TV Show Review

TV Review: ANIMAL KINGDOM: Season 2, Episode 4: Broken Boards [TNT]

Jake Weary Animal Kingdom Broken Boards

Animal Kingdom Broken Boards Review

TNT‘s Animal Kingdom, Season 2, Episode 4, Broken Boards finally told it like it is. While Smurf (Ellen Barkin) and Baz (Scott Speedman) faced their reflections in the eyes of the brothers, this episode was all about Deran (Jake Weary) breaking free of any grasp.

In Broken Boards, Smurf and Baz jockeyed for the “Most Charismatic Leader” position, tossing Jay (Finn Cole) between them like a football, or a ball of yarn, whichever metaphor suits your perspective. Meanwhile, Deran is wrapped up in opening his bar and less concerned with Baz’s plan to rob the church. This brings me to the major point of Broken Boards: Deran has revealed himself as our dark horse. I mean, while it is smart to keep in mind that Jay is the one running a long con here, Deran, aka Baby Cody, has broken out as a star player in this game.

While Smurf was busy telling Jay that her sons were too stupid to understand how to use money, Deran was proving her wrong. Baz may be the “son” she thought she taught everything to, but it was Deran who was watching. I cannot say enough about how well the exchange in the alley was crafted. It was an explosive, whispered condemnation, a “coming out”, a breaking free. In the bar, we saw the pressure building in Deran’s head, and it was strange and uncomfortable. Why was he so nervous? Why was he so angry? The bar, aptly named “The Drop”, was a triumphant space that he created, and the whole time he looked morose and homicidal. Cut to the alley way, and the pressure exploded into a geyser of pity and disrespect aimed at his mother, not himself. Without inserting a transcript, suffice to say Deran said it all (insert a standing ovation from every tuned in living room!). Smurf cannot control this son like the others because he has no desire for her. That is a serious hurdle for this woman.

That was the real bombshell of this episode. Deran’s sexual orientation is a conundrum for Smurf because she rules the men in her life by controlling the purse strings and stroking their manhood (I only mean that as a pun). So, how does a purring, sex kittenish, milf dom get inside the head of her gay son? It is clear she was content all these years with manipulating his shame, instead of encouraging his pride. However, this son wisely took what little he had and invested in a money-making venture outside of her control. That shows her. Deran understands Smurf’s game in a way the others do not because he cannot be seduced by her. It was beside the point of her being shocked by the revelation, Smurf was cut deep by one son who looked straight through her. (The imagery of her and him reflecting in the bedroom mirror was not lost. Kudos to cinematography.)

Yes, he wanted her to be angry about his defiance, but we saw even more so that he wanted his mom to be proud of his accomplishment. Little luck there. What little pride she did display was fleeting. Smurf had to do something to cause a scene about her. If she was less self-absorbed (oh if only my wish for that character development would come true!), then she would have noticed that everything she wants to give Jay she has in Deran. She would be proud. She would use this asset.

Instead, I think Broken Boards shows just how empty Smurf is. Her home, when the kids are away, is empty and she spends her time nudging vases on shelves. Her clever money laundering scheme is a conglomerate of empty homes. The imagery there is too ripe not to take a bite. These men fill up her life. She admittedly will “take everything” from them, and yet she has absolutely nothing when she is all alone with said everything. All Smurf really has is her paranoia…and Jay. Jay the wildcard. Jay the double agent. Jay who is hedging his bets. Sorry Smurf, you have nothing there either.

That is what Broken Boards was about: giving up everything to gain something. Deran got it, he really got. Smurf was the one who needed to understand.

I do not mean to ignore the developments with the other brothers, but Deran did kind of steal the show, and Craig (Ben Robson) still has not grown up enough to be considered seriously. Pope (Shawn Hatosy) was his usual creepy self. He had a hard time picking a shirt. Yeah, he has a hard time with every mundane thing. It is the grotesque and inhumane things that come naturally to him. At the same time, being a guardian angel comes easy to him as well. Pope is forever the dichotomy.

Which brings me to Baz. What is up with Baz not wanting to even see Lena (Aamya Deva Keroles)? Seriously, this is becoming ridiculous. There is no emotional element being displayed that would justify this kind of neglect. He put more time into devising a plan to jump from a crane than into planning an afternoon with Lena. This child is not responsible for whatever mysteries surround her. In punishing Smurf with distance, Baz is inadvertently punishing Lena. The behavior is unjustifiable coming from a man who is hell bent on showing how unlike Smurf he really is.

Leave your thoughts on this Animal Kingdom Broken Boards review and this episode of Animal Kingdom below in the comments section. Readers seeking more Animal Kingdom can visit our Animal Kingdom Page. Readers seeking more TV show reviews can visit our TV Show Review Page, our TV Show Review Twitter Page, our TV Show Review Facebook Page, and our TV Show Review Google+ Page. Want up-to-the-minute notification? FilmBook staff members publish articles by Email, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, and Facebook.

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About the author


I am a lover of all things film and a published poet with a law degree from Howard University School of Law. As a self-professed couch potato, I can usually be caught watching anything produced by Joss and Jed Whedon. My favorite TV shows include the Buffy & Angel Series, Sons of Anarchy, Oz, and The Shield. My favorite current TV shows are …TBD. So for now, I am open to everything on TV and even Netflix, which is doing big things. A D.C. native that frequents local and international film festivals, you can catch my film reviews at

  • Rachel Weber Dean

    Deran is my favorite brother altho I like them all. So glad Deran finally pulled away from Smurf and put her in her place. Pope is creepy but I like his character, I want more of his back story with Smurf, there is something major there. Baz, I just don’t get his distance from Lena but then isn’t Jay his biological son and he has know fatherly feelings towards him either….I am loving the uncertainty of what is going on with Jay…..who’s side is he really on, I guess we will see. and Craig, love him but he’s just a big ole sexy mess.

  • Soche Oteyza

    I love this show…the adrenalin, the drama, everything. Craig and Deran are my faves, best bros on tv. Pope is growing on me, love the storyline with the Church Lady, shows how vulnerable he really is. Wish Craig did less drugs and more drama though, he can handle it

  • PopcornMovieMaiden

    I agree about Pope. He seems to be trying to connect with someone other than his mother and Catherine, especially after what Baz said to him a while back. But the relationship is already tainted.

  • PopcornMovieMaiden

    Yes Craig is exactly that. And actually I do really like Pope’s character. He, Deran and J are extremely interesting characters to watch. J more so in the first season because he was us, the audience perspective. With Baz it’s like there is some sort of paternal gene missing that he definitely had in the first season. I don’t know what’s going on there.

  • Soche Oteyza

    seems to me that in a way he’s glad to be rid of Catherine and Lena reminds him of her.
    Is J really part of the family or is he an outsider looking in & reporting to the cops? what happened to Smurf to make her the way she is, i know her mother was dysfunctional but what happened from the time her mom died to when she was 16 & hooked up with Manny? and after she hooked up with Manny? what are in those tapes? there’s a whole other season that can cover that

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