Sunday, July 11, 2021

REVIEW: 'Animal Kingdom' - The Cody Family Livelihood Comes Under Attack Due to Smurf's Final Actions in 'Red Handed'

TNT's Animal Kingdom - Episode 5.01 "Red Handed"

Dealing with the blowback from Season 4, the Codys are forced to tie up some loose ends with the cousins and figure out what the family looks like without Smurf.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season premiere of TNT's Animal Kingdom.

"Red Handed" was written by Daniele Nathanson and directed by Nick Copus

The Cody boys have long insisted that they could run the family business without Smurf at the helm. They have always strived for that independence. However, they were never able to break away from Smurf and her toxic influence. They definitely took shots at the queen hoping to knock her down. They never succeeded. In the end, cancer is what did her in. Even then, she had full control over her death. She did what she wanted to do. She wanted to die in a blaze of glory. She didn't care what repercussions would occur as a result of that action. That proved that she never actually loved her family. She simply used them in order to expand her criminal enterprise. That's evident from the early days of seeing her as a parent. Andrew and Julia are essentially props helping her rob people. It's the lifestyle she encourages. It's also the nature that she forges within them. Julia can see that her twin needs more stability from a different life than one on the road all the time. Smurf is conditioning her children to be exactly what she needs. Andrew is her enforcer. She needs that in her life. That's how she raises him. That took root early on. He is still trying to cope with that influence on his life in the present. He is devoted to the family. He understands the threats that are currently targeting them. The future is unknown with Smurf dead. Her life still looms large over the proceedings. The boys are still realizing the scope of the secrets she kept from them. She owned more property than they previously knew. Moreover, she left the majority of her estate to Pam. They don't even know who that is. That also isn't a concern they can deal with right now. At the moment, they have to address the threat that comes from Pope's cousins. The family knew that these guys would seek revenge as a result of what Smurf did. She had a personal vendetta against their father. The narrative provided that full circle moment of symmetry. She is gone now. Her boys are left behind to pick up the pieces. It may be complete destruction at this point. The house is invaded in a way that has never been seen before. It's a grand showcase of just how vulnerable the family is without Smurf's protection. She kept so many enemies away. And now, those people are appearing to collect what they believe was taken from them. Pope sees how Smurf used the family as pawns in order to orchestrate her death. She got what she wanted. He hopes they can return the gold to his cousins hoping that will end things. It doesn't. The boys are fighting for their lives as they are attacked at home. It's an elaborate set piece. One that highlights the technical skills they each carry. They have thrived in this business for awhile. That always has to be confirmed every once in awhile. It also showcases the difference between killing out of self-defense and killing in cold blood. Pope has absolutely done both. He has always attributed that to his mother's influence. As such, his decision-making is clouded because he believes the action in opposition to Smurf's core directive is the healthier option. In reality, that just leaves one of these cousins alive and out there in the world. This family is always concerned about loose ends. J interrogates Deran about Adrian talking to the feds. It's not a problem any longer. This family is incredibly toxic and dysfunctional. As a result, they are incapable of having close, intimate relationships with others. They destroy so much. They may aspire for more. That may be beyond their grasp because of all that Smurf did in this world. They are judged in comparison to her. They can never escape that shadow. She may have evaded any serious punishment. The same fate may not fall to those she manipulated in order to carry out her missions. She perfected that manipulation. That's still clear now as well. Patterns certainly have the potential of breaking. What does that even mean for this family though? It's unclear because this criminal business is all that has ever been expected of them. New codes and traditions may be established. That doesn't guarantee anything because the good fortunate of this life is going to run out. That's more clear now than ever before. It's a simple promise established at the start of the season. Sometimes, the show can be clear and concise about its ambitions each year. It may not justify every action taken. It's still unlikely that the flashbacks will have relevance or nuance whatsoever to what is happening in the present. It may provide more context. It's a way to keep Smurf's presence in this world. That may also just affirm the limitations of this storytelling. That should be a concern that weighs over the series too.