Tuesday, June 27, 2017

REVIEW: 'Animal Kingdom' - The Job at the Church Hits Some Complications in 'Forgive Us Our Trespasses'

TNT's Animal Kingdom - Episode 2.05 "Forgive Us Our Trespasses"

As the boys put the megachurch heist in motion, Craig has second thoughts. Javi surprises Smurf with a visit.

This has proven to be a really strong second season of Animal Kingdom. The first season was good with the opportunity to be great. And now, the show has started living up to all of that potential. It's been fantastic to watch - especially in the last two episodes. They succeed for different reasons as well. Last week's hour worked because of the emotional dynamics amongst the characters. Their personal conflicts were forced to climatic beats and the resolution was wonderful to see. The fallout still carries some consequences for the characters as well. And now, "Forgive Us Our Trespasses" is the show once again embracing its heist story sensibilities. Heist stories are just inherently compelling. The tension is so high. It's so easy to root for the characters even though they are stealing for personal reasons. It's just a concept that works well in this medium. This season has spent a lot of time building up the job at the megachurch. It's great that it doesn't delay that heist until later in the season. It allows it to happen here with the repercussions of it set to play out for the remainder of the season. That's a nice twist on the formula. It's fun and exciting to see the heist take place. But what happens next should be just as intriguing to watch.

There is so much potential for this job to go wrong as well. The stakes are high because it's the first job the boys are pulling without Smurf in charge. They always carried all of the risk in the actual jobs. She was at home hoping that everything is going according to plan. But here, she's completely absent from this story. She has her own complications to deal with. The pressure is on for this job to be a success. It needs to prove that the boys are capable of doing this work without Smurf ordering them around. They needed things to be more equal and fair. Now is their chance to prove it. But there are so many things with the actual job that could compromise it. Craig has left the job. He doesn't want the bad karma it will bring. Plus, he thinks his brothers underestimate the skills he brings to their operation. And yet, he still shows up high on drugs which could possibly alert people that something shifty is going on at the church. Elsewhere, Pope is continuing to manage Amy. His attraction to her is getting more serious. But he's also a part of this job and always aware of any possible complications. And then, there's just the little detail of J cutting his leg while up in the vents. All of these details lead to an overall exciting episode.

Plus, it's set up early on that things may take a deadly turn as well. Baz warns J not to kill anyone. And then, Pope adds unless it is necessary to do so. That sets up the expectation that the job will go wrong in some way. J has been training with Smurf as well. He is becoming more skilled with a gun. She is teaching him when to fire and how to be on the lookout for any possible threat. She's there guiding him as he learns all of these new skills. This job doesn't require them. Instead, it's his intellect that proves beneficial to the job. But there's also the practical concern of him cutting himself in the vent and spilling blood all over the crime scene. That's another detail that the audience should remain aware of moving forward. He's confident with Baz that his DNA is not in the system. That will change now. Because it isn't at this exact moment, it's not as dangerous a complication as it appears to be. Baz and J are still able to dig the safe out of the floor and get out of the church without anyone stumbling upon their operation. It's a quick operation. It's carefully planned. People are still in the building who could pop up at any moment. But things work out for the Cody family once more. The job is a success. They walk away with over $300,000. That's a major victory for them.

Of course, it's also noteworthy that $300,000 is the amount of money that Javi asks from Smurf after he kidnaps her. That story is a little detached from everything else happening in this episode. It's just setting up a new conflict for the future. Javi has been an increasing presence this season. He knows details about Smurf's past that could come back to hurt her. Now, he's threatening her with information. He's claiming that Smurf actually killed his father. He didn't run away with the money from their latest job like she has claimed for the past few decades. She is willing to buy his silence. But that is a high price for her to pay. It's likely that she does have that amount of cash lying around somewhere. But the hour does bring attention to the fact that the two numbers are similar to each other. The boys pulled this job to get away from Smurf. But she may be able to pull them back in still. They ignore her calls when she is out in the middle of the desert needing help. They are in the middle of this heist and can't help her. She doesn't know that. She's able to survive perfectly fine without them. And yet, the action also makes a point of showing the audience where Baz is storing the money from the heist. It's in a secret hiding place under his refrigerator in the kitchen. Keeping it all in one place could be dangerous - especially for anyone who knows the house extremely well.

Baz is seemingly the only one who is able to celebrate this victory as well. He returns home to Lucy in his bed. Something more is clearly going on with her as she wants more details about the job he just pulled. Of course, he wants details about her life as well. So, it could ultimately be nothing. But I'm still suspicious of her. But that's a moment of happiness for him. Meanwhile, it's a bittersweet time for everyone else. The cut that J got is serious. He can't go to a hospital. Instead, he has to suffer from the makeshift nursing his brothers can offer. Yes, he returns home to Nicky who is willing to take care of him. But it's still a major injury for him. And then, Deran returns home to an empty place with Craig nowhere to be found. He's actually crashed his motorcycle on the beach. That's a precarious development too. And finally, Pope is continuing to build intimacy with Amy. But he's doing all of it while knowing what his brothers are up to. He's complicit in the plan and knows just how devastating it will be to Amy. She cares about all the good this money will do in the world. He knows that news is coming but he still continues the relationship. It does feel like something more is happening then him maintaining a cover for a job. That scene with the two of them naked is so hot and intense. They are barely touching each other but it is so sensual and powerful to watch. That makes this dynamic actually mean something. It's not a one-off romance for the good of a job. It's a potential complication for the family. Pope has to decide how far he is willing to go with this woman.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Forgive Us Our Trespasses" was written by T.J. Brady & Rasheed Newsom and directed by Laura Innes.
  • The heist plan is so intricate and precise. It doesn't leave much room for error. Of course, some complications still happen like I outlined above. But it's also just fun to see how they got the equipment into the room, Deran needing to create a distraction outside and the destruction that they leave in their wake. It's clear for anyone who comes into that room that the church has been robbed. There is no denying that.
  • Smurf moves J into Deran's old room. That's such a significant moment. J doesn't know that Deran just came out to his mother. She is now ridding her house of everything connected to him. She's replacing it with the grandson who still wants to be close with her. She's cherishing this relationship while also teaching him everything she knows about this business. 
  • Things apparently worked out with the new fence for Baz. She is even honest about the item being worth more than he was expecting as well. Of course, that's also a reminder of something shifty happening with Lucy. It may include her brother, Marco, or it could not. It's still too early to tell.
  • Nicky still finds herself going back and forth between Craig and J. With Craig, she gets him to realize how stupid it could be to pull out of this job and leave his brothers without some backup. Of course, he's also useless while high on cocaine. And with J, she's incredibly nurturing and worrying about him after the heist. It's great that she's aware of what's going on within this family this season.
  • Just how worried should everyone be about Craig right now? That sequence with him riding his motorcycle throughout the city and avoiding all of the traffic rules was bound to end in tragedy. He fortunately only injures himself. But are these injuries he'll be able to heal from? Or will this be his rock bottom that changes his life forever? It should be interesting to see what the fallout is.
  • Where's Lena? Who is watching her? Her absence is notable because so much attention has been on her well-being this season. Everyone in the family is busy with either the heist or their own problems. No one even mentions Lena at all. That's a little strange.