Animal Kingdom: Following the Film's Plot May Spell Disaster for a Fan Favorite
Jeanette White
Animal Kingdom - Season 5 cast with Pope, Deran, Craig and J
Animal Kingdom - Season 5 cast with Pope, Deran, Craig and J
TNT's Animal Kingdom follows the Cody family and their various criminal heists under the governance of the matriarch Smurf (Ellen Barkin). Things are shaken up when 17-year old J (Finn Cole) moves in with his estranged relatives after his mother's overdose. Based on the acclaimed 2010 Australian film of the same name, the series follows the movie's basic premise but has taken clear steps to distinguish itself. That said, similarities remain, which leave some wondering if it will incorporate more of the film in its fifth season. If so, it could mean killing off a turbulent but fan-favorite character -- Andrew "Pope" Cody (Shawn Hatosy).
Animal Kingdom's foundation -- J acclimating to his criminal family -- rips directly from David Michôd's film. While the movie starts the same, it goes in a different direction, spotlighting the Codys toward the end of their criminal careers dealing with corrupt, murderous police. In contrast, the TNT series retains the characters' names but delivers a more glamorized, beachside setting with high-octane action sequences and plenty of drama. As such, it becomes an entirely different beast than the source material, resembling more of a juiced-up Sons of Anarchy.
Animal Kingdom - Pope
Animal Kingdom - Pope
However, Baz's (Scott Speedman) death in the first episode of Season 3 somewhat aligns with the film's events. While the movie sees Baz shot by corrupt police, the series has the Trujillos enact a hit under Smurf's orders as revenge for the ultimate betrayal of stealing her money. Although the manner of death differentiates, both properties see Baz meet his fate by being shot. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Animal Kingdom executive producer John Wells confirms Baz's death emulates the film. In fact, they had originally intended to kill Baz off sooner. "The Baz character dies in the first 15 minutes of the movie. So that's where we thought we were going and then we realized we had more material for Baz..."
With that in mind, it begs the question of whether Animal Kingdom will also follow in its predecessor's footsteps by killing off Pope. In the film, Smurf decides that "J needs to go" because of his status as a star witness to the prosecution. J later tells Smurf that he wants to help Pope and Darren escape jail. It works, and the duo is acquitted. J returns to Smurf's home, asking if he can stay. After vanishing to his room, Pope follows him, but their conversation abruptly ends when J shoots him in the head. With Pope dead, J goes into the living room, where he embraces his stunned grandmother.
Animal Kingdom - Pope and J
Animal Kingdom - Pope and J
Throughout the series, J and Pope have frequent tension. Pope is the hardest on J when he first joins the Cody family. Not to mention Pope isn't happy that Smurf gives up his old room for his nephew. It begins a simmering jealousy of J and Smurf's relationship, particularly in Season 1. While J and Pope share a few bonding moments, that untrusting, slightly hostile tension remains. As such, it seems plausible that J could eventually turn on Pope and shoot him like his film counterpart.
From J's perspective, the decision may not be personal but rather to protect the family, given Pope's penchant for instability, rage and recklessness. J's decision to shoot Mia (Sohvi Rodriguez) in Season 3 proves he's capable of taking out somebody close to him. However, considering Animal Kingdom's tendency for keeping viewers on their toes, J could kill Pope for any number of reasons.
The twist could also be that Pope doesn't die. Baz wasn't the only brother killed in the film. Craig also met the same fate after being gunned down by police. By the movie's conclusion, only Derran, J and Smurf remained. Now in Season 5, Animal Kingdom is without Baz and Smurf. Given her film counterpart made it to the end of the film already suggests the series isn't following the progression of character deaths -- or lack thereof -- exactly. So for fans worrying about Pope, there's a chance he avoids the kill-off. But knowing Animal Kingdom's propensity for twists and turns, no character is truly safe until the show's sixth and final season.
Season 5 of Animal Kingdom is currently airing. New episodes drop each Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on TNT.