more willing to entertain the idea; Craig and Deran say fuck that. What I see most is the breakdown of loyalty. I don’t know how J will take this going forward. Either way, the boys figure instead of killing Javi, they’ll move the body of his father so the cops can’t put a case on mom. Plus, Craig and Deran want cash. Yikes. The stake is driven deeper.
Furthermore, Baz – after getting pulled over by Catherine’s cop friend – brings up doubts, thoughts about her disappearance, and now thinks she’s dead. When he mentions this to Pope, the latter’s struck very uncomfortable. No telling how long his secret will last, sooner or later it’ll come out. Then there’s the fact Pope and mom have their dark little secret(s) to boot, that’s a dangerous fucking mixing pot.
Pic 2Pope worries that the cops may arrest Baz on suspicion, something he possibly can’t live with, though it’s difficult to know what he can or can’t live with in the end. Then there’s J, constantly worried that he didn’t do right by Nicky, even if she doesn’t actively blame him. Everyone is preparing to go dig up Javi’s dad, as well as figuring out their own shit simultaneously.
Out on the beach, Baz goes to meet Javi, they go way back; Pope, too. Baz tries reasoning with him. Making clear nobody is going to touch Smurf. Javi feels a lifetime of lies bear down on him, having believed his father merely ran off on him ages ago. That’s gonna cost a lot of money.
Javi (to Baz): “Youve come a long way from cryinyourself to sleep and pissinthe bed, man. Good for you. Yknow shit didnt turn out so well for me, or my dad.”
The Cody family archaeological dig’s about ready to happen, no matter if mama’s a tad sketchy on a few details. Everyone is on edge. Things are more tense between Smurf and Baz after he questions her on where she got all the money before to pay Javi, knowing that she’s been skimming on their jobs. Now the two of them opt to use money from the church job to do the payoff. Only hope is Baz can get it back before the boys figure it out. That might not go over so well with the gang.
J and Pope head into the backyard of the house where Javi’s dad was buried years prior. First, they need to take care of the people living there. So they’ve got to fake a gas leak, set things up to get at the old corpse. Outside, uncle Pop tries to steer his nephew away from doing horrible things, like he’s done: “It doesnt feel like you think it will.”
Pic 3Baz goes with Smurf to take care of the drop off and the cash. But I wonder, maybe they’re walking into something bad? Maybe. Out in the middle of nowhere, they meet Javi, who’s brought along a friend. Just seeing Smurf makes the dude’s blood boil.
The rest of the boys get down to business in the basement of the house. They’ve got all the gear to make it a quick, safe, smart job. They get down into the concrete a little ways before it looks like they’ve found the remains. Just boots, a gun, tattered clothes, and a skeleton. Only they’re missing a foot. A bit of extra digging, they locate the tootsie, and then they’re off. Another successful, greasy mission.
In a dumb move, Smurf tells Javi he’s “worthless” and “stupid” among other things. Insulting his dad. Holy shit. When Javi goes for his gun, his own buddy shoots him in the head. Looks like Smurf’s got friends in all sorts of different places. He gets the payoff cash, too. Whoa, what a sly motherfucker this lady is! Doesn’t sit so great with Baz, who doesn’t see that Javi would never stop, he needed revenge. I mean… she’s not wrong, though she is quite cold.
Baz: “I mean, cmon, Smurf, we grew up with that kid. He was like family to us.”
Smurf: “And like family isnt family
After all’s said and done, they have a mini reunion, all together out on the shore. While Javi’s dad’s remains are stuffed into a barrel, ready for burning. A weird moment, sort of bringing them all back together in a way. A fresh start for Smurf, for them all with this chapter behind them.
Pic 4Only problem is there are many bad things lurking underneath, specifically that dark secret between Pope and Smurf, the one that if it’s discovered by Baz the Cody family will be obliterated. I wonder how long more until things start unravelling. My guess is in “Grace” next week, we’ll see a bit of his come out.

Animal Kingdom – Season 2, Episode 6: “Cry Havoc”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2, Episode 6: “Cry Havoc”
Directed by Larry Teng
Written by Jonathan Lisco

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Forgive Us Our Trespasses” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Dig” – click here
Pic 1Smurf (Ellen Barkin) talks with her old pale Jake (Jack Conley). He’s been paid a visit by Javier (Alex Meraz) and the boys, about back in the day with Manny. The tapes. They tortured information out of Jake, threatening to do the worst. He wants Smurf to just pay up.
Meanwhile, J (Finn Cole) has his own injuries, after their semi-botched yet successful robbery at the church. His leg is cut up bad from the vents, so he takes care of it, just like he helps take care of Baz’s (Scott Speedman) little girl Lena (Aamya Deva Keroles). J and Nicky (Molly Gordon) are also still floating around one another, flirtatious though nothing overly wild. I sense it isn’t the end for them.
Pic 1AOh, and uncle Craig (Ben Robson), he’s in the slammer. Out on bail, though. That’s one good thing for him. He gets picked up by Nicky, who used her dad’s credit card to free her boyfriend. What’s clear is, juxtaposed with her, he’s so much less mature while being a good deal older. We can’t see how much of a boy he is, amongst the gang.
J: “Is everything okay?”
Smurf: “Everythings fine. Bring your gun.”
Smurf’s got her grandson with her again, requiring further help in her latest personal troubles. At the same time, Baz is back to being dad again, for now; I love him as a character, but I’m starting to get mad at him for how he’s handling his fatherly duties.
Then there’s Pope (Shawn Hatosy), watching Amy (Jennifer Landon) deal with the police. Her past bringing up a few issues after the robbery. There’s a small glimpse of regret in his eyes. As he embraces Amy there’s this look that you could almost mistake mistake for a blank, vacant stare; it’s the weight of everything weighing on him, heavy. Another great shot: Pope watches a bunch of police officers stroll by, they look at one another and it’s like the perfect pair of opposites, criminal v. cop.
Grandma takes her boy down to a storage unit, one the brothers and Baz don’t know about apparently. “And neither do you,” she advises J. She heads in by herself leaving him on watch. Oh, Smurf! You and your fucking secrets.
Pic 2My favourite brother? Deran (Jake Weary). He’s trying his best to fit in with the business community, going to meetings and playing the part of proper business owner. He comes up against a bit of shit when finding out there’s a suggested fee to help with services in the community. Sensing he’s being shafted, Deran opts not to pay. My guess is the head of the whole business owners group will turn up dirt, forcing our man into a tough spot.
Meanwhile, Baz and Pope are at the bar drinking. They talk like pals again, their relationship feeling as if it’s smooth like it used to be a long time ago. But Pope’s falling in love with Amy, they’re together. This doesn’t sit well with Baz, particularly seeing as how Amy knows quite a deal about her man, his time in prison, his real name. Shit, this might lead somewhere nasty instead of back to a normal friendship.
Plus, the whole gang is heated. Deran won’t allow them to launder money through the bar, pissing the other two off. There’s always a divide working between them. Standing on the outside is Craig, too. He’s in a weird little space, half in, half out. And totally irresponsible.
Smurf and Jake have a load of cash, they’re ready to meet with Javier. Then we see her get double-crossed, and hard. Jake pulls a gun on her, then the tables have turned. They briefly discuss something we’ve already heard about briefly: that Jake is Cragi’s father. Now he’s taking the cash, leaving Javier up shit’s creek, as well as starting a blood feud with Smurf after all those years.
On the road, Baz is pulled over by a cop. That friend of Catherine’s, Patrick (Dorian Missick), and he’s not happy. He thinks that her disappearance is due to Baz. Now there’s fucking heat, man! What’s of most interest to me is the fact that he still has no idea what truly happened to Catherine. The closer to the truth anyone gets, the closer to Baz discovering what his friend, his adopted brother did to the woman he loved.
Pic 3Craig’s trying to get a legitimate job. He needs to give a piss sample at a nice place, so he pulls a gun on a guy in the bathroom to get a bit of clean stuff. What a way to try going straight. What a piece of shit. Not hard to tell that lowlife Jake is his real dad. Not that any of the boys are upstanding citizens. And not as if he’s actually doing it for the work. It’s to help on an upcoming job, of course.
After getting to the phone Smurf calls who? Pope. He goes to her, freeing her from where Jake left her tied. The eerie tension between mom and her oldest boy so palpable, so scary. Simultaneously, Javier’s still at the beach waiting for her to show up, not knowing what’s happened. This is gonna bring some bad mojo the Cody family’s way.
While J and Nicky get close again, intimately so, windows shatter. They see someone breaking in. Javi and his men are there to play. J and Nicky hide as the men toss and trash the house, looking for any money, anything at all valuable they can find. When he gets the chance J goes for his gun, winding up in a fist fight with one man, beaten down by the others quickly. They tie him up. Dunk him underwater in the pool, pressing for info on where grandma keeps the cash. A couple of the men also come across Nicky. To try getting them out of their predicament J tells Javi about the storage unit. Then they leave with the girl, tossing J into the pool.
Right as Pope and Smurf pull into the driveway. Only they’re too late, all that’s left is the ransacked house, a beaten, bloody J having nearly drowned. Luckily Nicky’s left unharmed by the men, dropped off in a strange neighbourhood, at the corner of Trailhead and Ash. The location where Javi’s father was buried those years ago.
Shit, this is a war right here.
Pic 4What an intense episode, one of my favourite of the entire series to date! Action, emotion, revelation, brutality. Wow. Seriously, just a great episode all around. Can’t wait for “Dig” next. Will surely get wild.

Animal Kingdom – Season 2, Episode 5: “Forgive Us Our Trespasses”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2, Episode 5: “Forgive Us Our Trespasses”
Directed by Laura Innes
Written by T.J. Brady & Rasheed Newson

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Broken Boards” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Cry Havoc” – click here
Pic 1J (Finn Cole) is learning to shoot, under the tutelage of a professional friend of Smurf’s (Ellen Barkin); they set him loose on a training course, the range. With grandma’s help, her physical and emotional closeness, J’s able to pop off the impressively aimed shots. Their relationship gets deeper, even while indulging in gun violence. Dangerous sort of thing.
Meanwhile, Deran (Jake Weary) is stealing a truck from the airport long term parking lot. He’s not quite a full-time business man just yet. At his place, Baz (Scott Speedman) is working on his own part of the latest job, though he gets a visit from Lucy (Carolina Guerra) out of the blue. He has $15K for her. Their relationship’s not one of stability, sort of all over the place. Certainly would be different if he knew exactly what happened to Catherine, at the hands of his adopted brother Pope (Shawn Hatosy).
Speak of the devil, he’s half paying attention to the church and all it entails, including Amy (Jennifer Landon), half paying attention to their coming robbery. He and Amy are getting closer all the time. She’s got her own demons, though as I’ve mentioned before despite how bad they are they’re not AS bad as the ones lurking within Pope. Either way they’re propelled into each other’s arms. I wonder, will this cause him to mess up on the job? Or perhaps change his mind? One thing I do love about his character, it’s hard to predict what he’ll do from one moment to the next.
Amy: “You might have a special reward coming your way tonight
Pic 1AEverybody’s doing their thing and managing to keep their eye on the job, their little side things. At least for now. Craig (Ben Robson) isn’t as keen on J’s involvement as the others, even after quitting the job. He’s being a big “baby about it.” So Deran calls him out. And let’s face it, Craig IS a piece of shit.
J and Nicky (Molly Gordon) are still flirting around one another, both living at Smurf’s place. Grandma has her own worries, as well. A couple men jump out of a plumbing van and pull her inside. Kidnapped, like that! Shit. But don’t put her out, she’s a tough fuck. She taunts her captors, acting nonchalant about the whole ordeal.
The boys are at home, plotting for the job. Pope confirms the times, during which Baz and J will be waiting in the ducts. “You do not kill anyone,” Baz explains to the kid. Yet uncle Pope reminds him, if it’s necessary, it’s necessary.
Smurf is brought to Javier (Alex Meraz), he asks about Community South. A job she did with his dad. Says he ran off with the cash. Javi says she killed him. He wants “$300 grand in cash” within twenty-four hours. Or else tapes concerning the dark history of Smurf land in the hands of the cops. So, does she have a plan? I don’t think she has $300K lying around, not cash on hand. Might make her do something… stupid.
Pic 2At the house, Craig whines about not being on the latest job, although he quit. Nicky talks truth to him. And he’s too immature to take it serious. Doesn’t want advice from a teenager, doesn’t mind fucking one, either. Idiot. That relationship is going to cause a rough situation at some point. If they follow the film’s plot, it’ll be particularly tragic.
In the church service, Baz and J fit in, as does Pope acting as if he belongs there alongside Amy; in a way, he almost looks like he does. All appears set for the job to get underway. I’m always interested to see Baz and J together, because I keep wondering if he’s father to the kid. There’s always that thought in the back of my mind. When the collection plate passes by, they slip a bit in. Stuff they’ll get back soon.
Is it coincidence the church has raised about $335,000? Makes me curious. When Smurf needs just shy of that to take care of her debt. Perhaps we’ll witness a brutal divide between her and the boys brought on by her robbing THEM? I don’t know. Just a thought. She’ll do anything as it is, let alone when jail time is on the line. And serious fucking time, too.
Baz and J head for the bathrooms, as Pope goes for Bible study. When the hall is clear, the pair head into the ducts and Pope seals them inside before heading back to his little group. Thus begins the next phase of the robbery. They head further into the ducts, outside the building Deran stands watch. Pope has to stall, talking with Amy about the possible sex she suggested earlier. Sly, dude. Then he slips back to make sure the lock on the door is jammed. Game, set, match; right?
Drunk, Craig shows up in front where Deran is waiting. The two of them get into an argument. Also, in the vents, J scrapes himself deep on a metal edge; uh oh. If that leaves blood they’re fucked. At the same time, Deran causes a distraction outside, in between his fighting with his brother. Baz realises J’s bleeding, the metal dug into his leg. He rips the kid free, using duct tape to cover the wound. Only problem I’m curious about is, when J was helping the cops for that brief time, did they put him in their database in terms of DNA? If not, that’s no problem. I just keep feeling that bad things are headed for the Cody gang. In many, many ways. Certainly, in many ways, the bad things are already here.
Pic 3These dudes are sophisticated, using every modern technique at their disposal. Deran keeps an eye on the situation outside with the security guard, while J and Baz get themselves into the safe under the floor. They certainly leave behind a mess, between the soundproofing foam they spray to drops of J’s blood in the ducts. But, for the time being, our boys are off with another bit of money, another heist in the books. They try continually dropping the safe from a crane to break the locking mechanisms. Soon, they do, and they find bags filled with cash. An actual heist that was worth the effort.
Then there’s Craig, hammered and high on cocaine, flying through traffic on his bike. He whizzes through traffic, down to the beach. Then wipes out in the sand. Lucky he’s alive, really.
Celebrating the robbery, the boys also have a look at J’s leg. It isn’t good. They can’t take him to a hospital, either. It’s “staple gun” or “cauterise the wound” and J goes with the former. Uncle Deran holds him down while Baz closes the wound. He’s a tough enough lad. To which Deran responds warmly: “Welcome to the family.”
Pope and Amy wind up at her place. Naked. She asks him to touch himself. They move closer, nearly touching. Almost more sexual than anything they could’ve done. This relationship is massively interesting to me. I keep wondering how it’ll play out. I keep wondering if Pope can have true intimacy, after what’s gone on between him and Smurf.
Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 1.21.33 AMOn the beach where he crashed, Craig is found, unconscious, fucked up. Simultaneously, Nick helps poor J tend to his nasty wound. And fresh off a hitch hiking journey, Smurf makes it home with serious regrets from the past. All ain’t well.
Smurf (to J): “Once you decide to shoot, you keep shooting. You understand me?”
“Cry Havoc” is the next episode. We’re about to see fallout from the church robbery, as Pope falls deeper in love with Amy, into their intimate relationship. And we’re also going to see what Smurf chooses to do about her serious situation involving Javi.

Animal Kingdom – Season 2, Episode 4: “Broken Boards”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2, Episode 4: “Broken Boards”
Directed by Emmy Rossum
Written by Etan Frankel

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Bleed for It” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Forgive Us Our Trespasses” – click here
Pic 1An unusual thing for Smurf (Ellen Barkin), being alone in that big house. All her boys except for J (Finn Cole) having left, and even he’s teetering. But while he’s out at the crack of dawn working hard to stay fit, she’s at the house pulling a gun on the darkness. And of course Nicky (Molly Gordon) is still there, too. Awkward. She acts like it’s no big deal, though you can tell it weirds him out. Not as much as he should be unsettled by his grandma’s tightening grip.
Meanwhile, Baz (Scott Speedman) is figuring out the gang’s matriarch changed all the codes, security, bank, otherwise. Deran (Jake Weary) is working on getting his bar ready to open, he has to refuse underage Nicky coming even with Craig (Ben Robson) whining. Trouble’s brewing between that couple, has been for a while. The new bartender might speed all that along.
And Pope (Shawn Hatosy), oh Pope… if he weren’t a murderer, I’d genuinely feel for him. He’s a fish out of water, coming out of Folsom and into the world, especially the world of the Cody gang, he can’t even really live life correctly. He and Amy (Jennifer Landon) are going out on a first date, so he ends up getting matched for a lavender shit that goes well with his “skin tone” according to a saleswoman. Seeing him in a store, picking out a proper shirt, so jarring in a humorous way.
Pic 1AAfter letting slip about Deran’s bar to Smurf, Nicky says “sex and drugs” are the only way she relates to Craig, they don’t truly love one another. Even though she acts as if she does. She’s more in for the romanticised version of Craig, the tough thief who likes to fuck and has blow all the time.
Smurf gives her this piece of advice: “Do you have any idea how powerful you are? Yknow what that power is? Its the one thing you have that every man wants. You just have to let them think they have the power. But they never do. Ever. Unless you give it to them. And dont ever give it to them.”
On the latest job, J offers to help the gang when Deran isn’t there. The boys gear up, putting together a length of air ducts, hose and all. Into which J and Craig are cramped until the heist is ready to go. Baz mainly wants the kid in on it because he knows about J pulling a job with Smurf, worrying she has her hooks in deep already.
Deran’s busy telling mom about the bar. It’s a tense conversation. Although it ends with him inviting her to the opening. She agrees. However, I’ve got to wonder: is she going to do something, make a scene? Can’t help thinking she’ll be compelled to nastiness, lashing out in anger at one of her boys branching out on his own. She’s already being vindictive with Baz, about the code to their storage unit where he’s got his tools. She’d go to any length to make herself feel better. Actually starts turning him slightly against the others, using his status as outsider to fuel his paranoia.
Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 1.24.02 AMCraig’s always thinking with a criminal mind. He steals a beer truck on a whim from a store while the driver carts a load inside. It’s like he unconsciously needs to fuck up his brother’s new business, ’cause you know that’s where he’s headed with the beer. When he does bring it to the bar Deran refuses to take it, he doesn’t want anything to ruin this venture. He’s serious about making a change, separating this business from the thievery of his family. Above all, separating himself from his mother.
Amy and Pope are bonding, particularly after she revealed to him the situation with her son, the mistakes she’s made, what brought her to God. He wonders how she “lives with herself” because he wants to know how he can live with himself, as well. After all he’s done. Despite her situation, it isn’t the same or as dark as Pope’s sins. Not even close.
Baz calls the boys out to the beach. He apologises for his “bullshit.” He wants the old days again, when they were close, hanging out, loving life together. So, what’s the plan? A bit of extreme fun. You know how the lads get down! They climb a massive crane over the shore, jumping stories to the waves below. A nice, quick thrill before beers. Baz even says he’ll do the “shit work” and get in the duct for the next job, proving he isn’t like Smurf.
At the same time across town, Smurf takes J up to see a nice apartment she owns. A beautiful loft looking out over the ocean. Janice Brown owns the place, actually. Among other fake tenants who own other apartments, so on and so on. Money laundering. Looks like grandma wants to start bringing J into the fold with her, pulling him away from the others. She’s letting him on everything behind the family business. Almost grooming. She wants him to help with the books, unlike any of her boys.
Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 1.40.48 AMThe bar is starting to get going, people pile in. Smurf heads out, but on the way feels like a small plumbing van is following her. She readies a gun, just in case. But off they go. Why so paranoid? Is she waiting for somebody to come?
Baz and Pope both head down to the bar, along with a crowd of surfers and others. Deran says he’s named the place The Drop from now on. And then Smurf arrives, a look of disbelief on her face, tender words for her baby. Not so nice chat for Baz, though. “Were never cominback, Smurf,” he replies. She replies: “I didnt ask you to.”
More tension when Deran finds Craig snorting cocaine with people in the bathroom. He kicks them out, throws the coke away, prompting a brief fight. We’re seeing so many different fractures, the various relationships. Craig is probably the biggest piece of shit out of them all, purposefully acting like an idiot.
Then a familiar face shows up – Adrian (Spencer Treat Clark). Long time, no see. You can see Deran lights up when he comes to the bar. Truly hope these two will get together again. Now that he’s trying to get away from Smurf. And LAAAWD is she ever making it easy to hate her, telling an embarrassing story about his failed dreams of surfing in front of the bar. God, it’s brutal to watch.
Smurf: “So heres to the runt of my litter, my beautiful baby boyto Deran.”
He confronts his mother afterwards Admitting to her he’s gay. Then the real harsh truth comes out. Does she like having the boys around because she, deep down, wants them sexually? Clearly there’s a strange connection with Pope, something happened there. Now Deran wonders if she never loved him because he can’t fuck her.
YIKES! We knew this possibility of incest was all a part of the Cody family. Just hearing it aloud in this scene is… compellingly disturbing.
Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 1.52.37 AMFunny how the one to comfort Deran, after all that’s gone on in this episode, is Craig. Maybe he’s not a piece of shit, merely unaware of his idiocy and the kind who tries making up for it later. He and his brother take the broken boards the surfers brought in and put them up on the wall, still close, even if the fractures are starting to split the Codys to pieces slowly.
Great episode! My favourite so far this season. Disturbing, also touching and emotional in a way. Pushes a lot of things forward. Love that Emmy Rossum directed it, too. She’s fantastic, as an actress and a director. “Forgive Us Our Trespasses” is next week.