Tuesday, June 19, 2018

REVIEW: 'Animal Kingdom' - The Latest Job Proves to Have Unexpected Complications for the Family in 'Wolves'

TNT's Animal Kingdom - Episode 3.04 "Wolves"

With the cops on their tail, the Cody boys try to pull off their first heist without Smurf and Baz. They return to find unexpected guests waiting at the house. Smurf demands that J get rid of them as she deals with a problem of her own in jail.

The season so far has put so much emphasis on the need to pull off another job and pay the bills that have quickly been piling up for the family. The boys are all dealing with their own personal difficulties. J is the one who understands just how serious the lack of money could be for all of them. Pope, Deran and Craig don't want to do anything for Smurf. But in protecting her and the businesses, they will remain safe too. She had a deal to turn on them and she didn't take it. And now, the police and District Attorney are keeping a close eye on the family to see if they mess up in any way. Detective Pearce knows that this family is doing criminal things. He just hasn't been able to prove it yet. He goes to intimidate Smurf in prison once more. But she absolutely has a point in saying that she's been unfairly kept in prison for longer than she should without a hearing in front of judge. The police don't have the evidence they need to build a compelling case against her. They should either produce some new evidence or drop all of the charges and let Smurf go free. The bullet that came from her gun wasn't the bullet that killed Javi. Smurf knows that. But she has to be very careful telling that to people because of the implication that comes from such confidence. All of this makes it seem pretty likely that Smurf will get out of prison soon so long as the boys don't mess up. And yet, the bills are growing more and more expensive. The cash resources are being depleted. As such, they have to risk it all just in order to keep the perception that everything is continuing to move as smoothly and normally as ever. If they don't do this now, Smurf will be in prison without any protection. That would be so dangerous for her. Again, it's J's problem. He's the member of the family who actually cares about her. But this money is also necessary to flow through the businesses so that the police can't build a case against the individuals whose names are also on those deals. So everyone needs to get involved with this latest heist. That means this is the most exciting and compelling hour of the season so far.

This job was handed to the Cody family as well. Smurf negotiated it while in prison. She made it so her family would get all of the profits too. The family needs the money right now. But they are robbing an illegal business. They are stealing over a hundred thousand dollars from a pill farm. They understand that this business is a front for criminal endeavors. J has gone inside to see all of the surveillance and security that is protecting the money. As such, the boys need to be very clever when it comes to figuring out how to get the money while also distracting the police that are following them around. It's important to point out that J actually has a tail on him. Everyone in the family can spot him following J around. As such, it's important for him to be following J when this heist is happening. That would create a reasonable amount of doubt that the Cody family was even involved in this crime. It just means that J and Deran are the distraction for the local police and the security guard outside the pill farm. J just has to walk into a bank and Deran calls in an emergency that the bank is currently being robbed. When the plain clothes officer goes in, J sneaks out. And then, Deran just has to get into a small car accident to distract the security guard out front. It creates a whole lot of chaos and confusion. There is no robber inside of the bank. But it is enough to tip the police off that something is wrong because the Cody family went through all of this effort just to distract them. Of course, the police presence also proves to be beneficial in ensuring that no one comes to fight Pope and Craig while they are stealing from the back room. As such, it's clear that this plan was well thought out and proved that the family is absolutely capable of pulling off a job without Smurf or Baz.

That will be very important to know moving forward. This job will probably motivate the family to continue doing these jobs despite the increased police presence on them. It all may change once Smurf gets out of prison. But it's certainly freeing enough for them to do things the way they want to do so. In fact, it's refreshing that they no longer have to deal with the criticisms and fights for control that Baz and Smurf always dictated. They always wanted to be the ones in charge of this operation. They would take the biggest cuts of the profits for their own personal benefit. That's still done to an extent here as well. Pope and Craig are the ones risking so much because they are actually committing a crime. Well, Deran does as well but no one can prove that he made a false emergency report. J is completely clean during all of this. There is nothing connecting him to any of the dangers of this job. And yet, he's the one who walks away with the most amount of money. Pope and Craig are the ones actually jamming the doors shut to ensure that the two people working inside don't interfere with the robbery. They are the ones who have to get the safe out of the building and into the truck without being noticed by anyone. Once the safe is opened though, J is the one who collects the money and hands a cut to his uncles that is smaller than they were expecting. They need him to justify that he needs to have most of the money because of the pressing bills at the moment. J isn't without sympathy. He understands that Deran deserves more because he has employees to pay as well. But it's only a minor raise given in that moment. J has to keep money flowing through the businesses while also paying off the Trujillo gang to ensure that Smurf stays protected in prison.

That will hopefully mean Mia gets out of J's life for the week. She started this season as the person simply collecting this money from J every week for Smurf's protection. And now, she has become so much more complicated. It seems incredibly likely that the Trujillo gang may not be the friends the Codys need right now. They are continuing to provide a service for them. Protecting Smurf is high priority in prison. Meanwhile, the lines continue to blur between J and Mia. They are growing closer and more intimate. But Nicky is starting to realize that as well. The other Codys even notice that Mia is around the house and want to know what she's doing there. They just see her as J getting himself into a complicated situation in his personal life. They don't know that she represents the Trujillo gang and the need to protect Smurf in prison. That's something that J is keeping to himself because he needs his uncles' support at the moment. They successfully pull off this job without anything going wrong. J gets the respect he deserves from his uncles. And yet, Mia is gaining as much information as she can about the family as possible. As such, she targets the weakest link. Nicky sees herself as a part of this family. She came here because she didn't want to move to Guam with her family. But she's always left out of the family meetings. The men are still keeping secrets from her. Mia points out that Nicky probably belongs elsewhere doing better things in her life. She proves that by showing her just how easy it is for her to have sex with someone else. All it takes is a little drinking and flirting. But that also reveals ulterior motives. She is just trying to get information out of Nicky so that the Trujillo gang has a better understanding of what the Cody family has been doing and robbing lately. They want to know more about their recent jobs. That's ominous.

That's not even the only threat introduced this week either. When the family comes home from this job, they are surprised by a new car just sitting on the driveway. They perceive it as a threat right away. It then comes with the reveal that it's Deran's father who has finally chosen to be a part of his son's life. It's a surprising moment that seems to come out of nowhere. However, Billy being played by Denis Leary proves that the character is going to have a significant impact on the season. Immediately, Pope and Smurf are furious that he has come back into their lives and want him gone as soon as possible. No one else in the family is taking it all that seriously though. Craig just sees it as a good thing that Deran has the potential to get to know his father. He doesn't see the guy as inherently bad. But upon further inspection, Pope is able to figure out that the car Billy and his new girlfriend, Frankie, have is actually stolen. Meanwhile, Smurf warns J that Billy is a wolf who must be pushed out of the house immediately. Word of her imprisonment means that all of the threats from the past are returning thinking that the family has weakened. They are trying to take them down in order for them to get a piece of that action. That's what the family should be worried about with Billy and Frankie. And yes, it is mysterious and uncertain when Pope comes back into the house and doesn't know where these two visitors are. They are simply enjoying the bathroom in the house. But their sheer presence in this familiar environment is enough to unnerve everyone with what might happen next.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Wolves" was written by Bradley Paul and directed by James Hanlon.
  • Denis Leary's addition to the cast as Billy is the casting that has gotten the most notice. And yes, the show reflects that as well with the story here. Billy is the one given a personal connection to the family. He's the one J is told to fear. But Dichen Lachman is significant casting as well. Frankie doesn't have any lines at all here though. That's lame. And moreover, she's naked in order to intimidate Pope. That's gross and weird. As such, it leaves me worried that the show won't know what to do with her.
  • When Deran took Craig to the emergency room last week, he and the nurse, Clark Lincoln, shared a glance with each other that should have informed the audience that a story between them was going to happen. And now, that seems to occur with Clark showing up at the bar with a new signed hat for Craig. He stays because Deran wants to get drunk and not think about his father who has just shown up.
  • However, Deran may have a personal threat to deal with as well. He was able to intimidate one of the crew he worked with when doing his own jobs after he almost got caught. But now, the other one is starting to make some noise simply because he's getting angsty because of the lack of work lately. He needs the money right now too. So if Deran doesn't give him something to do, it could become a huge problem.
  • Should the audience really care about J having a big reaction to learning that Nicky had sex with someone else? It's completely hypocritical on his part because he is sleeping with Mia right now too. Nicky suspects that but neither Mia nor J confirm it. The show has built up this connection between J and Nicky. And yet, it just doesn't feel like the show has earned the reaction that J produces after learning about Nicky's recent actions.
  • Mia has talked about growing up in the foster care system which abused her. As such, she needed to find work and that's why she's doing these jobs for the gang. It's allowed her to form connections with Nicky and J. But now, she's seen breaking into a cluttered house looking for a gun and some paperwork. She is also confronted by the older woman who lives there. It's clearly a personal connection and may prove that she has been lying this entire season about her past.