Spoiler alert: This post contains plot from the season 3 premiere of Animal Kingdom. Read at your own risk!
Considering that Animal Kingdom‘s second season ended with Baz (Scott Speedman) getting shot multiple times, there was one question on viewers’ minds as season 3 began: Would Baz survive? And in the beginning moments of the season three premiere, it seemed like he had a chance — Baz was taken to the hospital where he was rushed into surgery. But he would never make it off that table.
After a season of learning the truth about what Smurf (Ellen Barkin) had kept from her boys — and stealing it — Baz’s life came to an end. And now, the Codys have to figure out what comes next. EW spoke with Animal Kingdom executive producer John Wells about the death and how it will change things moving forward.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: We can start with the obvious: Why kill Baz?
JOHN WELLS: It was actually a year later than we thought we were going to do it. The series is based on the Australian film by David Michod and the Baz character dies in the first 15 minutes of the movie. So that’s where we thought we were going and then we realized we had more material for Baz, more stories we wanted to tell, so we put it off a little bit. But for the activities that the Codys are involved in, we want the show to feel as if there are consequences for what they do, so it was a pretty straightforward easy decision to make. I’d always talked to Scott [Speedman] about the fact that I didn’t think it would be a five- or six-year deal so he was prepared for it when it happened.
Did you contemplate any other ways of killing him? How did you decide on the “how” of this death?
It came kind of organically out of the storytelling that we were doing. You’ll see if you watch the rest of this season that you start to discover what really happened and what the history of it is. It’s not a whodunnit because you know early on whodunnit, but it is a: “What will the consequences of that death be for everybody who is involved and around it?”
How will losing Baz affect the Cody brother dynamic?
Baz was central to the planning and the leadership of the family and so a lot of what the season is about is: How will that void be filled, particularly with Smurf in jail? Who is going to do what? Can we still do this? Should we continue to do it? What is J’s part in it? How can Smurf try to control some of it from in jail? That’s the whole direction that we’re going in the series this year.
Smurf told J (Finn Cole) that Baz was his father. Did Baz know that he was J’s father?
I think everybody always assumed it, but nobody’s run a DNA test, so now they’re using it with J and at some point he’s going to try and really figure it out. Because it may just be one more way of manipulating him.
We saw Pope (Shawn Hatosy) go a little off the rails in this premiere. Are we getting back to the crazier Pope of season 1?
Baz was important to maintaining a general levelness for him. With Smurf and Baz gone, it’s much more difficult for him to find his moorings. He’s trying to find it with taking care of Lena (Aamya Deva Keroles), which he didn’t really expect.
What will this mean for J’s role in the family?
He isn’t sure and that’s really what it’s about is: Should he run? Should he stay? Does he belong here? Does he deserve something from these people? Do they owe him? Does he want revenge over what they let happen to his mother and to him as a child? That’s what he’s struggling with. That’s a big part of the season, watching him try to figure out if he belongs.
Animal Kingdom airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on TNT.