Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 2 Review: What Remains

The Cody boys are not doing well. Except for J, maybe, but then…

The Cody boys are not doing well.

Except for J, maybe, but then again, he’s built differently, and on Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 2, he devoted his time to scoring the crew a legitimate job that would’ve earned them more than peanuts and some fun.

It’ll serve them in the meantime until they figure out a way out of this Pamela situation.

Loss and its weight are heavy on this show, but it manifests differently for each of the characters, and it’s not specifically about Smurf.

For Deran, it’s about Adrian, and he can’t seem to escape his lost love and the memories he left behind. Craig has pieced together that his brother is having a rough time with Adrian’s betrayal and absence, but he hasn’t said anything.

Instead, Craig has resorted to making his presence known whenever Deran needs it. The bond between these two brothers is always one of the most endearing dynamics of the series.

Deran couldn’t go home, finding himself sleeping at the bar instead of the apartment he shared with Adrian. All of Adrian’s belongings and memories were too much.

Letting it Burn  - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 2

As long the criminal life is Deran’s birthright, there isn’t much space for Adrian or their relationship. It’s a lot to unpack there.

But every day, Adrian crept up on him in little ways, from the constant inquiries about him to Adrian’s surfing win on the television.

And, of course, the Fed coming to see Deran and telling him that while he wasn’t interested in the Codys before Adrian’s disappearance, he is now seemed to push Deran over the edge.

Deran’s return to his apartment was heartbreaking as he drank and gathered all of the things that reminded him of Adrian and set them aflame in the middle of the living room.

Although, it left you wondering the state of the place when he finished. Did he burn the whole damn apartment down, or does he have some serious repairs to make whenever he returns?

Poor Deran - Animal Kingdom Season 4 Episode 13

The next time we saw him, he wanted to go moonlight surfing with Craig, and Craig, ever the good, indulgent brother, agreed if only to keep Nick from waking up.

Fatherhood suits Craig better than anything else does. Bless his heart; he’s not the first choice to run things, and his techie boat job is proof. But fatherhood is something that Craig takes seriously and can be good at even if the situation with Nick is complicated.

I didn’t care about you or your white trash surf family. I do now.


He doesn’t want his and Renn’s life to touch that of Nick, so it was reasonable that he didn’t want her dealing out of the home. You invite too much danger to the apartment that way, and it would place innocent Nick in jeopardy at every turn.

Craig and Renn are trying to make it work, but will they ever consider some alternative sources of revenue? Craig and Renn have the potential to clash over their outlooks on what type of environment of which they want Nick raised in, and it’s bound to cause some issues and highlight hypocrisies, too.

Parenthood Life  - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 2

Renn’s drug deal sparked Craig to grab Deran for a quick job in the first place. He probably should’ve anticipated that some guys who worked “Byte” into their boat name would mostly deal in things like cryptocurrency.

They didn’t get much from the ordeal other than a chance to rough up some nerds and steal a couple of jet skis, but Craig and Deran had a good time after the fact, and with everything else looming over them, they needed that.

It weighs heavily on their minds — Deran’s in particular– that J knows more than he’s letting on with an edge over them.

Deran has always been J’s harshest critic and the one who trusted him the least. J was always on Deran’s radar, and all these years later, that’s still the case.

Facing Off  - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 1

Understandably, it bothers him that J knew more about Smurf’s dealings than any of them did, and Smurf gave J more access and control than the others.

It’s reasonable that with the estate dealings, Deran suspects J is deeply involved. One of the issues is that J was the only one who ever handled the business aspects of things, and he has the head for it.

Deran: Did you know about all the shit Smurf had off the books?
Craig: No. You?
Deran: So why does J know about it?

Out of all of the Codys, J is the most book smart. It gives him an edge and makes him the sneakiest of the bunch, too. Hell, even during the meeting with the estate attorney, J is who took charge and commanded the room as Smurf’s lawyer broke everything down.

And it was J who brazenly implied that he would make Pamela disappear if it meant they’d gain access to Smurf’s assets in her absence.

Tall Brothers - Animal Kingdom Season 4 Episode 13

On paper, the boys got screwed six ways from Sunday, and Smurf’s attorney claims they can’t contest the will since Smurf was in her right mind and lucid when she made the changes.

However, that still sounds like poppycock to me and Smurf’s diagnosis alone, and the sudden change four weeks before her death should be enough grounds for a judge to entertain the notion.

Deran: Can we talk to this Pamela Johnson and try and work something out with her?
Attorney: I’ve been in touch with her attorney, she seems very satisfied by the results of the will.
Deran: Yeah, I bet she is.
J: What if she didn’t show up to the probate hearing?
Attorney: … She has a family. The estate would transfer to them.

We only have this woman’s word that Smurf was lucid, and if Smurf updated her will four weeks ago, why does it still mention Julia in it?

I can’t tell if that’s a show oversight that’s gotten lost in translation during the near two-year hiatus or if there’s something else there.

Deran suggested that they meet up with Pamela and talk things over and come to some form of arrangement, but apparently, Pamela is happy with the agreement and damn, why wouldn’t she be? The woman got it all!

Always Hustling -tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 2

Not only are they out of damn near everything in Smurf’s will, including the freaking house, but all the accounts are frozen until they settle the estate.

Of all the boys, J appears to be the least affected by everything. On the surface, it doesn’t seem as if he’s wrestling with grief and loss. But then you consider that J is a survivor.

The others haven’t faced similar hardships as him, so he’s not one to wallow but rather stays on the grind. J is a hustler through and through, so he’s already looking to how they can fix it or bring in more money.

Deran: Is that what I think it is?
Pope: We need to lay her to rest.
Deran: Ok. Meet me in my office. What’s the rush?
Pope: She’s gone, and we need to face it.
Deran: I’ve been facing it. We were at the lawyer’s office. Where were you?
Pope: I was busy.
Deran: Smurf wrote that new will up a couple of weeks ago, okay? She did that shit on purpose man. Now we can focus on giving her a loving burial just as soon as we figure out a way to keep ourselves from going homeless.

He’s not trying to backtrack into the poverty of which he came from or relinquish control of an empire he slithered his way through with success.

It does seem as though the reminders of Julia have lit a fire in J again, and his murky plans of taking over or burning everything down are more evident than ever.

J in Control - Animal Kingdom Season 4 Episode 13

J is such a difficult read, and that’s why the others don’t fully trust him. But he took one look at the list of Smurf’s assets and knew they had some wiggle room to sell all the things that weren’t there.

On the one hand, he did tell them about it, so even though it’s suspect that he knew everything that wasn’t listed, he shared the news instead of moving behind their backs and hoarding all the funds.

But on the other hand, J’s extensive knowledge of all of Smurf’s dealings often tips his hand in how he made it his business to know everything and what his motivations are for that.

J arranged for a fence through Frankie, and it was cool to see her back into the fray. She’s a much more welcome sight than Angela would’ve been, although the latter’s parole officer looming does imply something more may be at stake for her in the future.

Frankie the Connect - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 2

They have to cut Frankie in, but they don’t have many choices these days. They don’t have much time either.

It won’t be long before Pamela wants to cash in on everything Smurf left her, and the boys have to figure out what they’re living off of in the interim.

J is always on the move; evidently, he still needs money to keep his bowling alleys afloat, and Deran and J are right about not selling the rental properties because it being their best way to launder money.

They needed a quick job, and thanks to Pete, they may have scored one, but it sounds harrowing AF.

Mean Mugging  - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 2

Presumably, Pete wouldn’t have proposed a job like that to Smurf because of the drugs. Otherwise, the boys rappelling through mountains and shit seems right up their alley.

It already sounds exciting, and you know the show will deliver on pure thrills with this if they go through with the job. But naturally, J is leaving some shit out.

It sounds like they’ll find drugs on that fallen plane, not cold, hard cash, or at least not as much as one would hope. And if that’s the case, they’ll then have to move the drugs for the funds. But that’s pure speculation, so we’ll have to see.

Deran doesn’t trust J as far as he can throw the kid, but they need the money, so he’s in as long as Pope agrees.

Life without Smurf- tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 1

Out of all of them, Pope is the one who is having the roughest time with Smurf’s loss. His grief is palpable.

Much like Jake Weary’s wonderfully nuanced and resonant performance within the hour, Shawn Hatosy killed it yet again with his tour-de-force goodness throughout the hour.

Can we just call it pulling a Hatosy? The man kills it every time. It’s distinctive, and he’s one of the most underrated performers in the game.

Pope checked out for most of the day, not even showing up at the estate hearing because he was driven by this obsessive compulsion to lay his mother at rest that day. It was like he couldn’t remotely find peace until it happened, and he set out on a day of getting that process started.

Putting Smurf to Rest  - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 2

He traded in her car for something else, and Smurf was such a complicated woman that I didn’t even know what to make of the sole picture she had in the visor being one of her with the twins when they were kids.

Smurf: What are you going to do for money?
Pamela: Make some. What are you going to do? You gonna live in your car and rip up corner stores until those babies grow up or you get caught? What’s your plan?
Smurf: You were my plan.
Pamela: You better come up with another, because I’m out.

Is it because it meant something to her? Was it because she knew without a shadow of a doubt that it was Pope who would handle her belongings after she died — he’d be the one to get rid of her car?

The others had no interest in what to do with Smurf’s ashes, so Pope took it upon himself to get her buried in the plots she bought. Speaking of those, how many are supposed to be there?

Spreading Smurf's Ashes  - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 2

Did Smurf intend for all of her children to get buried beside her or only some?

But Pope didn’t set up the arrangements for the burial and couldn’t understand why it couldn’t take place at the exact moment he wanted it to, and ugh, those scenes with the funeral director were nerve-wracking.

Pope’s grief was unmistakable, and he damn near came across unhinged. You could tell the funeral director was a bit concerned about her safety but calmly ushered him out.

But for whatever reason, Pope wanted Smurf buried that day, so he took it upon himself to attempt to do so but broke down at the burial plots instead. It was surprising when he woke up by the pool, covered in dirt (and ashes?), with an empty bag of Smurf’s remains.

It’s heartaching; it’s worrisome that Pope appeared disoriented, as if he didn’t recall what he did the previous night. It speaks to his emotional state as if he was in some fugue stage and has a complete memory lapse of everything he did before.

They all deal with things in their own way, and the others have long since written Pope off as a perpetual oddball — to say the least. But damn, you kind of wish someone would notice that he’s spiraling.

Interestingly enough, Pam was someone who took note of Pope in his youth.

The flashbacks are so much better this season, as they’re giving us more insight into things in which we have interest, and they align better with what’s happening in the present.

Young Pam - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 2

The boys know nothing or little about Pamela or why Smurf left everything to her, but in the past, well, Pamela endured a hell of a lot being friends with Smurf.

She might deserve compensation for it.

Motherhood was never Smurf’s thing. Pam had to kick Smurf’s ass in gear and encourage her to get her shit together for the sake of the twins.

Pam grew up from the days of running games with the guys and everything else, and she wanted to take a break from the crime life to focus on getting her life back together and her children.

Flipping the Pages - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 1

Smurf was still wild and didn’t let motherhood keep her from a life of crime and heists.

The disparity between Pam and Smurf was apparent and something Pam appeared to take notice of, as she seemed a bit more aware of the world she lived in after she got out of jail.

It probably wasn’t lost on Pam that she went to jail while Smurf and the others seemed to escape and evade the law no matter what they did. Pamela had to mind her p’s and q’s more, so she didn’t have the same luxury.

Some of the differences between Pam and Smurf were highlighted subtly, from Pam’s news interest while waiting for Smurf in the car to her reluctance to bring Smurf to the party.

Pam and Anthony  - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 2

They were at a crossroads in their life and maybe even their friendship and had different things on their mind. Unlike Smurf, Pam took motherhood seriously, and she wanted her kids back. She had Phoneix, but she was hoping to get her daughter out of foster care, and it could only happen if she remained on the up.

The mentions of her kids make you wonder if either of the kids will show up in the present when Pamela does.

Pam: It was important I come off as a legit professional tonight. I was there for business. Now they think I’m as crazy as you.
Smurf: Tell me, why do you even care what they think?
Pam: What’s going on with you? Hm?

It’s possible that Pamela did see the party at the arrogant and rich Marcus as a work thing, and it was unclear what Pamela was doing, but Smurf didn’t seem to care.

She goaded Marcus and embarrassed him. She didn’t know when to walk away for the sake of her friend, and she was high and drunk to boot. It speaks volumes that young Pope was still up when the women arrived home.

He was probably in a protective mode, as he awaited his mother’s return while the other kids were asleep. But Pam, aka Aunt Birdy, recognized early on that Pope had some issues, and also, he never had space to be a kid.

She had a maternal edge with him, arguably more than Smurf showed, with her moments of affection and an insistence on structure that probably spoke to a neurodivergent child who desperately needed that.

Those parts of the flashbacks were interesting only because in the present, Pope hasn’t shared with the others that he knows who Pamela is.

Pam: What the hell is going on?
Smurf: I don’t know.
Pam: Well your two kids need you to figure it out.

Maybe that’s why he doesn’t seem invested in what’s happening with the will and the estate.

Pope's Agony - Animal Kingdom Season 4 Episode 13

Pope also caught a glimpse of her at the pier near the apartment the cousins raided. Smurf called out Pam’s name when she made her the getaway driver, so Pope has to know that Aunt Birdy and Pamela Johnson are one and the same.

Pamela seemed tired of Smurf and wanted her to get it together and take care of her kids.

What happened back then that led to some distance between the two? How has that affected what Pope knows and how he views this woman?

And if Pamela was another person whom Smurf screwed over or was equally as tired of Smurf’s antics, then hell, is she deserving of what she got?

The flashbacks are far more informative this season, laying the foundation for Pamela’s introduction and adding more depth to Smurf posthumously.

They are also helping us better understand Pope and how and why he is the way he is and even incorporating a long-gone Julia into the fold more. Seeing the past is filling in some of the blanks in the present.

Socialite  - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 2

But I cannot wait for the moment when the boys come face to face with Pamela.

She’s this link to Smurf’s past that may hold answers and help them better understand this woman and make sense of their complicated bonds with her.

And for J, she’s this link to Julia, too. But she’s also standing in the way of them, and what they believe they earned and Smurf owed them.

So far, this season is riveting!

Over to you, Animal Kingdom Fanatics.

What do you think of the job J scored with Pete? Do you think they can find a way to contest the will? What are your thoughts on Pope’s fugue state? Hit the comments below!

You can watch Animal Kingdom online here via TV Fanatic.

Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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