Friday, June 16, 2017

Rule #1: "Eat What You Kill" (Animal Kingdom; Season 2, Episode 1)

Last season: Joshua "J" Cody moved in with his grandmother Janine AKA "Smurf" after his mother died of a heroin overdose. He quickly learns his uncles are a robbery crew, headed up by Smurf. J and his uncles robbed Camp Pendleton military base. Craig started having sex with J's 17-year-old ex-girlfriend Nicky. Acting on Mom's orders, Uncle Andrew AKA "Pope" smothered his adopted brother Baz's baby-mama Cath with a pillow. He made it look like Cath left Baz, abandoning their young daughter Lena in the process.

We see Smurf wake up and grope around on her nightstand for last night's leftover vodka cranberry with a twist of lime. Elsewhere, Deran and Craig roar under an overpass on their ATVs (or four-wheelers, as they call them in my neck of the woods). Pope climbs up a nearby roof and cuts the padlock on the access hatch. Baz seems to be following a tour group around; the doors on the freight elevator read ANGEL CITY BREWERY. J is in the truck parked outside.

Watching Smurf put on her makeup, I can't help but think of one of my favorite Disney songs "Perfect Isn't Easy" from Oliver & Company. In her silk robe, Ellen Barkin perfectly channels the poodle who sings the song in the movie. But I digress.

Pope sneaks into the brewery and cuts off the security cameras. Baz and the tour group are off to do a beer tasting. He waits until they all move on, then meets up with Pope, who'd been crouched on the stairs. They go to a makeshift office and strap a safe onto a dolly.

Craig and Deran park their ATVs, the former shimmying up a ladder to open a grate. He passes Baz a black duffel bag full of tools. J sees a delivery truck pull up to one of the brewery's service entrances. He immediately texts his uncles to sound the alarm, then opens the console, where he's stashed his gun. To create a less lethal diversion, J drops two lit road flares into nearby dumpsters.

The delivery driver spots the flames and activates the fire alarm. We hear sirens racing toward the scene. J coolly drives away in the truck. Pope and Baz lower the safe through the manhole on a winch. Craig and Deran load the safe onto a trailer hooked up to one of the ATVs.

At home, Smurf is still primping in front of the mirror.

J puts dummy plates on the truck, along with magnetic signs from the LA Division of Water and Power. He drives through a fence to rendezvous with the others. A homeless man appears in the tunnel with his shopping cart. When Deran swerves to avoid a deadly collision, the ATV tips over. The trailer and safe also thud to the ground. Craig and Baz hastily right the ATV.

The four head for the truck, Pope riding tandem with Deran and Baz sitting behind Craig. They load the safe into the truck bed and toss a blanket over it. Deran and Craig ride away on their ATVs; Pope and Baz stay in the truck with J.

While Pope cracks the safe, Craig chugs some tequila, laughing to himself. Deran grabs the bottle and pissily asks what's so funny. "You remember when you and Pope duct taped this to that shopping cart when we were kids with the Roman candles on the side? Sent it down Quarry Hill?" asks Craig, "I still have a scar on my ass from when I bounced out of it." "You got off easy, man. I went off the cliff in that thing," says Deran, "I hit the lake like cement."

Pope tugs on the safe's handle. The fruits of the boys' labor look more like the inside of Al Capone's vault.

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 "Oh, you gotta be shitting me," says Baz, looking at two small piles of money. Pope grips his head; he can't believe it either. In a fit of temper, Deran smashes the tequila bottle.

When the boys get home, Smurf is dishing out the traditional post-heist snack of apple pie. Baz drops their tiny haul on the counter. Deran, sporting a wicked scrape on his cheek, cracks a beer.

The Codys assemble in the living room to debrief Smurf. Deran slumps on the couch, holding an ice pack on his face. Pope deliberately sits with his back to Smurf. No one saw them at the brewery, which, according to Baz is "the only thing about the job that went right." Smurf praises J for his quick thinking in starting the fire.

"We're all okay, by the way," grumbles Pope. Deran thought there was supposed to be more money "north of 90 grand." Smurf flares her nostrils and breathes hard, staring them down. When she finally speaks, she says, "Let's go eat that pie." Pope is quietly incredulous: "We risked our lives for $500 and all she can talk about is pie." Deran gripes that $500 would've at least been an even split.

Pope wants Smurf to explain herself; they all pitched her other ideas for jobs and she shot them down. "One job goes wrong and you're all whining like a bunch of spoiled brats!" says Smurf. (It could be argued that they're all overgrown brats, but anyway..) "What about the jobs that raised you all your lives?"

The boys are still living off their respective cuts of Pendleton. Craig argues Baz is the one who planned that job. Pope says acidly, "Why don't you have another drink, Smurf? I wonder how many cocktails she had when she had the brilliant idea for us to hit a brewery." Smurf looks like she wants to slap him.

Instead, Smurf says, "Maybe it was your fault." They're the ones who thought no one used the northeast gate. Pope says no one did during their weeks of scouting. Do they even know they took the right safe? Yes, and it only had $3,000 in it.

Deran (correctly) accuses Smurf of trying to pit them all against each other. She steps in front of her youngest and starts shouting at him. Baz tries to get her to calm down (yeah, good luck). Smurf rounds on him: "I have to go pick up your kid at school...unless it was something you were planning on doing." Baz doesn't try to stop her, even though she's obviously drunk.

With Mom gone, the boys have a powwow out by the pool. "Why are we still letting her run shit?" Deran demands, "We should just kick her to the curb, man. We're not 12 anymore." Baz thinks Deran is making empty threats; last time he was that pissed, he disappeared to Belize for a few weeks and came right back home.

Pope says, "She doesn't give a shit about any of us. We know it; that's the most pathetic part." She just uses them. He's right, of course, but J gives Smurf the benefit of the doubt. Baz understands they're all pissed, but suggests they talk to her "calmly and with respect" about changing how they operate.

Pope has had enough of their mom's bullshit and will pull solo jobs if he has to. The others agree to talk to Smurf. Craig will go "surf it off" with Deran until Mom gets home.

At a seedy bar, Deran locks eyes with a topless wooden mermaid. A black woman sits next to him. Deran slaps a rubber-banded pack of cash onto the bar, $34,000 in all. He asks for more time; he can get the rest. "I wanna help you, kid, but it's gotta be the full 50 or else...there's nothing I can do," she says.

On her way home, Smurf visits Teddy, her inside man on the Angel City job. She wants to know what went wrong: "You said the brewery paid their illegals with cash." That's correct, but payday is the first Thursday of the month and today is Tuesday.

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Smurf dazedly wanders back to the truck.

Pope sits alone in the desert, flashing back to the night he buried Cath. He sifts sand through his fingers, looking mournful.

Back at home, Craig is watching a skateboard competition on TV while J does physics homework. Craig sighs when his phone buzzes: "Not again. How many times do I have to say the flu?" We see the conversation he's having. Nicky texted, 'Puking too?' Craig replies, 'Yeah, the whole deal.' 

Deran arrives and asks where Pope is. "If he shows, he shows. We don't need him," says Baz. Smurf comes in with Lena. The little girl asks if they can go to the park like Baz promised. Baz tells her to go in the other room and watch cartoons.

Smurf pours herself another vodka cranberry and sits at the table with them. Baz tells her Pope is out "buying a lamp or something" for his new place. He apologizes for the way they all acted earlier: "Who's to blame shouldn't be the point here."

Baz politely tells Smurf they want more say in choosing jobs, pointing out the obvious: "We're not kids anymore; we're grown men here." "Oh, I'm the boss, all right," she counters. Have they all been conspiring against her while she was out? If Smurf wasn't the boss, the three older men would "be in prison right now, or worse."

Smurf recites a litany of terrible things that could've happened had she not intervened: When Baz was younger, Smurf had to bribe a cop to get him out of a jam involving an ATM robbery. Deran got involved with the Hells Angels, shit went wrong, and the bikers "thought [you'd] do better without a tongue." She reminds middle child Craig of last season's naked chair-pissing incident.

Smurf angrily pounds on the table. Baz plays diplomat; they're being honest with her out of respect. They're the ones who take all the risks, so they should get a say in the jobs they pull. It's also unfair that Smurf decides the split.

Smurf lays even more guilt on her adopted son: "When you first showed up at my house, you hadn't eaten a meal in a week! It took me three months to get that lice out of your hair!" Baz yells back, "And not a day goes by you don't throw that in my face! How long exactly do I have to keep kissing your ass for?" "For the rest of your goddamn life," growls Smurf.

Baz adds that "Pope's not even here 'cause he can't stand the sight of you." He's also the person who tries to convince Smurf's biological children "that you're not the cold-hearted bitch you seem to be." Baz leaves the kitchen, followed by Deran with Craig on his heels. Throughout the argument, J has stayed in place and not said a word.

Smurf tells them to go ahead. She'll see how long they last without her. J watches as his grandmother's eyes fill with tears.

Craig snorts a line while Deran drives along in his Scout. The youngest Cody will never forget the look on their mom's face when they walked out on her. Craig thumps the dashboard with his fist and laughs, "No more sucking Mommy's dick!" Closeted Deran lets that pass without comment.

Deran tells Craig not to get his hopes up about everyone getting equal shares; Baz and Pope will be just as bad as Smurf. "We're just grunts to them." They need to come up with their own ideas, like a yacht job Deran's been contemplating.

"We also need to get J involved," says Deran, "Say what you want, the kid's got balls." J has to be confused after watching the fight; it'd be easy to get in his head. Craig asks how they can pull that off. Deran has the novel idea of being nice to J.

Baz tells Pope he should've come to the family meeting. Pope doesn't think that would've changed anything; in fact, it would've gone worse. "Unless you were gonna stab her in the face, it's hard to imagine," says Baz. Oh, don't tempt him.

They sit down at a bar and order beers. Baz has an idea for their next job: New Canticle, a local megachurch. They'll have J help "if he's willing to piss off Grandma." However it goes down, they have to give Smurf a cut. "She's got her building; she's not gonna starve," says Pope, adding, "I wouldn't give a shit if she did starve." He flat out refuses to pay her. Pope goes so far as to wish Smurf had "dropped me and Julia off at a firehouse door the day she had us."

At a gas station, Craig leans against Deran's truck, texting away. Deran comes out of the convenience store and puts something in the cooler. "The kid broke up with her. Why can't you?" he asks his older brother. Craig wants to keep her close because her dad helped them rip off Camp Pendleton.

Deran asks if Craig filled the gas tank. Nope, Craig's credit card got declined. Deran says, "So you've just been standing here not pumping gas?" Uh, pretty much. Deran tries his card, wondering if Craig forgot to pay the bill. Craig says that's Smurf's job. Deran's card works and he wants to pull a job before it doesn't anymore.

"Don't you have to get Lena?" Pope asks when Baz orders another round of beer. Baz shrugs, "It's not even late." Besides, babysitting is a good distraction for Smurf. Baz has still been seeing Lucy, his Tijuana mistress. Lucy doesn't know Cath left because "she'd be up here with a U-Haul in two minutes."

Baz is lonely and horny. He wants to try picking up the blond woman who's been eyeing him; Pope could flirt with her dark-haired friend. Pope declines and leaves the bar. Next thing we know, Baz is at the blond's house; she's rather enthusiastically having sex with him.

Smurf pulls up to the garage in her sports car. She lets Lena out of the backseat and tells her to go inside and get their movie ready. A man in his twenties or thirties is standing behind Smurf: "Manny said you'd still look good. You recognize me? I'm all grown." The guy, Javi, has left her 10 messages.

Javi wants to take Smurf to see Manny (whoever he is). Smurf invites Javi into the garage for a beer. When she opens the refrigerator, we see a pearl-handled revolver taped to the back of the milk carton. Smurf makes it plain Manny isn't getting more money from her; their deal is $5,000 a month like always.

"He's dying," Javi informs her. He's parked up the block. Smurf tells Javi he has another thing coming: "You don't hop my fence and tell me to get in a car." Javi more or less orders her to say goodbye to Manny. She will, but on her own terms.

When it seems a kidnapping might be impending, Smurf opens the fridge and reaches for the milk. Javi asks if Smurf sings Lena to sleep the way she used to with him. He walks away, adding, "You won't need that gun."

Deran parks the Scout by the bar he visited earlier. Craig asks if they're robbing it for termites. Deran scoffs that they aren't casing the joint. The bar's owner just died and the widow doesn't want the place. Deran needs cash to buy it. Craig immediately spots a problem with the place: "You can't even see the 'open' sign."

J leaves his bike outside, entering the house through the sliding glass door. Smurf is drinking again. "Can I still live here?" J asks. Smurf replies warmly, "Of course, baby." J is sure his uncles didn't mean half of what they said earlier. Smurf doesn't have a problem if he wants to do jobs with them, "but you can't be a spy if you want them to trust you. Or at least, you can't have them think you're one."

Smurf has a present for her favorite grandson: a credit card with no limit. "I trust you'll be responsible," she smiles. J doesn't know what to say other than thanks. When he moved in with Smurf, all he had was a backpack full of worn-out clothes, an old bike, and sneakers with holes in them.

Baz lies flat on his back in the woman's bed, alone. He pulls on his jeans and walks toward the sound of the running shower. When the blond realizes he's there, she clamps her arms over her bare breasts. Baz is hungry and suggests they go out to eat together. The woman rudely declines and tells him to let her shower in peace. Baz goes back to sit on her bed, clearly depressed.

Nicky power-walks toward Craig's place and starts banging on the door. Annoyed, he comes out of his room, pulling a shirt over his head. When he answers, Nicky pushes her way in, talking a mile a minute. She just had "an epic fight" with her parents because "Guam is really happening." She's been texting him about it.

Craig lies that he's been sleeping. Nicky's dad has accepted a new job running the sewage-treatment plant at a Navy base in Guam and wants the whole family to go with him. Craig gives her some advice: "Tell your dad to eat a bag of dicks and Guam can kiss your ass."

Nicky starts looking through the cabinets: "Do you have any tequila or coke? I'll take any altered state I can get right now." Craig keeps up his I-have-the-flu story; the doctor said he's still contagious. Nicky offers to heat up some of the soup she brought over. "I don't wanna get you sick," says Craig. Nicky asks him to text when he feels better and gives him a kiss.

When Nicky's gone, Craig takes the container of soup into his room and flops onto the bed. "Who was that?" asks the naked woman next to him. Craig says, "My nephew's girlfriend. You want soup?"

In her room, Smurf is wearing pajamas and smoking a joint while she plays checkers with Lena. Enter Baz. "I told you your daddy would come back...eventually," says Smurf. Baz apologizes for not telling her he'd be gone all night. Smurf sends Lena to pack up her overnight bag.

Baz lets his adoptive mom know she'll still get a 10% cut of their jobs. Smurf scoffs she hasn't needed anyone to take care of her since she was 11. Baz thinks it's the right thing to do "'cause you always took care of me." "You bet I did," says Smurf.

Before she can reiterate how much Baz owes her, Lena comes in, looking for her stuffed animal. Smurf thinks Tigey is by the pool; she'll help her look.

J rides his bike out of the garage, eating a cereal bar. When the gate opens, Deran is waiting for him. He tells the kid they're all going to Baz's to plan some things. J can't; it's a school day. Deran doesn't think it'll hurt to miss a day. Doesn't J want to be part of the robbery crew? He and Craig think he should be.

J relents. Deran puts his bike in the bed of the truck, saying, "I never went to school." "I can tell, man," J sasses.

In Baz's kitchen, Deran lays out his plan for robbing a wedding on a yacht. They'll wait until it's out at sea, "shake down the guests, kill the engine." Baz doesn't see how they can case it. Pope worries more about making a clean getaway in the middle of the ocean.

Baz wants to move ahead with New Canticle, like they were going to two years prior. Pope jabs at Deran, "Unless one camera and a fat guy is too much security for you." Craig breezes in through the sliding door, asking what he missed.

"These guys wanna hit a church. New Canticle," Deran tells them. Craig doesn't like the idea; it's too close to home. Besides, "ripping off a church? What kinda shit karma is that gonna be?" If Craig Cody thinks your plan is immoral, you really need to check yourself. Baz thinks it's a little late for any of them to worry about karma.

Lena interrupts, bringing Baz a picture she drew. Baz tells her to draw another. Lena asks if they can go to the beach, a reasonable request considering it's just across the street. Baz tells her no.

Deran wants to take a vote, megachurch vs. yacht: "J can be the swing." Everyone vehemently disagrees with that. Craig thought equal votes and shares was the new plan. Well, it's kinda hard to have equal votes when there's an odd number of people on your robbery crew.

Deran points at Baz and Pope: "Are you guys gonna be the tiebreaker?" Are they gonna change the rules on even splits too? In a word, yes. Pope feels if someone does more planning or takes more of the risk, they should get a bigger share. They argue about the finer points, like who gets to decide or what if not everyone is involved in the job.

"Daddy?" says Lena. Baz screams, "What?! Lena, how many times do I have to tell you? No beach today, not happening." Lena doesn't cry, but it's obvious she's stunned and hurt. Uncle Pope steps in; he'll take her if Baz says it's okay. Baz agrees; he clearly just wants the kid out of his hair.

Baz dismisses everyone but J. Baz knows everyone thinks it was smart of J to start a fire, "but I think bringing cops to the scene really screwed us." I don't know how things work in Los Angeles, but here in the South, PD doesn't roll with FD without a reason. Being lookout just means observing. J says, "Next time you're about to get caught, I'll just stay in the truck, right?"

Pope stands on the outskirts of the beach playground, watching the kids on the swings. One of the moms approaches Pope: "Your daughter's an expert. It's been, what, like an hour?" Pope asks if another kid on the swings is the woman's son: "He's--he's really good at that."

Playground Mom defies all parenting logic by asking this perfect stranger, "Could you watch him for a second? I just have to change the baby. I left the wipes in the car." Pope can do that, sure.

Still in her PJs, Smurf wraps up five slices of untouched pie. She sighs, holding back tears. Smurf opens the fridge and takes out several big packages of meat.

Lucy meets up with Baz at a bar, impressed that they're being so public: "What if Cath walks in with the guy she's cheating on you with?" Baz doesn't think she's coming back and he wouldn't take her back even if she did. How about they go back to his place? "Am I supposed to just jump at the chance?" asks Lucy, raising her eyebrows, "Is Cath's stuff still at your house?" She'll think about coming over once it's gone. Baz sighs again as his phone vibrates.

Deran goes to Craig's house and finds his brother snorting lines. "You're not doing that shit," he says firmly, "Stop it!" "Are you kidding me?" Craig yells when Deran knocks his mirror over. Deran thought Craig was taking a shower so they could talk more about the yacht. "I was gonna!" Craig insists.

"Showing up to Baz's all coked's not a good look," says Deran. I agree. Smurf and the others treat them like kids because Craig makes it easy. "Get your shit together, man! I'm sick of this! Responsibility!" Deran shouts. Not a word the Codys know a lot about, but Craig is pretty out of control.

At the same time, they get texts from Smurf, announcing meat loaf at 7:00. Craig snarks, "Well, better make sure she takes the first bite." (And also that they don't try to steal Pope's portion). This is a very shrewd move on her part. Smurf knows none of them can cook and the way to her sons' hearts is through their stomachs.

Nicky walks in without knocking, declaring, "I told my dad to eat shit. I'm not going anywhere." She plops down on the couch like she belongs there. Deran gives Craig an I-thought-you-two-broke-up look.

The older Cody boys arrive at the compound roughly the same time, even Pope. Baz is surprised he came. "I sorta had to. I've got Lena," says Pope, opening his car's back door. Baz, who clearly forgot about his own kid, mumbles, "Right." "Uncle Pope bought me ice cream," Lena chirps. Baz sends her in to say hi to Smurf.

Later, Lena plays inside while the adults finish dinner. Smurf is glad everyone still likes meatloaf. "I think we all had a pretty tough day yesterday. Now this is a family and that's never gonna change," she says, then calls for a toast, "May we all get what we want..." "...And never what we deserve," the boys chorus.

Smurf eagerly asks about their next plan, but no one answers. She understands the silence and offers help if they need it. Dutiful grandson J will help her serve dessert.

Elsewhere, a home health nurse changes an IV bag. She tells Javi, "He started screaming again. I upped the morphine on his drip." She steps out for a smoke. The bedside table is littered with prescription bottles. There's also a tape recorder and a small collection of tapes.

Pope stays outside at the table while the others help Smurf wrap up the leftovers. I'm surprised there are any with that crew. Baz comes out to take Lena home and thanks Pope for watching her. J goes to collect the rest of the dishes. Pope whispers in his ear, "Just be careful, man, okay?" J watches for a long minute as Smurf opens a fresh bottle of vodka. End of episode.

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