While the Cody boys wait for the money to move, two questions linger: Where is Catherine, and will J turn on his family?
As the season finale of Animal Kingdom kicks off, it’s been three days since the robbery — and three days since Catherine, as far as Baz knows, went missing. Baz is frantic, roaming around the house and trying to come up with a plan to find her. He even asks Lena to try and remember what happened that night, despite the fact that she was (mostly) sleeping. Smurf, who knows the truth about Catherine, tries to calm him down, reprimanding him for not accepting the “truth”: Catherine packed a bag, took her passport, and left him for a new life.
Smurf is basically in charge of keeping everyone cool right now. Since the robbery, one thing after another seems to be popping up and threatening to completely destroy the Cody family. There’s Craig and Deran, still waiting for the money to move, with the former passing the time by snorting coke off the GPS that tracks the cash. There’s J, whom Smurf orders to break up with his teacher because such a relationship could draw unwanted attention to the family. And, of course, there’s Pope, trying his best to keep it together after killing Catherine.
The thing is, explaining away Catherine’s absence to Baz isn’t so easy. He doesn’t believe she’d just up and leave without Lena. So, Smurf comes up with a plan that will hopefully benefit everyone. She shows Baz the money they used to pay off Vin, and plants the idea in his head that Vin came to the house to threaten everyone, including Catherine. Pope, seeing this, can only play along.
With J receiving his orders from Smurf, he heads to Alexa’s house and — you guessed it — has sex with her again, before confronting her with the idea that Yates asked Alexa to sleep with him. She tells him the truth, that Yates used Alexa’s drug charge to blackmail her into sleeping with him, but insists what they have is real.
Meanwhile, back at the Cody house, Smurf has another problem to deal with. Paul shows up at the door — Smurf can barely conceal her disdain for this man’s stupidity — and starts making demands. Apparently, his new life of crime has emboldened him. He tells Smurf he wants a larger cut ($150,000) because they couldn’t have done the job without him. He says the delay in moving the money is because of him, so if Smurf agrees to the bigger payday, the money will be released and everyone will be happy.
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While Craig and Deran follow four trucks that could have the money, waiting to establish which one has the barrels in the back, Pope and Baz kidnap Vin and bring him to an abandoned warehouse. While Pope listens, Baz beats the hell out of Vin as he’s tied to a chair. He asks him over and over again what he did with Catherine, but of course, Vin has no answers. Eventually, Baz gives up and Pope tells him to go home, that he’ll “take care” of Vin, who’s on the verge of death at this point.
NEXT: A man should have a gun
Craig and Deran follow the truck they suspect has their stolen money to a rest stop. When the driver heads inside, the two break into the trailer and start unloading the money from the barrels. Apparently, they didn’t think the driver was just stopping to use the washroom, so when he comes back and starts the truck, the guys are still in there, slipping and sliding with all the waste. Eventually, the driver pulls over and checks the back, which is leaking fluid. Craig and Deran stuff him in a barrel — “Don’t worry, they’ll find you!” they say — and snag the money, unhitching the trailer and taking off with the truck.
After this (and after Pope dumps a barely-alive Vin at a bus stop), everyone heads back to the house. They start sorting the cash, and after Craig admits he and Deran were hiding a little extra for themselves, J has his own confession to make: He tells Smurf the cops are on their way. They got to him, and the family needs to hide the money.
Sure enough, the cops show up, but everything in the Cody house is under control because they stashed the money in a drain at the bottom of the pool. Yates and her team can’t find anything, and she’s even more pissed because J isn’t even at the house. He does come back, though, and when Yates goes to arrest him, he drops a bomb. He recorded his conversation with Alexa, the one that implicates Yates in blackmailing her to sleep with him. Yates has no choice but to release him, after which J rips into her for the way she treated his mother, as if she was disposable. Clearly, J seems to be a real part of the Cody family now.
Smurf even understands that. She’s mad J didn’t tell her about the cops earlier, but she also admires his bold move with Yates. She tells him if he stays smart, he could go a long way in the family. She then gives him a gun as a present, because the Cody family is forever messed up. “A man should have a gun,” Smurf tells him.
The Cody family may have pulled off a huge heist as season 1 comes to a close, but that doesn’t mean there’s no conflict left for a second season. For example, Pope starts to think that maybe he killed Catherine for no reason, and demands his cut from Smurf. He criticizes her for always using him and manipulating him, getting him to do all her dirty work. “But what about me?” he says, all pain behind his eyes. It’s a heartbreaking moment that will surely reverberate throughout season 2. And we can’t forget about Paul, who comes to demand his cut only to be denied by Smurf. While his feud with the Cody family grows, he also sees Nicky snorting coke with Craig as he’s leaving.
Then there’s the final coda: We see Smurf kill the man who was responsible for her mother dying. We see Yates arresting Alexa as J watches from the street. And finally, we see the whole Cody family lingering by the pool. Smurf and Pope share a conspiratorial look; Baz and Lena check out the finally completed fountain; Deran chills on his own; and Craig lounges in a chair with Nicky. Then there’s J, standing in the house, observing the family that’s taken him in but also caused him so much pain. He runs his hand over the gun Smurf gave him. Maybe, just maybe, he’s not as all-in with the family as we think. We’ll have to wait for season 2 to find out.