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 9, from first to worst…
1. J (Finn Cole). With Smurf off the grid and his uncles still sore -- literally -- about J's bringing the Mia malocch' down on the job, J's not getting any credit for things that went right: for getting most of the haul back from Mia and Tupi; for enlisting Pete's help without crossing him; for offering to subtract the broken equipment from his cut. Angela sees an opportunity to leverage his alienation, and wakes J up to insist that he try to find Smurf's will because the others will try to cut him out otherwise...although, she adds pointedly, she can put in a good word for J with Pope. That Smurf is not dumb enough to divide ill-gotten gains on paper is not factored into Angela's plan; nor is any recollection that J is a brainiac who has a plan of his own, an extremely subtle one designed to bond with Angela while putting her directly in the way of toxic old environments and people...and leaving a whack of cash on the table to further facilitate a relapse. [Last week: 3]
2. Craig (Ben Robson). He's right to call Deran out on the nasty cocktail of furtiveness and risky desperation that is Deran's "plan," but Craig's mostly mad because he thinks Deran thinks he's too dumb to be trusted with what's really going on. (So mad that Robson's accent, largely under better control this season, is whizzing around the front seat like a mosquito.) The lunkhead image is something he ought to learn to live with if he's not going to make any lifestyle changes, IMO...but those changes seem imminent: Renn (Christina Ochoa) gives birth, to a massive infant she confesses she thinks is Craig's. Craig promptly steps up, sleeping in Renn's room and not correcting nurses who think he's "Dad." Told y'all this production of One Man-Bun And A Baby was happening! [Last week: 2]
3. Deran (Jake Weary) and Adrian (Spencer Treat Clark). One of Deran's eyes is nearly swollen shut after last week's crash, but he can still serve some side-eye, chiefly to J's claim that he took care of the Mia issue by "talking to" her. But Deran's concussed if he thinks staking out a cop bar to send Adrian's handler a message is the solution to Adrian's problems...and when Craig refuses to wingman if Deran won't tell him why they're there, Adrian's request that Deran leave the handler's kids out of it starts to seem more like ugly foreshadowing. Doesn't seem like Detective Pearce's (Gil Birmingham) offer to sell out his family for his boyfriend fell entirely on deaf ears, either. [Last week: 1]
4. Smurf (Ellen Barkin). She's back, and she looks well, but a lesion may have made its way to her brain, because after casing the compound of Colin's doomsday-prepper brother Jed for the million dollars in gold she's sure is still hidden there decades later, she heads back to the Codyhaus to announce that she has a job for the family...and she won't be sitting it out this time. So, Smurf's One Last Job scheme is to rob the bunker of a paranoid off-the-gridder, one that also contains a battalion's worth of automatic weapons. C...ool? [Last week: 4]
5. The Gang That Can Occasionally Shoot Straight. Colin (Grant Harvey) and Janine (Leila George) abscond to Jed's (Joseph Morgan) antediluvian Paranoia Ranch with the money, and Janine queries Jed about his gold-stockpiling plan, though as usual George's delivery is shooting for "controlled and casual" but lands on "nosy and snotty" instead. Fraternal fisticuffs put Braless and Clyde back on the road again, and they haven't even cleared the fence line before Janine chooses to announce that she's pregnant. [Last week: 7]
6. Pope (Shawn Hatosy). He finally tells his brothers Smurf has cancer; later, at a loss for managing his emotions, he goes into her bedroom to tidy it up and ends up trashing it. Smurf doesn't seem to mind either of these things, possibly because she's so confident in her hold over him...but his snarling at J that J won't get another chance to screw up when Pope's the one who put the Angela snake on the family's bosom is probably going to boomerang on him. An unannounced visit to Lena (Aamya Deva Karoles) doesn't go well (she just shuts down; her new dad is nice about it, but runs Pope off), and indicates he's decompensating. Well, some more. [Last week: 5]
7. Angela (Emily Deschanel). I guess it tracks that someone as oblivious as Angela is to how blatantly her maneuvering is coming off would be susceptible to what is an obvious set-up by J? Credible or not, it's deeply satisfying that the last time we see her this week, she's stoned AF on a pier. We may not find out what she had planned before she gets arrested or killed, but if she gets gone, I'm okay with it. [Last week: 6]
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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.