Tuesday, July 3, 2018

REVIEW: 'Animal Kingdom' - The Codys Fight Back to Protect Their Family and Their Community in 'Broke From the Box'

TNT's Animal Kingdom - Episode 3.06 "Broke From the Box"

J tries to make his relationship with Nicky work as he faces pressure from Smurf to clean up loose ends from Javi's murder. Craig gathers the boys to defend the Codys' reputation in town when outsiders move in on their territory. Billy gives Deran an idea for a job.

Smurf finally has a court date to appear in front of a judge. The prosecutor will finally present the case against her with a ruling being determined if she will stay in prison to await trial or if there just isn't enough evidence to prove that she committed this crime. This is something she has grown quite impatient about. One of her fellow inmates says that she has now been held without bail for 60 days. She says that's not a good sign for her case at all. And yet, Smurf knows the game that is being played. Detective Pearce and the prosecutor just wanted to delay appearing before a judge for as long as possible so that they could build an even more damning case against Smurf that includes more crimes than simply the murder of Javi. The autopsy came back that confirmed that the bullet from Smurf's gun on the body was fired long after he had died. As such, there is no firm connection to her ultimately being responsible for his death. However, the prosecutor is now ready to move forward with this case because they have a surprise witness that they are trying to keep out of the discovery files made available to Smurf's team. It's amusing to see that one of Smurf's lawyers is completely against anything amoral or illegal while the other is completely malleable when it comes to getting a huge payday for herself. She is able to tell Smurf like it is and just how damaging the mystery of the situation can be for her case. It means Smurf has to think back about all of the people who potentially know that she killed Javi and are now prepared to testify against her. Her family knows the truth but the audience trusts that none of them are going to take the stand to send her to prison forever. The season has yet to produce a moment where the police are actually confronting the Cody boys about what they know and how complicit they are in this entire operation. Instead, it's mostly been about tailing them in the hopes that they will one day mess up. That's a lead that just isn't coming. As such, Smurf tasks J with finding out who is the potential leak from Javi's crew and ensuring that they don't take the stand to testify against her. That just happens to be a huge ask for her to be making. It all plays into the narrative of the world changing because Smurf is in prison and Baz is dead. The Cody boys want to prove that they don't need that leadership in order to survive. But Smurf still sees herself as the one in charge of this entire operation.

Of course, Smurf is also growing more frustrated with J because he's not answering her calls and isn't seeing her as much as she needs him to. She needs him to come to the prison so that she can pass along the information of who to target and potentially kill. That's exactly what she is asking of him as well. She's not afraid to demand that her family kill to keep her safe. J feared that that was coming for him the longer that he stayed in control of this business. He was worried that he would have to kill the old lady with dementia because she could easily let the truth slip to the police about the rent that she pays for her apartment. That didn't happen though. Deran had a different solution that proved that things would still be alright for the family without them having to cross that line. It was still absolutely cruel and horrifying to watch them abandon this old lady at a bus stop. But they kept her alive. And now, Smurf is demanding to be repaid for taking J in after his mother died. She believes she can always lord that over her family. She welcomed them into her life. She didn't abandon them despite multiple opportunities to do so. She didn't have to be a mother to any of them. She chose to do so mostly for the idea that they would stay loyal to her. Now, J feels like the only one who is still loyal to her. She has counted on him numerous times over the course of the series. She has shown him how to run this business to ensure that they all stay protected. She has trusted him with all of the businesses. He has been working hard to protect the entire family. But now, it seems like he's doing all of this out of his own self-interest instead of trying to get Smurf released. No, he doesn't want her to die. He is still paying the money for her protection inside. But he's also not quick to kick Billy out of the house or go out to the desert to find whomever may be testifying against Smurf about Javi's murder. That's a key development with it also feeling a little lackluster because J is such a quiet and distant character.

Meanwhile, the family seems to be operating as well as can be despite the loss of Smurf and Baz. Right now, the boys are stepping up to prove that they don't need the two of them in order to keep the same amount of respect that the Cody name has had in this community. This season is now introducing the idea that the Codys actually give back to their community to actually preserve it for the local culture. They serve as the protectors from the outsiders who come in wishing to exploit the criminal market or just the local surf spot. It's a fascinating story that seems a little awkwardly introduced. Up to this point, the Cody boys have all largely been selfish people. They are interested in themselves and their stability first and foremost. Craig is frequently flailing around. Deran is responsible for his bar and that's it. Pope struggles expressing himself and his intentions. And J just finished high school with the intent of learning the family business. Now, they are realizing just how much Smurf gave back in order to preserve the identity of their community. As such, they feel the responsibility to do that as well. It's an interesting new story that is different for the main characters to be grappling with. So far, they have just used the money they steal in order to pay off their debts or live extravagant lives for themselves. The job earlier this season was all about funneling enough money into the businesses to keep things functioning the same as they always have. Then there was the reveal that Smurf was actually sponsoring a local surfing competition. That has forced Craig to become more aware of the world around him. That has the potential to be a really fascinating story for him. It could be him planting down roots in the hopes of preserving the spirit of this city that he loves so much. But it also feels like a strange detour this week to ensure that Smurf doesn't appear in front of a judge just yet.

Of course, Craig's pursuit to uphold the reputation of their family and community brings the brothers and J back together. They pulled the job off together. And now, they are bonding even closer. Sure, it's still a very abusive and problematic situation because Pope has to bring Lena along with him everywhere he goes this week. She has been suspended from school until she has made some progress with a therapist. He doesn't believe she needs that kind of therapy and essentially tells her to lie. She's going to be so traumatized by all of this. She may not know the specifics of what her family is doing. And yet, she knows that it is trouble. She sees this as normal behavior though. So it's no wonder she's acting out at school. She believes it's okay to react to someone by trying to cut their hair. That's just the kind of upbringing that she has had. That's what makes this whole thing icky and disturbing. The men see it as this rush of adrenaline that propels them into action. It's them taking back what rightfully belongs to them. They are protecting their turf from these pompous and cocky invaders who believe they have the run of the land simply because of the drug connection they have in Brazil. But it also just affords them to disrupt the lives of others by pointing guns in their faces and beating them up. It's a simple intimidation tactic. It does make an impact because they steal a nice pile of cash for themselves. They may funnel it back into the community and support more local events. Or they could choose to keep it for themselves like they have frequently done in the past. Plus, there's no guarantee that this new gang will immediately run out of town. They may also choose to hunker down and start a war with the family which could have such vast consequences for all of the Codys.

Tragedy is already starting to hit close to home as well. Nicky continues to feel adrift in her life. Mia is trying to warn J that Nicky doesn't belong in this life. She deserves better than this criminal lifestyle. Meanwhile, he just sees himself as Nicky's savior. He has been there for her when her family wasn't. And now, he feels a new sense of duty to her because her family has once again rejected her. He wants to protect her but he is still keeping his distance too. He believes he's doing the right thing by saying he can no longer be having sex with Mia. And yet, he doesn't explain why he can't just run away with Nicky and all of the family money. It seems pretty obvious. He can't just leave the state and enroll in college somewhere to make a better life for himself. If the family businesses go down, then the police will always be looking for him as well. The police now have the understanding that he is very much involved in the family business. As such, he is responsible for their financial stability. He is protecting himself by keeping everything functioning normally. But he doesn't explain himself to Nicky. He just says it's too complicated and stops talking completely after that. That makes it easy to understand why Nicky feels so frustrated with this life. She too is in love with J and wants things to work out with him. But he has some serious shortcomings as well. He can't give her the love and pleasure she needs right now. So instead, she seeks it from Billy's drugs. The show left it unclear if she took Billy up on his offer last week. But here, it's confirmed that she didn't shoot up with him. She is avoiding the harder drugs for the longest time. But she still succumbs to that temptation and then immediately shoots herself in the leg. It's such a traumatizing sight for J to return home to. He rushes her to the hospital. In the moment though, he has to abandon her because he can't be seen dropping her off at a hospital with a life-threatening injury. She wants him to promise that she won't die. Instead, he just drops her by the front door hoping that the doctors will save her without her drawing too much attention to herself because the police will surely want to investigate what happened.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Broke From the Box" was written by Matt Kester and directed by Mark Strand
  • Pope gets a visit from two officers for the Department of Child and Family Services. He believes he has done everything right by Lena by actually looking out for her and ensuring she gets the best care during this transition. He doesn't believe he needs to be looked over with judgement from these officers. And yet, it's absolutely in the right for the school to be concerned about what's happening at home with Lena and if she's really in a healthy living environment.
  • Of course, the audience also has to question if Lena will be able to stick to the script of saying she's happy and healthy to whomever asks. The officers and doctors just want to look out for her best interests. Pope believes he's doing that as well. He's just doing so with the belief that family is better than any of the alternatives. And yet, that's obviously not the case because of the bad influences the family can also be during her development.
  • Billy introduces a potential new job for the Cody family to pull off together. He says that it's smart to rob this weed farm because the federal government says banks can't hold the money. It could be very profitable despite the significant amount of risk from the armed security. It's mostly just an introduction here. However, Deran still presents it to the rest of the family because they know that they'll have to pull another job soon.
  • Deran, Craig and Clark go surfing together. That happens mostly so that Craig becomes aware of this invasion in the local community from these outsiders who think they have complete control over the town. But it also shares that Deran and Clark are now sleeping together. In fact, Deran is pretty playful with that reveal even though he's still choosing to be very secretive about it. He's not hiding it but he's not flaunting it either.
  • Frankie asks J if she and Billy can move into the house because it gets cold sleeping outside in the middle of the night. She says that she can pay rent. But it also seems like she pulls together that money very quickly. How did she do that? Moreover, where did Billy and Frankie escape to when the boys scared the Brazilians while Nicky shot herself? It was still up to J to come home and find the bloody mess that Nicky had made for herself.