Tagged Ben Robson

Animal Kingdom – Season 1, Episode 8: “Man In”

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
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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.
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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 theyd 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.

 

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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. “Theres 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.
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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.”
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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?

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Animal Kingdom – Season 1, Episode 6: “Child Care”

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
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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).
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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, Im cominout firing, do you understand me? Theyre gonna have to kill me, ‘cause Im 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. “Hes not done with him,” Deran tells his nephew, re: Baz’s plans for Paul.


Smurf: “Dont you mistake my generosity for weakness
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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.

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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 dont like me unless Im 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: “Youre lucky you and I are just talking right now. Youre 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.
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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.
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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.

Animal Kingdom – Season 1, Episode 5: “Flesh is Weak”

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
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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?
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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 dont ask me why, Ill 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: “Ill 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.
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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!