Welcome again to my weekly look at the fourth season of TNT's Animal Kingdom, dear readers! Sadly, this is the last one of the season – but let's not get too sad, because what a finale "Smurf" was!
To speak in the surfer vernacular, hella spoilers are ahead, man… in case you're new around here…
So, last week on Animal Kingdom… we left off with J shooting Smurf in the head in order to save Pope's life (which was a bananas twist that I completely love). We saw a little bit of the reactions to that, but this episode we really dive into that and see the fallout of Smurf's death in regards to the Cody criminal empire. Or, as everyone sees it, Smurf's empire.
Naturally, the boys don't take too kindly to being treated like some second-rate common hired guns. They practically built this empire, and they will be damned if they let it die with Smurf. Of course, some of the boys would rather leave it all behind them (ahem, looking at you Deran), but at the end of the day, they're all in this together.
Sadly, that means Angela too (yes, she is still around). Why? Because, as she keeps telling people, "I'm with Pope now." *GAG!* It looks like she'll be back next season – because the Cody boys can't have it too easy, now can they?
It looks like J's plan to take over the Cody criminal kingdom isn't going over too smoothly – especially with his uncles, who will be damned if they take orders from the new kid on the block.
Of course, Pope is still a ball of rage and complete psychosis and tells J that he's a leech and will never be one of them. He also gives him 24 hours to get out of the house. Right, because Pope can run things.
Meanwhile, Craig's guy came through with papers for Deran and Adrian and everything is arranged for them to live "happily ever after" in Indonesia. Great surf, no extradition, everything's all planned out – what could go wrong!
At J's insistence, the boys throw a memorial party in honor of Smurf. This brings out of the woodwork all sorts of people, like Billy (remember crackhead Billy, Deran's father?), Jake, and loads of innocent looking middle-aged ladies who I'm sure have their hands in the same kind of stuff Smurf did. But they all have stories of how Smurf was kind and caring.
Speaking of Jake, that leads us to the past – oh yes, we still get Smurf-tastic flashbacks. This week's features Smurf escaping from the farm, twins in tow. She's unsure where to go, so she packs her babies up in an apple crate with some blankets and hits the road.
She drops in on her old friend, Pamela. Remember her? The diner waitress who stole their van and money then told Smurf not only she was pregnant, but she should keep the baby. Well, she says they can pull jobs together, but she needs to wait a few weeks and bounce back from the babies first. So Smurf and company eventually find their way to Jake's house to crash for a few weeks.
Back to the world's most boring and annoying house guest, Angela decided to take it upon herself to read the copies of Smurf's will that got sent to the house. She left all her kids enough money to get by (and Pope a trust fund with Deran as the executor…you know, "in case" he survives her) and the bulk of her estate to…a Pamela Johnson.
Billy clues Pope into the fact that he and Adrian are packing up to leave. Ruh-roh! Pope + secrets = bad news bears.
When Pope goes to confront him about it, he really just throws the guilt of leaving back in Deran's face, but in a very subtle way. It's kind of buried under the toddler-like whiny tantrum of a delivery, which I guess is Pope's character in a nutshell.
Angela is back to being manipulative towards Pope, which can be for good, I suppose, but for now it's just annoying, because she's using her "alliance" with the Codys to threaten her brother who she narc'd on in prison.
Yes, Angela, you probably do deserve whatever's coming to you for the people you sold out, but she did get Pope to change his mind and be slightly reasonable by letting J stay in the house, so there's that.
Speaking of family, it comes time to fly for Deran and Adrian… and Deran just can't go through with it. Adrian is like, "Okay, chill. I'll stay and do the time," and Deran is like, "I love you, but if you stay you will never be safe, especially not in prison." Adrian cried, Deran cried, I cried… and then Adrian left, flew away to Indonesia to live under an alias, heartbroken and lovesick for Deran. Speaking of Deran, he is absolutely gutted, but feels like he has to stay out of obligation to his family right now.
Oh, Adrian. Oh, Deran. Next season, will Deran finally be at a point where he can fly away to an island paradise and be with his love? God, I hope so.
J meets with Frankie, but instead of talking about upcoming jobs, she hands him info on one Pamela Johnson – it turns out she did time for a string of impressively planned armed robberies back in the day. Oh, and she had a partner who was never caught – a white woman. Think that could be Smurf? I have no idea why you would think otherwise!
In other news, we find out that Craig's father is… drumroll, please … Jake! So it seems like the flashbacks will continue on next season, but I could be wrong about that. Then again…we have a potential whole season of girl power heists starring young Smurf and Pamela! Like Starsky and Hutch, but robbers and girls!
Back in the post-Smurf timeline, J shows his hand to Pope: he reveals that they've all been cut out of the will and an unknown lady got everything, and gives advice as to how it should be handled (burn the copies and have a lawyer fake a new one, dated a few weeks ago). Smurf taught J how to run everything, and Pope needs to face the facts that he is woefully unprepared to run Smurf's enterprise alone, let alone pull jobs with just Craig, or worse, an outside crew.
Yes, in order for this to work and the Cody's to keep working, they need to be all together: J needs to commit to the family, and Pope needs to get over himself. Will any of that happen next season?
In Pope's words, "We need to let people know we're still here."
Oh, boy. Is this another bad decision Angela egged him into?
Oh yes it is, friends! Again… this is Animal Kingdom.
In contention for the world's worst season-endings, it's the final two scenes of the fourth season of Animal Kingdom:
In the penultimate scene, Smurf sings baby Andrew a classic lullaby, "Can't You See" by The Marshall Tucker Band. It's just as long and weird as it sounds. Side note: if Julia was as much of an afterthought in the rest of her life as she seems to be as a newborn, I can completely see why she had issues and wanted absolutely nothing to do with Smurf or her brothers.
In the final scene, Angela confronts her brother – the one she sold out to the cops – with a gun… in public… in the middle of the day. Is Angela going to go kamikaze and do something painfully stupid?
No! Do you know why? Because "I'm with the Codys now!"
In a weird twist, in order to prove to these people whom we don't know and have never met and don't care about, J, Pope, Deran, and Craig come around the corner to have Angela's back and beat up all these generic thugs, because they have to prove they still exist without Smurf.
…I'm sorry, what? Excuse me?
Now, I love this show – you know I do – but there are like 15 better ways they could have proved that point and told everyone in the crime world that they're still in it, Smurf or no.
It's like the whole last season and beginning of this season's character development of "the boys move away from Smurf and become more independent" never happened and they just decided to shove their heads way up their assess and be at the beck and call of… Angela, the addict with a shitty revenge plot?
Actually, I'm going to just pretend the season ended with Pope telling the boys they need to get back to work now that Smurf's gone. Why they didn't end with that, I will always be curious. I mean, the final two scenes don't really add anything – so what's the point?
Overall, it's been a good season and a wild ride, and I will miss modern Smurf who knows what she's about and has a handle on all situations.
RIP Smurf, congrats on a great fourth season, and here's to getting hype for Animal Kingdom season 5.