Tuesday, July 17, 2018

REVIEW: 'Animal Kingdom' - Things Are Very Awkward After the Boys Come Home from the Latest Heist in 'Incoming'

TNT's Animal Kingdom - Episode 3.08 "Incoming"

The weed heist goes awry and leaves J and Deran stranded. Pope and Billy butt heads as Craig tries to keep the peace between them. Smurf learns about what J has been hiding from her since she's been away.

"Incoming" was always going to be a very intense episode because it features Smurf being released from jail while the boys pull off the weed heist. These are stories the show has been building towards for a couple of episodes now. There is so much deep personal drama that comes out of the family having to interact with Smurf again in the main house. They aren't expecting her to be there cooking a giant meal for them after completing a major job. It's just like things used to be in this family. The boys are risking their lives while Smurf is worried about them and cooking for them. She is trying to satisfy their appetites while also keeping them on their respective leaches. It's definitely a power move of hers. She wants to be informed about everything that is now going on within her family. And yet, she returns to a family that has decided they no longer need her in order to run things. They have managed to pull off a couple of jobs now without being caught. They've done so despite the increased police surveillance on them as well. The police were watching over the family just waiting for someone to slip up so that they could build a bigger case against Smurf. That ultimately didn't pan out. J was able to keep everything running smoothly while Smurf was in jail. He didn't like all of the orders she was barking at him. She was on the brink of losing her sanity in jail. But now, she is out and once again feels confident and in control. Of course, she has information that no one else in the family knows. She is aware that Detective Pearce has figured out that the family is using their rental properties to launder their money. As such, that will continue the immense scrutiny over their financials. It comes at a time when they just pulled off one of the biggest heists they've ever done. There was so much risk with this job. But it came with a huge reward for each of them as well. They will have to be very smart and careful with how they split this money up and clean it. It's going to be a process for the family. But it's what they are willing to do in order to pursue whatever comes next in their lives. This heist was a success for them even though it comes with the uncertainty of Smurf being back at home. None of the boys really know what to expect from her.

Smurf starts the episode just enjoying the car ride from Detective Pearce. She appreciates the service he continues to provide for her because no one was notified about her being released from jail. It's a decision that Pearce was forced to make because he couldn't make any of the charges against her actually stick. The evidence just wasn't in his favor. And so, the charges were dropped. All he has is supposition. He understands how the Codys are running their business. He knows the role that Smurf plays in this family and that her boys have learned how to survive and thrive without her. He has tried to manipulate her in the past by focusing on her fierce loyalty to family. But she is the only one who can tear this family apart. There is still the fear that she was the one who put a hit out on Baz after he stole from her and framed her for murder. She wanted vengeance against the one son who would actually betray her like this. She can still put on a good show. She is still very much in mourning about that tragedy. But she also stands in such stark contrast with the rest of the family. The boys chose to have a memorial at sea. They didn't want a place in the ground where they could always remember Baz. But that's what Smurf wants. She argues that it's what Lena will need as well. She must have a place to speak with her father in order to feel close with him. But all of this is insanely twisted because there is the extreme likelihood that Smurf ordered Baz's death. She wanted him dead in order to ensure her release from prison. It took longer than expected but she is finally free once more. Craig doesn't want to believe that Smurf is capable of such an action. But Pope understands all too well just how vicious and destructive Smurf can actually be. He has done so much for her in that regard as well. Now, he knows that he can't ever trust a single thing that she says.

It's also so significant that Smurf returns home from jail and isn't greeted by her family. Instead, all she finds is Frankie just tanning by the pool. She has no idea who this stranger is or why she is at her house. Smurf looks around and sees the mess. She doesn't understand what has happened to her home or how her boys are coping with the world. But her surprise presence is enough to startle everyone into action. Frankie stands up at attention doing whatever it takes in order to please her. Sure, she comes on strong which Smurf doesn't like at all. But Frankie is still invited to sit at the table during the family dinner. Billy and Deran choose to avoid it knowing that things are going to be very dramatic with Smurf. Billy felt free to return because Smurf was in jail while Deran was content with never having to see Smurf ever again. This moment does reveal that Billy tried to take Deran away to a better life but Smurf was just too protective of her boys. She was perfectly fine with none of them having a father who actually wanted to stick around. She was all that they ever needed to rely on. And now, none of them want to tell her about the latest job they have just pulled off. They are running on such a high when they come back home. The split for each of them is huge. But instead, they are dealing with the awkwardness of Smurf cooking a meal for them once more and questioning why they didn't see her in prison. Even J is unsure of how to react. He was willing to stop paying for her protection because he figured that he had all of the power in that relationship. And now, she's back and ready to retake the crown of this family. She wants to be the one in charge. And yet, that's bound to create such an immense amount of personal turmoil because the family has gotten used to doing things without ego involved. They no longer need Smurf or Baz in order to succeed as a criminal family.

Of course, the show will have to start featuring some more consequences for the Cody family as well. Across three seasons now, they have pulled off some major heists without getting any unwelcome attention on themselves. There is always the fear that the latest job is too big and they will never be able to pull it off. The weed heist can only be done during a very specific window. The boys understand that they have to strike while the money is being transported in the air. It makes it a stealthier strike with J and Deran being locked away in a couple of containers also scheduled to be picked up on the plane. They break their way out before pulling their guns on the one security guard and the pilot. In fact, it seems like the most difficult aspect of literally robbing the plane is actually collecting up all of the money. That proves to be the most time-consuming component of this plan. It means that they miss landing at the drop site where Pope, Craig and Billy are going to pick them up. Instead, J and Deran land on the other side of a mountain. It means that they are in danger of being found because they don't have any reception on their phones while also wandering around the desert with almost a million dollars on them. The optics aren't great especially considering the plane will land nearby and be able to start a search throughout the desert in the hopes of collecting this money from the criminals who stole it from them. As such, things are very intense. There is the fear that J and Deran are about to be caught because they made just a few minor miscalculations. They just didn't know how long it would take to load up all of the money. So, they are left walking to the nearest town that will afford them a chance to call Pope. It's very intense. And yet, things inevitably work out for the family because that's the way things always go. They are always able to pull off these jobs without dealing with too many consequences.

That is bound to change eventually. But it doesn't seem like this job is going to be the one that has the potential to completely tear the family apart. There is a divide between Smurf and the boys. She doesn't know what's going on. She is surprised that Billy and Frankie are still in the house. The boys know exactly where the money is being stored while also ensuring that the security on the storage unit is top notch. It's high tech surveillance. That will be very crucial to the safety of this money. But it also presents an even more daunting challenge for all of this to potentially be taken from them. That's a tease for the future. But so is the fact that J and Deran have to pay off a woman in order to hitch a ride into town. They need to get out of the desert as soon as possible. And so, they understand that they need this woman's support especially since she's willing to be bought off. It further shows that the two of them still have a moral code in that they don't want to shoot her in front of her children. They still don't condone murder. They are just taking whatever they need in order to continue affording their lifestyle. This is a massive haul for the family. One that may allow them to lay low for a little while. But that doesn't seem like it is going to happen. There is bound to be complications from some aspect of their lives. It could be Billy who is very impatient about getting his cut of the money from this job. It could be Detective Pearce keeping a close eye on the rental properties which means that it's harder to clean the money. It could be the woman in the desert who is forced to talk about her interactions with J and Deran. Or it could simply be Smurf trying to exert her influence once more to get her family back in line behind her. That seems very daunting. But all of these seem like genuine possibilities that are bound to keep the next stretch of episodes very exciting and intense.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Incoming" was written by Daniele Nathanson and directed by David Rodriguez.
  • So, is Nicky just off the show for good now? I've noticed that Molly Gordon is no longer listed in the opening credits. But it sure feels like such an anti-climatic way for her to go. The last the audience physically saw her she was bleeding out in front of an emergency room. Then, her status was just given to the audience by other characters who had seen her offscreen. And now, the audience just has to accept that she's in Guam with her family.
  • Of course, the rest of the family doesn't know about Nicky's recent death scare and her father storming into the house ready to take her back to Guam. They are shocked that J and Nicky have broken up. But it's only through Smurf asking about where Nicky is that this information comes out. Even then, J is still choosing to be cryptic about which details to share and which to keep to himself. He's probably very smart for doing so as well.
  • Frankie is much more important to the heist than Billy is. She is actually the truck driver who gets J and Deran into the airfield and onto the plane. Meanwhile, Billy is just in the backseat of the getaway vehicle just jonesing for his drugs. He gets in the way so much that it's hard to blame Pope for just abandoning him on the side of the road. That also allows Billy to be aware that Smurf has been released long before he returns to the house.
  • More stories are told about Billy's past with the family and why Smurf told him never to contact the family again. Pope remembers a truly traumatic time where Billy locked him in a closest and forget he was in there for three days. That's absolutely horrifying and Billy tries to explain it all away. And then, Billy explains that he took Deran when he left Smurf. But she ultimately tracked him down and said that she wouldn't have him arrested for kidnapping if he promised never to return to their lives.
  • Pope and Smurf may have animosity towards each other right now. But they are also the only ones in the family who actually care about Lena and what's going on with her. Pope is thinking a lot about Baz at the moment. He wants to ensure that Lena is protected as a part of this family. As such, he wants her to get a cut from the various jobs too. Meanwhile, Smurf is so eager to see her granddaughter as soon as possible and prove to her that things are still capable of being normal.