Tuesday, July 23, 2019

REVIEW: 'Animal Kingdom' - Smurf Meets With an Old Friend While J Explains How the Job Went Wrong in 'SHTF'

TNT's Animal Kingdom - Episode 4.09 "SHTF"

J faces the consequences of his missteps with Mia. Pope worries about Smurf's disappearance, while Smurf visits someone from her past. Craig grows frustrated with Deran's secrecy after Deran recruits him for a dangerous assignment.

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.

"SHTF" was written by Eliza Clark and directed by Janice Cook

Deran and Craig are not wrong to question the legitimacy of Smurf's cancer diagnosis. They hear about it secondhand from Pope after the family has absolutely no clue where Smurf has disappeared to. Pope and J aren't even certain that she will return. They could easily see a reality in which she refuses to say goodbye or allow her family to see her as less than strong. That's always the perception she wishes to project to the world. She never wants to be seen as weak and vulnerable. She will do whatever it takes in order to stay on top. Of course, that also comes with the realization that she may rather go out in a blaze of glory instead of trying to remain a stable figure for her family. Craig never thought that cancer would be the thing that would take out Smurf. Deran understands that it's a brutal disease that kills far too many people every year. But Smurf has always presented as indestructible. No matter what happened to her she found a way to survive and thrive. She had the loyal support of her family for a long time. Even now, they all rally around her when she comes calling. They are more than capable of pulling off jobs without her. And yet, she has created an environment in which every member of this family lives with a fair amount of fear and paranoia. Deran doesn't want to tell anyone about Adrian's legal problems because he fears how they could react. But now, he comes across as the unstable one who wants to attack a federal officer outside a cop bar. That may also make him susceptible to the deal that Detective Pearce presents to him here. All of this may be leading to a choice between his love and his family. Will he continue to support and protect Adrian? Or will his family bonds prove to be much stronger? Everyone in the Cody family is doing whatever it takes in order to survive. But now, they have more outside concerns that they have to worry about. Deran has to protect Adrian without revealing too much about his criminal antics as of late. Craig becomes a father here with Renn confirming that the baby is more than likely his. He is proud to hold his newborn son in his arms even though he may not be well-equipped to deal with the realities of parenthood. Meanwhile, J has to explain how he missed up and allowed his uncles to get injured on the job that he brought to them. He has to own his mistakes while outlining everything that happened and how he has already rectified the situation. Pope knows more about what's going on but J continues to keep things very close to the vest. Plus, he continues to test Angela to see just how loyal and stable she is. He is still looking at her with suspicion. He doesn't see her as an ally who is trying to look out for him in a world without Smurf. But the show remains very unclear about whether or not she actually gets high again after J leaves her in the old neighborhood. In fact, this season largely aspires to tell one elongated story instead of delivering actual episodes of content. There is nothing all that notable that happens here. It's just further escalation of what the audience has already seen this season. Sure, it introduces Colin's brother who is a doomsday prepper. He has been living off the grid since the 1970s. He's a horrible man in the past. But only in the present does Smurf seem willing to rip him off. Of course, that will come with its own complications especially since she also wants to be a part of the job now. That may provide an explosive ending for the season. But it also proves how this family is so dysfunctional because they never truly feel the ability to open up and be vulnerable with anyone. Instead, they fear that they will be hurt whenever they do so. That's the greatest lesson that Smurf has ever taught her children. It makes them doubt her cancer diagnosis even though the audience already knows it to be the complete and honest truth.