Animal Kingdom Season 4 preview: The problem with Pope and why the clash between J and Janine could be titanic
For fans of the TNT show 'Animal Kingdom', carnage, mayhem, betrayal and a damn good party are all entwined. Over the last three seasons we have watched the Cody family lurch from crisis to crisis — mostly of their own making — held together by the thinnest of threads woven by matriarch and arguably the sexiest woman on TV, Janine 'Smurf' Cody (played brilliantly by Ellen Barkin, the woman who defined on-screen sensuality).
And then crisis became a catastrophe that left us without one of the pivotal characters of the show. With Baz Cody's violent death, the family was left bereft of a leader, cast adrift on a sea of suspicion, drug-addled incompetence, and straight-up pissed-off rage. That Baz himself was responsible for chumming the waters to a large extent does not detract from the fact that he and his ill-fated family humanized the show. Not that being a cold calculating bastard is anything to sniff at, mind.
At the end of Season 3 we were left with Pope slowly climbing down the circles of hell into an abyss of pain; J finally snipping off grandma's apron strings with a touch so gentle it couldn't have been more malevolent if the writers tried; Deran's love interest doing his best impression of a pigeon on a stool; and poor ol' Craig still unable to tell his ass from his elbow if he was staring at an anatomy chart.
And then, of course, there's Smurf, a woman whose entire demeanor screams sadist, while every word and action drips sexuality like a simmering river of lava. You can't help but loathe Smurf, but you'd also be unable to stop yourself running off with her at the drop of a hat and pledging your life's work to her. Black magic women are still, well, magic.
Season 4 promises to be a lot darker than its predecessors. For one, the blackness enveloping Pope can only have one bloody and brutal outcome, the question remains is who he takes with him when the grenade pin is removed. But Pope's own demons — gnashing away as they are at the last vestiges of his conscience — are so inexorably linked with those of his brothers and mother that collateral damage is a given.
J's seeming aspiration to take over his grandmother's crime business and run it can only hit a brick wall. Smurf is nobody's fool, and with Pope reeling, Deran caught between a rock and a hard place and Craig still unable to tie his shoelaces, J has little support.
Also, expect erstwhile sideline dwellers such as Mia (Sohvi Rodriguez) and Frankie (Dichen Lachman) to play major roles in Season 4 which could very well see the show's female characters take the proverbial bulls by the horn.
Season 4 is perfectly set up, but as we've seen with shows such as 'House of Cards' and 'Game of Thrones', even the best-laid plans can come apart at the seams leaving the plot as naked as a deluded emperor. 'Animal Kingdom' must stay true to its amoral roots and avoid the allegoric pitfalls that plague so many good shows. Ohm and more bikes, please!