Tuesday, June 4, 2019

REVIEW: 'Animal Kingdom' - Smurf Tests J's Convictions While Pope Reconnects with an Old Friend in 'Angela'

TNT's Animal Kingdom - Episode 4.02 "Angela"

J reconsiders his relationship with Smurf after he gets bad news about Morgan's death. Frankie lures Craig with the promise of another big score. The arrival of an old family friend surprises Pope. Deran questions if Adrian is really ready to accept him for who he is.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of TNT's Animal Kingdom.

"Angela" was written by Daniele Nathanson and directed by John Wells

J vowed to take down Smurf at the end of the third season. That was a moment that fell a little flat at the time because the buildup had been a little too wobbly. That continues to be the overall feeling at the moment as well. It doesn't quite seem like J and Smurf are on equal footing in this cold war that is brewing between them. Smurf is quickly able to confirm that J killed Morgan and was the one who actually stole her properties. She does so simply by getting a friend to pose as a detective who asks him a few pointed questions. Smurf understands the power of seeing how a person reacts to certain information instead of simply confronting them with the truth. However, this season absolutely feels like it's foreshadowing Smurf's ultimate demise. That comes from J's threat, the inclusion of flashbacks to her early criminal days and the concluding beat in which she collapses in the hallway. It's unlikely that she would actually die now from some unforeseen medical problem. There would no satisfying drama from that. The show built up this tension. It needs to ultimately follow through on it. But it mostly establishes that there is an internal threat to Smurf as well as the external fears of her own survival. The flashbacks haven't really added a whole lot to the narrative so far. They mostly just showcase how long Smurf has survived in this criminal world. She is still here pulling off these jobs when everyone else from the crew is gone. Of course, it's also a familiar plot device to see every season feature a blast from the past somehow. In the first season, it was J who came to the Cody household and forced everyone to relive their dynamics with Julia. In the second season, it was Javi who tried to get what he thought was rightfully his. In the third season, it was Billy who wanted to form a relationship with Deran while Smurf was in jail. And now, the show brings in Emily Deschanel as Angela, an old friend of Julia's who has just been released from prison. She shows up at the Cody household hoping for Julia's grounded guidance. Instead, she is faced with Smurf's cold disinterest. Of course, Angela is eager to return into the lives of the Cody family. Julia may be dead but she has a dynamic with Pope. Craig and Deran were growing increasingly concerned about their brother because of how reckless and impulsive he has been as of late. He no longer has anything to keep him going in life. He is careless in a way that could get so many people hurt or killed. And now, the show may already be introducing a new dynamic for him that could pull him out of this funk. It just runs the risk of Smurf losing her already flimsy hold on him. However, she is the head of the family who understands these threats from the pasts. She knows exactly how to treat them the moment they return on her doorstep. The rest of the family is largely in the dark about who to trust. Craig is open to pulling off more jobs with Frankie. He sees it as providing a massive payday without having to count on Smurf anymore. The boys no longer have to go to Smurf for ideas on how to run the business and pull off the jobs. Smurf has felt like she's being pushed out of the family business for a long time. And yet, she has survived all of the turmoil. She bested Baz when he targeted her. She already has the upper hand against J, who is also in the dark about everything going on with Mia and Tupi. However, the future remains very uncertain because the concluding moment of Smurf's failing health teases how a threat could really come from anywhere in this narrative.