Tuesday, August 8, 2017

REVIEW: 'Animal Kingdom' - Baz Plans for the Future While the Yacht Heist Has a Minor Complication in 'Treasure'

TNT's Animal Kingdom - Episode 2.10 "Treasure"

As Craig leads the boys - and Nicky - in pirating the yacht, Smurf tries to find out who robbed her. Baz considers what life would be like without Smurf calling all the shots.

The first season of Animal Kingdom revealed that the Codys weren't just a low-level crime family. They are capable of pulling off these elaborate heists that target some really risky targets. This season first centered on the family figuring out if they can succeed without Smurf in charge. And now, the season wonders if the family can succeed without Baz in charge. The answer is obviously yes. The family has carried out some jobs together without the two of them calling the shots. J and his uncles have ideas as well. They may not be as elaborate but they are more than capable of succeeding in this business without getting caught. But there's still a sense of the unknown and dread that comes with the yacht job in "Treasure." There's so much potential for it to go wrong. Baz pulled out because he didn't like the logistics of it. Craig and Deran needed to bring in Marco because he speaks Spanish. This also feels like the biggest job this portion of the family has done together. The payoff could be huge. But there's still the worry that it will go awry somehow. That's the same feeling the show has had with each of its big heists across its two seasons. It's a feeling that it has earned each time as well.

More importantly, the Codys have been able to carry out all of their big jobs without anything seriously going wrong. That is very impressive. Each new heist comes with the added risk of needing to be bigger and better than the previous one. With that, there comes the pressure of things going awry. The yacht heist didn't have as much buildup as the military base or the megachurch. Those jobs had a ton of episodes leading up to the heist that perfectly laid the scene for what the family would be facing on the inside. Complications arose and they dealt with them in the moment. The yacht job has been very minor so far. Craig and Deran have been leading the charge. Everyone else has been off dealing with their own problems. Those problems keep building up throughout this episode as well. But right now, it's mostly tense to see whether or not the boys will be able to pull of this heist. They do which is a little surprising. Now would be a fascinating time for something major to go awry. But instead, it's Marco who causes a problem by cutting a woman's finger off when she refuses to give up her ring. That's a horrifying complication. But it's not a main character doing the action. As such, the show can avoid the overall consequences while still making things tense in the moment.

But there is a growing sense of tension within the family right now as well. Everyone is questioning the decisions of each other. There's more paranoia as the show builds to its big, final moments of the season. Pope is not sleeping at all because of the worry that something big is about to happen that will destroy the family. Deran wants out of this business so he can enjoy a life as a legitimate businessman. Craig wants to trust Nicky as a part of this operation when everyone else suggests that she's not ready to be a part of the family. J knows that Baz has just stolen from Smurf and is left to deal with her wrath and suspicion. Plus, Baz and Smurf are going to war. They are preparing themselves for what comes next. They are each preparing their offenses and getting ready to strike. So even though the boys and Nicky are able to celebrate a job well done at the bar, there's still the tension that it will be short-lived. Pope can still escape to the happiness of his relationship with Amy. But the rest of the family has a more complicated night in store. J is cleaning up after Nicky after she celebrates too hard. There's a sadness that comes from Deran looking online for random hookups. And Craig just randomly decides to go to Las Vegas with his ex-girlfriend, Ren, and blow all the money he just stole. So, there's clearly the high of this moment. But there's also the worry that these guys don't know how to properly deal with the money in the aftermath to stay out of jail.

Of course, Baz isn't too worried about his brothers. He knows that this job is happening today and it doesn't disrupt his day at all. He has plans that could potentially get him out of this life for good moving forward. He has the knowledge that Smurf has stolen from the family. He has stolen from her. He seems to be one step ahead of her. She's still playing catchup. No one should discount Smurf. She will more than likely find a way to get what she wants. She's terrifying and very effective in getting the information she needs regarding who stole from her. She knows Baz is guilty and she has her suspicions about J since he was the only one who knew about the storage locker. J was involved but he didn't actively betray her by telling Baz what he knew. Baz came to that conclusion on his own. He seems to be thinking about himself more than ever before now too. He believes his brothers are more than capable of handling the business without him. He wants to move down to Mexico permanently to be with Lucy. It would finally bring some stability to his life. He just first has to stage a crime scene to make it look like Smurf killed Javi. That's the leverage he can use to earn this freedom. He knows he needs it.

But again, it seems highly unlikely that anyone in this family will be able to escape this lifestyle for good anytime soon. They are in too deep. Plus, if they managed to escape, there would no longer be a show. So, there's a sense of tragedy that comes from Baz revealing his plans to Lucy. It makes it seem foolish for him to be having these thoughts at all. He's not going on the run to escape from Smurf. He has a plan for handling her. But the show itself needs Baz as an active character. So, that means that Lucy either becomes a disposable character just like Catherine was or she betrays Baz and he needs to enlist the help of his family to hit her back. The latter seems far more likely because she's in this business as well. The two of them don't discuss any of their jobs. They believe that would get in the way of their relationship. It would compromise their feelings for one another in a way that could end things. But more importantly, killing her off to make Baz suffer a devastating loss is just way too similar to what the show did in Season 1 with Catherine. Now, Catherine wasn't a hugely important character at all. Her relationship with Baz meant nothing since he was also seeing Lucy and had no remorse for doing so. The betrayal from Lucy now probably won't be much better because she still exists largely to be a romantic interest and nothing more. It would be fun to see her have more agency without Baz at all. But again, all of this is speculation. She knows where all of Baz's new money is. She knows the family is falling apart. It could be a tantalizing job for her. The audience will just have to wait to see what happens. These moments of happiness don't tend to last long on this show.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Treasure" was written by T.J. Brady & Rasheed Newson and directed by Josef Wladyka.
  • Which was the more horrifying reveal? Smurf so casually getting back in the car to a completely clueless Lena after tazing a guy? Or Smurf nonchalantly pulling the ring off of the finger and then throwing the finger down the garbage disposal? Both show that none of this is really a problem for her.
  • On the yacht, there are a number of moments of false suspicion of how it'll all go wrong. There's the fear that the money on the wedding gown is all that these people have. There's the fear that the trio of guys are plotting something in Spanish. There's the fear that Nicky's distraction isn't big enough. There's also the fear that Craig will easily be targeted as the inside man because he just leaves the police investigation immediately after the yacht returns to shore.
  • It's a very good thing that Ren literally tells Craig what happened the last time they saw each other because I completely forgot about that story last season. Christina Ochoa has moved on to bigger and better things - namely two starring roles (on Syfy's Blood Drive and The CW's Valor). I'm not quite sure that her return is necessary though. It just further proves that Craig isn't that committed to Nicky.
  • Speaking of plot details that I forgot about, J is apparently still close with the next door neighbor of the apartment where he and his mom lived. She doesn't like the rest of his family. Meanwhile, he's chosen to hide his stash of money, jewelry and a gun under her bathroom sink. That's an important detail to be mindful of moving forward.
  • This is the second time that J has walked in on Deran in the middle of sex. But now, the reaction is completely different because he's no longer trying to keep up the facade of being straight. He's now out as a gay man and sees no problem with a moment like this. Sure, it's still awkward. But it's not as angry as the previous encounter was last season.