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Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 7 Review: Splinter


It was a slow hour, but those last few moments took an intriguing turn.

Splinter is an apt name for an hour where Craig and Deran’s relationship is fracturing, Pope continues to spiral, and Livengood’s presence is a thorn in the Cody’s side.

Oh yes, just when some of us were resigned to the fact that we may begrudgingly have to give the werewolf Cody his kudos, shit got real at the end of Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 7. Livengood’s threat is officially a promise.

Deran may have stepped up, but Craig’s regression during this hour was disappointing. At this rate, it’s starting to feel like Craig got shafted the most regarding material this season.

For the most part, he doesn’t have much at stake with the power struggle among the boys, as he never would’ve attempted to put himself in the running, and he volley’s between protective and hands-off dad.

But you know Deran has been a general pain in the ass when he’s pissed Craig off this much. And Craig’s frustrations with Deran were warranted. Deran isn’t considering the feelings or input of anyone when he’s making his moves.

Craig was 100% right about how Deran whines all the time about wanting out of this life, but now he’s trying to be the boss who runs everything and everyone.

Deran’s stance that “someone” had to step up is enough to make you roll your eyes. It’s not that he felt “someone” had to step up, and he begrudgingly chose to do so. Deran’s issue is that he didn’t like the person who did step up.

But as we’re seeing, in some ways, Deran as a leader is no better than what he often accuses J of doing and being. He doesn’t communicate for shit, which means that J (and Pete) got blindsided by the Livengood revelation.

Deran: What’s been going on with you? You’ve been acting like a dick. Is this about the job? We got the house back, everything’s fine. We came out clean. Renn is fine.

Craig: Yeah, Renn’s great. Now she wants to knock off a construction site because of you.

Deran: This is about Renn, huh?

Craig: No, this is about you. You’re always bitching about how you want out. Now you wanna make all the calls?

Deran: Somebody’s gotta do it.

Craig: What the hell is that supposed to mean?

Deran: You asked me to stay here, so I stayed. What more do you want me to do?

Ironically, it’s J who will get some valuable entail after making that deal with Chadwick. It really isn’t lost that no matter what Deran does, it tends to be J who others look and respond to, whether it’s Pete or Chadwick.

Lark sure as hell didn’t bat an eye about conducting business with J rather than Deran. She’s familiar with that role.

It’s Deran’s lack of deference for the rest of them, save Pope, oddly enough, that has pushed Craig to his limit.

He seems to want two separate lives that don’t touch. He doesn’t want Renn involved anywhere with what the Codys are doing, but she got a taste for the excitement and now assumes that she’s part of the Cody family heists.

Craig: You doing a job was a one-time thing.

Renn: Why?

Craig: Deran should never have asked you.

Renn: What?

Craig: I didn’t want you there.

Renn; So that’s why you’ve been pushing me being a real estate agent bullshit?!

It’s rather presumptuous, for sure. But there’s no going back for Renn. It’s safe to say that whether Craig or hell, even some viewers like it or not, Renn is part of the crew.

You already know that the construction job she was staking out for the Codys to pull off is something they’ll probably end up doing, especially now that they won’t be getting money from the cartel job.

Craig will never prevent Renn from pursuing a life of crime and illicit activities over a legit job like real estate. The hypocrisy with Craig is glaring, no doubt, but it does make you wonder why none of them can go straight.

Wouldn’t you want someone on the straight and narrow for cover? Renn’s tangential connection to the Codys would make her a great choice.

Renn is channeling her inner Smurf, knocking heads and stealing drugs to maintain her status as the best dealer in town and scouting out jobs to pull with the Codys. Craig is pulling reckless shit, snorting up, and going back to his bachelor ways. Poor baby Nick doesn’t stand a chance.

Cycles are a hell of a thing, aren’t they? They can be hard to break.

Between Renn and Deran, Craig was in a hell of a mood. Frankly, him reverting to his former ways — a sign we probably saw when he was with Frankie, is the only real indication that this is his way of dealing with everything that’s happened.

Craig taking his anger on the tenant at one of the properties was classic Craig, and his tipping point with the guy was when the tenant brought up Smurf.

Smurf used all of her properties to cover up their crimes, but she did take care of them. The boys, however, are not, so it compels people to point out how much things have fallen by the wayside now that Smurf is gone.

Craig proceeded to throw a tantrum of sorts by throwing a party at the Cody house and dumping Deran’s clothes in the pool, but he sat there, getting high and drinking with a bunch of kids around, and it wasn’t the same. He’s older now and a dad — everything is different.

His attempt at rallying the party by jumping off the pier didn’t have the same effect when everyone scattered, too afraid of the police closing in on them.

All season, Craig is facing the fact that the Oceanside he loved in his heyday is gone. Everything is different, and so is he. Whether it’s scooters or a bunch of kids who aren’t innovative or proactive enough to score booze on their own or fearless enough not to scatter when the police came, it’s not their Oceanside anymore.

Tommy: People are saying that you and your brothers took care of Adrian. I mean, I know you said he’s been on that boat trip but…

Deran: But what?

Tommy: I don’t know. He’s just been gone a while now. Things feel different since your mom’s been gone.

And in that sense, when Smurf died, so did The Cody family’s reign. It was the end of an era, and no matter what they do to try to reclaim that, they probably never will.

You saw that with Deran and his bar as well. He’s trying to be the shit right now, but he’s losing people too much for anyone to take him seriously.

His stunt with the alcohol delivery was a dick move. His dive bar isn’t thriving at all anymore, it’s damn near a ghost town, and people have since gravitated to the punny, flashier new spot Parker owns. He has happy-hour specials and a bar owner who isn’t broody.

And everyone by now assumes that Deran and his brothers took Adrian out. I mean, how long did Deran think he could keep telling people that Adrian was away surfing? Even children don’t buy the dog at the farm crap parents tell them for so long.

Deran’s bar is old news, Oceanside as they knew it is, and in many ways, so are the Codys.

They’re spending this time trying to take over an empire when it very well could be that it’s crumbling before their eyes.

So, is that it for the Pamela job, really?

Deran went through the safe, found the bloody clothes, and nothing else was of any real value beyond getting fenced, and that was that. Deran negotiated the deal and all, and then he sent J to make the exchange.

It was ridiculous on Deran’s part. Initially, I assumed that something more could come from Lark signing all the paperwork instead of her grandmother, but that’s probably not the case.

The paperwork is signed, the Codys have their house after one job that almost went sideways, and the Johnsons have the evidence. Is that it? It feels so anti-climatic.

The only thing I could guess is that as a parallel to Pamela telling Deran that she’s someone he could reach out to if he ever chooses to trust her and Pamela reminding Smurf that she’s always there for her, is that Pamela will help them resolve the Livengood thing.

Trusty Aunt Pamela, who genuinely did seem to care about Smurf and her kids in the past at least, could save the day.

J: Your grandmother needs to sign.

Lark: Oh, don’t worry, I sign everything on her behalf. It looks like yo know a thing or two about that. Because some of those property titles have your signature on it.

J: I was Smurf’s power attorney for a while.

Lark: Why you and not your uncles?

J: Why you?

Lark: Phoenix doesn’t have the patience.

J: Neither do my uncles.

I’d hate to think it was the last of Lark and J interacting since their similarities were interesting enough where you’d like to see more from them.

But it seems the estate stuff is over with little fanfare, and we’re shifting to DEA Livengood posing a threat to the Codys. And Deran is the one who brought him to their door. I guess he hasn’t earned that cigarette and contemplative expression while standing in Smurf’s room.

It’ll be funny when J gets to go back to Deran and tell him that the reason the drug money won’t come through is because of Livengood.

Pete has made comments on and off all season about the Cody drama and wanting no parts of it, but it came to his doorstep anyway.

Pete: I thought you were just too pussy to hold the coke yourself than some federal shows up at my door today and I started putting two and two together.

J: Wait, put what together?

Pete: That you’re trying to set me up!

J: I don’t know what you’re talking about! Who showed up?! What’s going on?

Pete: DEA. Livengood.

J: Oh shit. He find it?

Pete: No. And he won’t. I got rid of it.

J: What?

Pete: It’s gone. I’m not going to federal prison for your bullshit.

J: You could’ve called me. You could’ve told me about this. You could’ve reached out. I coulv’e moved it.

Pete: You really want to tell me what I could and couldn’t do right now?

J: Hey, hey’ it’s not my fault that you have heat on your end right now.

Pete: That’s where you’re wrong bro. The heat’s on you.

J: What are you talking about?

Pete: Yeah, the only thing this guy seemed to care about was Deran.

I genuinely don’t know what Livengood expects here. He wants Adrian, but why not work a new angle or something?

Deran did reach Pope and got to speak to him, which was nice. Deran’s genuine concern for his big brother is heartwarming in its own right, and he was trying his best to get Pope to return home.

It was cute how he asked him about what they should implement now that it’s theirs. In that sense, you could tell that Deran lost Adrian and Smurf, and he just can’t afford to lose anything more.

And that includes Pope, whose absence is worrying him.

Cassandra felt more real this time. However, there’s still something about this storyline with her that I can’t put my finger on.

Pope’s teaching her how to shoot felt like his way of showing this woman who reminds him of one or a combination of the women he loved and lost in his life how to protect herself.

But then he was back to his suicide ideation when he practically begged her to shoot him. He thinks he’s a monster and deserves it. Pope knows that Smurf tried to kill him (or have him killed at the compound), and he feels she did that because of who and what he is.

But Pope knows who his mother was and how she used him, so how can he regard himself as a monster she had to put down without holding her accountable?

Pope: What that guy said was right. I am the devil.

Cassandra: Andrew, the devil is just an angel who lost his way. Dad’s the one who sent him away. What did he expect?

Cassandra is good at soothing him and providing encouragement. She makes him laugh and smile. It was like she knew how he felt about water when she took him to her ex’s condo, and they swam in the pool.

And her line in response to him proclaiming to be the devil was wonderfully profound. She feels a bit like Cath and Julia and also like she’s his counter-voice.

Things shifted when he saw her with her son, though, and he asked her why she didn’t take her son back from her ex. It triggered a response Pope was unprepared for, and it put an end to their whatever.

But Pope grew up in a family where they take things that they want. Cassandra was unhappy and wanted her son, and therefore she should’ve taken him, and it was a simple as that.

Pope: Do it.

Cassandra: You want me to shoot you?

Pope: It’s OK.

Cassandra: No.

Pope: I deserve it.

Cassandra: Andrew, no, you don’t.

Pope: I deserve it.

Cassandra: What?

Pope: She wanted me dead.

Cassandra: Who?

Pope: My mom. She wanted to kill me.

Cassandra: Why?

Pope: Because she knew what I was. She knows who I am. Do it.

Cassandra: Sounds like she didn’t know shit. I’m not going to do that.

But he also didn’t understand why she didn’t have him in the first place, and Cassandra was too upset to elaborate much.

I don’t know what to make of Pope standing over her while she slept. I can’t venture to guess anything else about this arc with Pope and where it’s leading and how he’ll be whenever he gets there.

As for the flashbacks, young Pope was protective, and outside of Manny’s observation about how Pope was reacting post Max beating Jake up, Smurf was blowing it off.

Pope saw and heard what Max said, and he was afraid when his mother didn’t return. He couldn’t bear not being there to protect her. Manny leaving the twins alone was a huge mistake, and he basically never even came back or called anyone hours later, which was dumb.

But it should’ve been apparent that a protective Pope would go looking for Smurf, fearing bad things. And it’s not the least bit surprising that he reached out to Pamela.

Max encouraged Smurf to think bigger with her jobs, so you can see where the Smurf we knew is starting to come into formation.

And we got our introduction to a young Billy and how he entered the picture (and Smurf’s pants). It was excellent casting as this actor looked like a young Dennis Leary.

With Jake and Billy both in the picture, will we eventually see when Smurf gets pregnant with Craig and Deran? It’s about that time.

Things come up. You can always call me.


Despite their fight and Pamela kicking Smurf out, she was right there to help and support her. Their friendship, albeit one-sided AF, was a genuine one.

Over to you Animal Kingdom Fanatics. How will they resolve the Livengood issue?

Are you surprised that the estate arc was settled easily and quickly? Do you think Renn should join the Cody crew permanently? Hit the comments.

You can watch Animal Kingdom online here via TV Fanatic.

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

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