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 8, from first to worst…
1. Deran (Jake Weary) and Adrian (Spencer Treat Clark). Crisply grouchy as always; capable in the post-heist crisis; and can finally get real with Adrian: "Look, you wanna get out of this, you're gonna have to do some shit you're uncomfortable with." He's got Adrian tailing his law-enforcement contact to see what blackmail leverage they might gain, and while his questions about a baby seat in the handler's car are discomfiting to Adrian and us, at least he's finally got a plan. [Last week: 6]
2. Craig (Ben Robson). His answer when Deran tells him he doesn't want any of "that baby-raising shit" is to smirk that he raised Deran, after all ("Exactly my point," Deran eye-rolls, and I would fully watch a web series with just these two snarking on each other) -- a canon point I'd forgotten, and that, with Craig's brooding over the empty crib, gives some force to my prediction that Three Cody Men And A Baby is where things end up in Season 4. He's concussed in the heist crash, but...you know. Headache and nausea is just a Wednesday morning for that guy. [Last week: 1]
3. J (Finn Cole) and Mia (Sohvi Rodriguez. Mia's back...but not for long, so I've bundled them together, not least since their rankings proceed from analogous conflicting information this week. J gets off to a decent start: to his credit, the heist goes according to his carefully researched and rehearsed plan. To his debit, the heist gets heisted by his sociopath ex-girlfriend and her current trifling side piece. J manages to bring things back even thanks to Tupi's (Eddie Ramos) blowhard dumbassery, looping in Pete (Reynaldo Gallegos) to flush out Tupi and Mia and getting the heisted stuff back, then resisting Mia's pitch to team up with her because she can do the things he can't...like kill people. Thing is, he turns her down by...killing her, which does freak him out but isn't something he can go back from. As for Mia, she makes some good points about how not-hard it was to tail the Codys and take down the ambulance -- and how J should have expected blowback from not taking her seriously -- but Tupi was a terrible choice of hench-douche, and she pays for that pick with her life. [Last week: 2]
4. Smurf (Ellen Barkin). Absent this week, which freaks out the boys, so she's still able to make herself felt, and subtracting herself from the various shitshows her grand/sons are creating is wise even if that's not her motivation. [Last week: 3]
5. Pope (Shawn Hatosy). The paranoia is warranted, for once -- he correctly guesses who hit the ambulance, and how, and confronts J with his suspicions that J was in on it. And his loyalty comes in handy too; he conscientiously waits until Deran and Craig leave to create their accident cover story to rip J, knowing they'd freak out. But Angela continues not to raise any red flags for him? [Last week: 4]
6. Angela (Emily Deschanel). Angela's nostalgia-heavy campaign to guarantee herself Pope's allegiance continues this week, and while it's as blatant as ever, it's at least not onscreen as much. I considered her a decent suspect for the ambulance-jacking, and my primary disappointment with that theory getting disproven is with the writing. Angela's endgame is taking too long to take shape for viewers given how obvious it is that she has one. [Last week: 5]
7. The Gang That Can Occasionally Shoot Straight. The gang hits Pam's house but finds her gone, though Janine (Leila George) smartly bribes a neighborhood kid for info, then peaces out of a gang meeting to brace Pam (Milauna Jemai Jackson) at Pam's mom's house. This works out well for Janine, who gets the money and the van back, and the seed planted in her head (as it were) by Pam that the best way to take control of a male-dominated gang is to raise it from birth. It also works out well for the gang; if Janine's not there, she can't remind them for the eighteenth goddamn time that she warned them about Pam while manifestly thinking up ways to manipulate them -- another instance in which the writing needs to light a fire under it, and George's acting mistakes "bratty" for "bad-ass." [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!. She's also the editor-in-chief and publisher of Tomato Nation, and true-crime blog and podcast The Blotter Presents.