Animal Kingdom season 4 premiere review: Janine, past & present

Smurf and JThe Animal Kingdom season 4 premiere on Tuesday offered us more opportunities than ever before to get a window into the Cody family. We wouldn’t consider this to be the shocking episode to end all shocking episodes, but it does a great job of establishing some of the emotional stakes that are at play for a lot of these characters this season.

Below everything right now, though, is a certain brand of J vs. Smurf subtext. This could be the war that ends up defining this season, and for good reason. These are clearly two characters who do not love each other doing their best to plan and posture their way to the other side of it. When it comes to J, he is trying to keep his life separate from Smurf to a certain degree, whether it be Mia or his attempts at normalcy as a student named Josh. Meanwhile, she wants control. She wants to be able to look around and know precisely what is going on.

Through flashbacks, this episode tonight also gave you some of the early days of Janine out on the job, doing what she deems necessary to keep things going — including cutting her hair to blend in more. What you see through those scenes is a woman who is perhaps more ruthless than ever, but also an outsider, someone who felt intent on being included. That DNA is what stretches through to where the series is in the present.

During most of the premiere, we watched the Codys do what they could in order to plan a heist, one that Smurf was involved in and one that she therefore endorsed. The plot was a bank robbery that involved the crew being able to create the illusion of a hostage crisis in order to get the bank manager to let them in and steal much of the cash. The jobs in Animal Kingdom are methodical but intense as you often see the planning without fully understanding it. Really, it’s only via re-watching things that you start to get a fuller picture as to how every single step of the plan works.

While there were some bumps in the road tonight, namely a teller getting in the way of making the job a little bit easier for the Codys. There are some larger threats out, though, including one that they don’t see coming in Adrian. As it turns out, Deran’s protegee is actually working with the authorities. He’s not the most willing participant in their plot, but obviously, he’d rather that one of them go to prison over himself. That’s going to be a driving force through most of what we end up seeing.

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Other important odds and ends

Clearly, Pope is struggling. The guy’s doing the mixed martial arts stuff away from the job, and he almost found himself derailing the job at the end of the episode. The guy’s detached and exhausted and even if that doesn’t cause a problem for the Cody family now, it’s almost certainly going to a little bit later on down the road.

Meanwhile, we gotta wonder if Frankie is going to be a pretty big problem for everyone in due time, given that it does appear as though she’s got Craig precisely where she wants him, and that includes being able to manipulative and control him at just about every turn. What can we say? She’s pretty great at it — she’s crafty and smart, and we certainly know that he has a weak spot when it comes to matters of the heart. Apparently, Frankie’s also really good at just breaking into his place and getting herself some coffee.

CarterMatt Verdict

Animal Kingdom season 4 episode 1 delivered basically everything you could want — an intense, fantastic kick-off to a season where there could be some threats from all sides. While the Cody family succeeded with their job tonight, you gotta worry about the threats closing in on them from the outside … and also some of the ones that lie within.

Related Preview what is coming up on the next Animal Kingdom episode right now

What did you think about Animal Kingdom season 4 episode 1? Be sure to share right now in the comments, and come back soon for some more updates. (Photo: TNT.)


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