+ Recommended – TV-MA, Drama

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So where exactly does the Cody family stand after the previous season’s cliffhanger, in which [SPOILER] was shot multiple times? Who shot them? How is Smurf going to resolve the conflict of relentless tension that’s been mounting between the brothers? Animal Kingdom Season 3 begins with devastation and ends with, what appears to be, a possible powerhouse team.

[WARNING: THIS REVIEW WILL CONTAIN MAJOR SPOILERS FOR ANIMAL KINGDOM]

After Baz was shot dead, the Cody family fights to remain a dominant force in the criminal underworld. Smurf took a quick vacation to a jail cell for the death of Javi, while Pope focuses on taking care of the recently orphaned Lena. J capitalizes on Smurf’s incarceration and makes attempts to wiggle out from underneath the pack leader; attempts which might include murder. Season 3 was packed with action and supporting characters that are morally complex.

What’s so fascinating about Animal Kingdom, is how the writers handle certain plot points. It can take seasons for a single question to be answered, or for a character to return from a black hole.; the rotating cast of characters keep each season fresh. Obvious benefits to this structure being the fact that many actors get ample time to play each character for longer periods of time. The short intervals give these actors plenty to work with and quickly remove them from the show when the plot doesn’t warrant their presence.

J Cody

Still of Finn Cole in “Homecoming”

Some obvious character stand-outs this season include: Deran Cody (Jake Weary), J Cody (Finn Cole), and Andrew (Pope) Cody (Shawn Hatosy). Hatosy even makes his directorial debut this season, with  “Jackpot” which was an explosive, penultimate episode. Each relationship, whether it’s in the family or not, builds throughout each season. Even though dynamics change, the characters have grown since Season 1, and even the second. No one has grown more than J Cody, though. It’s been a known fact that J is very quiet, yet observant; before Smurf went to prison, she showed J how to balance the books, laundering their heist money. This may not have been a good decision by Smurf and that’s all I will say.

Ellen Barkin

Ellen Barkin in Animal Kingdom

If you’re looking forward to Season 3’s heists: you’re going to be disappointed. Many of these are forgettable and don’t invoke any kind of reaction. It’s a shame, really, because Season 2 delivered some truly thrilling moments during these “jobs.” Even the episode order feels disjointed and there were times I found myself daydreaming during crucial moments, quickly rewinding my DVR. The musical selection helps to re-engage audiences with the screen, though. Overall, however, there are enough dramatic moments to suffice.

The final episode seems lackluster compared to the prior 2 episodes, but it does excite me for the storytelling in Season 4. Will the Cody family finally break? It truly seems like that’s a possibility, but what’s new? Check out the latest season of Animal Kingdom on TNT now.

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