Warning: This review contains spoilers.
There are a few Aussie television shows or films that have been adapted in order to appeal to U.S audiences. One such film is Animal Kingdom, which has been adapted into TV series.
The show has the same premise as the film. Joshua ‘J’ Cody (Finn Cole) is forced to move in with his grandmother, Smurf (Ellen Barkin), and four uncles when his mother dies of a heroin overdose. It turns out they’re a crime family, committing robberies in order to live a luscious lifestyle. The series is all about whether J will stick by his family, or rat them out to the cops.
At the end of season one, his loyalty was proven.
Now, in season 2, there is a power struggle in the family. Everyone is sick of taking orders from Smurf, and her adopted son Baz (Scott Speedman) is more than willing to take over as leader after his partner, Catherine (Daniella Alonso), goes missing. Pope (Shawn Hotosy) goes with the flow, while Craig (Ben Robson) wants to try his hand at organising jobs. Youngest Cody sibling Deran (Jake Weary) is more concerned with making sure his bar takes off. J plays both sides.
Throughout season 2 of Animal Kingdom, there is a series of incidents that explode in the final episode. Baz, intent of being the leader of the family, goes after Smurf. He finds out she has been stealing money and other things from the boy’s crimes for years. He then steals it all back, splits it amongst them all, but that isn’t the end of it. He is determined to make her pay, especially because he believes that Smurf has something to do with the disappearance of Cath. He wants her left with nothing.
He sets her up for murder, taking her gun and shooting the body of Javier, someone whom’s death that Smurf organised. He calls the police, and sends them straight to her.
J is caught between it all though. He feels indebted to Smurf, as she took him in when he had no where else to go. He also craves the affection of his uncles. When Smurf gives J power of attorney, Baz is furious. He previously held the control, and it throws him for a loop.
Surf doesn’t draw the line of her revenge there, however. She knows she is going to spend a long time in prison. Her family have betrayed her. It is time to take them down. She tells Baz that Catherine is dead, confirming his fears. She also tells him that Pope perpetrated the murder. That is when things start getting intense.
You don’t know if Baz is going to kill Pope or not. When they finally face off, Pope begs Baz to kill him. He’s had a difficult time this season, dealing with being forced to
kill the love of his life and caring for her daughter. He isn’t proud of his past at all. Baz has been a dick this season. He ignores his kid, and is just so intent on destruction, that he’s become a different person. What he does to Pope is out of character for the season. He forgives him. He tells his brother he loves him, and he will always stick by his side. I actually cried during this scene.
This redemption makes what happens next even more heartbreaking. You can never get too comfortable in Animal Kingdom. Baz and his girlfriend Lucy (Carolina Guerra) are heading to Mexico to find a place to live. The boys used to do drug runs for Lucy’s brother, Marco (Joseph Julian Soria). However, it was also revealed to Deran and Craig that Lucy may be involved in her brother’s crimes more than she lets on. As she and Baz prepare to head off, Baz is shot in the car, and hit repeatedly in the chest. He gives chase, but he isn’t quick enough. His assailant gets away. Lucy leaves him for dead, and she and Marco steal all the money that Baz stole from Smurf.
What kind of heartbreaking ending is that?
With TV shows like Animal Kingdom, you never know if once the original source material ends, the show will maintain its high level of entertainment. I’d argue that the second season is better than the first. The rivalry within the family is so realistic, and set up from the first season, that the plot for season 2 is completely believable. Power struggles are great to watch on TV, which is why shows like Game Of Thrones are so popular.
People are already asking when season three will drop, and we are one of them!
You can watch Animal Kingdom on Netflix.