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Animal Kingdom - Betrayal - Review: "Smurf Still Pulls the Strings"

Well, friends, our season is over. You know what that means? We have to wait an entire year before I can be late on these reviews again! With that in mind, let's make sure we cherish this final review of season 2, and know that we can always go back and read over all the fun times we've had this summer. But, without further ado (though who doesn't love some good ado?), let's dive into our finale.

Keys to the Kingdom
The most important thing we need to remember is the fact that Baz framed Smurf for Javi's murder which has landed a very unhappy Smurf in jail. Baz's plan was to get rid of Smurf, then use his power of attorney to sell all of her properties and sign a couple over to himself. Unfortunately for Baz, Smurf knew something big was coming, so she transferred her power of attorney to J. As you can imagine, Baz was very unhappy when he found out.

After confessing Catherine's murder to Amy, Pope was moments away from shooting himself in the head, until he was called to deal with Lena after she was almost run over by a car at Smurf's house with Baz nowhere to be found. After learning Smurf's new home is a jail cell, Pope finds this fitting and takes Lena to say goodbye to her grandma Smurf. Before that though, he spent the day robbing several banks and depositing the money into a trust fund for Lena, ensuring she will have a bright future.

Craig and Deran were at a loss on whether to take Baz's side or Smurf's, and they ultimately decided they were going to be on their own side once they learned that J now holds the power of attorney. They went to Baz to get their cut of the money, which he handed over after throwing a fit, and the two went about their business.

J had a pretty full plate trying to help prove Smurf's innocence while hiding his communications with Smurf from Baz. He also had to deal with a talk from Lucy, during which she heavily implied that J is in fact Baz's son. he's got a lot going on right now. It doesn't help that Baz told him that they would get this power of attorney thing sorted out with the lawyer tomorrow.

This Week's Prey
Our ending begins with our favorite family starting their days. Baz starts his day talking to Lucy about how he's going to take absolutely everything from Smurf because he's owed it. Smurf's morning starts with a nice prison meal, and a group of women sitting with her, saying that J sent them to protect her (good thing he delivered that money for her!). Pope begins his day by cleaning up the mess in Smurf's house as J comes out to start his day as well. During a conversation, J asks Pope if he should be worried about Baz, and Pope responds with a definite yes. Nicky comes out shortly after, moderately excited that her parents are going to be coming back to town for her graduation (J is also graduating), and suggests that they throw an after party at the house since Smurf is not around (though, I honestly feel like Smurf would have zero problems with it anyways). Our last morning check-in is with Craig, who is dressing and brushing his teeth, and Deran, who is going over the financials of his bar to figure out how much money he can launder through it. They discuss whether they can trust J to pay them like Smurf did, and Deran points out that it's much better to have J doing it than Baz. I have to say, I agree.

Pope continues his morning by waking up Lena to get ready for school. Lena asks him questions about Smurf while she takes care of her morning tinkle, while Pope very uncomfortably tries to answer before simply leaving to make her a sandwich. As he does so, J gets a call from Smurf who wants to remind him of some bills that need to be paid. J tells her that Baz wants to take him to work out the power of attorney stuff, and wonders if he should be worried about Baz. Smurf tells him that she'll handle the power of attorney stuff, and that Baz won't be making any bold moves soon because he's been thrown off his game by the power of attorney mix-up. She ends the call by telling J to keep an eye on Pope because "sometimes he hurts people." Shortly after, Baz and J arrive at the lawyer's office to get business started, only to discover that the lawyer has been "called away". After some failed attempts to work out a rescheduled meeting, they leave. Outside, Baz confronts J about talking to Smurf, once again telling him that she only looks out for herself, using a story about J's mom as evidence. Apparently, she was heavily addicted to drugs, but Smurf refused to pay to put her in rehab because of the money. Then, a real estate man Smurf kept around for business took advantage of J's mom one night and Pope beat him with a croquet mallet. According to Baz, Smurf shunned Pope for a while for ruining a resource, and J was born 9 months after the incident. Truth, exaggeration, or flat-out lie? This is for us to decide at the moment. Nicky tries to talk through it with him later, but they can't conclusively say whether that man is really J's father, and Nicky tells him that whoever his father is has no impact on who J really is.

Smurf later has a meeting with her lawyer, and attempts to determine how soon she'll be getting out of jail. Unfortunately for her, it looks like she's going to be behind bars a lot longer than she thought; the passports found in her car when she was arrested makes her a prime flight risk, so there is virtually no possibility of getting out on bail, and there is still no evidence to implicate she was framed by Baz. She is later visited by a detective who has an enticing offer for her. If she gives up her boys, they'll work out a shorter sentence for her.

Baz calls a family meeting at the house, with J and Nicky coming from school, and Deran and Craig coming from a surfing trip where they discussed that Baz wasn't truly family. Baz opens the meeting by trying to figure out why Nicky is in attendance, but he backs off when J notes that Lucy is also present. As Baz tries to tell J that everyone else in the room wants to sell the properties, J points out that may not be the case, and even asks about the rest of the stuff he helped Baz steal from the safes. Things get physical between J and Baz, but Deran and Craig help separate them while Pope yells from his seated position that this is enough as he spots Lena watching the fight. Pope takes her away, and the meeting is ended.

Pope confronts Baz the next day about how he's been an awful father to Lena, telling him all the things Lena is feeling that Baz has no idea about. Baz tries to blame Smurf for these feelings, but Pope isn't buying it. Baz then immediately asks Pope to watch Lena for a few days while he and Lucy look for places to live in Mexico. Pope then sets Baz off again when he asks what Baz plans to do with Lena for this move. Baz tells him it's none of his business, then begins yelling at him for not having his back at the meeting. Then, in a moment that makes you want to punch Baz in the face more than you already do, he reminds Pope that he is Lena's father, not Pope, and then tells him he needs to get it together and have his back in front of the rest of the family. After reliving this moment, the end of this episode is so much more satisfying for me.

That same morning, Smurf calls J to come visit her so they can discuss a few more things. During their beginning small talk, J mentions that he's graduating and Smurf promises to buy him something expensive when she gets out of jail. He immediately steers the conversation in a new direction, however, and asks if she knows who his father is. J tells her Baz's theory, and Smurf insists that he's just trying to manipulate J into helping him get what he wants. She then tells J to have Baz meet with her because he won't answer her calls, and to tell him that she's getting ready to make a deal. When J returns home, he finds Nicky outside, upset that he hasn't been around, and mainly upset that her parents aren't going to show up. She decides they're skipping graduation so she can get high. They also end up breaking into Nicky's former friend's home to steal back a jacket Nicky lent her. That's not enough for Nicky, though. She decides she needs to destroy the girl's room, and then go through the rest of the house to rob a family that's done nothing to her. Their robbery is cut short when Nicky invites J to have sex on one of the beds, but a man I assume to be the girl's grandfather calls out and approaches them with a shot gun. They push him down the stairs and sprint out of the house, narrowly escaping a matching pair of bullet wounds, though Nicky did get nicked in the front yard. Yes, there were about 12 pieces of shrapnel in the back of her thigh, but compared to what it could have been, it was only a nick. Don't worry, Grandpa didn't die.

When Baz shows up to talk to Smurf, it turns out to be about much more than a potential deal. She first tells him to make sure he shares evenly with the rest of the boys because of his history of taking more than his share. She then asks what he hears about Catherine, and responds to his confusion with a nice "Ask Pope. Pope Knows." She twists the knife further by saying Pope never got over how Baz stole Catherine from him. Baz then leaves as a man on a mission. Shortly after, Smurf rings up Pope just to tell him that Baz knows.

Pope's first action is to go to Deran and make him promise that if something happens Deran will take care of Lena. Though confused, Deran agrees. Pope then returns home, unloads his gun, and sits outside to wait for Baz's imminent arrival. As soon as Pope senses Baz's presence, we begin one of the best scenes in the series (thanks, Shawn Hatosy!). Without looking back, Pope says, "She didn't suffer." He confesses that they thought she was talking to the cops, and says that Baz stole Catherine from him to punish Smurf but didn't realize he was punishing Pope as well because Baz never thought about him. Pope then yells that nobody ever thinks about him and takes an emotional moment before telling Baz to kill him. As Pope continues to beg, Baz does the first good thing he's done in a long time: he doesn't kill Pope. Instead, he grabs him, says he knows it was Smurf's fault, calls him his brother, tells him he loves him, says he'll always take care of him, and then gives him a nice, brotherly hug. There were a ton of intense feelings in less than a minute, and it was a lot to handle, but also quite satisfying.

We later see Craig packing up and telling Deran he's leaving for a bit because things are too much, because Pope is going crazy, Baz is dating a kidnapper, Smurf is in jail, and J is in charge. I will certainly agree that this is an upside-down world compared to where we started this season. He asks Deran to join him, but Deran says he has to stay in case he needs to take care of Lena. The two hug, and Craig goes on his way, picking up Renn on his way out of town and leaving us one member short in the Cody Clan.

That night, Baz fills Lucy in on everything that's happened, telling her he knows Pope would never have hurt Catherine without Smurf telling him to. She tells him that nothing has changed, and insists that they continue with their plan to pick up Lena and head down to Mexico that evening. Things aren't that simple, though. As they sit in the car getting ready to go, a hoodie-wearing man shoots Baz in chest three times! Assumingly hyped up on adrenaline (because that's the only way this might be possible) Baz jumps out of the car and charges down his driveway to try to shoot the man. Thankfully, things don't get ridiculously unrealistic and he falls on the ground shortly after making it to the sidewalk. Lucy runs to try and help him, but when she hears the police coming she tells him she can't stay, kisses him, and leaves him bleeding out semi-conscious in front of his house. Ruthless. As Baz clings to life, Smurf ponders her life in prison, J sits on the outskirts of the party Nicky's throwing, and somebody breaks through the wall concealing the suitcases of money Baz and Lucy hid. Now, by somebody, I don't mean just anybody. It's Lucy brother, Marco. Oh, AND LUCY, TOO! I repeat from earlier: RUTH. LESS.

Animal Instincts
I have to say I am slightly disappointed in the finale. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and that cliffhanger set up quite a future for the show, but overall the episode felt less exciting than previous episodes. While we got an amazing Pope/Baz scene and a shocking shooting, the rest of the episode was really just moving some stuff around and setting up the pieces for where we will begin next season, which I can't wait to see. I'm not sure what else I wanted to see this week, but I definitely wanted more of something.

Can we just talk about Lucy for a second? WHAT?! Again, I was never a big fan of her, but I definitely didn't think she would just leave Baz like that, and I certainly didn't expect her to immediately go and start taking the money. It makes me wonder if the hooded man was Marco and this whole thing was set up a while ago, or if she just decided to take advantage of the tragic situation. We know Smurf didn't do it, but everyone else is pretty much fair game. J looked pretty deep in thought at that party, and he was definitely wearing a hoodie. It could also have been Pope. Perhaps he felt belittled when Baz forgave him and said "I take care of you, that's what I do." And, like I said, it could also have been Marco. I'll rule out Deran and Craig, because the man certainly didn't look tall enough to be either of them. Hopefully we won't have to wait too long into season three to find out for sure!

Favorite Sights
Smurf's manipulation
Baz's Pope confrontation
Craig getting out of this mess
That Baz cliffhanger!!

And now we've reached the end. What did you think of everything? Were you shocked? Who do you think the shooter is? Sound off in the comments below, and I'll see you all next time!

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