Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 8 Review: Gladiators

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After some ups and downs and a hell of a lot of angst, it seems the Cody boys finally had a breakthrough and are on the path toward becoming as close to a united front as they can muster.

Hell yes, Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 8 was f--king fantastic, delivering on many of the things we love about the series in the first place. Go figure a little spilled blood and some pummeling is just what the Codys and the viewers needed.

The hour had it all: coked-out Craig goodness, the return of the prodigal son, hot dudes fighting, robberies, kidnapping, and more. It was a blast!

New Enemies - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 8

Craig returning to his old ways is a bit tragic if you're thinking about it from the perspective of his growing disinterest in fatherhood and tension between him and Renn.

His party animal stunt cost Renn a grand, and not only did she have to drag baby Nick to the police station to bail Craig out, but he refused to watch the kid when Renn had to run a drug errand.

But coked-out Craig was a gift in the entertainment and truth bomb department.

He was on one already when he got home after a night in the clinker, but the second J told him about Deran, Livengood, and the half a million dollars in coke they quite literally flushed down the drain, Craig was on a tear, and it made for one of the best moments of a stellar hour.

Making Bail  - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 8

As usual, he wasn't above laying into J about the role he played in them losing their fortune. J lied about the job, but Craig also realized that Deran had been lying too. Craig plays favorites, and that usually means Deran over everyone, but hell, even he was getting sick of Deran's shit.

The Blame J game that the rest of the Codys love to do didn't change the fact that Deran brought the heat to them from the DEA over Adrian, and he didn't give them a head's up about it.

Deran: Why are you staring at me like that?
Craig: Because you're the one who told J to get rid of the coke in a flash.
Deran: Yeah, because I didn't want it in the house.
Craig: Yeah, because you have the DEA sniffing around, right? We have nothing! How many times am I saying we need cash? But nah, you and J have to go around measuring dicks!
Deran: Yeah, what have you done?
Craig: What have I done?
Deran: What have you done?! I didn't tell that asshole to move it to Pete's!
Craig: Yeah, you know what? J is an asshole, but so are you. You're an asshole. So congratulations on both being assholes! I'm sick of this shit, man!

When coked-up Craig is on one and unleashes, it can be satisfying, and nothing more than him tracking Deran down at the bar and calling Deran out on also being an asshole.

Regardless of how they both feel about J, Craig wasn't lying about how annoying the Deran and J dick-measuring contest was and how it's only harmed them all more than helped.

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Craig has been in the middle this whole time while Deran and J duke it out for the coveted position of Head Cody in Charge, only occasionally earning their attention when they wanted him to side with them.

Deran got in a few barbs too. His assessment of Craig slipping back into his drug habit and dropping the ball on parenting isn't wrong, and he sure as heck made a point about Craig not even attempting to take charge.

And maybe those words and the frustration that they've worked three grueling jobs and are still flat broke prompted Craig to go on a thoroughly entertaining and impressive robbery spree.

It was reminiscent of Pope hitting up six banks in one day on Animal Kingdom Season 2 Episode 13.

Making Bail - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 8

Let it never be said that these boys aren't damn good. Even a steady stream of blow didn't throw Craig off too much.

But after Deran's conversation with Pete, it's evident they threw away that relationship.

It sucks that they burned through that connection: Pete is a one-liner king. His interactions with the Codys this season have been hilarious.

But it was only a matter of time before he cut ties with them. Not even his fondness for Smurf could make him stick it out with the bickering Codys.

Staring Down Petey  - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 4

Deran had a bone to pick with Pete, and in typical fashion, he went about it all wrong, burning the hell out of that bridge and pouring gasoline on it for good measure.

But Deran questioning whether or not Pete flushed half a million dollars worth of drugs was reasonable when you think about it. That's a lot of drugs, and you can understand why Deran was suspicious.

Deran has the finesse and tact of a bull in a China shop, so Pete didn't have any other choice but to threaten the Codys to save face.

Deran insists that Livengood doesn't have anything on them, but he can't be too sure.

Deran Takes Over - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 4

And with all of this drama surrounding Adrian, he has to be coming back soon, right?

One thing J and Craig could agree on was that Deran should've taken care of Adrian permanently.

But neither of them has ever had that type of love for someone before. If they had, they would understand why he sent Adrian away.

Deran: One cop shows up and you flush half a million dollars of coke down the toilet?
Pete: What, I'm a liar now?
Deran: Either that or a pussy.
Pete: Damn. Smurf's little boys, every one of you a pain in my ass.This is what I get for trying to help out an old friend. Let me tell you, we are done with that shit now. So the next time you, your nephew, your crazy brother, or your coked-out brother come around here, you ain't leaving.

Deran has been more an asshole than usual. And while a fraction of that might be because of Smurf, much of it is due to Adrian.

The inevitable reunion between those two will be epic. If Livengood was right about how homesick Adrian was, then we're sure to see him coming back right in the thick of the drama surrounding him.

Coming to Blows - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 8

As everything unraveled around him, it wasn't the least bit surprising that J was formulating some backup plans.

Again, the interactions between J and Lark are interesting in that they're two sides of a similar coin. While he's often standoffish and keeps her at arm's length, she likes him.

Sure, she may have wanted to meet in person to sign documents about the estate to avoid the paper trail, but the way she gets personal and digs into J's life trying to relate to him made me think she's been hoping to sample some Cody beef.

I would like to see it. The badass grandkids of Smurf and Pam joining forces in all the fun ways would be a special kind of poetic.

Updating Craig - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 8

The Codys will split all of Smurf's estate equally and have equal shares in everything. And J is right about their family operating as a business.

But he wasn't above asking her how long it would take to divide everything and what happens if he wants different papers drawn up, so he can go out on his own.

It's going to take some time before everything gets resolved. It still feels like the series wrapped the Pamela/estate arc too easily.

Interestingly enough, J genuinely did seem like he reached his breaking point and was willing to cut tail permanently.

Taking the Blame - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 8

And that was surprising. After all the years of putting up with uncles, who more often than not, couldn't stand him, I didn't anticipate he'd actually leave this quickly.

The big fight was a long time coming. The tension between the boys was like a powder keg ready to blow. As barbaric as it can seem, the Codys are all machismo, and they needed to fight it out and expel all of that pent-up rage.

Knowing that -- it was great watching these hot boys beat the shit out of each other.

Surely each of them deserved a punch at some point or another, so they were all due.

Craig is Fed Up - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 8

It didn't come as a shock that Deran threw the first punch. He was the tensest out of the remaining boys. Deran calling J out on his penchant for shooting people and mentioning Smurf was unexpected since Deran hasn't given much away regarding losing his mother.

And Craig deserves credit for attempting to separate them before getting pulled into the fray.

We're not here because of me. We're here because you didn't have the balls to shoot your boyfriend.


Meanwhile, our boy J held his own and worked Deran over pretty good if the cracked rib, bloody lip, and dislocated nose were any indication.

J's kangaroo kick that knocked the wind out of Deran elicited a snicker. Something about a giant Craig holding him like a disruptive toddler while J landed it was too funny.

Past Mistakes - Animal Kingdom

And it wouldn't be Animal Kingdom if someone didn't try to drown another person. I've lost track of how many times one of his uncles held him under, but at least Deran stopped it.

In a way, isn't that their begrudging love language? Deran hates J, but he won't let anything too bad happen to him when it comes down to the wire.

Deran: Where you been man?
Pope: It doesn't matter. I'm home.
Deran: Yeah? You get your shit together or are you going to keep acting like a psycho and taking off again?

Craig realigned Deran's nose and threw him an ice pack, and all the bad blood between them dissipated.

But the best was Pope. After his psychedelic, crime-ridden, unusual walkabout, he returned home like the prodigal son, trying to figure out how everything went to hell in his absence.

Prodigal Cody - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 8

Pope hugging Deran was a sweet moment. Deran was the one person who noticed how bad things got with Pope and was genuinely wanting him to come back home.

Things went to shit with Pope checked out and away, and upon his return, ironically, the most unstable Cody of them all brought some levity and calm to the house.

Pope's moment with J was another one of the best moments of the hour. J was intent on leaving for good, but if anyone would have the power to stop him, it was Pope.

And he made it clear that he would hunt him down if he left, and you knew Pope was serious about it. It's not often you get a loving albeit peculiar moment between J and any of his uncles, so those glimpses of that, with Pope, in particular, are a treat.

J's Black Eye - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 8

You could practically hear the "you're family and we're in this together, you little shit" between the lines when he told him to put his clothes back and clean up his eye and left him with that affectionate punch.

But I still can't tell you about whatever turning point in Pope's journey put him in the right mind frame to return home. Will his fugue states be over now that he's "rescued" Henry from his father and gave him to Cassandra?

Pope: What's that for? You going somewhere?
J: I'm leaving.
Pope: No you're not. Put it back. I said put it back. Put it back!
J: I'm leaving, Pope.
Pope: You leave and I'll find you.

Does he need medication at all?

Pope is a man of few words and a lot of action, and he wasted no time waltzing into Liam's house, holding him hostage, and kidnapping Henry.

Pope's Darker Turn - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 8

I don't know what we're to make of him traumatizing a kid with everything Henry saw and leaving Liam out in the desert with a gallon of water.

We don't know anything about Liam or why he got full custody of Henry. We don't know who Cassandra is and whether or not she should've had Henry.

Henry said he loved his mother, and she was a good mom, but he also didn't have any issues with his father.

But Pope damn near gift-wrapped the kid and presented him to Cassandra, and then gave her everything she needed to flee the country. The whole thing was bizarre as hell, but go off, I guess.

Pope must've seen himself in Henry, or maybe he wanted to give Henry something he didn't have (anymore). Perhaps reuniting Cassandra with her son was Pope's penance.

And maybe because Cassandra reminded him of Cath, or Julia, or hell, even Angela, he was at peace with knowing that he did something, protected Cassandra in the way he didn't with the others.

Henry: Why are you doing this?
Pope: Because kids need their mothers and they should be with their mothers. I mean if their mothers are good.
Henry: I think she is.
Pope: good.

Whatever it is, I don't care because I'm just glad to have Pope back with the rest of the Codys. And clearly, they needed him.

They're dysfunctional, toxic, codependent, and hot messes, but they're family.

Estate Meeting  - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 2

Their losses have shown how much the family and clinging to what they have left matters.

The flashbacks were great as well. The final scene of Smurf stating that the twins will never leave her was illuminating, twisted, and sad.

Julia did leave Smurf when she died, and Smurf kicked her out before that. And Smurf spent the rest of her days making sure her children were dependent on her so that she never had to be alone.

Hey, you're never going to leave me right, baby? Both of you. You're never going to leave me.


In earlier flashbacks Smurf and Pamela went from joking around, their relationship as solid as ever, to Smurf getting upset when Pamela had to leave to be with her kids.

Smurf's attachment to Pamela is fascinating when you consider Smurf's misogynistic history. Smurf and Pamela were like sisters, thick as thieves, quite literally.

Smurf and Pamela  - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 8

Smurf appreciated Manny, but she could take or leave him, and she didn't have any strong feelings for Jake either. It's Pamela that Smurf got worked up about and didn't want to lose.

We know how much Smurf cared about Colin, but doesn't it seem like Pamela is the only other person who has come close to that for Smurf?

Surprisingly, Pamela joined them on the jewelry heist despite her previous assertions she wanted to take a break from the game. She had one foot in and the other out, and that's not something Smurf could understand.

Smurf: Next time, you're the decoy because that was boring as hell.
Pamela: Like anyone is bending over backwards for my black ass.

It was another hour where we got a deeper insight into Smurf and how she became who she is. This hour things really clicked into place, bridging young Smurf with the one we knew.

Diamond in the Rough -tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 8

She showed genuine interest in wanting to learn how to cook, and it's Pamela whom she mirrored on the maternal front. Smurf spoke about wanting more kids, and she felt Jake was handsome enough to give her nice-looking ones.

And she told Pamela that she was saving up for a house -- the Cody house. Between that statement and Jake's wife flipping out on them, it's safe to guess that Smurf might already be pregnant with Craig or she will be soon.

It also means that she and Pamela will have a falling out soon, too.

Over to you, Animal Kingdom Fanatics. Was the highly-anticipated Cody fight worth it? Are you relieved Pope is back? Did you love coked-out Craig's antics?

Hit the comments below! You can watch Animal Kingdom online here via TV Fanatic.

Gladiators Review

Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (19 Votes)

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

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Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 8 Quotes

Renn: I have to get to Tanya's.
Craig: As long as you're taking Nick.

Smurf: Next time, you're the decoy because that was boring as hell.
Pamela: Like anyone is bending over backwards for my black ass.