Animal Kingdom: Season 2 – Review

Animal Kingdom‘s second season premieres May 30, 9pm on TNT.

If you haven’t seen or even heard of TNT’s Animal Kingdom, I urge you to give it a try. It isn’t very well known but TNT has put forth its best effort in trying to publicize its upcoming second season debuting tonight. In truth, it is better than most TV dramas out there with a first season that slowly builds and successfully weaves multiple storylines together in an interesting tale of crime, lies, and family.

If you’d rather skip the 10 episode first season and jump right into my review of the second, so be it. Here is a quick catch up of what you’ve missed: (SPOILERS!)

The Cody family is comprised of: Baz, Craig, Deran and Pope, who’s recently returned from jail, and Smurf, the mother and ringleader of the family. Enter “J” who is a nephew of the Cody brothers by his mother who died of a drug overdose and was the twin of Pope. J is reluctantly welcomed into the family and eventually brought along on jobs which culminates at the end of season one in a major heist on Camp Pendleton for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Mix in the police hot on the Cody trail, Baz’s wife’s murder by way of Smurf’s decree, Craig’s drug habit, Deran’s closeted relationship and you have quite the family drama.

Season two picks up with the Cody family still living off of their Pendleton job money, and what started in the first season as small cracks of division between the brothers and Smurf have now grown into large fissures that are threatening the very fabric of the Cody way of life. Pope, having been asked by Smurf to do unspeakable acts in the first season (murder), is distancing himself from her altogether because he sees her for who she truly is and what she is slowly doing to his brothers. Despite her best efforts to keep the boys under her ruling thumb, she is becoming strained in attempting to hold all of them from scattering to different directions. This will undoubtedly come to a vicious conclusion, one that will be sure to draw lines in the sand between the family with casualties along the way.

What captures you most about this show is the impeccable casting on all fronts. While major actors such as Ellen Barkin (Smurf) and Scott Speedman (Baz) hold their own, the standout performance is Pope played by Shawn Hatosy. There’s an eery silence and quiet anger to his character that gives off the vibe that he is ready to snap at any given moment. Anytime his character is onscreen, whether a major player or not, you cannot take your eyes off of him and unpredictability translates into incredible character depth.

Another aspect of the show that season two explores is structure and past of the Cody family. From the very beginning of the first episode, the viewer is shown that the Cody brothers were not the first to grace Smurf’s doorstep and steal for her. What is even worse is the thought of how she might go about replacing the brothers if they end up going their own way because as the viewer is already aware, she will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

Animal Kingdom is what I like to categorize as an “easy watch.” Something that doesn’t take too much brainpower to follow, yet still keeps the viewer engaged throughout its episodes. Animal Kingdom‘s second season builds perfectly off of the tension-filled foundation that was laid in its first, and continues the turmoil of the Cody family as they ward off inquiring police, outsiders from the family, past relationships and more. This show is a great binge and its upcoming season will be a perfect summertime watch that I’m sure will take the characters of the show into a descent of madness. I can assure you that while the show might slowly build at first, your patience will be rewarded.

I give Animal Kingdom a B+.

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