There are some aspects of this episode I like, and some I don’t. What I like — Baz continues his manipulation of Paul. While Baz (as a character) I’m not overly fond of, watching him take control of this job is intriguing, probably because it’s the most drawn out job we’ve seen from the Codys so far in this first season. At the beginning of the season, I thought Baz would be the level-headed one of the Codys, and he is to a certain extent. He most certainly has control over job proceedings, but it’s also perfectly clear he has zero loyalties outside Smurf and the next job. I thought maybe Baz would be the confidant J needed to navigate his new family, but Baz is hostile toward J at every turn. Perhaps we’ll get an answer to that next week when the relationship between Julia and Baz will come to light. (Never considered Baz might be J’s father. If that’s the case, then Animal Kingdom takes it to a whole new level. We’ll see how I feel about it next week, I suppose.)
J is finding a confidant not in Baz, but in his teacher Alexa, who is a recovering heroin addict being forced by Detective Yates to get dirt on the Codys to avoid jail time. I don’t know if Alexa relapsing was part of her plan to get really close to J, but it all leads to Alexa telling J the police are on to them. Still really don’t like this situation, but now J’s loyalties are obviously split between the family and the police investigation.
But my favorite part of this episode was Craig, who admittedly didn’t have much to do this episode. In previous episodes he was a bit of a live-wire, a little over the top for me, and oh so clearly playing the part of care-free man’s man who was getting kind of old. But in episode 7, we see him on the sidelines of the drama between Adrian and Deran. While Deran is being a grade A coward about being with Adrian, Craig very calmly and not with a bit of exasperation tells Deran that he doesn’t care who he has sex with and watching Deran stick his tongue down every female in the vicinity is embarrassing. Ben Robson, who plays Craig, was great here, even in his brief scenes with Baz, where he’s basically just relaying information about the job. He’s almost like a different character than the one who left Renn to die in earlier episodes. I want more of this Craig. I like him.
What I had a problem with was Smurf. Her B story this episode was tracking down the man from that photograph, who it’s revealed was like a father to her and the person who gave her the name Smurf. It certainly gave more depth to Smurf (she does have a human side!) but in the larger narrative of the Codys planning the Naval shipyard job and staying away from the police, I’m not sure how it fits.
Next week looks interesting. Three episodes to go.
Animal Kingdom air Tuesdays at 8 p.m. CT.