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Who will lead Cody Empire in 'Animal Kingdom' Season 5? Here are the top contenders

The Cody Empire needs a new leader after the death of Smurf on 'Animal Kingdom' and now everyone will try their best to sit on the throne
Shawn Hatosy, Jake Weary, Ben Robson and Finn Cole in 'Animal Kingdom' (Warner Bros TV)
Shawn Hatosy, Jake Weary, Ben Robson and Finn Cole in 'Animal Kingdom' (Warner Bros TV)

‘Animal Kingdom’ is set to return with its Season 5 and fans cannot wait to see how the Cody Boys will run the empire after Smurf’s (Ellen Barkin) death. The previous edition of the show ended with a bloody shootout and the tragic death of Janine “Smurf” Cody. The ending also re-introduced another significant part of the matriarch’s past – a woman named Pamela Johnson (Milauna Jackson).

The entire fourth season was filled with flashbacks and we got to see some really new perspectives. Meanwhile, it is highly likely that the upcoming season will also follow the same plot and will be filled with flashbacks because we already know that Leila George will be playing the Young Smurf in Season 5.


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The upcoming season will see Pope (Shawn Hatosy), Craig (Ben Robson), Deran (Jake Weary) and J (Finn Cole) dealing with the death of Smurf. But they have some really difficult decisions to make and the biggest of them all is who will lead the empire now. It will be a test of patience and relationships for everyone as they try to revive their business after what happened in the Season 4 finale.

So, let’s take a look at who might be the new leader of the Cody Empire.

Joshua “J” Cody (Finn Cole)

The trailer for Season 5 sees everyone saying that “they are in charge” now, but if someone made us convince that he indeed was the new leader then it was J. He has been one of the well-written characters in the series and the way he does his work is really different. From the beginning, he has been adjusting and learning how to adapt to the Cody Family. It is worth mentioning that in Season 2 we saw Smurf leaving J in charge of everything when she was sent to jail.

Meanwhile, in Season 3, he takes matters into his own hands and plans a heist. However, in Season 4, with Smurf demanding Pope to shoot her after Pope saves her life and even threatens to kill Pope, J shoots Smurf in the head and kills her and helps his uncle’s plan with how to deal with her death. Despite having gotten rid of Smurf as he wanted, J seems somewhat shocked by what he did.

Finn Cole as Joshua "J" Cody in 'Animal Kingdom' (TNT)

The particular moment showed fans that J is really strong-headed and can take tough decisions even in problematic situations. We might see J becoming the new leader, but it won’t be easy because everyone else in the Cody Family is going after the throne. While others may agree on sharing responsibilities at first, tension could arise along the way, and power struggle could be the major source of conflict. Although J is the most capable one, he lacks empathy and it could lead them to trouble. 

Pope (Shawn Hatosy)

Andrew David Cody, better known as Pope, is the eldest son in the Cody Family and also the craziest. Over the course of four seasons, it has been widely regarded that Pope is mentally unstable and often turns to violence to deal with the problems he encounters. Who can forget that weird scene where he kills Catherine while having sex? He killed Catherine just because Smurf told him to, even when he did not know why did she give the order to kill her?

Shawn Hatosy as Pope in 'Animal Kingdom' (TNT)

Pope is seriously one of those guys who will escalate a fight to a level where he or his opponent might end up on a stretcher. He might not be the ideal choice for a leader, but you certainly need someone who is ruthless in his approach and there is no one better than Pope in doing that. Also, he might just kill everyone who comes in his way and take the throne because he has anger issues.

Deran Cody (Jake Weary)

Often regarded as the baby of the family, Deran is actually someone who is not cold-hearted. Season 1 saw him trying to hide that he is gay and when J interrupts him when he is with his boyfriend, he encourages J to join him. However, J brutally beats Adrian and as a result, Deran acts threateningly to ensure that J remains silent. In Season 3, he comes out as gay and is not embarrassed in showing off his relationship with Adrian. In Season 4, they start living together and it is revealed that Adrian is secretly working for DEA in order to take down the Cody Empire.

Jake Weary as Deran Cody in 'Animal Kingdom' (TNT)

We believe Deran might not be a contender to be the leader because of being in a relationship with a man who is working for the authorities. When the others get to know about it, they will certainly have a tough time believing him. However, it will be interesting to see him in a new avatar after knowing Adrian’s reality. He might change his personality and become ruthless in order to lead the empire.

Craig Cody (Ben Robson)

An adrenaline junkie who has immersed himself in the world of drugs might not be a good option for leading the group. He has a predilection for drugs and extreme activities. Her drug addiction might cause a lot of problems while leading the empire and fans believe that he should not be sitting on the throne.

Ben Robson as Craig Cody in 'Animal Kingdom' (TNT)

Pamela Johnson (Milauna Jackson)

Probably, the only character who is an outsider but is still a contender for leading the Cody Empire. Pamela used to work with Smurf when they were young and they did a lot of robberies together. If you remember, Episode 13 of Season 4 revealed that Smurf actually cheated the Cody Boys and left everything to Pam, including money.

Charlayne Woodard as Pamela Johnson in 'Animal Kingdom' (20th Television)

With Pam being the closest to Smurf, she might be one of the most unexpected characters to take the throne. She knows everything about how Smurf used to handle things and do the work. However, the Cody boys won’t let her have the empire so easily. It will be a tough job for her to reach the top.

What do you think about the new leader? Who will be in charge of the Cody Empire? Let us know in the comments section.

‘Animal Kingdom’ returns with Season 5 on TNT on Sunday, July 11, at 9 pm ET.