Sunday, July 18, 2021

REVIEW: 'Animal Kingdom' - J Works Old and New Contacts to Hopefully Keep the Family Business Running in 'What Remains'

TNT's Animal Kingdom - Episode 5.02 "What Remains"

As Pope deals with Smurf's remains, Craig and Renn balance their old lives with being new parents. J finds a new job through an old contact, and Deran can't outrun his past with Adrian.

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 next episode of TNT's Animal Kingdom.

"What Remains" was written by Bill Balas and directed by Mark Strand

Smurf changed her will in the weeks before her death. As such, it was a very conscious decision on her part to leave the vast majority of her estate to Pam. Her boys don't know who that is. Of course, the flashbacks reveal that Pope has interacted with her before. In fact, she serves as a key motivator for Smurf to get her act together. She can't just keep running these small cons when she has two kids she has to care for. Her priorities need to shift. And yes, she managed to build an empire after that. Hopefully, the flashbacks will flesh out that aspect of her drive even more. It comes at a time when she leaves her sons with having to basically do the same thing. That means the flashbacks and the present day story have the potential to include more thematic links than previously. And yet, they still seem tangentially connected at best. Smurf accomplished all of this through creating a network. Those criminals always remained loyal to her. Meanwhile, her boys always benefitted from those connections. They didn't have to do the hard work themselves. Of course, they were the ones actually pulling off these elaborate heists. They weren't slouching when it came to this business. Their actions carried a ton of risk as well. But Smurf was the one who built lasting connections and ensured that the money was washed. That way the family could enjoy the fruits of their labor. Many in this family have tried to step up and build their own empire. Frankie has served as a reference point for an even more extravagant life these criminals could be living. The targets they always hit were too small in the grand scheme of things. That never allowed the family to prosper for too long before they had to pull another job. Frankie offered opportunities on a grander scale. She too has the connections that the Cody family hopes to exploit. At this point, they operate at the mercy of the people who still want to do business with them. That includes Pete. He knows that J has plans of taking over this family enterprise. The uncles are starting to become aware that J knows more about the scope of Smurf's estate. They were kept in the dark for some reason. They are essentially jealous of that. That basically means this family could tear itself apart without the necessary influence from outside forces. They can still come together to pull off jobs. J brings Pete's offer to Deran and Craig. They accept. They don't know what valuable item will be found in this crashed cargo plane though. That mystery may only ensure that this life is more dangerous without Smurf running the shots. That may be the overarching theme of this season. The family thinks they know what to expect. They know things will be more different. They also have long wanted to diminish what Smurf did for the family. They see her in a new light while also being furious at how she has made their lives even more difficult. Pope mourns this significant loss. He is a mess with no real control over his life. That makes him a wild card. Of course, he has long functioned in that specific position. That's nothing new for the character. The circumstances have changed simply because the person who controlled him is gone. He lashed out against Smurf. He now wants to honor her. He can't seem to do that no matter where he goes. He sees that family meant something to her at some point. She kept a photo in her car after all. That doesn't mean anything considering the actions she took to manipulate her family over and over again. That was always a consistent part of her behavior. That never changed. As such, the show still establishes a pattern. It's tentative about breaking free and trying to challenge itself. It knows how to go bigger and grander with its heists. It's difficult when it comes to analyzing the changing nature of wealth and the tiring nature of criminal life. Everyone is invested in the family and maintaining the status quo. The threats are numerous though. It could be difficult to juggle at times. Plus, it all has to be meaningful as well. It's personal when Deran destroys his home full of memories with Adrian. But that's really the only personal connection that has much depth and nuance at this point. The show suggests more. That's still rarely achieved. That's more annoying and showcases the age of the series as well.