Tuesday, June 5, 2018

REVIEW: 'Animal Kingdom' - Money Quickly Begins to Run Out for the Family as Smurf Sits in Jail in 'In the Red'

TNT's Animal Kingdom - Episode 3.02 "In the Red"

J struggles to keep the family business afloat after Smurf enlists him to make sure all the bills get paid. Deran makes his own moves independent of the family. Pope learns the ins and outs of parenting as he cares for Lena. Craig makes enemies in Mexico.

"In the Red" opens with a mystery. The hour starts with another criminal job being pulled. Three people in masked helmets break into a car dealership and steal three expensive cars. It affords the show the opportunity to do a sequence of those three vehicles just driving down the highways of Los Angeles in a very cool and enticing way. It's a sequence that showcases the versatility of these vehicles if not the actual precautions taken by the drivers to ensure that they aren't being followed by the police. It's mostly just cool to see them weave in and out of traffic as a pack even though the audience has to be worried that it would still be easy for any kind of law enforcement to follow them. That's not what ultimately occurs though. The vehicles are delivered to the drop off point. The money is collected for a job well done. Then, it's revealed who was behind this latest job. It seems like something that the Cody boys could do now that the bills are starting to pile up. The premiere showed just how unified they were in the aftermath of Baz's death. They needed to come together as a family in order to support each other during this tragic time. And yet, it's not Pope, Deran and J who are working together to steal these cars. Instead, it is just Deran leading a crew of people the audience has never seen before. Plus, Deran has short hair. That is the first indication that things are different. And yes, this episode soon explains that some time has passed since the premiere. That first episode needed to deal with the immediate fallout of what happened to Baz and how the family would react to that. And now, the show can jump ahead a couple of months to see how the family is dealing with this trauma longterm. They are still doing their own separate things. However, this hour points out just how badly they need to come together right now or risk going down with Smurf.

Deran's story actually takes a pretty dark turn as well. Last season, he wanted to get out of this criminal lifestyle. He wanted to become a legitimate business owner with the bar. He didn't want to use the bar as a place to launder the money that his brothers stole from their various jobs. He wanted to keep it a pure and simple business. It was simply a bar that he completely owned. It's his little place in this world that is able to give him purpose after his dreams of becoming a professional surfer were completely destroyed. He wanted something more out of life than enjoying the luxury that this criminal lifestyle afforded. He wanted more responsibility than the menial tasks he was frequently asked to do when Baz was leading the family. He achieved his dream with the bar. He found his way out of the family. But he still needed financial support because the bar wasn't as successful as he hoped it would be. And now, that still seems to be a huge motivation for him. He is perfectly content with his life at the bar. But he is also pulling these jobs away from the family to show that he is smart and capable as well. Sure, the job with the cars is eventually compromised because one of his associates is arrested for getting into a bar fight that same night. That shows that Deran can be so threatening when he chooses to be. He doesn't want anything to put this life he was worked hard for in jeopardy. As such, he takes his friend out to a cliff and fires a gun right next to his ear. He believes that's enough to keep him quiet without expecting him to do this work even again. He can't be trusted because he didn't follow orders. And yet, Deran is also doing all of this out of love. He wants to help Adrian chase his own dreams with surfing. He wants him to have the opportunity that was cruelly taken away from him. He doesn't want Adrian to settle. It just means he is once again in a financially desperate place by the time the episode reaches its conclusion.

Elsewhere, Pope is busy trying to figure out how to be a parent to Lena. He has been responsible in looking out for her in the past. He was often more concerned as a parent than Baz ever was. He wants to do the right thing by Lena because she is family. That's a connection that is worth cherishing. The family can't just toss her away into the cruel foster care system. He needs to step up and be her new father. But he just doesn't know how to be a parent when it comes to the day-to-day realities of that life. He can talk about wolves only attacking humans when provoked or just how poor a student he was at school. And yet, neither of those stories actually help her feel better about her current emotional turmoil. This is the most the show has ever decided to focus on Lena. It's important too because she needs to be protected in this family. She still needs parents to love and support her. She can't simply be passed off to someone else for a little while. She needs consistency in her life. She can't just relish in this luxurious lifestyle like the rest of the family. Pope needs to devote all of his time and attention to her. He just doesn't know how to help her when she is waking up to nightmares about her dad and getting bullied at school. His grand solution is to simply transfer to a different school. Sure, that may be beneficial. It proves to her that the family has enough money to afford a better place for her to learn. But she'll still be tormented by nightmares because of both of her parents leaving under mysterious circumstances that she doesn't understand. Pope wants to get to the bottom of who shot his brother. Lucy is able to get the police report and inside knowledge about the investigation. But that doesn't produce any new leads. The police just don't have a strong case against anyone. Javi's crew have alibis while Lucy can't think of anyone besides Smurf who may have wanted to target Baz.

Meanwhile, Smurf is getting furious over how long she has been in jail. She believes it would be so easy for her case to be dismissed because the person who framed her is dead. She just wants to appear in front of a judge as soon as possible. It's only in talking with her lawyer that she learns that the police are stalling so that they can build an even more damaging case against Smurf that extends far beyond this murder. As such, it seems very unlikely that Smurf will be getting out of prison anytime soon. She is protected while in there but she also feels so dehumanized because this is a life that she thought she escaped a long time ago. That only puts more pressure on J to keep up with the bills and ensuring that the businesses are running the same as they always have. J is warned that anything not going according to schedule will result in the police suspecting that something illegal is happening there. That would be all the evidence they need to put Smurf in prison for life for running a criminal empire. They are just waiting for a slip up. It's difficult for J to keep up with everything as well because there are so many bills that require attention. The lawyers are charging a lot for their services. The Trujillo gang is still expecting payments for protecting Smurf. And the money is quickly running out. He wants the rest of the family to stop spending like they have a ton to spare. Right now, they are strapped for cash and being monitored by the police. That makes every move they make even more dangerous. They have to be extremely careful not to run out of money. If so, then they all risk going to jail. They are just as invested in the business and the properties as Smurf is. They can't just sell the buildings either. As such, it seems like a situation that is only getting worse and worse.

Pope and Deran just aren't willing to do a job in order to help Smurf. J has to frame the suggestion in the right context for them to agree. He has to point out just how devastating this exposure could be for the entire family. Smurf being in prison for an extended period of time only increases the pressure on the family. J has had to dip into the savings he had stashed away in his old neighborhood at his mother's friend's house. He has to retrieve that money in order to give Mia her monthly payment. Of course, that's a whole other complication because it seems like Mia is seducing J in order to get some greater insight into what's going on with this criminal operation that she and her friends are now in business with. J is feeling that pressure but still sleeps with her as well. He's distracted just enough for him to forget about the new weekly tradition of having family dinner. Pope sees it as a way to maintain stability and a sense of family for Lena. This is her continuing to have a relationship with her uncles even though they aren't around as much as they used to be. That's what Pope is upset about when J shows up late. Meanwhile, J is worried about the financial difficulties of the businesses. He understands the threat that they are under. He even knows that Deran has just pulled a job by himself. It sparks a huge debate about what the family should do next. They don't want to rely on each other in order to make it in this world. And yet, they are all at risk because of these properties. As such, they have to risk pulling another job with a significant payday just to ensure that everything keeps running smoothly going forward. And that presents the season with its narrative momentum moving forward.

Some more thoughts:
  • "In the Red" was written by Eliza Clark and directed by David Rodriguez.
  • Craig and Ren have returned to their Mexican escape after Baz's death. They have escaped the country to find new purpose. Craig believes he has found it in trying to create and market a new tequila. And yet, it doesn't take long before his partying gets the attention of some dangerous people in Mexico. They beat him up and it's mostly just a way to explain how Craig is back in his family's orbit after saying he wanted his freedom to explore a new direction with his life.
  • This season Ren has been positioned as the peacekeeper. She has been trying to keep Craig from getting into fights because he is a hot head. Of course, that doesn't ultimately save him here because these drug dealers are determined to hurt the person cutting into their business. She is just helpless being held to the side while Craig is beat up. But she is able to get him back to his family as well.
  • There have been many women throwing themselves at J over the course of the series. They are attracted to that silent but smart energy he has. Right now, Nicky seems like nothing more than a hassle because she is partying and spending money that the family simply doesn't have. Meanwhile, Mia could just be seducing him in order to get information about what he's really up to. She hasn't been successful in cracking him in any other way so far.
  • A woman in prison approaches Smurf about getting her boys to do a job for her. She is pissed at her boyfriend for leaving her behind with the items they just stole. She wants to get revenge on him by pulling the job they were planning before he has the opportunity to do so. A job that is already planned could be enticing to the family right now as they aim to keep things stable. And yet, Smurf doesn't know this woman and if she can be trusted.
  • Just how trustworthy is Morgan the lawyer? She has been a loyal friend to Smurf who drew up the paperwork to give her power of attorney to J. She is now giving legal advice and counsel to J as well. However, it also seems like she is angling to get the family to sign over one of their properties to her. She pitches it as a private sale that wouldn't call attention to the cops. The family can sort everything out after Smurf is released from prison. And yet, that offer seems like a deal that would benefit her more than the family.