Welcome to the Season 4 weekly power rankings for Animal Kingdom, in which we assess who's a lion and who's a lichen in the Cody-verse. (Miss last week's rankings? View them here.)
Our players in Episode 10, from first to worst…
1. Craig (Ben Robson). Everyone's basically assuming he's the baby's dad, and he's standing up to that pressure well, especially with Renn's (Christina Ochoa) mom, who thinks she and her husband should adopt the kid because of Renn and Craig's "lifestyles." Craig seems resigned to the truth of that at first, then rips a strip off Renn Sr. for various shitty parenting moves he had to clean up after, and runs her off. He's going to cut down on the partying and get the nest feathered for Renn and little Nick (aw). Well, that's that! Everything'll be fine! (...It won't; I still say Renn bolts.) [Last week: 2]
2. J (Finn Cole). Still getting clocked for fouling up the festival job, now J's got to handle Olivia (Kelli Berglund), who steps to him with blackmail: her dad's P.I. figured out J's family's deal in no time, so either J uses her student login to get her the A she needs in statistics to keep collecting her 10K/month (!) allowance, or she rats him to her mom and the cops. Unfazed, J hands off Olivia's login Post-It to the stat professor, murmuring that he heard students were buying assignments online, and Olivia gets tagged with an honor violation. Unimpressed with her fury, J grits that she's a brat who's no match for him and his uncles. Hope we get to see how it plays out; this class-division motif in J's storyline is one of the season's more interesting aspects. And the smarts Smurf notes in J's car-theft "workflow" are probably better served for J's own projects, not the power struggle with Pope he's clearly headed for. [Last week: 1]
3. Smurf (Ellen Barkin). She won't talk about the cancer; she won't even acknowledge that anyone else is trying to talk about it, raising her voice to drown out questions by talking about the job and surveyors' maps and whatnot. Leaving aside the fact that, on paper, Operation Gold Rush sounds like a cock-up of Ocean's 13-ian proportions, I'm kind of with Craig on this when he shrugs that she "is dealing with" her terminal status, "she wants to pull a job" instead of sitting around sulking. And I'm definitely with Smurf when this heavy conversation amongst her sons and grandson is interrupted by a massive liquor delivery for a party she's throwing that night. Her hair looks cute too, not for nothing. [Last week: 4]
4. Deran (Jake Weary) and Adrian (Spencer Treat Clark). Adrian's resolve to just do the time is dinged somewhat by the revelation that mandatory minimums mean he's doing 15 years...at least. Hard to say whether Adrian's consulting a new attorney or his coming clean to his sister (Lily Rains) is what sends up a flag, but Detective Andre (James Remar) finally has a name for Smurf, and for once she doesn't waste any time toying with the mouse; she asks Deran straight out how long he's known Adrian was talking, then orders him to take care of it...or she'll outsource the job to Pope. So he's screwed on that front, and his hammering on Smurf to talk about her diagnosis and snarking on Pope for not telling them sooner is only alienating him from his family. Time to find a less recognizable vehicle and go to Vancouver, son. [Last week: 3]
5. Pope (Shawn Hatosy). On the one hand, he's strong at the helm of Operation Gold Rush, organized and willing to delegate. On the other hand, he's delegating certain tasks because he's busy bracing Angela's dealer, stalking her workplace, and, when she finally wobbles back into the compound to find a huge party in full swing, wrestling her into submission so he can steal her stash and lock her in a guest room (whose doors he has to brace with a skateboard). Why not just kick her out? It's like he wants people to let him down even more than they're already going to. [Last week: 6]
6. The Gang That Can Occasionally Shoot Straight. Colin (Grant Harvey) doesn't have...well, it's hard to say what reaction Janine (Leila George) did hope for, but staring into the middle distance, then heading back to the Flashback Gang for another bank job is maybe not everyone's ideal response to learning he's going to be a dad? Not that Manny's (Rigo Sanchez) is much better; when Janine inadvertently outs herself in the getaway van by hurling into the money bag, Manny's like, you could just ditch her, she's tough and hot enough to get by. Colin elects to stay, and give Janine a corny speech about how they're not their parents. I understand why the Flashback Gang was written into this season, but the execution has been a chore, and I'm not going to miss them. [Last week: 5]
7. Angela (Emily Deschanel). It doesn't make a ton of sense that she'd come back to the compound, or that she'd bother even trying to lie to someone who's seen her high many times, but that's what she does. I get the feeling the show had a vague idea about this character and her purpose for S4, but didn't develop it in time, and she's going to end up dead of an overdose to cover that the writers didn't have a plan. It's too bad; she had potential as chaotic evil, and Deschanel's performance is very watchable. [Last week: 7]
People are talking about Animal Kingdom in our forums. Join the conversation.
Sarah D. Bunting co-founded Television Without Pity, and her work has appeared in Glamour and New York, and on MSNBC, NPR's Monkey See blog, MLB.com, and Yahoo!. Find her at her true-crime newsletter, Best Evidence, and on TV podcasts Extra Hot Great and Again With This.