Animal Kingdom season 4 episode 3 review: Smurf’s diagnosis

Animal KingdomThrough much of Animal Kingdom season 4 episode 3, some of Smurf’s armor started to fall apart — whether it be from her past or her present.

Let’s start in the flashbacks, since for the first time this season we started to realize why they matter so much. It’s been cool seeing the Smurf origin story with so much depth, but tonight boiled down to one simple truth: She’s afraid of death. Sure, she may act tough and fearless and sometimes she is, but when the bullet grazed by her, that split-second reaction was enough to know the truth. Some of her genetic makeup is bluster; there’s still a softer layer underneath. It was important to explore who Smurf was to create a fuller picture of who she is. She doesn’t want anyone to see her fear of death, especially since those fears are coming to fruition.

In the present, Smurf learned that her fainting spell was brought on by a dangerous form of skin cancer that has already spread to her lymph nodes and other places. The show didn’t offer up a sense of her prognosis, but we gotta know it’s not good. What’s scary about this, at least if you’re in the city of Oceanside, is that this could bring Smurf fully into Walter White territory. What does she have to lose anymore if she just wants to build a criminal empire and burn everything else to the ground? She hasn’t exactly been hesitant to cause chaos before, but now she has a firmer sense of mortality.

We haven’t seen enough of Smurf following that fateful phone call to know how she will react; we just know this character. We understand how she doesn’t like anyone to see her flinch and she’ll probably hide this for as long as humanly possible.

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As for some other secrets…

The Cody Boys agonized in this episode over whether or not to tell Pope about their plans for the job — and they’re suddenly worried about him. He wasn’t exactly in the best place for their prior job, and that was without Angela, the ultimate opportunist, sticking around. She may be presenting this image of someone clean, sober, and now on her way up, but she’s also got a history of getting J to shoot her up. She’s coming out of prison. She’s still bad news, although it’s not exactly as though the Codys are good news. They’re just all varying degrees of questionable.

So, without Pope directly involved, the Codys continued forward on their latest job plan — making it easier to nab the pricey sculpture at Frankie’s behest. Note that this was not some one-episode gig. They laid the groundwork tonight, mostly in providing themselves an opportunity to better steal it later. All it took was them coming out and tagging some stuff in the museum. This will make their job easier as Craig continues with his prove-himself mentality.

CarterMatt Verdict

After three episodes, it’s now clear enough where Animal Kingdom is going with this season. It’s about the inevitability of death and no matter how much Smurf can try run, she can’t run from this. The cancer reveal isn’t exactly out of left field, but the ways that it alters the show could be seismic. We don’t foresee her dying right away but if she does, this world gets blown right open and it becomes a battle royal for who takes the crown as the Codys’ top criminal. Maybe a year ago, it would’ve easily been J; yet, with Craig getting empowered and Angela throwing a wrench into Pope’s life, all bets are off. If you love Animal Kingdom, isn’t that chaos a part of what we are all watching for?

If there’s one thing the season’s gotta work on still, it’s the Mia side of the story — we’re still so early in the development of it, and we have to wonder if there are too many characters being introduced over there too soon?

For some more Animal Kingdom news…

We’re going to have a preview for the next new episode over here! Check that out, and tell us in the comments what you thought about season 4 episode 3. (Photo: TNT.)

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