Animal Kingdom has had its fair number of decent episodes this first season, but none have felt so economically controlled as episode nine, “Judas Kiss.” Every scene had the right amount of momentum to move us seamlessly into the next scene, without so much as a hint of exposition. Even the scenes during which J is being interrogated by Detective Yates, the weakest part of the episode, were oozing with tension and an underlining sense of discomfort. This episode felt almost like a finale rather than the penultimate episode, but nevertheless, I loved every minute of it.
I haven’t been putting spoiler warnings on these reviews, but because of “That Thing” that happened at the end, I feel like a spoiler warning is warranted this time around. This is your warning.
The beginning of this episode plays out with very limited dialogue as the Codys go through each step of their plan to rob the Navy yard. They get onto the base by way of paintball training, quickly sneaking away to the warehouse where the money was moved, and then back to the paintball training compound. Their movements are flawless. These brothers work well together. The whole ordeal reminded me of the season three première episode of The Walking Dead — the near silent five-minute cold open that showed how down pat Rick’s group of survivors had their movements for raiding a house and killing zombies. The Codys were the most organized I’ve seen them all season. I finally believe that this family is ruthless, and that’s largely because we get to see it rather than be told via third parties.
The Codys’ plan goes off without a hitch. While Baz, Craig, Pope, and Deran do the job, J is over at Alexa’s talking to Detective Yates. It’s slightly odd how neither J or Yates really bring up the fact that Yates is Nicky’s step mom, or that Yates doesn’t seem all that concerned that her step daughter and husband are involved with this family she wants to bring down. And she really wants to nail the Codys, to a point where this has to be personal. Otherwise, I don’t understand Yates’ cruel demeanor and whatever-it-takes mentality against J and Alexa. Yates point-blank tells Detective Fischer (the cop who Catherine met at the bar awhile back) that if Alexa having sex with J, who is underage, is the only way to get J to talk to them, then so be it. This comment did not endear Yates to me at all. It just seems like an unusually over-the-top method for an investigation, and without Yates’ clear motivations laid out, I can’t find any justification for the way Yates is conducting her investigation.
While the Codys are celebrating their score, Catherine is desperately trying to keep her daughter away from the Codys. Catherine has already refused the police’s help, stating that she won’t turn Baz in, but that’s not going to stop her from packing her and Lena’s things and stealing 10 grand right from under Smurf’s nose. I like Catherine, but I’m a little confused by her actions here. I think that if she’s at the point of packing and stealing money, it’s high time to leave the house and never go back. When Pope goes looking for her after learning from Smurf that 10 grand is gone and that Catherine may be talking to the police, he finds her at her house. Catherine explains that she wants to be ready to go at a moment’s notice if she were to fear for her safety and Lena’s safety, anymore than she already is. Pope is concerned about her too. Catherine starts manipulating Pope into running away with her and Lena. Clothes start coming off. Pope and Catherine have sex. Some “I love yous” are exchanged…and then Pope takes a pillow and smothers Catherine with it. Whether this was purely an act of wanting to keep Catherine from either leaving or talking to the police or the result of some deep-set mental issues on Pope’s part, we won’t find out until next week or next season. Pope buries Catherine’s body along with her suitcase (presumably to make it look like she ran away) and that’s that.
Again, this felt like a finale episode more than anything. A really good episode, but I’m not sure what to expect for next week’s finale. Hopefully some more of wherever this episode came from.