Welcome to the last installment in our 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 previous week's rankings? View them here)
Our players in this week's finale, from first to worst…
1. J (Finn Cole). DK'd by the fence (Karina Logue), ejected from the compound by Pope, J should probably take the money he stacks up from the bowling-alley safe and start a new life thousands of miles away. Instead, he leverages Angela's intel about Smurf's will (with an assist from Frankie (Dichen Lachman)) to make his case to Pope for an alliance between them...based on a mutual resentment of Smurf, granted, but isn't that the saying -- the enemy of my enemy is my nephew? [Last week: 2]
2. Craig (Ben Robson). Well, I was wrong: Renn (Christina Ochoa) didn't ditch him with Nick, and though he's clearly missing his old life, he doesn't bail either. Should probably catch the snap that Old Jake (Jack Conley) is his dad, given that he's at Smurf's "memorial" and flawlessly cast to look like him, but it's in character for him not to. [Last week: 1]
3. Angela (Emily Deschanel). If the character returns next season as Lady MacPope, I'd like to see Deschanel directed for a bit more subtlety; Angela has all the manipulative nuance of a kindergartener who's broke a lamp. But she does intercept the wills, and use them to convince J and Pope that they're better off working together...mostly to keep her recently paroled brother Mike (Bradley Snedeker) from cutting her a dozen new ones for informing on him, but the show's ends justify her self-centered means. [Last week: 5]
4. Pope (Shawn Hatosy). Is he maybe starting to see, finally, that maintaining loyalty to his mother was a fool's errand that her death lets him stop running? Let's hope so, and let's hope he gets some measure of closure from extracting Billy's babbled amends at gunpoint. He's at least savvy enough to see that J is an intelligent and organized ally -- and that the Codys have to crack some skulls to let the street know they're still to be feared. [Last week: 6]
5. Smurf (Ellen Barkin). Keeps her own spot in the rankings because she does appear in the episode, technically (okay, it's her ashes in a utilitarian cardboard box; still) and has posthumous power moves still to play, namely leaving Craig, Deran, and Julia/J a pittance; giving Pope a crappish trust fund, administered by Deran because she didn't expect Pope to survive her; and deeding literally everything else to Pamela Johnson, aka Pam The Grifty Waitress (Milauna Jemai Jackson). And because it's Smurf the Codys' enemies and allies respected, not her sons, she screws her heirs over twice by obliging them to stage a show of force so rival gangs don't move in. [Last week: 3]
6. Deran (Jake Weary) and Adrian (Spencer Treat Clark). After nearly a full episode of constipated goodbyes, punctuated by the unwelcome reappearance of his "father," Billy (Denis Leary), to make non-credible claims of recent sobriety and bore everyone witless at Smurf's funeral party, it's time for Deran and Adrian to beat feet. In the end, Deran can't pull the trigger, and while this isn't really in character -- even Pope notes grimly that Deran's been trying to get away from them since he was a child -- it's probably the best outcome for Adrian, who sighs that he's always been in love with Deran, but Deran was the worst thing that ever happened to him. I've watched TV before and I understand why Deran couldn't go, and his sibling-shorthand scene with Craig at the end is one of the reasons I like them both, but it's still frustrating to see. [Last week: 4]
7. Janine (Leila George). Spends most of the episode holding cigarettes and staring resentfully at a squalling Andrew instead of picking him up; on Pam's advice, manipulates Young Jake (Jon Beavers) into taking her -- and the twins -- in, and apparently into making Craig, then swearing to stay away from him, though we don't see that happen yet; knows full well what will happen to Laney (Sarah Hunt) for helping her escape, but lets Laney help, then brats at her about the cash and gun Jed took. Ellen Barkin was able to give us "antihero" with her performance; all Leila George can muster is "mean girl." Here's hoping this casting goes the way I thought Renn would before Season 5... [Last week: 7]
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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.