Updated Weekly throughout the airing of Season 5 – new episodes air in the U.S. each Monday 2pm our time
It’s a big year for Animal Kingdom with the new season premiereing internationally on Netflix, but this year it also appears on Amazon Prime from October. This season, Pope (Shawn Hatosy), Craig (Ben Robson), Deran (Jake Weary) and J (Finn Cole) are still dealing with the fallout from the events surrounding Smurf’s death, including family members out for revenge. With their kingdom without a leader, the Cody family’s struggle to maintain their fragile alliance, and to see which of them will come out on top. Meanwhile, they search for more information on Pamela Johnson whom Smurf made the beneficiary of her estate. We watched the boys come back to the house job after job, without the traditional home cooked meals and fresh baked pies….
Episode 11 – Trust the Process.
The episode, which coincidently was directed by Shawn Hatosy (aka Pope) picks up right where we left off with the corpse of Livengood needing to be disposed of by the Codys. J and Pope drive to the border to meet a contact that can help them make the DEA’s murder look like a cartel hit. Uncle Andrew gets his nephew to cut off the hand of the corpse which they need as part of the cover story.
Frankie sets up the deal for the Huwala heist and demands she be cut in. Deran and Craig organise a tracking device for the money that’s being transferred so they can get a location on the ‘bank’.
In the past, Smurf goes undercover as a working girl to enact a plan of revenge against Max to make good on her promise from Episode 6. Linda, Baz’s mother turns on her and clues Max in on Smurf’s plan. The whole thing goes sideways ending with Pope and Julia being forced to witness his execution – oops!
EPISODE 1: (Updated 12 July, 2021) – The season opens with everyone on high alert with a brief 5 second cameo from Renn, as Odin and his siblings hone in on the Codys as they make their way to Oceanside where an intense confrontation occurs at a secret apartment on The Strand no one knew about. Interestingly, a drawer with pictures of Julia are in it. Angela, is no where to be seen this episode which centres around Pope in both timelines.
Back in 1984, we see the emergence of Pope’s obsessive compulsive leanings, Julia’s a natural at rolling s spliff and accomplice to her twin brother’s pickpocketing. Julia’s innocent and love for Andrew gives us insight into the early dynamics of mother and twins. It’s an interesting tangent that continues to prequel the show, since we all know how the two eldest siblings ended up.
Though short, an interesting bond Pope forms with the surviving cousin (played by Nick Stahl from The Walking Dead) after a shootout at the house which leads him to a state of emancipation from Smurf as he seems to go with his gut for the first time, and not follow orders from Smurf by letting him go.
Craig and Deran were handed copies of the will. J tells Deran he knew about Adrian talking to the feds, there’s something a little disconcerting about that exchange as innocent as it may seem. J has come a long way from the pilot episode when we met him on the lounge with his dead mother’s corpse next to him as he waited for the paramedics. He’s got quite the body count now off-ing his own girlfriend and grandmother just this past year. So when he asks Deran if Adrian is “going to be a problem the family has to deal with”, we need to be on the look out for where that goes if Adrian somehow pops back up on the canvas.
As the boys eat the lasagne Smurf made for them to enjoy after their last heist (it’s tradition, if you recall him saying a few seasons ago), we see a sentimental side asking about her recipes in case his newborn son ever wonders what his Grandma’s lasagne tastes like. This and all the sensitive moments Craig brings to the surface every now and again gives an interesting setup for a potential reunion with Jake.
“We pay until we can…
We take care of our people”
– Smurf to Craig (Season 3, Episode 5)
Back in 1984, Jake is no where to be seen and years have passed since we last saw young Smurf. Julia is a natural with sticky hands who seems very mature for her age, especially with Smurf when she tells her why she thinks they should plant roots somewhere because it’s what Pope needs. There’s no shortage of entertainment from Pope who almost drowns a bully picking on Julia in the pool right before Smurf blows up the car of said bully’s mother’s.
After Gia telling J last season that the boys “were just muscle” which is why she refused to do business with them, and Deran tonight with the crooked cop on Smurf’s payroll shaking his head in disbelief after the shootout, “This shit never happened when Smurf was alive”, the boys have alot to prove it seems. It will definitely be an ongoing theme as lifelong lessons of Smurf haunt them and as they uncover everything they were oblivious to in terms of the management and handling of their family business.
Animal Kingdom attracted 27 million viewers last season across all platforms it was on with Season 6 being the final season, lap it up while you can! These guys are bound to go out with a bang!
Episode 2: WHAT REMAINS (Updated 19th July, 2021) – Now that the dust has settled on the cousins feud, we begin to see the post-Smurf world of shifting alliances unfold. J seems to be making some pretty big deals as the head of the family business – Pete propositions him with a job that he would never have approached Smurf with – the risk is high with a payoff to match supposedly. In his search for a new fence, J turns to Frankie who cuts herself 5% in on all transactions through a contact she plans to introduce to Jay to handle their affairs. Pope is determined to lay Smurf to rest In the present, the boys are resentful over the mysterious Pamela Johnson having met with Smurf’s estate lawyer to discuss their options, which seem to be non-existent and learn that the will that leaves them penniless was drafted just weeks ago. In the past, we see Pam and Smurf post prison. If you recall last season, we got hints on a robbery the ladies did resulting in Pam’s imprisonment and her daughter going into social services, yet somehow they’re still great friends. On the straight and narrow the story picks up at a turning point for the two of them where a recluse Smurf seems to be aimlessly navigating her way through motherhood and crime, while Pam says she’s looking for “legitimate work” wanting to “get out” of the business. We also learn this season that Pope was telling the truth last season when he told J that he didnt know who Pamela Johnson was, after his younger self refers to Pam as “Aunt Birdie” in today’s flashbacks. Pam seems to have a genuine connection with the kids and more concerned about the children’s welfare in this episode, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out into the current timeline once the Cody brothers decide how to handle her claim to their estate. Remember when Smurf was in prison and Deran asked J who visited her regularly how she was, J said he couldn’t tell and Deran replied with “That’s Smurf”. Young Smurf seems lost if not depressed in this sequence of flashbacks and we see the calming influence Pam is to her alongside Pope.
Deran is grieving over Adrian having been slumming at the bar, while Craig puts his foot down with Renn after brokering deals with baby Nick in the house. Their personal crisis though, aren’t enough to stop them from targetting a “young rich kids” poker game onboard a yacht who are too smart to carry more than $300 bucks on them. Typical Deran and Craig moment right there, however this didn’t really make sense, especially when we saw the the detail and effort Deran and Craig put in to their cruise ship heist back in Season 2. Though no one went rogue and an old lady didn’t get her heirloom ring and finger chopped off this time, we can only account the poor planning to grief. Ordinarily, good sense would have called for an OCD-note-ironing Pope to bring some attention to detail in this job, but a greater sense of loss was finally starting to set in for the Codys on the events of last season.
“It’s ok baby. One has to die so the other one can live”
– Young Smurf to Young Pope (Season 5, Episode 2)
The shift in power is interestingly complex now that J takes the lead on the business side of things, the intense obsessive Pope we saw tonight with Smurf’s ashes is something we haven’t seen since Season 3 after Lena was picked up by Child Services, which takes us to a strange ending of unanswered questions when he wakes up by the pool with ashes all over his body after digging illegally digging a grave for her at the plots next to Julia.
Deran is taunted by the DEA who negotiated Adrian’s original immunity deal, “I didn’t care about your white trash surfer family, I do now”, before he returns home to the house since Adrian left and burns all his possessions. What a mess.
There’s alot to look forward to based on tonight as we’re given some critical information that will set up some big stories this season as the boys embark on choosing and running thier first job without Smurf, especially with the Drug Enforcement Administrator looming in the background, we’re expecting things not to go according to plan. With Angela missing her probation officer’s visit again and still no where to be seen, and Smurf gone, we can expect to see Pope unravel some more, as he always seems to need someone to reel him back when he teeters on the edge of insanity. Perhaps Pam might be a main player here now that a closeness has been established in this episode? Still no Jake or Manny yet this season, yet, if you look closely, the actors that play them including young Smurf, are prominently featured in the opening credits…
Episode 3: FREERIDE (Updated 25 July, 2021): What is going on! For weeks now they’ve been dangling the whole Pamela Johnson thing with us and it’s starting to wear a little thin, she needs to be onscreen right now as the cracks begin to show without the usual anchoring in the brotherly and nephew dynamic that is now completely fragmented like a ship lost at sea.
Jake and Manny finally make their first appearance of the season when Smurf calls them in to join her on a job which leads Pam to kick her and the kids out of her house. Still grieving – we find out what Pope did with Smurf’s ashes last episode and Deran is having threesomes to get over Adrian while resentfully causing a rift for the couple who come looking for more at his bar. Business as usual for Pete, who doesn’t seem to mind J having to to execute his cousin Mia last season and the recovery of treasure from the crashed plane goes along smoothly without too much drama. We learn Jake is married in the past while Nikki is married in the present after J bumps into a never-before seen old acquaintance named, Ellie.
In terms of character growth – the carefree spirit of Deran and Craig taking a more mature hesitance when having to ride off a cliffe face during the plane heist chase much in the same way J did when Baz and the crew egged him on to jump off the roof at Oceanside in Season 1 during Smurf’s party. The balance of action to drama this week a little disappointing as there should have been some good payoffs with Craig finding out about the stolen properties and Pope turning to his twin sister’s son for a peptalk on loss which obviously J is incapable of.
If it’s suspense the show is trying to build here, the setup has not been the best in comparison to previous seasons. While the flashbacks are great, there’s so much they could be exploring right now that keeps Smurf’s presence around through the people that knew her – like for example Jake, Billy or Pamela.
Episode 4: POWER
Why is Adrian in every episode recap and yet hasn’t appeared on screen yet? In any case, it’s nice to see Deran handling the loss of Adrian with a relaxing surf. But is he possibly changeling his frustration on J as he orders a tour of all properties bought with stolen money. And with the DEA sniffing about, is he setting up J as bait to get him of Adrian’s back? Deran orders J to stash the goods from the plane heist at his bowling alley.
Craig has no idea how to deal with Nick when left to babysit while Renn is away and gets advice from a random surf shop attendant who he ends up hiring to be the nanny, right before he recruits some locals to help with that pesky scooter problem that’s been bothering him since Episode 1.
Finally Pam Johnston appeared and for a brief moment, the gaping void left by Smurf was filled as the boys continued to scramble for a seat on the throne. Unshaken by the surprise arrival of Deran on her doorstep, she orders Deran to help bring in groceries, the same way Smurf would and giving us a whiff of where this could go. Particularly with the wild child that always use to question and rebel against Janine, the same way he is doing now to the leader by default, J, and now with her.
Meanwhile Pope’s regular blackouts are finally diagnosed as Dissociative Fugue due to the grieving he’s experiencing from the trauma of Smurf’s loss and voluntarily admits himself into hospital for 24 hours. We’re at a turning point of some kind it seems until he leaves with J… It’s good to see him in the hands of a trained mental health professional because in his words, based on tonight’s episode, someone “needs to step up”. It turns out, Pope was at the lot that housed the trailer he used to live in with Julia and Smurf, who in flashbacks is working with the crew on ATM smash and grabs. The episode cliffhanger is when Pope finally reveals what’s been bugging him and lashes out at J saying shooting Smurf was a mistake. The kid was just following orders though, remember after Manny’s funeral in Season 2 (Episode 3), Smurf made him promise “to put a bullet in [her] head” when the time came.
Episode 5: Family Business
(Updated 9 August, 2021)
FInally. The episode we’ve been waiting for! Who get’s the house is the question on everyone’s lips this episode as three generations of Johnsons come to town staking their claim and setting their terms! What is it with crime matriarchs and food? Smurf use to whip up a cake after each job and Pam hosts a BBQ before dealing ultimatums. Social media continues to be divided on the flashback Smurf reality, it was a clever way to (technically) recast a character, and on and off throughout the season it wasn’t unusual for Animal Kingdom to show old Smurf reminiscing about young Andrew and Julia. It also gives us backstory as the Cody boys tend to not tell each other what’s going on in their lives and we’re left to figure out their motivations in an abyss of unexplained fascination. The problem that we are having now is, it is slowing down the story in the present and fans are literally being dripfed information five seconds before the end of an episode with more unanswered questions they had at the beginning of them! Considering there’s only one and a half seasons left until this whole thing is over, shouldn’t we be more efficient in the storytelling pace?
THEORY: On a side note, who wants to bet on a spin-off series that centres around Young Smurf after the show is over?
Episode 5 opens with Pope wandering on the beach stumbling upon a prayer group on the beach and runs into a fellow inmate who reveals Angela died a few days ago, beaten to death and someone named Shane is involved! Deran is still sleeping at the bar and receives a phone call from Pamela Johnson announcing she will be visting the house at Oceanside with her family. Young Smurf seems to have a new target.
THEORY: Angela is known for doing deals with the Feds, what if she’s in witness protection and this whole Pamela Johnson job leads to someone’s downfall?
Pope finally comes face to face with “Auntie Birdie” and Phoneix (who craig recognises as an old school pro-skater) who use to babysit he and Julia. Pamela negotiates a deal allowing the Codys to earn back the millions of dollars worth of party by doing a job for them. As Phoenix tells Craig, Deran and J that the contents of a safe at clubhouse for hardknock youths contains evidence from a twenty year old murder involving Phoenix, Pam tries to reconnect with Pope who is too overwhelmend from the news of Angela’s death.
Frankie introduces Craig to the new fence right before throwing her some sympathy sex since he’s the reason all her business contacts have turned on her. Rude, especially since Renn is considering a new career in real estate and finally taking his advice to get their parental priorities in order for baby Nick’s sake. As J and Derran do reconnaisance on the Pamela Johnson job, we see Phoenix seems alot like Deran, not wanting anything to do with the family business his mother runs.
Pope tracks down Shane, beats the crap out of him almost drowning him to death before we finally get a glimpse of what is going on in his mind when Deran questions his peculiar behaviour. Pope leaves for some much needed me time. Sure, grief does linger on for most people, but this isn’t real life, five episodes is plenty and the gang needs you Pope.
Old Jake needs to get in on this, he was the one that brought Pam into the original crew and the two of them have history that’s very relevant to the Codys if this show were to continue past it’s planned end date at Season 6.
Episode 6 – Home Sweet Home
(Updated 16th August)
We can blame Billy for putting the idea in Deran’s head that he should be running the family, (remember in Season 3 when Smurf was in the big house?), and for a moment there, he seemed like a formidable contender for the throne. But then, when you think about it, he’s always had a problem with authority. He was always having a cry about having to do the grunt work all the time when Baz was in charge of jobs in Season 2, wanting to leave the business just to annoy Smurf in Season 3 and now this season he’s giving it to J. With Pope removing himself from the triggers of Smurf as ordered by the Doctor in Episode 2, the Codys were a man down and Deran ropes Renn in with a small part in the Pamela Johnson heist.
As Renn works the inside of the skateboard demo, Deran, J and Craig are in the building next door grinding their way through into Marion’s office, who just so happens to start chatting her up. It’s two against one when Deran refuses to accept the job is burned insisting they push through another three minutes because they are fighting for their house! As they get through to the other side, the boys end up in a secret room that wasn’t on the blueprint. Renn manages to escape one of Marion’s henchmen after her cover is blown and we remember that hardass who ordered her cousins to kidnap Craig after he left her to die from an overdose back in Season 1.
Meanwhile while Pope is in la-la land, yelling at himself while holding a gun to his throat, he ends up almost crashing into the road sign of a cult, The Kinship of Light & Truth. Captivated by a woman named Cassandra, she leads him to the queue of people waiting for their cup of magic juju from the cult leader who tells Pope, that drinking it, is the cost of entry.
As young Janine sets roots in her mobile home at Oceanside, Jake becomes the collateral damage to local underworld Max Cross, for ‘unpaid taxes’ on the jobs Smurf’s been pulling on his turf. Poor little Julia is terrified watching her Uncle Jake’s face stepped on leading Smurf to accept the terms right before threatening to kill Max if he ever came near the twins again.
For something that was built up and hyped over five episodes, the whole Pamela Johnson climax was underwhelming to say the least, as she and Deran ended up singing kumbayas after agreeing to sign over Smurf’s estate to the Codys. Great negotiation skills from Deran in getting back Smurf’s estate considering it was J she trained and taught all the important stuff to about the business….
“My boys never missed a meal. Not you baby.
You have gone hungry. You have slept in cars – just like me.
You always have a Plan B”
– Smurf to J (Season 3, Episode 2)
So what is J up to with that new baby cop on his payroll tasking him to get a copy of the police files on The Codys?
Episode 7 – Splinter
Imagine a world where Pope runs the family. A commanding presence, feared by all in Oceanside. Remember this scene? The below clip is to remind you how good this show once was. We are now past the half way mark into the season and there is absolutely no clarity on where this show is going or building up to. A DEA sniffing around, pfft. The actual scenes we want to see barely run for thirty seconds and we spend the last crucial minutes of each episodes with a signature montage. Tommy pretty much summed it up when he told Deran, “Things feel different since your mom’s been gone”.
In the past, Pope is going through a rebellious phase, while in the present, Pope is having a disturbing epiphany realising Smurf wanted him to die with her at Jed’s. While Cassandra enjoys the high of gunfire, Renn craves the high of a robbery wanting in on the next job, much to Craig’s objection, taking out his frustrations on a tennant who is overdue in rent. Yikes, sucks to be him.
“The Devil is just an Angel that lost his way”
Cassandra to Pope (Season 5 Episode 7)
After an argument with Deran on family values, Craig throws a party for his manny at the Cody house which turns out to be a bust ending with him jumping off the rooftop of a bait shop into the ocean. Meanwhile, Renn comes out of maternity leave with a retractable baton for a quick bout of turf wars, hacking at a competitor dealer’s face to mark her territory before storming off with his stash. Yep family values.
Young Billy meets Young Smurf in the past while Deran faces the truth in the present about why his bar has been abandoned by its loyal patrons. It seems “people are shit talking” and people have been speculating that Adrian’s extended absence is due to the Codys “taking care of him”. Deran later meets Parker, the owner of Son of a Beach, that rival bar that many of his old customers have abandoned him for.
The merchandise from the plane heist was dumped after Pete tells J, the DEA came snooping around with a personal vendetta against Deran.
This season doesn’t have the fire of previous seasons, there are also way too many supporting characters on the canvas for the limited screentime we have each week. Pope needs to just snap out of it and find out what and why Angela was killed. We need an excuse for Craig to run into Jake again, and J needs to stick it to Deran in the same way he did when Baz came for him in Season 3, because this season is just all over the place. Was it really necessary for us to meet Cassandra’s son and ex-husband? Like, who cares!
Episode 8 – GLADIATORS
After a slow burn in the last seven episodes, the show finally seems like it’s former self again as everyone has finally snapped out of the trance in denial and side stepping.
The underlying issues and power struggle for the alpha title finally reached breaking point, as Craig, J and Deran got into a massive punch up by the pool. Craig blames Deran for forcing J to move the stash from the house, J called out Deran’s failure to handle Adrian and Deran loses it with both of them! “You really like shooting people dont you huh?” grunts Deran to J during their scuffle “You liked watching Smurf’s brains blow out the side of her head huh”. While J get in a good right swing tells Deran Smuth “said he wasn’t stron enough to deal with Adrian”. But why was Craig trying to drown J when Deran was the one who hit him?
Great watch, they really needed to get that Sh*t out of their system, just in time for Pope’s return! Old Pope that is, who is assertive and takes charge when it comes to holding the family together! The same way he did after Baz died, reminding us why he needs to claim his rightful place at the helm of the family business.
In the past, Pam joined Smurf, Jake and Manny on a jewellery heist which ends with a hilarious punchline as Jake’s wife, Cheryl storms Smurf’s trailer to confront them about their extra-marrital activities.
This is an important episode that’s finally lifts the veil on the direction the show is going after swirling around aimlessly the entire season so far. There will be some damage control to be done with Pete who washes his hands of the Codys after Deran accuses him of lying about getting rid of the score. We’re reminded of another promise Smurf asked J before she died to handle the situation with Adrian if no one else could, and we know what an obedient soldier J is, having put a bullet in his grandmother’s head as she asked. So, there’s a foreshadowing chill we get when J points out to Craig that Adrian was Deran’s problem, but is now the whole family’s problem thanks to the DEA snooping around.
Now that we see Pope back to ‘normal’, we realise what the show has been missing this entire time, an anchor that holds the very fragile, complicated and volatile group of testosterone. This whole time Smurf made us think that people like Baz, Angela, Kath kept Pope calm when in actually fact everyone else relies and needs him more than they realise. We saw on his return, the pull he has with his brothers and nephew and there’s clarity now in how this post-Smurf family business could operate. It seems Pope kidnapping and holding an ex-husband at gunpoint in order to reunite a son with his mother was just the wake up call he needed to put to rest the demons with his own mother right in the nick of time to get the Cody house in order.
Episode 9 – LET IT RIDE
Okay, we’re on the home stretch to the season finale and we have everyone in place for whatever cliffhanger they have planned. Interesting mention of Baz and references to his murder file tonight as well as a cameo from Adrian’s sister, Jess who has been sending money to Adrian in Indonesia. A new cop is on the Cody payroll and Pamela Johnson’s grand daughter, Lark, is the new family attorney as J hints a plan to expand the family business and streamline its cashflow efficiency.
Pope is doing some spring cleaning while J and Deran play nice having made up after their little tussle last week. Craig and Ren enjoy some baby free time.
In the past, we learn Smurf’s relationship with the Trujillos goes way back with Pete’s father who we meet after his thugs leave Manny for dead after racking up a gambling debt of ten grand. We see the loyalty and depth to the friendship of Smurf’s original crew.
When Craig finds out Renn has been dealing in Oceanside, their heated confrontation ends with her leaving the beach house with baby Nick. Deran’s rivalry with Son of a Beach comes to a head in a good old fashioned bar fight after a run in at the annual Hamburger Hill skate race.
Come back every week for more spoilers – 3pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time)
Credit: Eddy Chen / TNT, Warner Media