TV Review: <i>Animal Kingdom</i> (1×6) “Child Care”

animal-kingdomDespite my reservations about the Craig/Renn story, it oddly had a nice resolution to it, one that wasn’t cased in melodrama and drawn out; until Renn found out the truth in some contrived way that ended up being convenient for the plot. In fact, Renn already knows the truth — that it was Craig who left her to die — by the start of Animal Kingdom episode six “Child Care”. The result is a much-needed dive into the character of Craig, who had up until this point, seemed to be the weakest character of the show. I don’t believe we’ve had many one-on-one scenes between Smurf and Craig, but this episode has plenty when Craig calls Smurf to get him out of trouble with Renn’s cousins. Craig gets to show a lot of vulnerability here, and the way Smurf leaches off of it to get him to do what she wants is creepingly fascinating.

“Child Care” has a much better forward moving plot than last week’s episode and it finally feels like we are in the midst of Big Things That Are Happening, instead of just being on the brink of those things, like in previous weeks. Baz is moving forward with his plan to rob the Navy compound and he’s using Nicky’s dad, Paul (C. Thomas Howell), as his mark to accomplish this goal. Though Baz is met with some doubts, mostly from Pope, about doing this job, Craig and Pope are sent to rob Nicky’s house and steal Paul’s briefcase with classified documents. Don’t worry, though; this isn’t going to turn into an episode of 24. The briefcase full of classified documents is going to be used as a bargaining chip for Baz to get Paul into their plan. Watching Baz play Paul in multiple scenes made me realize we haven’t really gotten a chance to see this family do their thing. To me, they were always just petty thieves looking for the next thrill. What Baz has in mind and has put into action in this episode requires a level of calculation and planning I wasn’t sure the Cody family was capable of, before this episode.

Detective Yates’ investigation into the Cody family brings about more revelations about the Codys, and perhaps Det. Yates’ own personal mission to bring the Codys in. Yates tells Ms. Anderson a story of two of her CIs she had gotten to inform on the Codys for her a few years back. Both those CIs ended up burning alive after Smurf and the gang supposedly burnt their house down. This is a level of cruelty we haven’t really seen from the Codys yet, but it certainly adds a layer of context to Smurf’s threats to her sons and to J. Yates is also weirdly pushing Anderson to get close to J, even after Anderson confessed J tried to kiss her. Again, I wish the police investigation came into the story a bit sooner — is Yates investigating the death of the cop, or is she trying to bring them down for previous crimes, most notably the one where Smurf burned people alive? I don’t think it’s explicitly stated, and Yates’ pseudo-blackmail of Anderson (Anderson is a recovering heroin addict) to get close to J under the guise of “it’s the only way to keep J safe” platitudes seems like only an excuse. Her investigation feels personal, and if it is, then the death of the cop feels forgotten and left hanging somewhere.

J’s breakup with Nicky wasn’t all that surprising, but it’s not unwelcome either. J is starting to make his moves in the show, this week largely working behind everyone’s back. I have a feeling Yates’ plan to get him on their side will work, especially with whatever Smurf and Baz are planning to do with J, something that was hinted at in another one of Smurf and Baz’s secret meetings.

Speaking of those meetings, Baz and Smurf have apparently been drugging Pope with LCD. My guess, they’re trying to land him back in prison to get him out of the way. Out of the way for what, I don’t know. Pope has been the naysayer of the group lately, arguing against jobs, but to me they always sounded like logical objections. Whatever their reason for drugging him, hopefully it’s revealed soon. I’m kind of done with the vagueness here.

With only four episodes to go, I can only imagine things will come to a head soon. It can’t be soon enough. It was also announced last week that Animal Kingdom has been renewed for a second season. See ya next week.

Rating: 8/10



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