Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 3 Review: Freeride

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J may have bitten off more than he can chew.

Between the anxiety-ridden, treacherous cartel job, the others finding out about some of his secrets, and discovering they'll have to hold the drugs, there was no shortage of hits J took on Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 3.

And yet, Pope and Deran are taking a few licks themselves.

Catching on to J -tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 3

The hour managed to balance out some of the excitement that comes when the guys pull off a job with this season's heightened character analysis and tone.

It can be an acquired taste for some, but the show pulls off these dark, introspective character beats successfully. And the thematic sense of loss, among other things, is explored in some unique ways.

Everyone is dealing with things differently, and in a typical fashion, they all seem to do it in their own way and alone.

They're not exactly the sort who lean on one another anyway, and yet, it's still a bit disheartening that they're all struggling in different ways without the support of one another.

Mean Mugging  - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 2

But they're not that type of family and never were, and even without Smurf, there doesn't seem to be any fixing that.

One thing they can always come together on is a job, and they work together marvelously, having each other's backs the whole way through-- their objective was to get their haul and each other to safety.

We knew the cartel plane job would be a harrowing one, but it turned out to be an understatement once they got out there. It's not a surprise that none of Pete's guys were equipped to make a run like that.

The job required a level of athleticism that wasn't for the weak. Hell, even Craig struggled with some of the more physically daunting aspects of their journey, and he caught the bulk of the discomfort as the tallest of the trio, ripping through rocky terrain on a tiny stolen bike.

Craig Bikes -tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 3

As an aside, was that money J put into the tire when he fixed it for Craig? And is there any way that's coming back on them?

It was hard enough traversing through all of that rocky terrain to get to the plane, but then they had to face off with some unfriendlies on ATVs shooting at them and searching for the drugs, too.

Craig never shot down the foreign drone, so it's possible that whoever searched for the drugs will track them down. And Pope didn't take any of them out, only one of them down.

But they did all of this for drugs, and now they have to hold them until Pete can move them, which is as bad and risky as it would've been if they got stuck moving the drugs themselves.

J Rapels - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 3

J is smart as hell, too much for his own good, but he didn't think this one all the way through. And it cost him not being upfront with his uncles about the job either.

Sure, whenever Pete can sell the drugs wholesale, it'll be a nice payout, but the risks aren't worth it, and that could take forever.

You said it was cash. You know about this?

Deran

J's already been on thin ice with the others anyway, so it was a dick move to get everyone there without telling them they were walking away with drugs and not cash.

And he made all of these deals behind their backs, insistent that he's the one running things. J didn't consider the ramifications of what he did and why it was a job that Smurf would've never taken.

Cartel Job - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 3

J escaping that conversation with Deran and Craig without getting knocked out was a minor miracle. Deran is sick of J's lying and deceit, and unlike Craig, it won't be long before he's had enough of just going with it.

Interestingly, as much as they hate J for being Smurf incarnate, they also require someone to take the lead. Will they ever realize that? They're united against J in a similar manner as they were with Smurf, and yet, they'll probably continue to go along with it if it benefits them.

Pope spilled the beans about J's series of properties he kept from them and that he was stealing Smurf's money to acquire them. But shockingly, there wasn't as much immediate fallout from that as you'd expect.

And while J is likely spinning them bullshit, his argument does make sense. He's the one who knew Smurf was sick, so it would've been reasonable to start establishing some things as a safety net for when she was gone.

Deran and Craig Betrayed - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 3

Now that Smurf has pulled this stunt with her estate -- it certainly helps that J has two businesses in his name to launder through for their jobs and a condo where he can stay or use as a hub, too. They didn't have to know that they probably weren't factored in when he did all of these things.

Without any of that, they don't have much to work with themselves. Craig mentioned attempting to use one of the credit cards. He didn't realize that they'd no longer have access when the card and account were in Smurf's name and that her assets are frozen.

Deran: What else are you hiding from us, J?
Pope: He has a bowling alley. J's got a bowling alley, And a laundry mat, and a condo. He bought it all from money he stole from Smurf.
Craig: You own a bowling alley?
J: It'll help us clean money, so will the laundry mat.
Deran: And the condo?
J: It's a good investment.

The reality is setting in that they all were too reliant on Smurf for everything, and doing what they do is infinitely harder because they sat back and let her control everything too long.

J takes the initiative, but he's also doing things for himself, and there's always the sense that he'll drop his uncles like a bad habit when it comes down to it. J always thinks he's smarter than Deran and Craig, even when Deran is the one who tends to observe the most and see through J's bullshit, and J often views Pope as if he's a liability.

J is Caught Red-Handed - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 3

Given how off Pope has been and knowing the importance of having him on his side, I wish J would've taken a legitimate moment with Pope.

He knows Pope isn't handling Smurf's death well. At least J, and Deran especially, are taking notice of how much Pope is struggling.

But when Pope asked him about how he dealt with Julia's death, J didn't seize the moment to read between the lines there or even use it to his advantage if he couldn't muster an authentic moment of genuine concern.

Deran: You stole from us.
J: I stole from Smurf.
Deran: That's the same thing, J.
J: Look, I did this to help us.
Craig: Bullshit.

But then, J is too focused on maintaining their empire. He's livid about Pamela not contacting the estate attorney back, but Gloria also tends to sound like she's lying and knows that J is working a sinister angle.

But now, this means that they better hope they can get the drugs out of the house and sold before Pamela comes to lay her claim or the DEA keeping tabs on Deran get involved.

Long Way Down - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 3

This drug haul is biting J in the ass from all angles. J bumping into a drunken Ali who talked about how smart he is after his colossal stupidity with this job is some timing.

And while Pope likely caught J off guard asking him how he dealt with Julia's death when the truth of the matter is that J never actually did, Ali did the same updating him on Nicky's happy life married to a marine and living on a base.

Ali: So, have you heard from Nicky lately?
J: No, not in a while.
Ali: She got married. She's out in Barstow now. There's a base there.
J: A base?
Ali: She married a marine.
J: Right.
Ali: Hate to be the bearer of bad news. You look like you could use a friend.

All of that seemed like a lifetime ago, and you could practically see the life J could've had flash through his eyes.

Ironically, Deran has a similar disposition in that regard. Arson and alcoholism aren't filling the void he's experiencing or helping with his grief, so naturally, he gave casual sex a whirl.

The newlywed husbands were obnoxious AF, and there was something specifically offputting about how they reduced Deran to hot sex on legs, given the years he's spent trapped in the role Smurf reduced him to in their family and crew.

Suspicious and Annoyed - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 3

Adrian is the only person who ever saw Deran for who and what he is and beyond. Adrian is gone, and Deran is stuck processing a myriad of complex and conflicting feelings about him and Smurf too.

Deran is such a hot mess right now, and his employees and Craig see it, but there's not much else to do about it. The man is existing and not living right now.

Deran: Are you good?
Pope: Yeah.
Deran: See you on the other side.

But what he could do was hurt other people. It was the plan when he begrudgingly agreed to another round of sexcapades with the forward, obnoxious married couple. They reduced him to a hot lay, Deran said, "bet," and drove that point home, giving them exactly what they asked for and making them regret it like hell.

It's safe to say that threesomes are only fun if there's full participation. Deran screwing a very willing husband while forcing the other to watch --it was some aggressive, dominant, fuck you power move stuff. He set out to wreck that marriage and successfully did.

A Shady Job  - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 3

While they were hardly sympathetic, hurt people, hurt people, folks.

Deran at least was the one to notice that Pope is not doing OK and checked in on him twice.

The flashback of Smurf telling him about the rules of the animal kingdom hit close to home. One has to die so the other can live, and essentially that's what happened at the compound. J had to kill Smurf, or she would've done the same to Pope.

You would think that her final move and all of the things she'd done to Pope throughout his life would make it a bit easier for Pope to let her go, but that's never been how abusive, toxic familial relationships have worked.

On to J - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 3

So much of Pope's life -- hell, the entirety of it-- was tied to Julia and Smurf. Now, he's lost both of them. He's a guy that's high on emotion but low on his ability to channel and process them healthily, and it's on full display right now.

Who is Pope without Smurf? He can't seem to grasp that, and no one is helping him either. He seemed to think that getting rid of her jag and laying her ashes to rest would give him peace, but that hasn't worked.

Young Pope: He's killing the bunny.
Smurf: That's right, baby. One of them has to die so the other can live.

He did dump the ashes in the pool, based on the video footage of himself he watched.

Pope seemed to stare in fascination as some of them ran down the drain during his shower and when he cleaned them up and flushed them down the toilet too.

Dumping Smurf's Ashes  - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 2

Yet, that did not prepare for the equal parts disturbing and heartbreaking shot of him following a trail of ashes to Smurf's room and lying beside a pile of them spread on her bed.

He was spooning her ashes how he used to come into her bed and sleep beside her.

Isn't Smurf's room next to J's? Has he not been staying at the house or something? How did he miss the ashes on the floor?

J: I was going to tell them about the properties when the time was right.
Pope: When your mom died, like, what did you do?
J: Came here.
Pope: I'm not talking about that.
J: What are you talking about?
Pope: I don't know.

Given Pope's current state, he almost seems prime for falling in line with Pamela. If he sees her, he'll probably remember her as Aunt Birdie.

Pamela is a piece of Smurf, and she at least used to be more maternal. She feels like someone that Pope will latch onto amid his grief -- some alternative lifeline or potential codependent dynamic that can be exploited if it lines up right.

Pope Reflects - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 2

Meanwhile, Craig seems the most adjusted of the boys. He has his family, and he's clinging to it at whatever cost. He's dealing with things by making this family he has with Renn and Nick his everything.

And it's so refreshing and endearing that Craig has matured and is the most stable of the bunch. He wants to protect Nick from all the terrible things he's seen and experienced so that this new Cody doesn't have to deal with the things any of them had to do.

He's right about Renn drug-dealing from the house. It's dangerous and reckless to do that type of business from your home. I mean, there's a reason there are trap houses, madam.

It's also risky as hell when because of the jobs Craig does, he doesn't know who can be after him or watching. They already have the DEA agent on Deran's case, so it's not a stretch that he'll be looking into the rest of the Codys too.

Parenthood Life  - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 2

If heat falls on Craig, he doesn't want any reason for Renn to go down, too, as Nick does need his mother. And perhaps that's a tiny grain of something that speaks to what Craig is feeling post-Smurf's death: a boy needs his mom.

But Craig is doing too much damn near demanding that Renn stop dealing altogether. He's a whole ass criminal himself, so who is he to say that she can't continue doing her illicit activities too?

Renn: You can't mess up my business, Craig.
Craig: Well then don't do your business in my house. Our house, fine, whatever. Don't do it here.
Renn: Where then?
Craig: Look, we have no idea who could be watching us. And if I get busted, that's one thing. And it sucks, but a boy can get by with his dad in the joint. That's not true if you get busted.
Renn: Fine. I won't deal from the house.
Craig: You need to quit.
Renn: Quit and do what?
Craig: I don't know. I don't know, but I got you.
Renn; I take care of myself.

Just like she can get a job doing something else, so can he. He's not interested in an honest day's living, so why does he expect her to be?

They'll have to figure some way of compromising; otherwise, they're headed for trouble. And up until this repeat issue that keeps causing friction between them, they've excelled as a couple.

Facing Off  - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 1

In flashback land, Smurf and Pamela were on the outs, and it was inevitable.

Smurf was a shitty friend. The more time we spend with Smurf in the past and see how she treated others, the more sense it makes that she gave Pamela all of her belongings.

Although, I can't figure out if it's because she felt she owed it to Pamela, or it was some final way to screw her over by siccing the boys after her.

Pamela: A job, huh?
Smurf: I'm just checking a few things out. If anything pans out, I'll let you know.
Pamela: If you get picked, I'm not taking care of your kids. I'm calling family services.

She had to know her boys would lose their shit over the estate and do whatever it takes to get back what they felt belonged to them.

All Pamela wanted was to stay on the up, keep her head down to get her kid back, and for Smurf to get her shit together. And Smurf refused.

Socialite  - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 2

The second Smurf said she had a job she was looking into -- you knew damn well that she planned to hit up Marcus' house and take him for everything he had.

Smurf never bothered to understand why that was so important to Pamela or respect her wishes on the issue. She went behind her back, not knowing how she could potentially screw her friend over.

It's not like Marcus won't figure out that Smurf was the one who did it when he talks to his maid and hears about the woman waiting in his bed. And Pamela is the only reason Smurf entered the picture.

Smurf reaching out to Manny and Jake for the job was low, but now we see how Jake ended up back in the picture. He was married, but he was still smitten with Smurf based on his facial expressions and behavior.

Smurf Pulls a Job -tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 2

Smurf screwed Pamela over, and it was the last straw. Kudos to Pamela for demanding her cut of the haul as a finder's fee. It was the least Smurf could do.

Smurf was damn near asking for Pamela to kick her out. Pam didn't have a choice. Pamela wanted Smurf to do better for her kids, but Pam wasn't obligated to take care of them and shouldn't have had to since it wasn't her responsibility.

Pamela: How stupid are you?
Smurf: Why are you so mad about this? Come on, I mean the house was just sitting there with nothing but a couple of maids looking after it. What did they think would happen?
Pamela: Do you know how long it took me to get inside that man's house?
Smurf: No, but it took me 30 seconds.
Pamela: You're not getting it. I'm not doing this pissant bullshit the rest of my life. I've been down that road. And you can run with whatever wild and crazy idea pops into your head, but I'm trying to build something!
Smurf: Hey, Pam, look around! Everything's gone to shit. There is nothing to build!
Pamela; I want my cut.
Smurf: What?
Pamela: Finder's fee. You found that house because I took you to it, I want my cut!

She made it clear that if Smurf got popped, she'd send Pope and Julia to foster care. I wonder if she would've gone that far? I also can't help but wonder what life would've been like for Pope and Julia if Pamela kept them?

Would Smurf have let her? Would Pope and Julia have been better off? Is this something that will come up when we eventually meet Pamela in the present?

Aunt Birdie  -tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 2

Smurf chastised Julia for calling Pam "Aunt Birdie" after Pamela kicked her out, and then they were off to Oceanside with Jake. It was the beginning of the chapter of Smurf as we knew her.

Over to you, Animal Kingdom Fanatics. How much flack will they get from this cartel plane job? Who is breaking your heart more: Deran or Pope?

Will J face more blowback from the others over his dishonesty and secrets? When do you think Pamela is arriving in the present? Hit the comments below!

You can watch Animal Kingdom online here via TV Fanatic!

Freeride Review

Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (14 Votes)

Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 3 Quotes

Pamela: A job, huh?
Smurf: I'm just checking a few things out. If anything pans out, I'll let you know.
Pamela: If you get picked, I'm not taking care of your kids. I'm calling family services.

Renn: You got an eye problem?
Craig: I can't help it. Your boobs look amazing right now.