It has to be more to this job Pamela is sending them on, right?
Pamela sauntered into the Cody house like she owned the place on Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 5, and technically, she does. We got the anticipated reunion between her and Pope, as well as an intro to her son and granddaughter.
And Pope faced another loss and bailed.
At the risk of sounding redundant, holy sh*t, Shawn Hatosy is phenomenal, isn't he? He's getting some great material to dig into this season, and as per usual, he's killing it and has been a highlight.
Here's the thing, without question, the entire cast of this series is incredible, and with another set of new characters rolling it, it reinforces how that even extends to the guest stars.
But because Cole and Robson have quieter, more nuanced performances at the moment, it's Hatosy and Weary whose material has popped most and led to some excellent work.
The scene they shared, Pope frantic, unraveling as he prepared to flee, finally telling his brother what he was enduring, was such a raw one.
It was worth a rewatch or two for the crack in Pope's voice when he cried out that he sees Smurf everywhere and the sincerity and heartbreak in Deran's eyes and voice as he watched his big brother break.
Deran's often a bit of a standoffish grouch, but he's also observant with a compassionate streak, and Pope has been on his radar for a bit. It's a relief that he took the time to check in with his brother after noticing that Pope has been spiraling.
Deran has been self-absorbed and grieving in his way, which is why the time he spent with his brother in those moments as Pope explained his fugue state and how Smurf is haunting him because she's everywhere was so great.
Deran: Where you been?
Pope: I'm leaving.
Deran: What are you talking about?
Pope: I have to go.
Deran: We scouted the job that Pamela wants us to do and we need you. Hey, stop. What's going on with you? What is this? Whose blood is this? Whose blood is this?
Pope: I can't stay here.
Deran: Talk to me. What's going on? Pope, talk to me. What's going on?
Pope: I'm forgetting things. Where I am, I'm waking up places. I don't know how I got there. I don't remember what happened.
Pope: I'm confused.
Deran: Ok, we'll go to a doctor. We'll talk to a doctor, see what they say.
Pope: They picked me up at some trailer park, and then I go back to get my truck and they say that I'm wandering around knocking on doors looking for Julia.
Pope: I'm blacking out. I'm looking for ghosts. I'm hearing voices, I'm hearing Smurf's voice! In my head, everywhere I look, I see her everywhere! I can't stay.
Deran: Hey, listen to me. If you wanna go you can go. I get it, alright? You've had our backs for so long, now we have yours, okay? You just go do what you need to do and you come back, alright?
Pope: I don't think I can come back.
It's the softer Deran that we aren't privy to too often, and after nearly half of the season had the Cody boys so fractured and not helping each other grieve, the special fraternal love at that moment was prime viewing.
Deran's words were simple, and I don't think any of the others could've delivered them as effectively. Pope has always had all of their backs and protected them, so unquestionably, they'll be there for him and have his.
Pope needed to hear that, whether they live up to it or not, because the fact of the matter is except for Julia, no one ever did.
It was no way that Pope could keep functioning at the rate that he was going, but learning that someone brutally killed Angela was the straw that broke the camel's back.
It would be a lie to suggest that viewers will miss Angela, but the weight of her death on Pope, who has already lost too much, is upsetting.
Every woman Pope has ever cared about in his life is gone or dead. And it's killing him that he could not protect them when, since he was a child, his role was always that of a protector.
And that's been haunting him and probably why he was hearing Smurf's name and saying Julia's while he was beating up Shane. He felt like he failed.
But Julia was always the one person he was the most protective of, based on the flashbacks, and she always monopolized his thoughts. Perhaps because of the twin connection. We haven't seen the full extent of that until now.
John: I heard about Angela I know she used to run with your sister. Did you know her well?
Pope: Angela? What about Angela?
John: She passed away, bro.
Pope: What? When?
John: A couple of days ago.
Everything leads back to Julia. These pieces and connections to her are slipping away from him, too, including Smurf and Angela. It seems that in this time of need, pain, and grief, it's Julia that Pope is clinging to and mourning most.
Pope went from potentially contemplating joining the baptism group at the ocean (which felt like a bit of a callback to how Pope almost turned to some type of faith or something during Animal Kingdom Season 2) to tracking down, beating, and nearly drowning Shane.
As a side note, is anyone else fascinated by the recurring theme of Pope and water this season?
Pope got it together enough to show up at the house for the big meeting with Pamela, and the long-awaited face-to-face with his Aunt Birdie was intriguing.
He didn't remember her at first, but the more she talked to him, the clearer it became, and then he recalled things like how she still smelled the same. What was of note was how Pamela spoke to him.
Pamela: Andrew, it's Auntie Birdie, remember me?
Craig: You know her?
Pope: I don't --
Pamela: It was a long time ago. It's good to see you.
Pope: Yeah, I remember. I remember you.
Pamela: Remember Phoenix? He used to babysit you and Julia when you were small.
Pamela around Pope is the softest we've seen her, her voice took a more maternal tone, and it was as if she was speaking to a small child. It's hard to decipher what that's about; is it a condescending thing where she's treating him like he's slow, is it a genuine fondness, or does she think she can manipulate him?
It's hard to say.
But the others were genuinely surprised that Pope knew her, and now he's gone for a bit while the others have to face Pamela head-on.
After Deran doing the absolute most and poorly during Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 4, he managed to redeem himself in the leadership department this time around.
Sure, he and J are still in some pissing match, and his obvious distrust and animosity for his nephew are still extra as hell, but he was back to thinking and behaving reasonably.
There's no way in hell that J should have to sell his condo and give them a portion of the profit, and Deran is rich for getting pissy about J stealing from Smurf when Deran and Craig plotted against their mother before.
Also, at what point does it click that they wouldn't have anything at all had J not done what he did?
But Deran was probably right about taking Pamela's offer if they hoped to keep any of Smurf's estate.
Regardless of what Pamela, her granddaughter, or the estate attorney says, the boys have a legitimate claim to contest the will (and not move out the house in under 30 days, threats be damned).
You heard my proposal. You got 24 hours to decide what you want to do. Yes, and Phoenix will give you all the details that you need. No, I want you out of this house by the end of the week. Your choice.Pamela
To say otherwise is bullshit, but the Codys do need to hire a hell of an attorney to fight on their behalf, and it could be a battle that still has them without until they settle everything.
Even if Pamela plays a game where she keeps the Codys at her disposal by dangling Smurf's estate over their heads, the boys biding their time by going along is likely their best move.
Deran seems to have something of a grasp on Pamela, perhaps an understanding after their interaction. Hell, maybe in his own way, he's falling into old patterns as he did with Smurf, subconsciously looking for this older woman to lead them because he doesn't know any other way.
If so, it undermines everything J tried to do.
J: You're okay with this?
Craig: Oh, now you give a shit about my opinion?
But for now, it's as level-headed a move as him relocating to the Cody house in Pope's absence. Deran is motivated to stay there since he doesn't trust J, but with everything else going on, it makes sense for Deran to crash there until they resolve things.
And you have to wonder if a part of Deran isn't peeved that J, insistent on playing leader, was living with Pope but did nothing or barely noticed his descent into madness and grief. It's the one area J dropped the ball big time, and while Deran and Craig aren't devoid of the blame on that, too, J was actually there.
Pamela is a conundrum. One hopes that we learn more about her as the season progresses.
She's deliciously antagonistic for the hell of it, and at times it is amusing. I wanted to hate her throwing her weight around at "her" house, but she is so Smurf -like and hilarious too. It makes you wonder what her deal is with the Codys.
In the past, we saw that Pamela was supposedly trying to go legit and get custody of her daughter back. She was irritated with Smurf's antics and kicked her to the curb.
But in the present, she rotates back and forth between implying that she and Smurf were still close in some ways and had communicated to some degree over the years versus her not knowing things about Smurf.
It surprised her that Smurf learned how to cook, and somehow she went from a woman who noticed that Smurf didn't take to motherhood well and neglected her kids to assuming that Smurf was an adoring mother who would've given a damn about losing them.
It caught her off guard when Pope told her that Smurf didn't give a damn about any of them, especially Julia, and it shouldn't have. She saw that herself when they lived together.
And Pamela's obsession with the empire that Smurf built feels incongruent with a woman who wanted her to walk a straight line and get her life in order.
Also, if Pamela surmised that Smurf used her sons to run jobs for her, enough to elicit their assistance for one, then why does she insist that they haven't "earned" anything?
If Pamela knows that it was a family business, then the boys pulled their weight, yes?
And what does Pamela do now? The woman is well off and living comfortably, and she acts like Smurf's estate is something fun to have on the side rather than a necessity. She comes across like she can take or leave it.
We got two more Queen of the South alum this season with Alimi Ballard and Chelsea Tavares. There's so much to unpack with Phoenix's character. He seems in a similar boat as the Cody brothers, having an Alpha matriarch running everything and not telling him anything.
Pamela has all the power and control in their family. The former professional skateboarder is going along for the ride. He's the reason that Pamela needs the Codys to pull off a job.
It has to be more to this story about Marion than anyone is sharing. Pamela needs the Codys to break into a safe and steal evidence that could put Phoenix away for life.
Pamela is a woman who will do anything for her son, but why is Marion blackmailing her with Phoenix as bait?
J: What does your mom plan to do with this place?
Phoenix: I don't know. She don't tell me shit.
What is the relationship like between these two people? Phoenix also shared that Marion takes troubled skater kids in, giving them the clubhouse as some form of haven. And he was who Phoenix turned to when he was rebelling against his mother.
Hell, Phoenix still works for Marion. So what's going on there where Phoenix is a pawn at play between two warring factions who raised him?
Wouldn't Phoenix be the best person to steal the contents out of the safe with the assist of someone they know? While the idea that Pamela wants to outsource to people outside of her circle is sound (what circle, Madam?), it still doesn't explain why the Codys have to be the ones to do it.
And it also seemed risky that Phoenix brought J and Deran there to scout out the place, however long before they intend to break in, especially when the skater kids were there, and some of them who stay all the time will recognize them.
It's more to Phoenix's (and Lark's) involvement is also suspect. She seems whipsmart and calculated like J and knows more about her grandmother than she's letting on.
And then there's Craig.
The second he said he would meet up with Frankie, you knew damn well where things would go. God bless that tall drink of water; he's always made dumb choices surrounding ladies.
Craig has a bit of a savior complex, and despite the history between he and Frankie, their chemistry and connection have never gone away. Her fence seems a bit on the shady side, and there's reason to be concerned that Frankie is in bed with the Russians and isn't on the best terms with this Vladick person.
J's the one who approached me about the fence, so why are you here?Frankie
I love how Craig isn't above using his imposing height and presence to intimidate and protect, and he seemed to be doing that when Frankie met with her fence. He's already in a protective mode now that he heard about Vladick.
But it led to some heavy making out in her car, and it's coming at a time when he's generally frustrated with Renn. But both of them have to do better as parents.
Craig somehow expects to live the criminal life while forcing Renn's hand to stop hers. It's unfair. And it's almost as if Craig is trying to give Nick the mother he didn't have in Smurf and maybe some bits he did, and he's forcing that on Renn.
It's not lost that he dumped the baby on a total stranger the second he had to spend more than a couple of hours with him, but he thinks Renn should have Nick glued to her 24/7.
It takes two to raise the kid, and he's made it evident with his actions that he thinks it's Renn's job to be some traditional mother, but he's known who and what Renn is this entire time, so it's not right to expect her to change.
Their constant bickering was another reason for him to turn to Frankie. It's trouble in paradise for the new parents, and there's no way of knowing if they can work through it.
The flashbacks are significantly better this season than before; however, they've offered little value in the last two installments.
We see that Smurf was far from a traditional mother. She used the twins for jobs and started paying them for their troubles at a young age.
And Jake wasn't a fan of that, but he had little moral ground to stand on since he was running jobs and cheating on his wife with her.
Jake: What are we doing?
Smurf: what do you mean?
Jake: You and me.
Smurf: Why don't you ask your wife that?
We also saw the origin of how Smurf ended up working with the cop, Jerry. But outside of nailing home that Smurf was a shitty mother or, I guess, showing how she built an empire, some of these flashbacks aren't working.
Leila George always commits to the role with gusto, though, and you have to appreciate that. The same goes for Houston Towe, who plays a young Pope to perfection.
The hour also lacked some action, excluding Smurf stealing a car, and while some of us don't mind the angsty deep dives into these characters, if it cannot blend character exploration and high-octane action, it will lose the audience a bit.
Also, is anyone else finding that the editing this season is all over the place? It was particularly apparent during this installment. I suppose you can blame some of it on COVID protocols and other such things, but who knows?
We have Pamela Johnson and her family wreaking some havoc and coming across as suspicious. But there is also the DEA potentially squeezing Deran for sending money to Adrian, a cartel likely searching for their drugs, and possibly whatever Russian business Frankie is into looming over the Codys.
Life without Smurf hasn't settled one bit.
Over to you, Animal Kingdom Fanatics. Are you bummed about Anglea's death? How long do you think Pope will step away? Are you Team Deran or Team J?
Let's discuss everything below! Hit those comments and let me know all of your thoughts.
You can watch Animal Kingdom online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.