The Cody family deals with the aftermath of Baz's murder
Smurf and J go on a road trip together. Meanwhile, Deran gets inspected for the bar, and Craig's got issues all of his own.
Based on a real life family of robbers in Australia, this film dives deep into crime and the paranoia associated with a family where even the bonds of blood can't guarantee safety.
TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 1, Episode 9: “Judas Kiss”
Directed by Christopher Chulack
Written by John Wells
* For a review of the previous episode, “Man In” – click here
* For a review of the finale, “What Have You Done?” – click here
After the intense finish of last episode, Josh (Finn Cole) is left pondering a decision with Alexa Anderson (Ellen Wroe). Her suggestion was to call Detective Sandra Yates (Nicki Micheaux). But will he risk that in the face of Grandma Smurf (Ellen Barkin) and her gang?
Baz (Scott Speedman), Pope (Shawn Hatosy), Craig (Ben Robson), and Deran (Jake Weary) are headed into Camp Pendleton. They pass the vehicle inspection, then they’re in.
At home, Smurf is left wondering where Josh is – he’s busy switching the SIM card out of his phone because his grandmother tracks him, plus all his uncles. Now, he’s meeting with Dt. Yates, as Alexa pulls him in deeper into a scary situation.
Out at the base, the Cody Boys head into the paintball course, gear on, masks ready. They get into a pretty good game with a ton of other players. Until they break off from the pack to their target. Lieutenant Commander Paul Belmont (C. Thomas Howell) slips them a key to open a locked gate from which they emerge dressed in Navy camouflage.
Up at the Cody house, Catherine (Daniella Alonso) shows up with her daughter, as grandma does her daily cleaning. There’s lots of tension, though, and Catherine is trying her best to play into whatever Smurf expects of her. She even tries apologising, mending bridges. I’m not just worried about J anymore. I’m worried for Catherine. Even worse, she steals a bunch of money from behind the dryer while Smurf is in the other room. Scarier still? Catherine’s daughter lets slip that mommy’s friend has a car with “a siren” and she’s not supposed to tell daddy about that. Holy. Fuck. This is getting very worrisome.
The boys are moving steadily through their mission at Camp Pendleton. They’ve made their way into the warehouse and find the lot where the money’s held. Baz, Craig, and Pope get to work bagging money while Deran waits outside the warehouse. The amount of money is staggering.
Simultaneously, Josh is meeting with Yates, as well as Patrick (Dorian Missick), the cop who knows Catherine. Either way the truth is coming out about Smurf, the uncles, and Yates makes clear: “You‘re expendable, Josh. And you know it. You‘re like the colt who can‘t keep up with the herd when the wolves arrive. And the wolves are circling, Josh.”
Josh is being pressed by Yates to give up more information. He refuses to talk about Nicky (Molly Gordon) and her father. Yates is offering a way out, however, none of the police ever think truly about what it’ll be like for someone, especially a family member, after they rat out those close to them. And speaking of people in danger, Smurf’s already discovered the cop friend, now it looks as if she’s found out about Catherine stealing money. None of these issues are going to pan out well.
At the warehouse, the Cody Gang find soldiers kicking around. Luckily for them they’re not headed for the cage where the money’s being stolen. A pulse pounding moment or two. Afterwards, the boys load the cage with the dummy money they prepared, they wrap and seal the plastic again, strap the pallet in, and nobody’s the wiser. What a plan, too. They wrap the money in bags, snap GSP locators on them, then dump it into barrels of diesel or something similar. Tricky, tricky.
With J, things are getting sketchier. Yates wants him to wear a wire: “He might just do it for pussy,” she says wondering if Alexa might “open her legs” for J to get things rolling. Although Patrick doesn’t feel morally capable of letting that happen.
Something I’ve not mentioned enough is the music. The score for the show is absolutely amazing, such an impressive addition that works alongside all the suspense, the tension, the adrenaline. Courtesy of Samuel Jones and Alexis Marsh (Preservation).
And after all their treachery, the Cody Gang heads back onto the paintball course, just like nothing ever happened. They head out, have the SUV chopped, each doing their little part to finish the job off right. True professional thieves. Back at the house, Smurf has a nice big apple pie waiting; a tradition after the latest job. She’s glad to have her boys back following their haul. Meanwhile, Baz is taking “first watch” on the money, as Craig and Deran eat their pie, fire up some weed.
Now Alexa is trying to draw J into the web of deceit of the law. They want him to talk, by any means necessary. Yates needs Alexa to seduce the young man, and that may prove to be just as dangerous as anything else. He’s still a teenager. This could do a lot of damage to him. They fall into bed together, though Alexa cries the entire time. She’s not making it better for herself, or for him. The cops need somebody else other than J to make their case. This, none of it, will end well.
At the same time, Smurf tells Pope about Catherine – the money, that she may be talking to police. This troubles him. “She‘s a user,” Mama tells her little boy. “We brought her into our family, but that girl she only cared about herself. I watched her lead you on.” Smurf continues dripping poison into her boy’s ear. That’s another dangerous element. She pounds the betrayal of Catherine into him. Worries me how he’ll deal with all that.
So he goes to her place in the night. He tells Catherine that Smurf knows about the money, the cop. Well, she plays it as being nothing. Problem is that Mama Smurf doesn’t believe that Catherine is not a threat. Everything starts to get creepier. The tension mounts and we begin to wonder exactly what Pope is there to do. This sends Catherine into a frenzy, trying to find any weapon possible nearby. That is, until they start stripping each other, kissing, and they wind up between the sheets…
…where Pope smothers her to death, crying as he does. Probably the most intensely emotional, disturbing scene that’s happened in the entire series so far. Not only was that Baz’s girlfriend, she left behind a little daughter, as well.
The cops are really pressing Josh. Things have changed, though. He’s now roped into Alexa and her physicality. He calls Smurf to let him know he won’t be home, staying at a friend’s, all that. But you can see Grandma Smurf is not pleased when Craig tells her that J is banging his teacher. “Hot as shit, I‘d be bangin‘ her, too,” he tells his mother. The look on her face says it all. She doesn’t like when her boys are into anyone else too much; anybody that isn’t her.
One of her boys is being really naughty. Out digging a grave. While he’s hauling Catherine’s corpse out of the vehicle, her daughter lies asleep in the backseat. How infinitely sad and tragic.
In the morning, Deran takes over the money watch post, as Baz heads back home. To nothing. Simultaneously, Josh is finding the cops applying more pressure: they want him to wear a wire. Yates says he wears the wire, or maybe Smurf finds out where he’s been all night, talking to the police. She spins a hard tale about the Cody uncles. You can see that Patrick isn’t as keen as Yates, he doesn’t like to see Alexa clinging onto Josh and pushing him to a decision. I’m thinking this will make everything more difficult at some point.
When Baz gets home in the morning, he finds no Catherine. Only their little girl.
And Smurf is left alone with her thoughts, imagining what sort of madness comes next.
Another near perfect episode! What an awesome penultimate Season 1 chapter. The last one is titled “What Have You Done?” and I’m betting all the Cody secrets are about to spill forth. Stay with me.
TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 1, Episode 8: “Man In”
Directed by Larry Teng
Written by Megan Martin
* For a review of the previous episode, “Goddamn Animals” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Judas Kiss” – click here
Craig and Deran Cody (Ben Robson & Jake Weary) are doing a little job at the local arcade. You can be damn sure Mama Smurf (Ellen Barkin) knows nothing of this one. Or does she? Doesn’t seem to me she’d want them doing such petty shit.
At the same time, Baz (Scott Speedman) and Paul Belmont (C. Thomas Howell) are laying out the plans for their military base job coming up. Although Smurf and Pope (Shawn Hatosy) aren’t as keen on things as Baz. But we’ve seen Belmont get pulled right into the criminal world of the Cody Gang; hook, line, sinker.
Josh (Finn Cole) talks with Alexa Anderson (Ellen Wroe), letting her know exactly how wrong what she did to him is, how bad things could get for him if he becomes any further involved. Alexa has this rosy-coloured glasses view on the world, somehow, even after being a junkie herself. She thinks there’s a way to get J out of there, to take down his family without hurting him. However, he lets her know plain and simple: “You have no idea what they‘d do to me.”
There’s more convincing needed to get Paul to crossover the last threshold, and Baz greases the wheels, best he can. In other news, Nicky (Molly Gordon) shows up, so Craig distracts her. Only I worry to what ends that may lead.
In regards to Paul, he and the Codys aren’t exactly all on the same page. You can see the scepticism in Pope’s eyes, though that isn’t exactly new. After Belmont leaves, J gets questioned by his family. About whether he has criminal charges. He has none and they’re ready to get him more involved. Or at least that’s how it looks.
Detective Sandra Yates (Nicki Micheaux) is pushing up further on the Codys, now talking to Baz’s girlfriend Catherine (Daniella Alonso). Yates tells her that Smurf killed her parents. Seriously? That’s the fire Yates was telling Alexa about previously. The one Pope set. Oh, god damn. So now Catherine’s being offered Wit-Pro, all the usual things. Yet there’s no way to pull her away from Baz. Not so far, anyway.
Down on the beach, Craig and Nicky sit smoking a joint, which soon devolves into doing cocaine. That’s great. Who knows what happened there, as we only see Craig go back home alone later. There’s a possibility maybe Uncle Craig has a crush now.
Meanwhile, Uncle Pope takes J out near Camp Pendleton, the military base. He rides in on bike, backpack over his shoulders. They scan his ID, his bag. All clean. Then inside he heads.
Again we see Baz back at his old man’s trailer. He keeps cash there. Out of nowhere his father Ray (Dennis Cockrum) shows up. Last time Baz was there he’d been locked up for a drunk and disorderly. Says he’s trying to stay off the booze. Although none of that impresses Baz after a lifetime of shit.
J is one hell of a sneaky bastard. He gets to Building 13, past a bunch of aircrafts. Climbs a couple ladders, hiding from a helicopter lifting off. Bad ass. He gets to a vent then tosses some paper with a lit cigarette attached inside before running off frantically. Yikes.
Out in a scrapyard, Baz and Pope are meeting Vin (Michael Bowen) to pay him off with $10L. Pope wants the guy out of his life. Except it doesn’t feel like Vin’s ready to “move on” like Baz suggests. More of Pope’s prison life slips out, as the old pal and protector mentions a guard who liked to “play a little game” with the Cody brother. That sounds terrifying, and ugly.
On the base J gets cornered by two MPs. They let the kid go without any trouble. Dumb asses. There’s a possibility they might’ve headed off something big if only there was a bit of action on their part. If only.
There’s always friction in the Cody Gang. We see the need for Pope to always try and be the man, the top dog and most useful member of their clan. To the point of alienating his own kin. Still, he is crazy, so you can’t really get in his way too much. Afterwards when Josh finally gets home he discovers the job is done, everything worked out. His family waits with open arms, shots, congratulations. He gets a cut for doing his part. That’s what being part of this family means.
Pope knows there’s something bothering his mother. It isn’t simply their upcoming job. Little Andrew knows his mother better than she knows herself. Their relationship has been more than close for far too long.
Catherine is also trying to hide all those emotions re: her parents, their death. What may have truly happened. When she talks to Baz about it he’s only demeaning to them. Could there be truth to what Yates said? Was he complicit in any of it? That night when they burned, he called her to sneak out. You just know there’s a deeper, darker deception hiding in Baz.
When Baz and Pope sit alone together, ironing bills, they get talking about “Hilty” – the guard Vin referenced earlier. Seems Pope beat up a guard, so they all kicked the shit out of him. Hilty used a bit of Abu Ghraib to make things worse, chaining him naked in solitary, blasting music. Definitely ugly stuff. The conversation soon switches to whether Paul is trustworthy. And Baz is sure. Well, that’s what he says.
Next day the Codys are gearing up. J isn’t exactly feeling great. He is not only further into the family business, he’s in worse danger concerning the law due to the direct involvement in crimes. Moreover, he straight up asks Baz: “Are you my dad?” There’s not much love coming from Barry. Mostly a bit of asshole talk, as we’re seeing more of lately. Not to mention he’s alienating someone that could bring everything down on their heads pretty damn easily.
Deran worries about the family mental state. “There‘s just something in the air,” he tells Craig. The risks involved with the Camp Pendleton job are the main worry, and what the family mental state will do to it, in turn what it can also do to their freedom. One bit of good news? Catherine isn’t planning on snitching. For the time being.
Daddy issues of his own, Baz goes to see the old man again. He sits a bottle of whiskey in front of him. He talks about all the things he hates, his father trying to make amends in the tiniest ways, admitting to his issues. But it all prompts Baz to attack him, forcing the liquor down his throat in an act of rage. Yikes.
The other Codys are fitting out a vehicle to get the job set. Everything’s looking in the right place. Even Pope thinks so, too. That’s a nice sign.
J tries to tell Nicky she and her father need to stay away from the Cody Gang. She lashes out, though, saying she did coke with Craig before fucking him. Whoa, if that’s true then things are already bad enough.
Lieutenant Commander Paul Belmont oversees a shipment of money being locked up at the base. He eyes it with more caution this time. Outside in his car, he calls Baz to let him know the game is on. When he heads off then Catherine starts packing. Has she made a decision?
The Codys are all getting smooches from Smurf, each dressed in military green and tan camo. Off they head to start the infiltration.
After the boys are gone Smurf finds Vin sniffing around their gate. At least she has a shotgun. Well, he doesn’t like being paid off. He felt he was “family” because of what he did for Pope in jail. Mama ain’t got time for his shit, though. Vin pushes his luck pretty far until the trigger nearly gets pulled. I only wonder if he’s going to cause the Codys more trouble with what he knows about them from his prison time with Pope. Wait and see.
And Josh? He’s all but ready to break down, rushing into the arms of Ms. Anderson once more. Dangerous.
Josh: “Everything good, they destroy.”
Another solid episode. We’re closer to the end of the season now, only the penultimate episode and finale left. Episode 9 is titled “Judas Kiss” and that name makes me think there’s about to be lots of trouble rearing its head. Legal trouble, specifically. Who will be the Judas?
TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 1, Episode 7: “Goddamn Animals”
Directed by Tim Southam
Written by Eliza Clark
* For a review of the previous episode, “Child Care” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Man In” – click here
Mama Smurf Cody (Ellen Barkin) is headed off to do her own thing. She leaves Baz (Scott Speedman) with a regular salary for her and the boys, rather than the full amount they’re owed for the last job. Nobody’s happy, though she doesn’t care. She runs shit her way. Craig (Ben Robson) and Deran (Jake Weary) are likely going to not do what they’re supposed to. Pope’s (Shawn Hatosy) too busy sparring his punching bag to care about anything.
Meanwhile they’re all wondering about Josh (Finn Cole). He spent the night over at the house of Alexa Anderson (Ellen Wroe). When he tries leaving she wants more information. Then he opens up a little about his uncle Pope, the family business. Uh oh.
Pope is pissed that Baz knew about mom slipping him pills. “I kinda think you like me crazy; less competition,” says Pope.
Of course there’s still the clear love of Deran for Adrian (Spencer Treat Clark). Just the way he looks at him, you can tell the dude is shook. He simply can’t come out; to himself, or to anyone around him. “Maybe we should go back to Belize,” he suggests to Adrian. However, there’s an obvious rift between them that won’t ever close. Adrian’s friend that Pope threw in the ocean has an infection, so that doesn’t sit well with the guy. Anyway, Craig shows up, so the two lovers act like nothing’s going on. Or, Deran does. Not so much Adrian. He wants more.
Detective Sandra Yates (Nicki Micheaux) is pleased with the way Alexa is working J. Now there needs to be more. Well, Ms. Anderson fucked up with drugs and she’s found herself on the hook to do whatever the cops need, so any worry she has for J is dashed by the looming spectre of jail.
In other news, Baz returns the briefcase to Paul Belmont (C. Thomas Howell). He’s more than glad to have it back. So much so he starts talking a bit too loosely with Barry, perhaps saying more than he should. Baz is sucking him in further and further with each passing moment. At the same time, Josh comes back to Smurf’s place. Briefly he talks to Paul – nice guy all around – and you can see Josh cares for Nicky (Molly Gordon). A threat from Uncle Barry makes the kid wise up even more than he has already.
Out doing her thing, Smurf has a friend doing a bit of work for her. Favours. That sort of jazz. He isn’t just a friend. He’s a father to at least one of the boys. Yikes. Such a brief encounter and we get a ton of expository information without a load of dialogue. Great writing that’s made this series lots of fun and so interesting thus far.
And Pope, he’s still got his old buddy Vin (Michael Bowen) sniffing around trying to get him in on a job. Pissed off that they didn’t do that last job together. But he also has a new job for them. When Pope goes with him to case the place it doesn’t turn out he likes the idea. Neither does that conclusion sit well with his old pal Vin.
Baz, a.k.a deadbeat husband and father, promises Catherine (Daniella Alonso) they’ll have another child. Yet Smurf does not approve. Will that hold him back? You can already see Catherine believes it will indeed.
What is Mama Smurf up to? She’s at a garage filled with some gorgeous cars. Stealing? Buying? No telling what’s up that sleeve of hers.
Josh heads back to see Ms. Anderson, or Alexa, as they’re on a first name basis. He finds the place out of order a little. In the bedroom he finds her wasted, throwing up. Likely on the heroin again, or oxy. The good man he is, J helps her to the bathroom and holds her hair as she vomits. Sad to watch him have to go through this with someone else now after his mother. Not too long later they fall into bed together. Goood damn.
At the Cody place there’s a big party going. Tons of people. Kegs. Barbecue. Uncle Craig snatches up his niece from Catherine, as she goes on into the crowd. In the midst of it all sits Adrian, a jaded look on his face. Afterwards, he and Deran go into the garage where they talk a moment, before Adrian walks away. Deran has to make it all look smooth, as Craig is in the driveway with his little niece. Almost giving himself away there.
Vin shows up around Baz, saying things about Pope and what he had to say about his ‘brother’ while in prison. That Catherine was his girl. That the daughter was his daughter. With the hurt feelings over their latest work, Vin wants a piece of some action Baz has going on in order to pay up for keeping Pope safe in jail. This is not going to go over well. I can see Vin meeting an end soon enough, which is probably going to be at the hands of Pope. Or is Baz about to step in? Speaking of Pope he’s talking to Catherine again, stalking her essentially. The look in his eyes says love. The way he goes about it says something else entirely.
The obviousness of Deran’s sexuality is clear to Craig. He doesn’t care. He just would rather if his brother wasn’t a jerk because Adrian is a good guy. Wow. I never expected that, least of all from Craig. Although those two have a good, solid bond between them, as it looks now.
Craig (to Deran): “I don‘t care who you have sex with, why do you think I invited him?”
Smurf is out with the guy from the garage. She continues plying information out of him, or trying to at least. We get a flash of her with that young surfer dude with the blonde hair, a picture of him and who I assume to be Smurf’s mother. We see more of Smurf as a young woman, the blonde haired man from the photo in the gallery, and he’s shot a woman inside a store. They rush out to the car.
The man from the garage is the man from the photograph. Jesus. I saw it coming, but still. Incredible.
When Baz finds the Cody house in full swing he isn’t overly happy. Mostly, he wants to talk with Pope. They chat about Vin, his threats, what he had to say about Pope and Catherine. So on. The two semi-brothers are at quite a crossroads. There’s a ton of animosity inherently stuck within Pope, always raging to get out. For a moment, he and Baz talk about Julia: “She was supposed to be your sister, too,” Pope tells him.
At the garage, Smurf gets into the old car her once blonde haired friend bought years ago. He talks about how he used to party with a woman, she was wild, got him into crazy things. He gave her young twelve-year-old girl the nickname Smurf because she’d swim in the water until she turned blue. What a whopper of a scene and exchange between these two. You can see the frantic memories running behind Smurf’s eyes, terrifying her.
Back home, Baz and Catherine talk about Pope. She tells him about his sort of stalking. “He loves you, he always has,” Baz says nonchalant. Like it doesn’t even bother him, really. Then up shows Craig, there’s movement in terms of their next job. They need to get ready. In the meantime, Catherine calls her cop friend for a little consoling.
Deran rushes to Adrian. He kisses him right out in the open. Only Adrian shrugs him off and doesn’t want to pursue their relationship anymore. Not the way Deran wanted it before. That’s all ruined their chances.
Baz goes to see Paul while he’s playing some basketball. He takes a chance and tells Belmont about everything; the robbery, the briefcase. Then gives the man an opportunity to do something big and Baz gives some advice: “If you‘re gonna cross the line, make sure it‘s a line worth crossing.”
When Smurf gets back she finds Baz knows she didn’t go for a rip in Vegas. Otherwise, the big Navy job is looking swell. Seems like Paul is on board. Barry knows Smurf isn’t well when she cries right there and then. Did she kill the man? What happened?
Great episode. Offered up plenty of nice backstory, as well as developed a couple characters in some much needed ways. Next episode is titled “Man In” and I bet we’ll see a nice dose of adrenaline soaked excitement; big things are coming.
TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 1, Episode 6: “Child Care”
Directed by Regina King
Written by Etan Frankel
* For a review of the previous episode, “Flesh is Weak” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Goddamn Animals” – click here
We’ve got SO MUCH going down on Animal Kingdom, from Deran (Jake Weary) coming home to Mama Smurf (Ellen Barkin), to Josh (Finn Cole) getting semi-seduced by his teacher Ms. Alexa Anderson (Ellen Wroe), who also happens to be an informant for the cops. Yikes.
Pope (Shawn Hatosy) is sitting in a holding cell while Baz (Scott Speedman) is out showing Lt. Commander Paul Belmont (C. Thomas Howell) how fun it is to rip around in his sleek, fast car. He’s getting closer to the man, so that their next job might prove very useful. Down to the jail goes Smurf to collect Pope. Apparently he violated parole for a failed drug test. Ah, could that be those little pills mom is doping her boy with?
At school, J finds Ms. Anderson out of class. Hmm, suspicious, no? Maybe she needs a bit of distance because of her new legal task. Actually it’s more the fact Alexa does not want to do this to Josh. But she bought heroin off an undercover cop, and now finds herself under the thumb of Dt. Sandra Yates (Nicki Micheaux).
The closer Belmont and Baz get, the more I worry for him. He’s obviously not going to be complicit in any robbery. However, what I worry is that Paul and his daughter Nicky (Molly Gordon) may get violently caught up in whatever the Cody Gang plans on executing. For now, Baz continues to warm to Paul. He starts figuring out that Belmont is connected to the financial aspect of the Navy. He has something to do with configuring the ATMs on the ships, so on, and this clearly puts him in touch with a ton of money. The lights in Baz’s head go on, bright. What’s most worrisome is that Smurf continually reels Pope in, lying to him, hiding the truth. It’s scary what might happen eventually. And the fact there’s a job brewing alongside all of it doesn’t make anything easier.
Dt. Yates builds her trust with Alexa by bringing her to the scene of a crime, where Smurf had Pope burn a house down to cover up witnesses. Vicious stuff. “This is what they do to outsiders,” Yates tells Alexa. She plays up the angle that Josh is not one of the Codys, and the only way to get him out of danger is to pull him away from grandma and the uncles.
At home, the Cody Gang meets up to talk about what Baz has planned. Of course there’s a little resistance to such a lofty goal. And nobody is happy about having Belmont involved. For his part Baz believes Paul is ready to break bad, and then they can get him to help. But nobody other than Smurf is too willing to start looking into it. The more alienated Pope becomes, the more unstable the Cody Gang becomes.
And aside from how Baz fits in with the boys, we continue to get a look at his other life, his father. Baz finds the trailer where his dad stays in complete disarray. He feeds the cat, he checks up, but finds no one there. No wonder he gravitated to Smurf. When it comes to Deran and Craig (Ben Robson), they aren’t totally on board with everything. They don’t like how Baz is the big man in charge. Only Deran especially can’t go against mama, and the division between all the Codys is incredibly evident, more by the day.
There’s more to Baz apart from Smurf and the Codys. He’s also got his wonderful wife Catherine (Daniella Alonso) at home, alone and lonely. He finally reveals to Catherine about his father living in a trailer, out of jail, that he goes to check on him. She doesn’t like that he still talks to his father, after all he was put through as a boy. We further discover Smurf knows nothing of it. Could be more trouble.
All the Cody boys have their little secrets from mom for the most part. Craig’s turned his back on the latest job, not wanting to skip Renn’s (Christina Ochoa) little party. Is he out of trouble on that front, though? I’m still waiting for his devious deed, leaving her alone and OD’ing, to come back and bite him. If she finds out there’ll be hell to pay.
Deran and Pope are out on a little house job. Moreover, the older of the two makes it clear: “Something happens tonight, I‘m comin‘ out firing, do you understand me? They‘re gonna have to kill me, ‘cause I‘m not going back inside.” This begins to illustrate that something definitely happened to Pope in prison. Rape? Assault? Something. Just can’t be sure. Anyway, the two Codys go on in to get their homework assignment from Mama Smurf finished. It’s the Belmont home and they’ve come to check up on things. On their way out they set off an alarm and that alerts Paul.
The time for Renn putting together what really happened? Looks like now. Renn found out Sage, the guy Craig went after for her, was not around when she got robbed. Uh oh. She figured it all out. A few of her friends have some plans for Craig. They strap him to a chair, tie off his arm, and prepare a nice, heavy dose of H to overdose him with. Well, it isn’t real. They just scare the shit out of Craig, making him piss himself. Now he owes about $7K, or else he’s really going to die. Man, oh man. What a twisted night. Gets even wilder once Craig calls Smurf down there to work things out. More embarrassment for Big Craig – first pissing himself, now calling his mommy. Even worse, she gives away his bike, as well.
When the Belmonts get home they find the place totally trashed, all sorts of things stolen – television, computer, even Paul can’t find his briefcase. And Josh is in one hell of a moral jam. He knows exactly who broke in. When he asks Deran about it, his uncle is of course resistant, and he also doesn’t take responsibility; Baz is the one pulling these strings. “He‘s not done with him,” Deran tells his nephew, re: Baz’s plans for Paul.
Smurf: “Don‘t you mistake my generosity for weakness”
Craig opens up to Smurf and tries to tell her how he feels left out, neglected. Although mom believes he’s able to do things his brother can’t, or won’t, and that is his strength. At the same time she tells him not to call her again in this type of jam: “Because I will not come.” Sooner or later every little boy needs to be weaned off mother’s milk.
To stave off any further trouble, Josh tries to break things off with Nicky. He knows the danger of her being involved with him, as his family is only bringing heartbreak, pain, violence to hers. Nicky does step over the line slightly, making a comment about J’s mom. All the same it is a shitty thing. Josh doesn’t want to do it, but he does so out of love for her ultimately.
The Codys are all at lunch together, some of mom’s good cornbread and spicy chilli. And this is where Pope starts to notice things are sketchy. He insists on taking Craig’s bowl. Then Deran breaks it up by taking Pope’s, so then mom takes Deran’s for her own. Wow. It’s become painfully clear what is happening. Pope realises his mother is doing more of the puppet act she’s so well known for, and things won’t be good from here on in. Upstairs, J lies to Smurf and says Nicky broke up with him. Good lord. So many lies and deceitful acts between family.
Over at the Belmont place, Baz meets up with Paul, the latter of whom is concerned for his classified documents after the briefcase has gone missing. He worries about getting court marshalled, fired. All that. So Baz offers to have some shady tenants look for the briefcase. This is the first slide into badness that Baz serves up for Paul. To see how things look for the future. The unknowing Lt. Commander Belmont walks right into the trap. Outside, Nicky tells Baz about Josh breaking up with her. This looks as if it made Baz angry. He needs the Cody family as close to the Belmonts as possible. So he calls Josh and arranges to meet for a beer. Great.
Smurf comes clean to Pope about the pills. Good woman. Certainly Pope isn’t pleased, especially after the piss test debacle. Mom only wants him healthy, but her boy doesn’t always want to listen. “You don‘t like me unless I‘m on these pills?” he asks, like a little kid disappointed that his mother scolded him. The worry in Smurf’s eyes speaks volumes.
Out by the ocean, Baz meets with Josh. He trips J up in a lie about who dumped who. Semi-Uncle Baz warns Josh: “You‘re lucky you and I are just talking right now. You‘re lucky.” The uglier side of Big Barry comes out with each passing chapter. No longer is he the safe haven from the others he was before. Josh is truly alone within his own family.
As usual, Baz and Smurf chat alone together. He lets her in on the whole situation with J, how he’s been acting, and what that may mean for them going forward. They know something must be done. So what is it? Is Nicky in danger?
This whole situation only serves to drive Josh further from the family, into terrifying waters. He goes to see Alexa. The divide in his family is going to push him into a space where the cops are getting closer. Who knows what this relationship between J and Ms. Anderson will bring.
A great, great episode. I love this series! Every week it gets better, from acting to writing. Every last iota of the show is near perfect. I was sceptical at first, but boy, did I ever find myself proven wrong. Next episode is titled “Goddamn Animals” and I’m sure we’re about to take a trip down some dangerous roads.
TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 1, Episode 5: “Flesh is Weak”
Directed by Christopher Chulack
Written by Megan Martin
* For a review of the previous episode, “Dead to Me” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Child Care” – click here
With Grandma Smurf (Ellen Barkin) now on his back, Josh (Finn Cole) is faced with an all new Cody Family dynamic. But for the beginning of this episode we flash back to a younger Deran (Jake Weary) skateboarding with his friends, one of whom is Adrian (Spencer Treat Clark). So it’s clear, from the look on Adrian’s face watching Deran heroically fly off the pier into the water after grinding a bench, their attraction has been going on a long, long time. Sadly, Deran obviously feels within his family he can’t trust any of them with his secret.
I say this is a flashback simply because Adrian’s hair is slightly different, Deran looks a bit younger in the way he dresses. So though it isn’t completely clear, I do believe this is a flash to earlier days. Not crazy long ago, just a little while before now. Plus, do you ever see Deran hanging with many people outside his little circle?
Back in present day, Baz (Scott Speedman) and Deran meet up at the beach. Baz wants to get things going, as Smurf says the jobs are good to go again. But Deran says he’s “done” and that he doesn’t want any more of his mother’s bullshit. At home, the Cody Gang are talking about the new job. Pope (Shawn Hatosy) isn’t exactly pleased with his mother’s plan while Craig (Ben Robson) just goes along, mostly. For his part, Pope doesn’t want to do a small time job, he’d rather go big.
In other news, the Cody Family now meets Lieutenant Commander Paul Belmont (C. Thomas Howell). He’s looking for his daughter Nicky (Molly Gordon), who hasn’t been home in awhile. She’s been staying over at the Cody compound. You know Smurf does a good job talking things out, though. She even invites the Belmont crew over for supper. Inside, the boys talk about Belize, and how Deran once took off for months, so that’s why Smurf is a little more lenient with him; she doesn’t want a repeat. Big brother Pope offers to go get his younger brother. Ah, this is going to play out well. And there’s also the fact Smurf just doesn’t want Pope there, so she agrees totally. Later, the Belmonts head over for supper and things go pretty well. Baz talks with Paul, as the Navy man recounts stories of overseas duty and so on. Little apple pie for dessert. It’s all smooth.
Adrian and Deran are on good terms again. They hang, surf, smoke joints. Adrian introduces Deran to his buddy Dave (Adam Huber), but you can see there’s jealousy on the part of the ever aggressive Cody. He feels like there’s another man hovering around. His insecurities are alive and well. At the same time, Pope goes looking for his little bro only to find his apartment in complete disarray, beer bottles, food, all sorts of things just rotting away. Then he sits. And waits.
Renn (Christina Ochoa) is recovering. She also has an idea about who robbed her. For a second Craig almost thinks he’s been found out. However, she believes it’s a guy named Sage that is supposedly a friend, a customer. Now Renn wants his legs broken. Oh, man.
And then we can’t forget about Deran. He follows Adrian and Dave, as they head out on the town together. Nothing overtly romantic happens, though the two are close, and you can just feel the tension mounting in Deran. Not good. At all. Afterwards, he sneaks into Arian’s place, wrestles him into bed and they fuck. Adrian isn’t happy with their relationship, he wants more. We find out Belize was all about him and Adrian, too. But the Cody boy is still afraid of mommy finding out.
So there’s also Josh, sneaking out to an art exhibit with his teacher, Alexa Anderson (Ellen Wroe). They talk, admire art. She drinks and talks casually, if not a bit flirty, even dirty at times. There’s such a clear violation of professional behaviour here. Even more so when she invites Josh in after they leave the gallery. I’m interested to see where this all heads. Smurf won’t like this, whatsoever. An older woman going after J, it might hit close to home, and could cause something extremely scary.
We keep seeing more of Baz – stressed by the Cody Gang drama – and his Mexican girlfriend, which I’m waiting to see implode. Pope clearly doesn’t like that Barry takes off with another woman since he has a deep thing for Catherine (Daniella Alonso). Speaking of Pope, he goes to see Adrian looking for Deran. Does Pope know, or at least suspect? Hard to tell for sure.
When Smurf goes to do J’s laundry, she finds a postcard-type picture from the exhibit. Something on it does not make her happy.
Pope finally tracks down his younger brother. He’s clearly got love for Deran, even in the smallest sense. He tries to tell Deran to come back. They talk about all sorts of things, from Smurf to Belize. Obviously some of the Cody boys want to get out from under their domineering mother. We see more of the bond between brothers, as Deran tells Pope: “If you do somethin‘ and you don‘t ask me why, I‘ll come home.” Is something bad about to happen to Dave, or Adrian? My bet’s on the former. Christ, this is tense.
The other brother Craig is busy looking for Sage, so he can beat him down good and hard for Renn. Craig admits there’s apprehension on his part, but when the guy fights back instead of playing along like he wants, the whole thing gets more serious.
At the gallery, Smurf goes to find a particular portrait, a man surfing. She knows him. Is this a former husband? Josh’s father? I’d bet Smurf had a relationship with him because the way she goes after finding the guy out is emotional, if not she wouldn’t bother so much. Well, she and the lady photographer who shot the picture wind up having a little lesbian fun, as Smurf tries seducing the man’s identity out of her.
Josh goes out collecting rent for Smurf. One guy gives him an ultimatum – weed now, come back for rent later. The guy tries to strong arm him, but J stays his ground and the guy passes him the envelope a second later. A really suspenseful second or two, I thought something nuts was going to go down. Over at home, Nicky is sitting poolside and Baz breaks them out a couple beers. They chat like friends, about dinner the other night, her father Paul, all that stuff. What’s interesting is a moment where Nicky mentions his classified documents, a briefcase. A slight glimmer passes through Baz’s eyes. Next job? Uh oh.
In the night, Josh goes to Ms. Anderson’s place and starts kissing her. She stops, though, and he agrees: “I‘ll see you in class.” Hmm. An odd, awkward moment.
Pope finds Dave out on the dock. He shocks him, then takes the guy’s boat out on the water. Poor Dave is zip tied for the ride. Pope cuts them off then tosses Dave overboard to let him swim back to shore. He has no idea why Deran wants it done, but he does his little brother a favour. But what does this solve? Dave will likely make it back to shore, right? He makes it back and Adrian is pissed, he knows just what happened. He also has an idea about the way Smurf is with her boys. Something sinister is brewing within this closeted, fragile, deteriorating relationship.
As for Smurf, she is stuck on that mysterious surfer’s picture. She flashes back momentarily to coming out of a pool as a little girl, seeing an older boy above her waiting. Did the boys’ father do something bad to her? That might explain how fucked up she is as a mother and grandmother nowadays.
Deran goes slinking back home to mother, as always. She gladly takes him back in, lovingly. It’s clear none of the Codys, neither Smurf or her boys, are right without one another. And I was right – Baz has his eye on the Navy base. This is something pretty damn sketchy, and I can only imagine where it will lead.
The guy that gave J a hard time collecting rent was a setup by Smurf. To check his loyalty, surely. Such a hilarious criminal family. When Baz arrives in the morning he lets Smurf in on the Navy job idea. With Deran back, the whole gang is together once more. Things between Baz and Pope aren’t exactly perfect, either. But they’re all under the same roof at least.
Out on the pier, Ms. Anderson meets Detective Sandra Yates (Nicki Micheaux); she’s informing. Oh. Shit. Never expected that one. This adds an entirely new dimension to everything, from J and Ms. Anderson’s relationship to the next big job the Cody Gang are hoping to pull off.
Very good episode. Dig it, so hard. Excited to see the next one titled “Child Care” and I have to say, Animal Kingdom as a series is defying my expectations. Usually these remakes into series’ I hear about make me roll my eyes. This show is proving me wrong at every turn. If the writing is appropriate, a great movie can morph into a solid series. Just so long as the writers and directors are willing to flesh things out and dig into the material instead of rehashing. This one gets into all new territory, and I’m in love with it equally as much as the film. There, I said it!
TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 1, Episode 1: “Pilot”
Directed by John Wells
Written by Jonathan Lisco
* For a review of the next episode, “We Don’t Hurt People” – click here
David Michôd’s 2010 film Animal Kingdom was a tour-de-force in acting, tension, and the story of a family’s widening darkness. Of course set in Australia and telling the story of a crime family coming up violently against the police, Michôd did a great job drawing out an impressive drama that was riddled with secrets, power struggles, and so much more.
This new series from TNT begins right where the film did, too. Joshua Cody (Finn Cole) watches his mother overdose, and die. The paramedics come for her. Later, he’s forced to call his grandmother, Smurf (Ellen Barkin), to tell her the bad news. When grandma arrives she goes through her daughter’s things, y’know, in case there’s anything worth taking. Or anything that needs to be taken.
So Josh ends up having to go live with Smurf. They’ve been estranged for a decade. Over at grandma’s the place is like a palace, with nice vehicles outside, all the toys, a pool table inside. On the table next to some strawberries are stacks of cash, bundled. Looks like the Cody family are definitely into some shady shit.
So now we’re introduced to some of Smurf’s boys. Close family friend Barry ‘Baz’ Brown (Scott Speedman), plus two of her sons Craig and Deran Cody (Ben Robson/Jake Weary). They’re ready to party, as it seems is the norm. Grandma is busy getting cupcakes and other grub ready. For the time being, Josh is in the room where his uncle Andrew – a.k.a Pope (Shawn Hatosy) – usually stays.
But outside, the gang are a little at odds. Deran wonders if they can trust their little nephew. The others aren’t so sure, either. They’re wary of him because they don’t know what their now dead junkie sister Julia “put in his head“, but Smurf lays down the law and tasks them with figuring it out. “The kid is in until I say he isn‘t,” explains the matriarch.
Meanwhile, Josh’s mother is still on the hook for money to a local dealer. He knows Josh, he knows where they lived, so what’s stopping him from tracking the kid down? If he really wants that cash. So there’s a lot for the guy to deal with, right after the death of his mother. Lots of feelings delayed. At the same time, Smurf’s house is a veritable party place where her sons frolic. It’s a very free, weird atmosphere. Even more than the original film, which was odd enough re: the relationship between mom and her sons. Smurf wears a revealing gown, showing off her body, as Craig storms out from his room naked. No secrets, though. That’s the strange message that does come across here. There is nothing hiding anything between Smurf and her boys, even if it ventures over the semi-incestuous border.
The uncles take their nephew for some surfing, to try and “suss him out“, as commanded by their mother. And after a confrontation with some other surfers, Craig puts a piece in Josh’s hand. He runs them off and they end up with a couple new boards for themselves.
Life is a general party for Smurf and the boys. A life too good to be true. Baz and his lady Catherine (Daniella Alonso) are usually around, their little girl, too. Big pool parties, all the time. Joints, beers, liquor, women. Lavish lifestyle on the regular. Josh slowly tries to become a part of the clan and get used to this new way of living.
Then, out of nowhere, Pope arrives, almost clandestine. He frightens Josh a little. And now we’re introduced to Pope, his history of bank robbery, jail, so on. There’s a bit of resentment in the air, as he makes clear the time served, out loud, for everybody to hear. His disposition is quiet, subtle. But anyone who knows actor Shawn Hatosy knows he can be volatile, so I look forward to him picking up on the role Ben Mendelsohn played so well in the original.
Josh is on the precipice of becoming part of a dangerous group of individuals. There’s obviously a good person in him. He doesn’t quite fit right in, even holding that gun with his uncle Craig at the beach. But it’s obvious there is a disconnect between him and the things his family are doing.
Speaking of fitting in, Pope isn’t happy with how things are after his jail sentence. Things have changed. Not that they’ve moved on, but naturally a criminal enterprise has to switch things up a little after one of its major players goes to jail. He wants back in, though, Smurf and Baz have to keep him slightly distant.
The worst part is that while Josh is part of the family, by blood, the rest of the family and Baz are not sure about him because he has this total other part of him, a life outside the family. This makes him a liability.
Meanwhile, Baz and the Cody brothers are out preparing for a job. They round up a bunch of junkies, lock them in a vehicle overnight to get it smelling terrible. What are they up to?
Later on with Uncle Pope, Josh talks awkwardly. Well Pope goes on about Josh’s mother, how they were twins, shared a room, all that sort of stuff. He genuinely seems to reach out in their moment together, even if Josh isn’t sure what to think. Either way there’s a budding connection between this uncle and his nephew, maybe that will go somewhere. I wonder how they’re planning on adapting things, so it’ll be interesting to watch the plot and the characters develop in a series.
At the cemetery, Josh finds his family confronted by a neighbour, Dina (Karen Malina White). She knew Josh and his mother, warning him about the family, what Julia did to keep him away from them all. A tense moment. We’ll surely see more of Dina at some point. I only hope nothing bad will happen to her at the hands of the Cody brothers.
Nobody’s all too upset over the death of Julia. The brothers aren’t torn up much. Smurf seems a little thrown of, but not as much as most mothers if their daughter died. Although, it’s obvious Julia pushed away from the family and their ways.
More of Pope trying to get back into the organization. On the side, away from everyone, Baz agrees to let him in on their job a little, without telling Smurf. The arrival of Pope is bound to bring about trouble, in many ways.
Josh gets to hanging out more with the family, his girlfriend Nicky (Molly Gordon) along for the fun. There is a lot of awkwardness which hangs over the crew. At times, Pope eyes Catherine – is there some sort of previous relationship with them? Then there’s Uncle Craig, who plies Nicky for money into catching food in her mouth; this sets up an underlying sexual tension, especially after she tucks the money into her bra afterwards. With all the odd, incestuous behaviour at grandma’s place, this only makes things more tense. A little later Craig is snorting coke in front of everyone, tempting Nicky, though, she opts not to go ahead; in her eye, a sparkle flickers, and there’ll be more to that eventually.
There is a truly eerie presence to Hatosy’s Pope here in this first episode. He even carries Nicky off to bed quietly before Josh finds him standing over her, breathing heavily. Jesus. This doesn’t totally shake Josh, but it obviously gives him an eye into some of the deviousness of his uncles. Next morning, Josh encounters more of his family and their weird behaviour. Pope just walks on in and stands there with his nephew, who is naked in the shower. We constantly see there are no boundaries, no hidden secrets or moments between any of these people. It’s discomforting, unnerving, and yes, downright frightening at times. There’s not even a sexual nature to the semi-incestuousness I’ve mentioned. It’s more like an absolute disregard for any individuality, they’re all just a collective, and nothing is kept secret; not actual secrets, nor the body.
But now we figure out what the junkies and their fluids were for – the boys are pulling a job and want to “keep the crime lab busy“, so aside from being absolutely disgusting for them to endure, it is a rather genius idea forensically.
At home, Smurf is not happy about Pope taking Josh out for some criminal fun. Pope gets very physical, both with Josh and even his own mother. There’s an awful, ugly tension between son and mother here in this scene. Nevertheless, he tells Josh: “You pass.” What a fucked up family, man. Their relationships are incredibly strange, extremely close. Josh doesn’t want much part of it right now. But with the death of his mother there isn’t anywhere else he has to go.
Baz and the Cody brothers pull off their heist. It’s a real smash and grab, which works perfectly with the piss and shit and puke covered SUV they prepared. Only they never expected a run-in with police. This puts a bullet in Craig’s shoulder, too.
Simultaneously, Josh discovers his inner bad ass. When the drug dealer from earlier tries to collect on his dead mother there’s trouble. Josh knocks the gun from his hands, turning the tables, and ends up walking away fine; piece and all. So while there’s a part of his family that can be useful, to teach him not to lay down and take shit, most of it is a dangerous mixture that will prove toxic. Still, he doesn’t see that. All he gets right now is the glamour, the fun, the excitement, all the wild partying.
Then he sees Craig being patched up. Both sides of become more clear. It’s even creepier, too. With Uncle Deran crying in his mother’s lap in the next room. So many angles. When Josh and Pope have a talk later, the uncle tries to make him more at home in the family. Will Josh slide further into their grip? It’s tough to tell.
Excited to see where the series goes from here. The pilot is promising. Not perfect, and nowhere near as amazing as the original film, but it has things to build on. Lots of intriguing plot to mine, great characters to develop. And the acting is stellar to start, especially from Hatosy and Barkin. Stay tuned, we’ll see more again soon enough.