TV Show Review

TV Review: ANIMAL KINGDOM: Season 2, Episode 8: Grace [TNT]

Finn Cole Ellen Barkin Animal Kingdom Grace

Animal Kingdom Grace Review

TNT’s Animal Kingdom, Season 2, Episode 8, Grace showed how Pope (Shawn Hatosy) and Baz (Scott Speedman) operate when they take matters into their own hands. We watched Pope and Baz play spy games in an episode full of issues to dissect. Grace was largely about driving the plot forward for payoff later, but what we  really witnessed in this episode was how Pope and Baz are two sides of the same coin.

On one side, Pope took matters into his own hands to protect his brothers from the church job investigation. It meant he had to ruin the life of an innocent man. His motivation was sincere. He could protect his brothers, his woman, and himself by defying Baz and using the checks to implicate someone else for the robbery. This certainly is not the worst thing that Pope has done.

On the other side, Baz was determined to discover Smurf’s (Ellen Barkin) secret stash because he knew it meant he would have the proof of her deceit. Of course, Smurf’s shadiness is not unknown, so in Grace, it was like watching a very thin veil being lifted from Baz’s eyes.

The whole episode was shot with a guerrilla style that befit the sneakiness throughout. Shots from far away in the dark capturing silhouettes with lit cigarettes, peeping through windows and locked cages, concentrating on snake camera footage from inside storage units. Grace almost felt like a very different genre show simply through the unique composition under Cherie Nowlan‘s direction. Well, besides the surf and sand scene which was much appreciated. The show even opened with a stark, dark zoom in on Pope’s sleepless, motionless pose in the corner of his home. I like to think this was Pope meditating, instead of plotting, but who knows.

The scenes between Pope, Baz and Smurf dominated Grace. The scene when Smurf invites Pope into her bed to snuggle up while she lay there under the covers in the nude was so cringe-worthy in its suggestion of her life-long inappropriateness with this man. Then two minutes later, she passionately kisses Craig (Ben Robson) in the kitchen – reminiscent of the early scene in Sons of Anarchy when Gemma open-mouth-kissed her 30-year-old son, Jax.  Only here, we had Nicky’s (Molly Gordon) disgusted and confused face to capture an authentic reaction. Thank you for that. It is like once Smurf gets these guys in her home, they are her delicious little toys.

Baz is just about done with her.  She attempts to woo him back into her life with the “in love with you” line, but Baz saw right through it. Honestly, for a second he looked relieved and blessed that she chose him to be her son. On some level he might still need that validation. What is he if he is not connected to her in some way? That is why he insisted on paying her dividends from their heists when no one else cared to do so. All the while, Smurf has been stealing from them, making him feel like a fool.

Meanwhile, Baz is caught between a rock and a hard place because he wants to protect Baz from the truth and he wants to protect Smurf from fallout from the murder. Pope also will probably never submit to going back to prison either. So, no one wins in any scenario.

Lucy (Carolina Guerra) continued being mysterious about her dealings in Oakland. Whether her activities will prove to be a problem or a boon to Baz is yet to be revealed. The fact that this woman is secretive and a business partner, makes Baz seem like he is in a pitiful cycle. Is Baz only moving from one madame to another when it comes to Lucy?

J’s (Finn Cole)  story about his mother was captivating as well. Wanting to leave a bad situation, but willing to stay only if he knew he had his mother’s respect and love. Clearly, J was aiming to get Smurf to humble herself and apologize. Smurf does not do that. Instead, she will throw a $20,000 bone at you and hope you forget any slights. Well played to a point. The boys are not inclined to please her anymore, except for maybe Craig, who appears to be at home again.

Grace was largely about setting up the dominoes to fall. Baz has taken steps to regain a sense of truth and peace about what has happened to Catherine. His attentiveness to Lena shifted from uncaring to caring overnight, and we should wonder if that is a reflection of his determination to seek the truth about her mother. He might not be doing this just for himself. He is transforming into a threat against Smurf and that will change the entire dynamic in the Cody clan.

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About the author


I am ...a lover of all things film ...a published poet with a law degree from Howard University School of Law ...a D.C. native, who frequents local and international film festivals ...a self-professed couch potato who 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, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and The Shield. Still, I am open to everything on TV and Netflix, which is doing big things.

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