Animal Kingdom season 4 episode 5 review: The boys come to blows

Animal KingdomThe Cody family on Animal Kingdom is used to threats. What they’re probably not as used to is having them coming at them in just about every direction. Tuesday’s season 4 episode 5 (entitled “Reap”) showed the consequences for some of their actions, and also showed us just how screwed some of these people are.

Who’s in the most trouble? Probably Deran, largely because Adrian’s in a spot where he may end up selling him out to the cops. We know that Adrian likes him and this is one of those few relationships that doesn’t seem forced or manipulative. It’s actually its own sort of weird, twisted love story. It may just be one without a happy ending because no stories on the show really have one. Deran and Adrian are on a collision course for disaster and they’re far from the only ones.

Think about Pope and Angela — they’re together! Isn’t that great and romantic? Not exactly. Angela’s responsible for getting Julia hooked on drugs — she’s not your heroine here. She’s just someone desperately seeking something, whether it be a connection or a way to ensure that Smurf doesn’t throw her out of the house. She needs a champion and Pope, messed-up and broken as he perpetually is, seems to be the only person capable of filling the role. The two of them kissing for the first time was all sorts of awkward, just as you would expect. Anytime you’ve got two people getting together while someone (in this case Smurf) is listening outside, it’s sure to be uncomfortable.

For whatever reason, people getting caught in the act was a huge theme of this episode. Think in terms of J hooking up with his classmate while her mother arrives. We gotta admit — the whole “Josh” alter-ego storyline is the weirdest one of the season, mostly because it’s a lot of time being spent on something with a pretty obvious goal. It feels like most of this is in the story just to show J getting some more knowledge and skills so that he doesn’t have to rely on Smurf anymore.

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Oh, about that…

Smurf is powerful as a tool — even if she’s not the one running jobs, she can be used for someone else to encourage her boys to take future jobs. This is what Frankie tried to pull tonight once she realized that Craig (upset over being stiffed some money) didn’t want to work with her. She showed up to Smurf with stacks of money, making it clear that she was justified in everything she told the Boys about working with outsiders. Now, Frankie’s going to use Smurf to force Craig into still working with her.

Is that going to work? Hard to say, given that Smurf rarely ever does what other people want and with her slowly dying, she’s clearly in “gives zero (bleeps)” mode when it comes to listening to others. Frankie doesn’t have the full story — Pope found out tonight, and he’s trying to use her sickness as leverage of his own. If she wants him to keep it a secret, Angela gets to stay in the house. Otherwise, he sings like a canary.

When Smurf confronted the guys about what she knew, they all assumed that one of them ratted — most likely Pope. This meant a fight ensued between Pope and Craig, and it was just one of the fights we got in this episode. J was also jumped at the end of the episode outside the bowling alley, and then Craig also went after the very guy responsible for bringing Frankie and him the job in the first place for short-changing them.

After that, it’s fair to think that Craig’s out of the Frankie business — even if she tries to work the angle otherwise.

CarterMatt Verdict

We’re not sure that Animal Kingdom needs to be committed to either the Smurf flashbacks or the “J goes to school” stories as much as they are. Meanwhile, it’s also hard to know if the Mia – J rocky relationship will turn into full-on war. This season’s at its best watching the Cody family together working through their problems, while self-destructing here and there along the way. Angela’s useful as a way for Pope and Smurf to deal with their past, but even with that, it’s easy to wonder if this whole story is worthwhile if she’s little other than an opportunity.

Is Animal Kingdom season 4 enjoyable? Sure, but there are also so many different detours and threats out there that it almost feels like we’re driving in a circle without a clear turn-off.

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