TNT‘s Animal Kingdom, Season 2, Episode 13, Betrayal delivered a season finale that ended in a gravitational shift for the Cody clan. The family was more than fractured, it was broken and scattered. Somehow, all the earth-shattering revelations still left nothing concluded.
There were so many things to process in Betrayal. J’s (Finn Cole) parentage, Smurf’s choices, Baz’s fate, Craig’s epiphany, and Pope’s absolution were weaved into this finale. Along the way, there were some brilliant, breath-taking moments.
Pope (Shawn Hatosy) finally got what he deserved: forgiveness. He has been courting killing himself since the beginning, but always put the gun down. Scott Speedman and Hatosy delivered a heartbreaking scene by the beach. One, that was long-coming and ended unexpectedly, at least for Smurf (Ellen Barkin). She wanted these two to kill each other. Instead, they forgave each other. We had hoped that Baz (Speedman) was smart enough to place the blame for Catherine’s death on the right person – Smurf.
While Baz’s chose to embrace Pope, he also chose to break J’s heart. J’s father has been an unspoken subject since the beginning. So, why did Baz have to spit out “the truth” at him like that? The look he gave Baz after Baz told him the tale of his could-be father pretty much said it all. J’s steely-eyed silence can be annoyingly repetitive, but, in Betrayal, it was a clue to icy resolve to see Baz fall. No love was behind those eyes as J listened to Baz disrespect his mother’s memory and crumble his world.
No wonder J was ready to go to war with Baz in that meeting. Remember the family meetings where Baz was the mediator, and the balm on fevered tempers. Well, here, he exploded. In Betrayal, he was holding court, testifying against J, and prosecuting Smurf ex parte. Baz attempted to portray J as an untrustworthy foe when he himself had exhibited viciously underhanded behavior. Cole authentically played J’s position as he stammered through J’s accusations, knowing he was challenging a much more well-honed leader.
Looking closely at the scene in the house, it was like a mirrored image. Baz and J on either side of the table. Both J and Baz brought their “Queens” to the meeting for support. They both accused each other of the worst while holding back valuable information. These two were headed for this clash.
The much-anticipated confrontation between Baz and Smurf was less explosive than I had hoped. I wanted a cage match. Instead, it was a status report between prison glass. Smurf called Baz an “outsider”, which he already knew in his heart. She relegated him to the status of Javi, which we saw coming from a mile away in Dig. Baz wanted to dig the knife in deeper, but was surprised by Smurf’s unwavering nerve. We ended up with the two of them going over the balance sheet of who betrayed whom. It is like every time Baz faces Smurf he gets outgunned and deflected.
So, what was the balance sheet in Betrayal? Baz betrayed her and the brothers. Pope betrayed Baz. But, the ultimate betrayal was committed by Smurf. The she-wolf would eat her young if she were starving, and being locked up in polyester prison is Smurf’s “starving”. She would strike a deal that would imprison Pope again. She told Baz the truth about Pope knowing that in the absence of her own physical presence to strangle, Baz would hunt down her eldest and most loyal son. If we believe Baz, Smurf would let a business partner rape her own daughter if that meant she would benefit from a lucrative venture. Smurf betrays everyone because her motherly instincts are always outweighed by her survival instincts.
Now, the brothers are truly on their own now. Mommy is gone. Deran (Jake Weary) is an independent, small business owner. Pope is probably going to be running from the law for the bank robberies. Craig (Ben Robson) absconds for an extended holiday from his family. He will take a moment to find himself. Baz, well…Baz either got his comeuppance or his release. Meanwhile, J is at home, with his coked, crazy queen, sitting on the family trust, throwing a graduation party. If that is not imagery depicting a master plan, I do not know what is.
Did J do it? Did he pull the trigger? Fans of the original Animal Kingdom film might think we know who was in that hoodie. Contentment was written all over J’s face, right? Surprisingly, the show-runners decided to keep the shooter’s identity a secret. So, we are left wondering if this show will veer from the original film, and reveal a shooter that no one was expecting. Who knows what is to come of the Cody clan after their world has gone to pieces.
Craig said it: “everything is all upside down.” For J, though, everything seems to be looking up.
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