If the first two episodes of Animal Kingdom taught us anything, it’s that the connection between the Cody boys is tenuous. They’ve got each other’s backs when it comes down to it, but there’s a whole lot going on with them that could lead to something explosive. “Stay Close, Stick Together” starts to expose some of the issues within the family, and they’re maybe more combustible than we first thought.
Things start off with a friend of Pope’s trying to get him back in the robbery game. He says he’s got an easy job lined up where they can steal a safe from a building that’s all cheap drywall. Pope says he’s not looking to get back in the game just yet, even though this “friend” says he “owes him one.” That sounds pretty ominous to me.
Meanwhile, J is sleeping over at Nicky’s and generally kind of avoiding the family. Still, he needs to check in there, and before he goes, he takes back the stolen watch he gave Nicky. On the way out he runs into her father, who gives him hell for sleeping over but also wants to know that his daughter is doing okay. Animal Kingdom is definitely setting Nicky up for something bad in the future. At the same time, it certainly doesn’t help J’s wariness around the family that when he gets home Smurf starts talking to him about sex, asking if Nicky “knows what he likes.” So gross.
Down in Mexico things are going pretty well for Bax and Craig. While Craig is recovering in the hospital Bax is living with a woman he seems to have quite the romantic relationship with. They’re having sex, cuddling, and he’s even giving her kid Xbox games as a gift. How many lives are these guys leading? I mean, Craig even almost gets roped into a job when they’re chilling with some friends on the beach post-recovery, so clearly there’s a lot we don’t know about these guys.
Back at home Smurf is doing everything she can to intimidate Catherine and make her fall into line. She’s teaching Lina how to swim by just leaving her in the pool, and then kidnapping her from the supermarket where a babysitter is supposed to be looking after her. Smurf thinks Catherine is ungrateful, but it’s all old-school crime boss intimidation. Bax knows it too when he finds out about the incident when he comes back, but he also knows Smurf means business.
Meanwhile, Smurf sends Deran on a run to collect rent from a surf shop. When he gets there he’s all meek and uncomfortable and it’s not clear why. That is until he asks a man named Adrian for the money and it turns out that Adrian is the guy Deran was fooling around with in that beach bathroom. And surprise, Adrian isn’t too happy. He’s all busted up and had to fork out cash for medical bills, so he doesn’t see how he can pay the rent. That leaves Deran in a tough spot, and that’s when Pope comes through.
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Pope decides that rather than get involved again with that “friend” from the beginning of the episode he’s going to pick up Deran and J and rob the place himself. Considering J has no real choice and Deran suddenly needs money to pay the rent Adrian owes Smurf, the job is a go. They head to the place and break through a thin wall, finding the safe and loading it up to leave just as someone shows up. The safe doesn’t fit through the wall though and a wire needs to be cut. Deran says to leave the safe behind because the wire could be live, but J just steps in and cuts it. That leaves J looking like the hero, bringing him closer to Pope, and the divide between Pope and Deran grows larger.
Money is a big issue for the Cody boys right now. At the Mexico-US border Bax freaks out on Craig because he’s tucked away a handful of drugs to bring back home and sell. They make it across the border but Bax wants the drugs flushed. Craig ends up convincing him otherwise though, using supporting Catherine and Lina, who we learn might be Pope’s kid and not his, against him. They sell the drugs for a total of $8,000 instead and everyone’s happy for now.
Meanwhile, after Pope lets J decide to split the money they stole three ways, Pope gives Catherine his share, or at least part of it. As he does her cop friend, who also seems desperately in love with her, comes out of the bar and asks if everything is okay. She assures him it is, even as Pope slithers away like the snake he is.
Back at the house it’s clear that J is ingratiating himself to the family, and Deran doesn’t like it. Even though J says he didn’t see anything in the beach bathroom, Deran still doesn’t like the kid. He even goes so far as to almost drown him in order to show off his own manliness. All that does though is send J running, hoping to hop a train and leave town, which then gets Smurf angry.
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After J drops off the watch again at Nicky’s place — Pope told him to give it back to Nicky without letting Smurf know—he heads to the train station. Smurf tracks his phone though, showing up at the station and, after a talk about absent fathers and junky mothers, says that he needs to come home. He does, and a single glance from Smurf at Deran suggests that nobody is going to mess with the kid again.
The episode ends by revealing a few details across a few different scenes. There’s J telling Bax that he shot his mother up the day she died. There’s Bax stashing money at his dad’s house — well, we assume it’s his dad. Then there’s Pope getting into bed with his mother, a terrified look on her face. This family is messed up, and it looks like everything is getting worse and more complicated by the minute.