TV Review: ‘Animal Kingdom’ (1×8) “Man In”

Animal Kingdom episode 108 'Man In' director Larry Teng 5/26/16 AK#108.0526_0996.nef

It’s all about fathers on Animal Kingdom’s eighth episode “Man In,” as we sort of knew going in from last week’s preview of J asking if Baz is his dad. We didn’t get an answer, for which I’m grateful. Like I said, if Baz was really J’s father, then the show would slide so far into melodrama I wouldn’t know how to look away. In this case, Baz is right — the identity of J’s father doesn’t matter. Now let’s go rob a Navy compound.

Baz’s father finally reappears (he had been in jail), and we learn a little more about Baz and his relationship (not good). There’s a physical confrontation that involves alcohol, but the main thing I think we’re supposed to understand from this is that Baz is a very unforgiving person. Perhaps his father deserved it, but it also explains a lot about Baz as a character that I don’t think I understood before.

And then there’s Paul, Nicky’s father, who is officially roped into the Codys’ plan to rob the Navy compound. The episode begins with everyone planning out the heist, complete with blueprints of the compound. Not sure where they got those, but okay. Moving on. Paul is obviously still conflicted about being a part of this. He’s skittish, nervous, hysterical. Baz is able to calm him down enough to get him to help, but Paul’s reluctance to join is an interesting foil to Nicky’s seemingly cavalier attitude toward what the Codys do and her father’s involvement with them. C. Thomas Howell is great as Paul, but because of the fast pace of the show, we really don’t get to see his full range of emotions. It would have been great to see Paul and Nicky in the same scene, but we do get a moment between Paul and J. It almost seemed like the look Paul gave J was one of understanding — perhaps he understands now why J broke up with Nicky? Or maybe he was just silently pleading for J’s help to get out of this.

I loved J in this episode, though. I know in the past I’ve said how much I wasn’t sure about his character because I couldn’t get a well enough read on him. But here, as he was sprinting across that Navy yard in trying to start a fire as part of the Codys plan to break in, I realized I kind of love not knowing what J is going to decide to do. Like Paul, he seemed iffy about his part of the plan, but in the moment, he pulled it off with an air of confidence that hasn’t really been seen yet. It’s obvious he wants to be accepted by the Codys — he gives a small, awkward smile at the applause and tequila shots he receives from them after he gets home — but it’s clear he’s still not sure he wants to go down this path. Well, that is, after he talks to Nicky and decides to hell with the Codys and goes to Alexa to, I’m guessing, tell her he’ll explain everything to the police. I’ve wanted J to turn on the Codys, but I’m not entirely sure what his motivation here was, or if it was even the right one. Still, we’re getting somewhere.

It’s also revealed that those two CIs of Detective Yates’ were Catherine’s parents. This part of the episode brings back that cop from the bar Catherine bartends at, who also knows Detective Yates, and together they try to get Catherine to turn the Codys in. She refuses, but it seems she has some plans of her own to probably get revenge on Smurf.

Not much else to talk about, except we finally know why Pope doesn’t sleep — he spent a lot of time in solitary while in prison, and was tortured with sleep deprivation. His prison cell buddy, Vin, keeps coming around demanding money. He’s kind of annoying. And Smurf is still dealing with meeting that man from her past last week, though she doesn’t verbalize any of it so I have no idea what’s going on there.

Craig and Deran make a good team together. Don’t know why I didn’t notice that before.

I liked this episode as a standalone, but as far as the overall plot goes, Animal Kingdom has some work to do in connecting their smaller stories into the larger narrative, instead of leaving them dangling for weeks on end.

Two episodes to go. See ya next week.

Rating: 7.5/10

I go to the movies. I watch television. I write about each. Sleep, occasionally. Then I repeat.