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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Animal Kingdom – Season 2, Episode 3: “Bleed For It”

 

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2
Episode 3: “Bleed For It”
Directed by J. Michael Muro
Written by Megan Martin

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Karma” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Broken Boards” – click here
Pic 1A (1)On the road, Smurf (Ellen Barkin) takes J (Finn Cole) to the wake for Manny after he’s finally passed. She hadn’t seen the guy for about 20 years. I wonder how things will go for grandma and her boy. Meanwhile, Baz (Scott Speedman) calls Pope (Shawn Hatosy) to go pick up his daughter, neglecting things while he’s in Mexico with Lucy (Carolina Guerra). Baz meets with Marco (Joseph Julian Soria), who’s helping on a new job, without the Cody matriarch’s knowledge, of course.
Over at the bar he’s purchasing, Deran (Jake Weary) makes plans for construction on the bar, he wants it to be old school like before all the new money moved onto the beach. He’s interviewing people for jobs and trying to get the place off the ground.
And Pope, he’s getting to know Amy (Jennifer Landon) and the rest of her Bible study group. He actually seems to have read the Bible. Weird seeing him amongst a bunch of normal people, of any sort.
Nicky (Molly Gordon) is still kicking around at the house, though it’s clear Craig (Ben Robson) is tiring of their relationship, which was actually clear awhile ago. Might be that she’s starting to realise it now.
Pic 1A (2)At the wake, J and Smurf meet Manny’s old crew, including old buddy Jake (Jack Conley). Looks like before the guy passed, there was big trouble with his crew. Being run by Javier (Alex Meraz), apparently a real “sick piece of shit.”
It’s also becoming painfully obvious that Craig has no ambition, or at least no sense to make ambition reality. He and Deran are at odds over the bar, what to do, how to do it. Most of all, Deran worries about being an ex-con and that it might make things problematic come inspection time.
J has a chat with Javier, the guy’s got issues with Smurf, which isn’t hard to tell. He thinks she’s there for other reasons, not out of the goodness in her heart. There’s something very, very eerie here. They have history; dark stuff. They were once like family; Manny, Javier and his dad, as well.
In Mexico, Lucy’s brother Marco offers Baz up a bit of business on the side, though he doesn’t want much part of it. Lucy later tells him she thinks Marco’s in trouble. Back home, Lena’s being watched over by uncle Pope. Seeing him with the girl is tragic, in a lot of ways. For the fact he killed her mother, and loved her, for the fact he’s clearly got a nurturing side to him, even if it’s buried by all the worrisome history he has with his mother. Great moment where a pigeon hits the window; Pope is about to put it out of its misery, then it flies away. A humanitarian lesson there for him, so often quick to take action.
Pic 2In the motel room J and Smurf kick back. She receives a late visit from Jake, apparently Manny was recording things near the end of life to keep his memory strong. That’s going to be a large problem for her. If he said anything troubling, could mean jail time. Or worse. What’s she planning on doing about it? Will she look for the tapes?
Nicky, alone at the Cody palace, snoops around the house, finding cash, trying on Smurf’s clothes. She accidentally knocks a pair of sunglasses to the floor and finds an automatic weapon under the dresser. She pretends to fire it like a child with a toy gun.
Alone together, Lena asks her uncle: “Is mommy dead?” He’s caught off guard, answering slow in a reassuring tone. She’s also curious why her father doesn’t show his sadness the way she does. Pope tells her he’s “secret sad.” Certainly he can’t tell her the truth, so he talks about not having a dad as a boy; problem is he DIDN’T turn out okay.
Smurf tells J more of the story concerning Manny, how he was a mentor to her after she got out of her first little stint in jail. She was a young, impressionable girl, learned to steal and grift and lie with the best. She then asks J to put a bullet in her if she loses her mental faculties. And she’s serious, too. So he promises. Then she kisses him on the lips. Yikes. I hope she doesn’t take him down the same path as Pope.
Now with so much at stake, Craig decides he’s dumping Nicky. After she knows about the guns, money, his love of drugs, and she knows about the bar. Dera wants to keep it from Smurf until the grand opening. Not sure if that’ll happen at this point. I worry, deeply, for Nicky.
Pic 3Using a story Smurf told him about Manny, J does an impromptu robbery at a diner using grandma as the perfect pretty bait. Uh oh, this is not good. Not just the fact he’s becoming closer with her, I worry that her strange affections will spread further over her grandson. It’s terrifying, really.
Smurf: “Youre a natural. Not like the other boys.”
When Craig talks with Nicky, she asks about what her dad helped them with, what sort of bad shit he got into before leaving for Guam. She demands respect, seeing as how he enjoys all the perks of their relationship and not the fact they’re actually in one together. He doesn’t break up with her. Yet.
Deran gets inspected finally and he’s nervous. He tells the man upfront about his time in jail, the charges. He also tells him about being a competitive surfer, and when that went south he went off the rails. It all looks good, especially with him choosing not to offer a bribe and remaining honest. Looks like the possibility of a new life for Deran.
Amy goes to see Pope. She wanted him to know about her past. She had a son who was in the car with her while she had a drunk driving accident and she hasn’t yet forgiven herself. Wonders if he’ll hold it against her. Little does she know who she’s talking to, the type of person he’s become over the years, what he’s done. He can accept just about anyone.
Pic 4Baz goes to Gia (Karina Logue), their fence. He finds out that the Cody matriarch doesn’t want them doing business with her. Cut off. This will cause a good deal of grief in the long run, right now it’s pushing the gang further apart.
He gets back home to Lena and Pope, glad to see his little girl. He also fills Pope in about the latest problem involving Smurf, they have no buyers and a job coming up in two weeks. So they’ve got to figure something out. Baz turns up after Gia leaves work, to speak with her employee Monica (Tembi Locke). They might be able to strike up a deal.
What scares me above all? Javier’s going to listen to the tapes Manny made. He’s going to find out something terrible, something he’ll hold over Smurf. Perhaps something that might make him angry enough to kill.
Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 8.52.37 AMStunning episode. So much happening. Particularly, I’m worried constantly about Smurf exerting a strong, bad influence over J. He’s already falling into her lap, as a boy lost after losing his mother. It only gets stronger with every passing day, the more they spend time together.

Animal Kingdom – Season 2, Episode 2: “Karma”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2, Episode 2: “Karma”
Directed by Thomas Carter
Written by Eliza Clark

* For a recap & review of the Season 2 premiere, “Eat What You Kill” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Bleed For It” – click here
Pic 1Things with Craig (Ben Robson) and young Nicky (Molly Gordon) are speeding along, as she falls deeper in love with him and he’s, most likely, just having a good time. He’s a bit of a dummy, Craig; not exactly a deep thinker. Meanwhile, Baz (Scott Speedman) is moving on with Lucy (Carolina Guerra) one step at a time, after the disappearance of Catherine (Daniella Alonso).
And at home, Pope (Shawn Hatosy) looks after Baz’s little girl, he takes her to school, as Smurf (Ellen Barkin) watches on while her boys all do their own thing without mama. You can tell she’s lost. At the same time, the relationship between her and Pope is steadily deteriorating, worse than ever before. Because she sent him to the dark depths of his own soul, now he’s never coming back.
Josh (Finn Cole) makes breakfast at Smurf’s place, then grandma gets a call from Nicky – there’s a fire, after Craig dropped a joint on the couch. So she explains to the young lady to get rid of the drugs, stash her boy’s gun somewhere, and make sure there’s nothing incriminating.
Smurf isn’t too happy when she gets over to the burning apartment. She tells Craig he’ll be paying for the renovations, and he’s not too happy about that. Nor does he stick around with his girlfriend. I wonder if Nicky will finally figure out that he doesn’t care about her.
Pic 1AThen there’s Deran (Jake Weary), he’s trying to cobble together the money so he can buy that bar. But the time is running out, he either needs to put up the cash or he loses the deposit. Out on the town, J goes along with his uncles Deran and Craig, falling in further with the family’s muddied ties. Simultaneously, Smurf decides to let Nicky stay at her place; another way to get under her boy’s skin? I’d bet on it.
Deran, Craig, and J head over to a nearby church. The brothers put on shirts for an HVAC company, heading inside with tool belts and all. Supposedly there to fix an air conditioning unit. They smooth talk their way to the roof and Craig wonders if they’re headed for “karmic vengeance,” and then J works his way downstairs to find where all the vents go, et cetera. Pope, he stops in to listen to a few Christian rock tunes in an auditorium, as Baz distracts the security guard on-site.
J gets into an Employees Only area, he takes various pictures. Then he locates a safe in the floor, snapping another one. On the way out he’s noticed by an employee, covering by saying he’s there for Narcotics Anonymous. Slick. Outside the auditorium, Pope meets a woman named Amy (Jennifer Landon), they talk briefly about church. Imagine Pope, in church! Jesus wept.
Pic 2The boys are busy planning the big heist at the church, and Smurf is busy changing codes, locks, everything to which the rest of the family has access. None of them are really on the same page. Money troubles, specifically those of Craig and Deran, start infringing on the group’s plans. They’re falling apart at the seams. Funny enough, Baz and Pope are the only two really together on the robbery front; if he only knew what Smurf’s oldest boy has done. But Pope, he’s got his mind on figuring out why his brothers are so thirsty for cash.
And Baz has plenty of trouble on his hands with Lucy, after his daughter walked in to see them together. She isn’t pleased he didn’t tell her about Lena living there. Now, their relationship is crumbling, too. Lucy would rather they keep it less serious, and I can’t imagine this will do the Cody gang any favours with Baz being distracted. What about when he starts digging further into why Catherine disappeared?
Smurf goes to see a friend named Gia (Karina Logue) with a ring she needs cut up. What she’s there for, above all else, is to try cutting the boys off from her sources. She explains to Gia that Baz will soon come to her, lightly suggesting she not get into business too deep with him. Hmm. Tricky mama. Baz has his own money problems, as well; trying to keep a private investigation into Catherine’s whereabouts going on his own ain’t cheap.
When Pope convinces Deran his next target is too hot to move on, the Cody boys go for a food truck instead. One from which apparently drugs are sold. Only, as usual, nothing goes like they planned. Still – they manage to pull off the heist.
Pic 3Ohhh, I think I might see Smurf’s plan ahead of time. Nicky walks into the kitchen at Mama Cody’s place, as Josh sits at the counter; she’s actually wearing his clothes. Curious if perhaps Smurf’s trying to get the young man and his once girlfriend back together, in turn creating friction between J and uncle Craig. Shit, this is a sly move.
When the boys split up the money, Craig gets the cash he needs for the deposit on the bar from Pope and Deran, though a loan, of course. At home, Baz is struggling with taking care of his daughter and also continuing to plot out the church job. Dad’s not doing so well with Lena. However, the hypocritical shit coming out of Pope’s mouth about parenting would sound a lot better if he didn’t kill the little girl’s mother.
Baz (to Pope): “No ones ever gonna have a kid with you, ever.”
Later, Craig pays in full for the bar’s lease. Even though it’s a tough road of business ahead, it’s a slice of freedom. Something to not only take him out of robbing banks and other places, to take him out of Smurf’s loving stranglehold.
Baz goes to see Lucy, to apologise. He tells her Catherine left because she found out about them. For the time being, their relationship is okay. Yet there are so many threads waiting to be yanked out of this that’ll send everyone spinning and unravelling.
Alone at home, Smurf laments the loss of her boys, how they’ve grown up and split apart, from themselves and from her. When J gets back, he and Smurf talk about him possibly moving out. “What do you want, J?” she asks. “I want to stay,” he replies. Then a call comes in – someone relays to Smurf that Manny has died. On her face is a mix of sadness and nostalgia. Now grandma wants to take J on a road trip for the wake. More time alone together. After seeing how Pope turned out, I worry for what this means.
Pic 5Another solid episode. Season 2 is starting out excellent, with all the characters really developing and new things happening. I was worried the plot might peter out and get too slim. So far, so good; it’s looking exciting! And dark as all hell.
Next episode is “Bleed For It” and I wonder what the Smurf-J road trip will bring.

Animal Kingdom – Season 2, Episode 1: “Eat What You Kill”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2, Episode 1: “Eat What You Kill”
Directed by Christopher Chulack
Written by Jonathan Lisco

* For a recap & review of the Season 1 finale, “What Have You Done?” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Karma” – click here
Pic 1The boys (and mom) are back in town! Season 2, baby.
No telling where things are headed, after Pope (Shawn Hatosy) did the unthinkable to Catherine, leaving Baz (Scott Speedman) to wonder where she’s gone. Little Lena (Aamya Deva Keroles) is the only one who knows for sure. Well, except for that eerie connection between Mama Smurf (Ellen Barkin) and her boy Pope, that provides another tense side of the entire relationship between Baz and the Codys and everything in between.
Speaking of Smurf, she’s been drinking a lot, so it seems. Waking up to a drink isn’t healthy. Meanwhile, her boys – Pope, Craig (Ben Robson), Deran (Jake Weary), and the newest addition Josh (Finn Cole) – and Baz are out doing what they do best: cheat, rob, steal; in no particular order.
Of course J’s been fully indoctrinated. He is a Cody, through and through. It’s troubling. Because these aren’t honest, Robin Hood-type thieves. Smurf is a damaged and dangerous person, as is her son Pope. Although that’s probably much to do with her own… predilections. And as Pope’s mental state worsens, his actions becoming more desperate as the end of Season 1 proved, it’s tough to see a young man like J – a mostly good person – become wrapped up in his family’s brutality. Question is, will he escape it, or will the Codys swallow him whole?
On their latest job, the Cody boys and Baz do a ton of work only to come out with a couple small stacks of cash; barely $500. Yet at home awaits mother with her pie, their family ritual after a robbery. So surreal, how they sit around and chat after a major crime. But things are deteriorating, between Pope and his dark headspace, and Smurf getting fucking hammered as she leads the clan. Mom and her oldest boy are especially having issues. Wonder how that’ll pan out re: Pope’s nasty little secret. Baz tries cooling everyone down, though I don’t know how well his word will stand.
Pic 1ADeran’s got a $50K deal, meeting a woman in a small bar where he hands over an envelope of cash. Not all of the agreed price, naturally. Their recent short-changed job didn’t do him any favours. So, is Deran trying to go straight? Is he making an investment in that bar, or another place? I think he’s trying his best to get out from under Smurf.
Crazy, crazy Pope, he goes out to the place in the desert where he buried Catherine. His psyche is damaged, and it was long before. By killing the woman he loved, something altogether new is happening to him. And for the first time in his life it’s as if he’s feeling genuine guilt, remorse, rather than floating through life like he does usually devoid of emotion.
At a family meeting, Baz leads the charge to try changing things with Smurf, to lessen her iron grip on their gang. She’s drunk and takes it personally. She uses failures from the past, recent and long ago, to bite back at them. Including taking Baz in from his horrible father. Things explode eventually, as he can’t take it anymore. None of them can.
Craig: “No more suckinmommys dick!”
Everyone’s wondering what to do with J. On one hand, Deran suggests he and Craig out to bring the kid in while he’s confused, torn across the family. Maybe Deran’s concern is for his own secret, worrying J will out him. On the other hand, Pope and Baz have their own feelings about him, whether he’s trustworthy.
Smurf gets a visit about her payments to Manny – $5,000 a month. Or, so she thinks. Apparently he’s dying and Smurf has to go pay respects. She refuses to leave. We discover more and more about the Cody matriarch, her well of young men runs deep and there’s so many questions about the destruction she’s caused through her lifetime. Curiouser and curiouser.
Pic 2Turns out that Deran IS looking to buy up the bar. He wants to take over the lease, after the owner died and left his wife with the place. At least, despite his own flaws, the guy has plans outside of robbery for his life. And at home with Smurf, J is trying to figure out his own life. He’s conflicted, about everything. Likewise, he’s complicit in everything in which the Cody family is involved.
What we do see is who Smurf starts favouring. Earlier, Craig’s credit card – paid by mom – is cut off, and Deran, too. But now she’s given J his own card. I worry that either on purpose or inadvertently, she’s going to put him in a bad position with the uncles.
And what about Nicky (Molly Gordon)? She and Craig have been an item all this time. He’s not loving it, though. The difference in age is apparent, yet is it? He’s still depending on mom, she’s still in high school and living on the whim of her father. However, there’s absolutely trouble coming from this end. If the film Animal Kingdom is any indication, and they stick to the character arc where Nicky ended up, she is headed somewhere grim.
Latest Cody robbery? Possibly a yacht job. They’re all on different pages, each pairing’s got their own ideas – Pope and Baz against Deran and Craig. Then, we still have poor Baz going off the rails, yelling at his own daughter, his head too caught up in making money to pay attention to his own blood. And Pope, he makes what amends he can by showing the little girl some attention. Even Deran and Craig at odds, the latter sniffing coke making things even more unstable.
Still, they all go back to Smurf’s house for supper. Despite their relative silence, everyone reaches for a toast: “May we all get what we want, and never what we deserve.” Things aren’t as bad as they seemed before. Mom acts fine with their new efforts to be more independent. When Pope has the chance, he warns J about getting too close to her.
Pic 3A fantastic, low key episode to start Season 2. I’m super curious about Manny, his connection and importance to Smurf, as well as Javier (Alex Meraz), whose history with her clearly goes back a long way. Lots of stuff to mull over! Great start to this new season.
Next episode is “Karma” and I’m hoping to see more of the Cody family problems create tension as time goes by. I wonder who’ll be the first to meet a tragic end? Y’know it’s brewing.