Before Janine could have her child, her life changed irreparably. And now, her boys' lives are changing in similar ways.
J has new problems with Olivia. Plus, Mama Smurf's got a job for her boys, and she's throwing a party.
Smurf hides her diagnosis, except from Pope. Meanwhile, J, Deran, and Craig all have big, big problems.
Smurf gets a diagnosis. J is struggling with Angela back again.
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 4: “Dead to Me”
Directed by Regina King
Written by Etan Frankel
* For a review of the previous episode, “Stay Close, Stick Together” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Flesh is Weak” – click here
An episode directed by TNT’s Southland alumni Regina motherfuckin’ King! Yeah, baby. Go on and get it. Let’s do this already.
Uncle Deran (Jake Weary) wakes up his nephew Josh (Finn Cole). He offers a free swing, apologising for the pool incident. J’s fine with things being smooth from here on in, though Deran is still a bit edgy. He’s only worried if Smurf (Ellen Barkin) knows everything is fine again. Downstairs, Baz (Scott Speedman) pulls in and helps poor, helpless Pope (Shawn Hatosy) make coffee. The Cody Boys discover there’s no breakfast. Smurf has been doing her own thing during the night, she had a man over. Nobody is surprised, but Pope doesn’t like the look of it. In other news, it’s his birthday. Everybody has big plans from sky diving to paintball. Pope’s not into any of it. All the while, Deran, Baz, they’re all hiding the fact they’ve made some of their own money since they were supposed to be keeping things on the down low. Upstairs, Josh finds himself in another awkward naked encounter with grandma Smurf; she gives him cash, unaware he also has more of it himself. She tries to get info, but Josh is solid. Probably more concerned his uncles would kill him if he blabbed. Still, Smurf knows there’s something up. She is not at all stupid.
So the boys are all having a fun time. Deran and Baz get the paintball kicking off, as a reluctant Pope gets pulled into it before smashing up the new gun. No fun, dude. All of a sudden Baz gets a text from Smurf: CUTBACK. He takes all the cellphones, switching out SIM cards. There’s something shitty about to happen. Emergency measures are taken. Everyone’s leaving town, or at least hiding out. Cash and anything else necessary is being packed, ready to ship off. Baz wants Pope to stay, but you know that ain’t sitting with the man himself. The Cody Boys and Baz all head to a safe house with food and supplies to wait on a call from their lawyer. As it turns out there’s no emergency. All Smurf. She knows there’s “bullshit jobs” going on without her involvement. Mama offers her boys once chance to come out with the truth. Then she shuts down her sons, telling them no more jobs, no more money. They’re cut off on their own now, so she says.
Josh is having a hard time adjusting to his family. Especially when you consider the fact he’s got school, a normal life, Nicky (Molly Gordon), and that’s tough to juggle. He gets caught smoking a joint at school, by a teacher who’s interest in him is not positively all teacher-like, in my opinion. That could end up going somewhere further. She isn’t exactly professional, smoking the joint and asking him to go to a photographer’s surf exhibit.
The Cody Boys and Big Baz are up in the air, getting ready to skydive. At that very same time, they argue about the side jobs they’ve been doing. Not a nice place to be arguing and pushing each other around like a bunch of animals. Sure enough, one of them gets tossed from the plane and then they all head for the air. This is an awesome sequence involving some GREAT stunts mid-air. These guys are lunatics. Whoever did the stunt work here are a bunch of wild dudes. Makes the whole thing plenty fun.
Catherine (Daniella Alonso) finds Josh coming to check on her, bringing mac and cheese. He’s such a good kid amongst a family of maniacs. In the meantime, Baz is over at his dad’s trailer again. Only dear ole dad is nowhere to be found. And Craig (Ben Robson), he finds his girlfriend Renn (Christina Ochoa) overdosed in her bathroom, dead. So he takes advantage, great guy he is, taking any jewellery and pills and whatever else he can find. What a man.
Josh is having a bit of a rough day, being his mother’s birthday and all. The Codys don’t talk of her “like she never existed” and Catherine knows this all too well. We find out more about Josh’s mother; Baz tried to get her help, but that didn’t work. She stole a lot of money from them, it seems. But mainly I’m sure Smurf couldn’t control her daughter, and lack of control is a problem for Mama Smurf when it comes to her brood. Speaking of her, she’s trying to keep Nicky close, digging her claws in.
And boy, does Craig have big trouble. His painkiller supply is in danger of drying up. At least he’s got plenty of other drugs kicking around. Well, that isn’t exactly good. There’s a chance he could burn out quick. Especially because he’s got addiction and guilt all rolled into one, all the while keeping secrets from mommy. Tsk, tsk.
We find Baz being a dick now to Josh. He doesn’t want the kid poking around. But it’s only because Baz is paranoid. About the Codys, about what Josh might want to know concerning his mother. About everything. He’s letting that tear his own family apart, as Catherine hates that Smurf controls him the way she does. Because that’s the bottom line, he’s worried about being “iced out” by the matriarch of the gang.
The birthday celebrations are still going hard. And the boys are all fretting over what their mom knows, even while sitting in a strip club. Deran is fronting hard trying to convince everyone, mostly his nephew, that he’s straight. Pope hooks Josh up with a lap dance while Baz tries to give Pope a nice time with a lady of his own. Except Pope has some issues – what exactly, I’m still not sure, though I have my guesses. Alone with the stripper, Pope reveals: “I can‘t remember the last time I had an erection.” Not just that, he seems so unbelievably wound up inside that it’s scary. Then he makes the woman say “we can‘t, Andrew” – and now I’m sure he’s had intimate contact with his mother. He and Smurf have had sex at some point. There is no doubt. Good fucking lord. I expected the incest, but still a shock.
Most interesting? Craig gets a call from Renn, alive and in the ER. Whoa, this could be a devastating turn.
Later on, Pope takes Josh out with him into the woods somewhere. He talks about the Seven Seals, the Horsemen, et cetera. He thinks maybe the Cody Boys and Baz are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. An eerie conversation. Just goes to show his warped, strange way of thinking. Then Uncle Pope takes his nephew over a fence to a graveyard. They’re headed for Josh’s mom, to pay respects to her grave on her and Pope’s birthday. There’s a side to Pope that is also gentle. It rarely comes out. More now I begin to think he’s so messed up because of things that have happened in his life. Things that could have, and should have, been prevented. The root of all the evil might just lie in Smurf. For the time being, Pope reminisces about his and his sister’s birthday, how they made wishes and told each other, keeping their secrets; the whole Cody family’s foundation is built purely on secrets, lies, hidden truths. Josh comes out and asks Pope about Baz and his mother. “Baz has a way of getting what he wants,” replies the uncle with an acidic tone. Moreover, we see that Pope has lingering feelings about what happened to his sister, and that he knows more than he lets on. No telling what happened to Julia for her to fall into such despair. Just being part of that family is enough to make a person an addict, as we can also see by looking at Craig.
At home, Smurf kicks everybody out. She is really putting that foot down. And then Baz snitches to Smurf, about Pope. He reveals the job Deran and Josh did with Pope. Ah, more ammo to fuel the fire between the brothers, between Pope and Baz, between Baz and the Cody Brothers. So many things coming together, pulling apart. There’s only so long this can last. I wonder how Smurf’s going to react to all this going forward. You can never tell with her devious behaviour.
In the hospital Craig finds Renn. She’s okay, though took a hard overdose. She also thinks there was a robbery. No idea that it was her supposedly sweet manfriend. Renn wants Craig to take care of who stole from her: “You hurt him and I‘ll make it worth your while.” He is a piece of shit for letting this happen.
Once Josh gets back home Smurf is waiting with a cupcake, a candle in it. She also wants to know the truth about her boys and what they’re doing behind her back. Further than that she makes clear that Josh needs to do right by her. Or else.
Everything is so intense and suspenseful within the wild Cody family. I love seeing Finn Cole in the midst of it, he does well with the character. I can’t wait for the next episode “Flesh is Weak” because there’ll be plenty more intrigue, excitement, and disturbing shit. Stay with me, fellow fans!
TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 1, Episode 3: “Stay Close, Stick Together”
Directed by Christopher Chulack
Written by Eliza Clark
* For a review of the previous episode, “We Don’t Hurt People” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Dead to Me” – click here
With all the lies, all the secrets floating around, can Josh Cody (Finn Cole) manage to keep his head above water? Can he survive his own family?
Pope (Shawn Hatosy) is out fishing, gutting and skinning some sharks. He receives a visit from an old friend wanting to a do a job. Then we find out that this guy thinks Pope is with Catherine (Daniella Alonso), and that they have a baby together. So, could the baby actually be Pope’s child, or is that merely his ego, telling people this or that, lying? Hard to tell. Either way, it weighs heavy on Pope.
Then there’s Josh who seems constantly plagued by the strain of his family. He even has to steal back the gold watch he gave Nicky (Molly Gordon). Heading out from her place he runs into Nicky’s father, Navy Lieutenant Commander Paul Belmont (C. Thomas Howell). Not good. Yet the father doesn’t go too hard. He’s fairly lenient, most of all concerned about how his daughter’s doing.
Baz (Scott Speedman) and his Mexican girlfriend bang while Craig (Ben Robson) is being fixed up. This is not a good side to Baz. I hoped there was an inherently good part of him compared to the others. Not quite.
Back at home, in America, Smurf (Ellen Barkin) is looking after Catherine’s daughter and asking Josh whether he’s having sex with Nicky. “Does she satisfy you?” asks grandma. The closeness of the Cody family is wonderfully creepy. You sense that Smurf loves her boys, but there’s an overprotective quality that borders on inappropriate. This was always alluded to in the original film, as Smurf had a penchant for kissing her boys right on the mouth, even as grown men. Here, Barkin’s crack at the character goes deeper into that element, and we start to see how she’s the criminal glue holding these boys together. As well as tearing them apart at times.
Pope isn’t feeling well lately. Probably because mom is slipping him anti-depressants or something else into the food he’s eating. Moreover, he also doesn’t like what has been happening at home. He does not like his nephew, him being around and possibly being a liability, nor does he like how Baz is the big king in the Cody Gang anymore. His mother’s trying to turn him around. But will that put her boys at odds? There’s a good chance.
Speaking of the boys, Baz and Craig are on a Mexican beach enjoying themselves. At least for a while. Craig’s wanting to do more jobs, as Baz tries to keep him from doing anything stupid.
Out collecting rent, Deran (Jake Weary) runs into Adrian (Spencer Treat Clark) – not only is he the one who owes money for the surf shop, he’s also the guy who was going down on Deran. His face is a mess. He dropped tons of cash on an MRI to make sure there were no internal injuries. Now, he doesn’t want to pay rent. It’s all on Deran, or else Smurf finds out her boy was sucking dick then decided to sucker punch the guy whose dick he sucked. Nasty stuff for ole Deran, he’s in quite the position.
Pope picks up Josh. As advised by his mother, the uncle plans on bringing his nephew into the fold. Just not Baz’s fold. He wants to exert some of his influence on the kid and get him on the perceived ‘right’ side of the family. This will only mean more and more of the brothers being at odds with one another. Not to mention Pope also ropes Deran into the mix. But though Smurf suggested Pope ought to include Josh in things, she knows nothing of the job the boys are about to do. Plus, Smurf is too busy trying to make sure she gets to spend time with Catherine and Baz’s daughter. Even if that means being greasy.
“You ready to have some fun?” Pope asks his nephew, as they haul on some uniforms, throw decals on their truck, and prepare to get busy. Inside their target building, the boys break through a wall and look for a safe. They find it, though they’re interrupted, and the pace quickens for them. Josh ends up doing Pope right when Deran refuses. At the very same time, coming back across the border, Craig lets Baz know there are drugs on board. Right as the police dogs come closer. It goes smoothly, but god damn – these guys play fast and loose. The only sensible one criminally is Baz. Just an all around shitshow at both ends.
The safe gets opened. Pope doesn’t want to give Deran any, as Josh did the work needed to be done: “He has more balls than you do,” Pope berates his brother. There is plenty of aggression and tension between these two now. Josh agrees to split things three ways, but Uncle Deran doesn’t want to admit he was scared, and walks off. There’s more tension elsewhere. Smurf and Catherine are at odds, too. Mama Smurf doesn’t like that Catherine has been getting money, et cetera, from the Cody Gang while thinking she’s above it. That is a slight bit of hypocrisy. All the same, Catherine doesn’t want her daughter around that viciousness. And I agree.
Craig’s drug plan pays off for him and Baz, even if the latter wasn’t too pleased with how things played out. At least they’re home in one piece. At home, Pope won’t take the watch back from his nephew, he tells him to keep it; all in the name of rebelling against mother. Man, these are a bunch of dudes with a terrible load of mommy issues all over the place. Aside from everyone else, Josh tells Deran he didn’t see anything down at the beach. Although the uncle plays it dumb. He shouldn’t. Because eventually Josh is going to find himself in a place where he’s going to drop that secret out in the open.
Around the couches, the Cody Gang talk about their father(s). One was a seagull. The other a one-eyed dolphin. Regardless of what or who he was, this is all about resentment. Pope pulls out more of it for Deran before leaving. It’s all too clear this situation will come to a head sooner rather than later. But Pope, he’s pushing hard against other issues. He keeps creeping around Catherine. Yet part of him is only concerned for her, the baby. He offers money to get a good babysitter. For all his weirdness and his temper, Pope seems to have a good heart. It’s just buried far beneath the issues with Smurf, his troubled life of crime, and a ton of bravado.
Poolside, Deran challenges nephew Josh to a competition: who can hold their breath longest in the pool. They stare one another down, as Josh clearly has more trouble than his uncle. When he tries to go back up, Deran stops him. He tries to drown his own nephew. All in good fun, right? Josh continues to figure out how dangerous it is being a Cody, and that being born into that blood is more like being birthed into Sparta than a Californian family.
Josh goes to see Nicky – he gives her back the watch. Certainly Mr. Belmont isn’t all that happy, but he’s still not an outright dick. I want to see more of his involvement with Josh. That makes me worry slightly for him because a man of the law involved with the Cody Gang is a recipe for disaster. At the house, Smurf bitches out Deran for Josh being gone with all his things. Where’s the boy headed?
Baz keeps money at his father’s place, stashed below the cupboards. Once more, he contemplates shooting his father, who for his part eggs him on. There’s a deep pain in Baz that stems from his family, his father in particular it seems, so there was likely abuse of some form in his past.
Smurf finds her grandson ready to head out of town. She’s sad to see him running. We find out more about Smurf’s own history, that her mother was also a junkie, which clearly passed down to her daughter, Josh’s mother. For his part, the kid wants to know who his father was, for sure. Smurf doesn’t know, only the one that she loved and that she tried to bring into the fold – Baz. They were in love. Whoa. That’s a ton of intrigue thrown into the batter right there. Well, Smurf takes Josh back home. We can see there’s something in Deran’s eyes; is it worry? He doesn’t want his secret gay life to get exposed, and also doesn’t want to be thrown from the family, for any reason.
Baz and Josh end up chatting briefly. The latter reveals he shot his mother up that day she died. That’s heavy. His semi-uncle assuages his guilt, saying that his mother did that to all of them and it was the family burden, essentially. I want to see more of this relationship between Baz and Josh. At least now we know why Baz is more gentle than any of the rest with Josh, as he has a personal connection to the kid.
Trying to sleep, Smurf feels the eyes of her crazy son Pope on her. He stands watching her for a while before coming to her bedside and crawling in next to her for a cuddle. I keep wondering if there’s something sordid to do with Smurf and Pope specifically. He seems to have the most issues. We’ll find out soon, I’m sure.
Another solid episode. Next up is “Dead to Me” and with a title like that, YOU KNOW something is going down. Stick with me, and with the series. Digging these episodes a ton. I hope some of you are, too.
TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 1, Episode 2: “We Don’t Hurt People”
Directed by John Wells
Written by Jonathan Lisco
* For a review of the pilot episode, click here.
* For a review of the next episode, “Stay Close, Stick Together” – click here
After a wild pilot, things continue on for the Cody Gang.
Well they’re certainly a good lot for hedonism. Smurf Cody (Ellen Barkin) hangs poolside with her boys, Andrew a.k.a Pope (Shawn Hatosy), Craig (Ben Robson), Deran (Jake Weary), the new addition Josh (Finn Cole), and their close man Baz (Scott Speedman). Pope gets a bit too heavy, not playing nice with their nephew Josh. At the same time, he’s not exactly playing nice with anyone else either. Inside Smurf asks J’s girl Nicky (Molly Gordon) if she were shipwrecked and could only pick one Cody, aside from Josh, who would it be? She replies Baz is “pretty cool” and it’s easy to see that Mama Smurf is testing this young woman to see if she’s got what it takes to hang with the rough crew. Even Josh is finding it hard keeping up with his uncles and big Baz.
Speaking of Baz, his significant other Catherine (Daniella Alonso) is pissed. Rightfully so. There’s a casualty from the job the Cody Gang pulled recently. Furthermore, we see how Baz considers Smurf’s place “home” as opposed to their own place. I can see all types of trouble from a mile away.
When Smurf gets wind of the death due to the robbery you can be sure nothing’s going to go too smooth. In other news, Craig’s wound is festering and he is getting pretty hooked on painkillers. He says it’s because he’s a big dude, but you can clearly tell he is falling down the rabbit hole. Not a good thing with the dead cop on their hands.
Smurf lets Josh know there’s a bit of serious business about to come up. He’s being slowly brought into the fold. “There are no secrets in this family. Not from one another. Especially not from me,” says Grandma Smurf. We also see the strange, quasi-incestuous relationship she has with her men, making Josh strip down his dirty clothes right in front of her. Awkward, and telling.
Then Josh witnesses an incredible moment that nobody can know about – his uncle Deran is getting a blowjob from another man. When he sees his nephew, Deran beats the man down claiming he was trying to steal a wallet. Whoa. Just… whoa. No family secrets? Yeah, okay, Smurf. Deran has his nephew join in on the beating, though you can see the young guy is apprehensive. Poor Josh, he just gets deeper and deeper in every way. And worst of all it’s as if there’s danger from some of his uncles at every corner. First Pope and his machismo, now Deran and his closeted secret. There’s a lot of danger being a Cody.
Smurf and the boys are having a meeting about what to do next. Of course Pope is not happy with any of them. Baz tries to quell Smurf’s worries about any witnesses. Then she finds out the boys took off their masks when dealing with the tweakers for the robbery. Uh oh. Well, that’s not too big of a deal, seeing as how those were addicts and they probably don’t remember much. Not well enough to rat. Meanwhile, everything else is going to shit – their vehicle is still out there, cop’s bullets in it along with Craig’s blood. Moreover, there’s dissent between Smurf and her boys. She doesn’t blame Baz, but rather her own blood, and they don’t like that. Also you have the fact Deran is now quietly pissed with nephew J for finding out his secret, so he tries to pile the grunt work on him. Afterwards, J reveals to Baz what Pope lied to Smurf about, and they start forming a subtle bond. Because let’s face it, the uncles are aggressive with their nephew, whereas Baz is more welcoming and gentle despite being a hardened criminal himself. Still, Baz lies about what “kind of family” the Cody Gang is truly.
We see how everybody is weary of Pope and exactly how his mental health is doing. Particularly Baz and Smurf, as they have a little conference together on his well-being. It’ll be interesting to watch this play out further.
Deran and Craig start tearing apart the vehicle from their robbery. The former rages against his mother and how the split goes for them economically. Craig agrees, mostly. Neither of them are too happy with Baz or Pope, either. But what’s most intriguing is seeing how Craig hides his pill intake from even Deran, as he doesn’t want anybody questioning his state of mind. None of these guys are open in the family. Secrets are everywhere.
When Josh finds his room torn apart he also finds Pope. Looking for the watch he gave his nephew. They’ve got to clean up loose ends. The uncle is convinced his nephew is hiding things; secrets, who knows what else. Then he goes on a brief nostalgia train about his days, hiding things from Smurf. Not much has changed. I like the relationship between Pope and Josh in the series. In the film, it was great, as well. Here, we’re able to get more of a look at the antagonistic behaviour of Pope towards his nephew and that is more fleshed out with an extended series, as opposed to a film under two hours.
Even worse, there’s Pope influencing Nicky. I’m afraid for her. Those who’ve seen the movie know there’s danger for her involved with the family. So it’s only a matter of time before there’s a serious threat to her safety. The more we see of Pope, the more I worry about what he’ll soon do.
Baz and Smurf are so much like actual mother and son. We hear more talk about Pope, that he’s off medication and that it might be worth trying to get him back on some soon. Although neither of them are too optimistic about that. And then they burn up the watches, so that’s a loose end cauterised, literally in fire. More worry about Pope when he shows up suddenly at Catherine’s, playing with her daughter, and no sign of Baz. Yikes. He’s a creepy bastard.
Now we start to hear about Pope sending letters to Catherine. There’s a love for her that Pope has held since they were young. She apparently got drunk and something happened between them. Baz knows nothing of it, and Pope wonders if maybe he should tell him about it. Oh, man. There are so many nasty things going on within the walls of the Cody Gang and the family itself. Only so much can build up before it breaks. Is Catherine’s little girl of Baz, or of Pope? That’s one to think about.
Mama Smurf is up to a few tricks. She smashes a heel of her shoes, scratches up her hand until it’s bloody. She lies to a guy so she can get into an apartment, then into a bathroom. She steals pills. Are those for Pope? We get a quick flash of what looks like Smurf as a little girl, doing the same thing with her own mother. A very great moment. In the meantime, Craig is strung out on pills and not getting any work done. Deran notices. He notices the wound in Craig’s shoulder is getting hideous. Then they decide just to burn the rest of the vehicle. Bad move? Sure is, at least for the fact Smurf won’t be too happy about it. Josh arrives just as they’re doing the dirty. More secrets for him to keep.
Baz is cleaning up after someone, an older man. Likely his father. For a moment, he contemplates shooting him in the head. There’s lots more to why Baz is a member of the Cody Gang, and the family as it stands. I want to see more about that, so I look forward to exploring his backstory throughout the series. I was always curious about that in the film, as he seemed like such an integral part of the gang. He is even more so here. Later we see Mama Smurf is crushing up pills to sneak into Pope’s food. Real good idea there. Also, we hear more about Baz being taken into the house. Smurf talks about when he first came to them. He hid food, not sure he’d be fed there. Terrible parents at home. “I don‘t know how you survived,” Smurf laments.
When Baz goes home he finds Catherine not herself. She worries about the dead cop, all the commotion on television. Baz assures her nothing will come of it for them. Everything’s taken care of, as he says. Don’t be so sure of that. Mostly, Catherine worries for her daughter, and what could happen if the SWAT team bursts in. He promises to lay himself down if that’s the case. Then he discovers the doll Pope brought her and Catherine lies, saying it came from a store somewhere. Ah, the lies are EVERYWHERE!
And Craig, he keeps chopping lines and pushing back the pain. That’s because he’s preparing to do some homemade surgery. Smurf, she’s upstairs watching her insane son Pope outside, naked, staring into the moon. When she hears a bunch of noise downstairs she finds Craig, mutilating himself. So it’s off to Mexico for a bit of low-key surgery. But what else? Baz has a woman down south of the border. Jesus. The lies are seeping out from every crack.
A great follow-up of a second episode. Next up is “Stay Close, Stick Together” and it promises plenty. This is an excellent series in addition to the film. I know many, like myself, were wary. But this is proving, with each chapter, that Animal Kingdom has power as a television show. All the acting is so spectacular, loving Ellen Barkin, Shawn Hatosy, and Scott Speedman, but everyone else is just as good, too.
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.