[This article contains SPOILERS for Animal Kingdom season 1.]
Animal Kingdom became a surprisingly effective and absorbing drama for TNT in its first season last year. Adapted from the acclaimed 2010 Australian film of the same name, the series managed to find its own footing with American audiences while successfully mirroring the familial tensions that made the film an engaging crime drama.
However, with success and adulation come greater expectations and even more scrutiny. Now that the young series has our attention, burning questions surrounding its narrative have become of greater importance to actually attempt to answer. Since the impressive and dramatic season 1 finale, we've been pondering several major ones, but here are the show's five biggest questions heading into its anticipated season 2 premiere:
Which Cody Relationship Will Create The Most Family Friction?
Like with any family business, tensions naturally rise from within to create conflict. Of course, those tensions are only amplified when we're talking about a business that involves burglary, violence, and general lawlessness. So, for the Codys, family drama is just part of everyday life, but after seeing seriously destructive behavior from sons Pope (Shawn Hatosy), Deran (Jake Weary) and Craig (Ben Robson), and taking into account the influence of a domineering matriarch in Smurf (Ellen Barkin), it's clear that the dynamics at play here might just tear the family apart. But which pair will have the biggest clash this season?
After seeing Baz (Scott Speedman) tragically and unwittingly take his vengeance for Catherine's (Daniella Alonso) disappearance out on scapegoat Vin (Michael Bowen), an obvious pick would be Baz and Pope. We know the secret of Pope and Smurf's actions won't remain hidden forever (more on this later) and when the truth does comes to light, it will definitely set up a potentially deadly showdown. However, we're looking at the developing relationship between Smurf and J as the one to create the most internal conflict for Team Cody. In continuing to groom whom she sees as a smart and loyal soldier in J, Smurf is bound to find some strong opposition, especially from Baz, who might look at young J as his potential replacement as the tactical leader of the Cody operation. With backing from Smurf, J's star will continue to rise, drawing ire from his uncles as well as a line in the sand between two clear sides: Smurf, Pope and J vs. Deran, Craig and Baz.
Who Is The Weak Link?
When it comes to conflict, family squabbles aren't all the Codys have to worry about. There's also their rather adversarial relationship with local law enforcement to consider; and in season 2, there's no doubt that the "heat" on the family will only intensify.
Fortunately, J -- who was once looked at as the easiest to crack -- threw the cops a curve ball at the end of season 1, protecting the family from the latest investigation into its criminal enterprise. But we know it's only a matter of time before the police are hot on their trail again, and judging by what we saw in season 1, there are two Codys in particular who are likely to cause the family even more trouble.
First, there's Deran, whose insecurity about his sexuality has been a major issue since the series premiere, mostly in how that insecurity has manifested itself. When confronted with the reality of his homosexuality, he displayed a tendency to violently lash out, something that could bring the family unwanted attention. However, later on in season 1, his demeanor seemed to slightly improve after coming out to Craig.
And when we come to Craig, we land on who may actually be the weakest link in the Cody chain. Easily the most dim-witted and reckless of the bunch, Craig's drug abuse, womanizing and general loose cannon lifestyle will almost assuredly bring the family more problems in season 2, but will his mistakes be bad enough to jeopardize the entire operation?
Is J All In?
This was undoubtedly the show's central question in season 1, but even after seemingly passing every test of loyalty Smurf and his uncles challenged J with, it's still a relevant question going forward as we expect the tests -- from inside and outside of the family -- will only get more difficult.
At the end of season 1, we noted that J's acceptance of the gun from Smurf symbolized his commitment to his new family, but there are still elements at play that could force that commitment to waver. First, there are his previous connections to police -- which he has kept secret from the rest of the family, for obvious reasons. Since he's strongly considered turning the Codys over to authorities before, there's certainly reason to believe he would be open to the idea again, especially if circumstances within the family change. Then, of course, there's his (mostly) yet-to-be-revealed backstory. The more he learns about his past and how the Codys are involved could cause him to turn against them. And finally, there's the dark path he's on, which will only get darker the further he goes. Would J be up for doing something as horrible as killing someone? It's a safe bet that he will be faced with this at some point as he's truly tested with that gun in his hand, along with a person's life.
When And How Will Baz Learn The Truth About What Happened To Catherine?
Catherine's murder was easily the most shocking moment of season 1. It demonstrated, not only the depths Smurf would sink to in order to get her way, but also just how cold and ruthless she and Pope could be. As mentioned in discussing an earlier question, we know there will be repercussions for this horrendous act once Baz eventually finds out who was responsible, so the real questions are when and how he will learn the truth.
Considering the family dynamics -- and that Smurf seems to be shutting Baz out, little by little -- it seems unlikely he would learn via confession, so we expect Baz will stumble upon some clues that will lead him to the correct, yet horrifying conclusion. As far as when he finds out, that could come sooner than some viewers might expect. While many shows would milk this kind of dramatic irony and tension for multiple seasons, Animal Kingdom has proven to be a series in which the action moves fairly quickly. We wouldn't be surprised if Baz confirms his suspicions by the end of season 2, setting up an explosive confrontation for season 3. Then again, there's also the hope that the show does completely surprise us by doing something else. If Baz gets too close, perhaps he will be next to go?
What Other Secrets Do the Codys Have Locked Away?
If we've learned anything about the Codys after 10 episodes, ironically, it's that there's a lot we don't know about them. At the end of season 1, we got some interesting glimpses into Smurf's troubled childhood and at the relationship between Baz and his father. Of course, the character we're bound to learn much more about -- as he learns about himself -- in season 2 is J.
In season 1, the series hinted that Baz might be J's real father, which would certainly be a bombshell of a reveal. As far as what else is behind the curtain? That's anybody's guess, but a couple things are certain: These secrets were kept for a reason in the first place, and once they are out of the box, they can't go back in.
What questions are you asking ahead of the season 2 premiere of Animal Kingdom? Anything we didn't ask here? Let us know in the comments.
Animal Kingdom season 2 premieres on Tuesday, May 30 @9pm on TNT.