Tuesday, July 16, 2019

REVIEW: 'Animal Kingdom' - The Family Scrambles to Keep Everything Together When the Latest Job Goes Awry in 'Ambo'

TNT's Animal Kingdom - Episode 4.08 "Ambo"

The Codys head out for a big job, even though Smurf is nowhere to be found. All eyes are on J as he assumes a leadership position in a risky heist.

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.

"Ambo" was written by Bradley Paul and directed by David Rodriguez

J and Smurf both have to decide how far they are willing to go in order to get back what has been stolen from them. That is the connective thread that bonds the past and present storylines. Smurf's adventures in the '70s haven't been all that interesting this season. It's been a slow burn without a whole lot of purpose. But here, the season is articulating how Smurf's rise mirrors the journey J wishes to be going on as well in order to be in charge of the family business. J exerts his power in bringing this job to his uncles and then follows through when it all goes awry. Smurf is no where to be found in the present day. No one knows what happened to her. The show provides no clarity on where she has traveled to by plane. Instead, J just feels confident about this job. The series has shown the Cody family pull off a number of these heists. They mostly go according to plan. But sometimes things do become problematic. They have had to deal with consequences before. But it's startling to watch as a truck is rammed straight into Deran, Craig and Pope as they make their getaway in the ambulance. It's a shocking moment that comes with the immediate payoff that it was Mia and Tupi who have hijacked this heist. They are proud to just steal the money and jewelry as well. They aren't after the sound boards. As such, there is still the potential that the Cody family could earn a profit from this job. It just comes with the uncles being severely injured and perhaps being messier with the cover-up of their crime. Meanwhile, J has to act quickly in order to prove to his family that he didn't try to double cross them. He was the one who wasn't injured at all. Pope received the message that this was done to prove a point to J. He sees that as suspicious because J holds so many people at a distance from his life. He doesn't let anyone in. He tried doing that with Mia for a long time. They could be criminals together. And yet, the audience always had to see her as the person who killed Baz. That cliffhanger finally gets some resolution here with J learning the truth and promptly killing Mia for all that she has done. Now, it may be a little anti-climatic because Mia hasn't been as active a character this season as she was during the third. She had so much importance a year ago. And now, her motivations are murky and questionable just like J's. That had the potential of making them an interesting and compelling duo. But instead, she got paired with Tupi with it never being clear why that was a good or beneficial thing to her. And now, it gets the two of them killed simply because they were careless. Mia wanted J to feel that way as well. She wanted him to know that he wasn't as clever or stealthy as he believes himself to be. This family is vulnerable. And yet, they still emerge on top. Sure, it means J has to pull the trigger. He does so as well. That will change him moving forward. But it also comes at a time when the family is dealing with a ton of outside threats. J is openly talking about Smurf dying and how he has to be the point person for this entire operation. Meanwhile, Deran is trying to help Adrian get out of his compromising situation while Pope gets even closer to Angela. Plus, Smurf could come back at any time with something new to complicate the lives of her boys. Any of these developments could build up to something explosive. That's exactly what Mia was to the overall story in the end. She came in with a bang. And she now leaves with one too. It may inform more about what J has to do in order to survive instead of any actual and honest failings on her part though. But it's still an effective way to close out the story that brings many of the disparate threads of the season together for this hour.