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.
Our players in Episode 7, from first to worst…
1. Craig (Ben Robson). After a bump of coke, Craig is able to stay up all night building a crib for Renn Jr., persisting in the face of "these asshole instructions." Hee. He also, after disappearing down a Google hole in the wee hours, has some breast-pump recommendations. Hee! Renn (Christina Ochoa) finds this discomfiting, to the point of bolting to a friend's house, and when Craig tracks her down, she unconvincingly says she and Jr. will do fine on their own. My prediction: the season finale finds Renn Jr. in a basket on Craig's doorstep with a note pinned to his bunting. The tallest Cody also raises reasonable questions about the festival heist and gets to do a few funny bits with Deran. [Last week: 3]
2. J (Finn Cole). Successfully pitches the festival job to Smurf, then his brothers, and problem-solves a solution to some of their objections while scouting the job (based, hilariously, on Craig's reminiscences about a friend losing an eye in a fest mosh pit). Leverages Smurf's cancer into direct dealings with her fence, Gia (Karina Logue), and pretends to go along with Angela's plan to "help" him find Smurf's will/where the money is hidden, probably to sniff out her endgame. Trouble is, it's unclear he's thought his endgame out post-heist; is he going to pretend to Olivia (Kelli Berglund) like it's a coincidence the festival got taken down, mere days after he volunteered himself as an intern...or drop out of school? [Last week: 1]
3. Smurf (Ellen Barkin). Still rocking excellent jackets, Smurf insists she's not crazy and someone in their circle is talking to the cops -- and Detective Andre (James Remar) functionally confirms that Pearce (Gil Birmingham) has his hooks in someone. But she's in denial about her treatment, telling Pope that chemo "wasn't for me" and refusing to give him specifics about her wishes or estate planning. Making her even sicker, figuratively, is Angela's lording her knowledge of Smurf's illness over her...and refusing to take a 15K bribe to beat it. Based on the serious gun buy in the fourth act, Smurf's got some kind of plan (and any scheme that involves hot-wiring a vintage Benz in LAX's long-term parking is one I'd tend to trust), but it's hard to see how the show's plan isn't to kill her off by season's end. [Last week: 5]
4. Pope (Shawn Hatosy). His suggestion to Deran that he sit the festival job out is wise, though it's ignored. Also ignored, if they're registered at all, by Pope: Adrian's jumpiness; that Deran is lying to him about the cause of said jumpiness; and how very obviously Angela is performing boundary-crossing "concern" about whether Smurf has a living will or a do-not-resuscitate arrangement. [Last week: 2]
5. Angela (Emily Deschanel). Is her plotting supposed to read this flagrantly? Because her efforts to hide that she's up to something have gotten weaker and weaker, and I don't think I know for whose benefit. Certainly nobody except Pope has any use for her, or thinks she should still be bunking at the compound -- to which she's inviting old friends over when no one else is home, while admitting she lied about why she went to prison. (And that she was paroled with a suspicious quickness, giving credence to my previously-stated hypothesis that she's an informant.) Angela's pronouncement to J that she's not afraid of Smurf is correctly greeted with a grunted "You should be," but the better question is why she isn't. Or, perhaps, why she isn't afraid of anyone else seeing through her. [Last week: 6]
6. Deran (Jake Weary) and Adrian (Spencer Treat Clark). We open on Adrian confessing to Deran that he's been talking to the law. Deran, presumably having hit his quota of self-protective murders for the day, just stares, then leaves, and Adrian tells Pearce that they can do what they want to him, but he's done cooperating (though Pearce's predictable "a pretty boy like you won't make it" etc. etc. does seem to have its effect). Adrian decamps to his sister's, but not before he's startled by Pope, who thinks Deran told him about the shooting; the information Adrian actually has is much more dangerous, as Deran warns Adrian before telling him they'll figure it out together. They should figure it out under new names, in Manitoba or something, like yesterday, but nobody runs when they should on this show...so Adrian's the only one with poorer odds of surviving S4 than Smurf. [Last week: 7]
7. The Gang That Can Occasionally Shoot Straight. Mia (Sohvi Rodriguez) is AWOL again this week, though I doubt we've seen the last of her, so until she resurfaces, the Flashback Gang gets her spot...and sends their joint ranking plummeting, because my prediction about Pam wasn't entirely correct, but she was bad news. Flashback Janine feels much the same way, but she's such a grumpy hag to Pam that the rest of the FG assumes she's jealous and dismisses her as paranoid, and when Pam steals the FG's money and their van, she's super-smug about it. Too bad Janine has never watched TV before, because she's the last to figure out that she's pregnant. All this, and a bunch of snotty sermonizing about Pam's parenting, and still no bra. [Last week: 4]
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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!. She's also the editor-in-chief and publisher of Tomato Nation, and true-crime blog and podcast The Blotter Presents.