Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 13 Review: Launch

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The middle of the season may have meandered for a bit, but you can't say Animal Kingdom didn't end with a bang!

The series pulled out all the stops for Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 13, with so much packed in and nuances that it'll leave fans dissecting many things until the series returns for its final run.

Wow, there is a lot to process right now, those final moments in particular.

Confronting Pete - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 13

To the show's credit, despite the minimal build-up to this job of a lifetime that they pulled out of the blue three-fourths through the season, it was the best and most intense job ever!

It did not seem as though they'd escape the place unscathed, and there were enough factors that could've led to a colossal disaster.

Craig's lack of sleep after weaning himself off of drugs could have been the downfall at any point. And when he kept running behind with the safe, it was enough to make you think he was off of his game, costing them precious minutes.

Frankie remains an enigma, and you never can figure out where she stands on matters. The potential for death seemed to loom over her, so that was something else you'd expect to factor in.

One Last Job - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 13

Surprisingly, Frankie survived despite the ominous tones of her presence on the back half of the season and the mentions of the Russians that never made an appearance.

And for a bit, it looked as if J was a hair away from catching a bullet, and it's pure luck that he didn't.

They orchestrated this job too quickly, and there were too many opportunities for them to get caught, so successfully pulling it off was no small feat.

The entire sequence of the job was an adrenaline rush, and one couldn't help but hold their breath the entire time.

The Hawala Job  - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 13

We haven't had this level of excitement, intensity, and thrills since Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 1, and the only complaint about it was that they didn't manage to keep up this level the entire season.

J dodging bullets before narrowly escaping into the water in retreat was enough to have you biting your fist, and the boat chase with the port authority had you glued to the screen not wanting to blink.

Frankie: Hey, it's nice to see you boys working together. Smurf would be proud.
Pope: Yeah.
Frankie: Stay out of trouble.

Ugh, those clever Codys are damn good at what they do. Whichever one of them came up with the plan of bailing on the boat and using their scuba gear to hide in the water was genius.

It was clever of the writers to insert callbacks from previous moments in the season. The boat maneuver of rigging it to speed off on its own was a nod at Craig and Deran's crypto nerd shakedown.

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

It was smart of Deran to have the teens who camped out at his house distract the Port Authorities, narrowly escaping capture themselves, as they did when Craig went on his pier dive. Circling back to them made their previous visibility relevant.

Hell, even some of their costumes looked the same, and how very Pope was it that he crisply ironed and folded everything and left them just so on J's bed like that?

Pope: When'd you put this up?
J: A while ago. I always wanted to put a picture of my mom up, but Smurf would've taken it down.

The job was crazy as hell, and who knows if Smurf would've risked it or not?

But it was their best haul, and there's no way they would've been able to pull something like this off in the immediate aftermath of Smurf's death.

J in Disguise - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 13

They weren't on the same page, and they were all in their feelings for one reason or another. None of them were working or communicating well with each other either.

The brawl seemed to have resolved many of their issues, and they've been in sync as family and partners since.

And maybe that's why this new version of the Cody family functions better. They found their rhythm as a team. Instead of a pissing match over who took over and ran point, they work to their strengths and make most decisions as a group.

No one pressured Deran to use his bar to launder money. It's a decision he reached on his own, as well as giving Tommy money and tipping him off to what to expect.

Deran In Disguise - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 13

J is happy to use his bowling alley to launder money, too. Craig has no qualms about starting a business to do the same.

On the outside, people see that their most intimidating member leads the pack. In a sense, that's why Pope makes the strongest Alpha in the bunch.

J: He took Pete's eye out.
Craig: Jesus!
Pope: I reminded Pete not to break the rules. Alright, let's get the table set. It's time for dinner.

He plays to his strengths as the scary enforcer and protector. He gets others in line and instills fear in anyone who would think about challenging them, and he gets outsiders in line.

He gets the Codys in line too. They both fear and respect him, trust that he'll always have their backs and protect them, and it's never worth it challenging Pope on the small things like family dinner.

Brother's Keeper - tall  - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 13

He also doesn't mind deferring other parts of what it takes to run things to the others. Pope doesn't shoot down ideas if they're good, and he nurtures the others doing things that fall outside his wheelhouse.

Pope knows who and what he is, so he doesn't care about being the smartest person in the room. J has proven that the role falls to him, and therefore, Pope doesn't feel compelled to question it.

And vice versa, despite the scariness of it all, the others know what Pope does and will do for the family.

It wasn't surprising that he would go rogue and not wait for the others to confront Pete. He didn't need them to send his message, and of the three, J is the one who wouldn't stop what he'd do next or get squeamish about it either.

Pete, in all of his witty one-liner glory, learned today, didn't he?

Defiant Pete - tall  - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 13

Pope's moment of "let me reintroduce myself" was a masterclass in intimidation tactics, but the best part about Pope is his effectiveness.

He doesn't sell wolf tickets. He is the wolf.

You give us our share of the coke money by the end of the week, or I'm going to come back and take pieces of you until there's nothing left!


Pope is all about that action, and a mouthy Pete f*cked around and found out when Pope plunged those pliers in his eye and ripped it out of its socket.

It was gory, grotesque, and jaw-dropping. WHO saw that coming at all? No one!

Serious Business - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 1

J looked stunned by the viciousness Pope displayed, but despite how unwell Pope was after Smurf's death, grappling with what he is and who he is without her, he's settled on embracing himself.

The act was barbaric, but it was also a controlled violence, and it's that distinction that oddly enough marks Pope's evolution.

Pete got the message, and the Codys will damn sure get their cut of the coke money.

The interplay between the flashbacks and the present were a standout this time around. It was something to see Smurf's rise as Queen of Oceanside paralleling the boys' new era of succeeding without her, in the same house, no less.

The Queen's Reign Begins - tall  - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 13

We also saw more of why Julia became who she became.

Jake is one of those characters who quietly sneaks up on you as a compelling one, and his scenes during this installment were evidence of that.

Jake: You're the Queen of Oceanside, huh?
Smurf: I'm just tired of doing shitty jobs. We need to think bigger.

He could've been a good father if he ever had the opportunity. It's a shame that he didn't.

Jake didn't approve of Smurf's tactics, pushing her kids into their thieving lifestyle and forcing their hand about the matter. It was one thing if they were lifting wallets for fun and habit.

Jake's Doubts - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 13

However, Smurf could barely conceal her anger when Jerry told her the kids got caught stealing. In her mind, you don't get caught, ever.

And snarl in her voice when she knew it was Julia who messed up was unmistakable. Essentially, Julia got punished for not wanting to bask in this life of crime.

Jake's take on the matter was reasonable and one you'd expect from a more mature parent. He knew that he and Smurf made their choices along the way, but he couldn't fathom foisting this lifestyle upon kids when they have other options.

He didn't understand how a mother wouldn't want better for her kids. Most parents would say that their dream is for their children to exceed them and obtain better for themselves.

Feeling Herself - tall  - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 13

But Smurf didn't function like that at all. And Jake's last attempt at urging Smurf to be a better mother for her kids' sake led to her kicking him to the curb.

He didn't even know she was pregnant, and Smurf probably didn't share that piece of information with him because he would've wanted better for his son than Smurf molding her children into mini-criminal soldiers in her empire.

Smurf: So you got caught.
Jake: Come on, Janine.
Smurf: What happened? So it was you.
Jake: Jesus, Janine.
Smurf: Both of you, inside now.
Jake: Do you gotta be like that?
Smurf: Excuse me?
Jake: You're the reason they did i tin the first place. We have money. Why are you making them lift wallets?
Smurf: I have them do it for practice.
Jake: Don't you want something better for them?
Smurf: What's wrong with what we do?
Jake: Nothing, for us, but you should want something better for them.

The kids didn't even know how to react to the news that they'd have a baby brother. But Smurf told Andrew how to feel about it.

She told him that he'd be their protector, his brothers' keeper, protecting the new baby the same way that he did her. It was as if she was speaking this prophecy into existence, and it's what Pope did.

Speaking Into Existence -tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 13

Smurf groomed Pope this role before he was even full-developed. His mother's number one soldier. It's heartbreaking when you think about it, and her words spilling into that shot of adult Pope sitting at the head of the table with his family was perfect.

Meanwhile, Smurf's feelings about Julia evolved all season, and by the end of the hour, you could see how much she disliked the girl for daring to be different from what Smurf had in mind.

She didn't like that the young girl challenged her. Julia was too smart and clever. Ironically, Baz gets all the credit for J's sharp thinking, but Julia was a damn good read of people, and she had her mother pegged.

Smurf hated it, too. Once again, we saw her giving Julia alcohol, this time straight up with no pretenses to shut Julia up and down.

Undearaged Drinking - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 13

Smurf resorted to substances to dull Julia's shine and to keep her in line and prevent her from posing any threat to Smurf.

It was interesting that Smurf told the twins she was having a boy. Did she know for sure, or was it wish fulfillment? It made you think about Julia's reaction to Andrew possibly hurting himself again.

Smurf: Hey, what do you think of this house?
Andrew: It's big.
Smurf: Yes it is big. It's kind of perfect for us. You know why? You're going to have a little brother. You're going to have a little brother! We're all going to live here together. We're going to do what we do. We're going to have so much fun. What do you think?
Julia: Is Jake the daddy?
Smurf: Does it matter? What do you think about having a little brother? You're going to help me take care of him, right? You're going to protect him just like you protected me. Huh? You'll do that for me, won't you baby? Yeah? I know you will.

Even at her age, Julia figured out boys are easier to control and manipulate, and it's what her mother's intentions were.

The tension between Julia and Smurf coupled nicely with Pope's response when he saw Julia's photo on J's mirror. J stated that he couldn't put one up with Smurf around; she would've taken it down.

Julia is Over It - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 12

Can you imagine Smurf facing the daughter who challenged her and whom she destroyed while she looked at herself in a mirror?

It's Pope living up to the role his mother ascribed to him that could cost him everything in the end.

Their Irish toast about never getting what they deserve is coming back to haunt them.

The season has alluded to many people from their past. The Baz mentions have been off the charts, and Pope's psychotropic trip in the desert prompted allusions to Cath.

Life without Smurf- tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 1

Now, the authorities have found her body.

Go figure that during a season that has often highlighted the gentrification of Oceanside, Cath's body surfaced because of plans to build a housing development where Pope buried her.

Isn't that a bitch?

Cop: Sergeant, we got an ID, it was in a suitcase that was tossed in with her.
Sergeant: Catherine Bellane.
Cop: Looks like she's from Oceanside.
Sergeant: Nice to meet you, Catherine.

It feels like the eldest Cody may get his comeuppance before the series comes to an end.

The finale succeeded in leaving us both looking forward to and dreading Animal Kingdom's final return.

Cath's Remains  - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 13

In many ways, this season felt transitionary, like a filler season setting us up for the Codys' farewell.

Some of the flashbacks filled in some blanks and added dimension to these characters and how they came to be, and situations like that with Pamela feel incomplete.

Cop: Sergeant, we got an ID, it was in a suitcase that was tossed in with her.
Sergeant: Catherine Bellane.
Cop: Looks like she's from Oceanside.
Sergeant: Nice to meet you, Catherine.

Many of the storylines this season felt like commas and semicolons rather than periods.

But the time for that will be in season 6 when we say goodbye.

I'm not ready for that!

A Job Well Done  - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 13

Over to you, Animal Kingdom Fanatics. How much did you love that heist sequence? Are you shocked by the Cath bombshell? What are your thoughts on the Julia/Janine dynamic and Pope's barbaric actions toward Pete?

Hit the comments below!

If you want to relive some of the highlights of this season with the Codys, you can watch Animal Kingdom online hre via TV Fanatic. 

Launch Review

Editor Rating: 4.9 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (18 Votes)

Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is an insomniac who spends late nights and early mornings binge-watching way too many shows and binge-drinking way too much tea. Her eclectic taste makes her an unpredictable viewer with an appreciation for complex characters, diverse representation, dynamic duos, compelling stories, and guilty pleasures. You'll definitely find her obsessively live-tweeting, waxing poetic, and chatting up fellow Fanatics and readers. Follow her on X.

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Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 13 Quotes

Pope: When'd you put this up?
J: A while ago. I always wanted to put a picture of my mom up, but Smurf would've taken it down.

Jake: You're the Queen of Oceanside, huh?
Smurf: I'm just tired of doing shitty jobs. We need to think bigger.