Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 9 Review: Let it Ride

In case anyone forgot, let Oceanside reintroduce itself.

Seriously, the only thing missing from Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 9 was someone uttering, "Welcome to Oceanside, bitch!" But lovable grump Deran more than made up for it with his "how you like that metaphor, bitch" after pummeling some wavy-haired hipster.

For now, old Oceanside prevails, the Codys are a united front with their shit together, and everything is clicking into place.

Meeting the Po Po -tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 9

The hour was a nice follow-up to the tense, anger-fueled Gladiator, and in its way, it served as a bit of a love letter to the community in which the Codys reside.

With only a few installments remaining this season before the countdown begins for the final season of the series, one can appreciate nods to and more focus on the Codys' hood -- and how they rep the real Oceanside in the face of a shifting economy and the dredges of gentrification.

It's been a subtle theme of a season that's emphasizing how everything in their lives is changing, including the place they call home. And the rules of the jungle dictate that you adapt or die.

But for now, they can beat all that represents the changes they loathe and dread about their hometown into submission. It hasn't changed anything, but it's small victories.

Cody Files  - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 9

It's an installment like this where the flashbacks work best as we witness how the city thrived -- how Janine thrived in it, seizing opportunities ahead of her.

We see Oceanside in its heyday on the rise, contrasting nicely with the remnants of what it used to be slipping away -- lost in growing tourism and a spread of hipsters.

Craig: You know this race has been going on since I was in kindergarten. You assholes show up with t-shirts?
Parker:I'm just trying to support the community, man.
Craig: Oh yeah? Where you from?
Parker: L.A.
Craig: This look like LA to you?
Deran: Can you give me a medium instead? I think I'm going to use it to wipe my ass later.

Anyone with experience growing up or living in a place that evolves as gentrification and commercialization seep through, which is presumably a large majority of us, could appreciate how our endearing ruffians pushed back during the hour.

Deran is such a dick, but he's far more lovable when he's directing all of his assholery to other people outside of the Cody clan. It's good to have lovable grumpy Deran back. Missed you, mean it.

Chilling with Craig - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 9

The beef with Parker is so extra, and Deran was a total ass to him right out of the gate without ever getting to know him. But Deran found what Parker represented offputting, so naturally that the rivalry between them would continue to escalate.

The street skateboard race was a natural setting for the Deran versus Parker battle for the Oceanside community's support and attention. It was a yearslong tradition that the boys have attended since they were kids.

How you like that metaphor, bitch!

Deran

Deran attends yearly and sells beverages, and supports familiar faces that he's known forever. It was a chance for the Cody boys to chill with each other and even reminisce on some memories, and then there's Parker using it to promote his bar and hand out swag.

Deran burning the t-shirt in the street was quintessentially Cody, and Craig jumping in to back his baby brother was as well. Parker's presence as an L.A. transplant irked, and the fact that it affected Deran's livelihood even more so.

Opposing Bar - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 9

Craig undercutting Parker's party and bringing it to Deran's bar was a classic Craig move, and sadly, Parker would've been smart if he left well enough alone.

It probably speaks to some of the issues in the first place -- Parker moved in without getting a lay of the land and didn't seem to realize or take the Codys' reputation seriously.

And, well, he f**cked around and found out. Craig is always itching for a fight, especially after he argued with Renn, so there was no other way for that situation to end but a brawl, but damn, it was entertaining as hell.

Smashing surfboards over heads, breaking glass, and throwing punches -- it was enough to keep the patrons entertained, I'm sure, and it was glorious! At least Deran has plenty of t-shirts he could use to mop the blood off the floor when they finished.

Craig Kicks It - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 9

It was a nice distraction from the developments with Adrian. It turns out Deran isn't the one who has been sending money to Indonesia. Thank goodness for that because that would've been moronic.

No, Adrina's sister Jess is the one wiring money to her fugitive brother with a process that is far from foolproof, and that's why Deran could be on the hook soon for aiding and abetting.

Deran gave her a warning, but I doubt she'll stop. I don't even know what more she expected from Deran. Jess insisted on hurling accusations at Deran and making him feel horrible about her brother. She blamed Deran for the predicament Adrian is in and for not doing enough.

Little does she know, Deran did above and beyond when presented with a solution of killing off the man he loves. Jess has no way of knowing or understanding how much Deran loves Adrian and what he did in the name of that love and that Adrian got himself in trouble without Deran.

Worried about the DEA - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 9

After that time with Jess, Deran needed to hear what Pope said to him. Without a shadow of a doubt, the Deran and Pope scenes are highlights of the season. They're deceptively close, and in the absence of Smurf, you could tell how much Deran looks to and needs his oldest brother.

Pope was right about Deran not being that guy. He was never the one who would've killed Adrian, and no one should've ever expected that from him. It's not him -- that's something that was more in Pope or J's wheelhouse anyway.

Deran: Look, I'm sorry you had to come back to all of this shit.
Pope: What do you mean?
Deran: DEA. Livengood. It's my fault.
Pope: What?
Deran: I should've done what needed to be done with Adrian. I know that.
Pope: That's bullshit. Come on. That's not you.

But Pope, better than anyone, knows how awful it is to kill the person you love to protect the family.

As much as Deran needed to take ownership of his mistakes, something he refused to do with J but admitted to Pope, he also had to hear that not killing Adrian wasn't one of those errors.

Riding with Uncle Pope  - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 9

The grounding presence that Pope brought when he returned home feels so right, and it makes you smile. He's still in the best place that he's been in some time, maybe even ever, and he's clear-headed, puts the others at ease, and brings them together, too.

They defer to him and respect his authority, seemingly crave it because it gives them space to focus on the things they do best.

Pope commands the room -- he's the true alpha, and it works. It also feels right that he's taking over Smurf's bedroom and making it his own.

It's a reflection of Pope's independence and how he's freed from the shackles of Smurf that he's adding all of these touches and creating a space for himself there.

Pope Skateboards - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 9

The ending of Pope going skateboarding in the same way he used to do as a kid felt like a declaration of freedom. They said skateboarding was one of his many passions and loves, but Smurf put him into boxing instead, further nurtured his skillset as an enforcer, boxing him into this role she needed.

We have a lighter, freer Pope, and it makes him better at what he does now, too. He has his reservations about working with a cop, but he also understands the value in it.

Pope: Why do you want to do this?
Chadwick: Excuse me?
Pope: Why do you want to work with my family?
Chadwick: Public service is overrated and underpaid.
Pope: There's easier ways to make money.
Chadwick: Working security a Coachella when I'm off duty isn't really my thing.

But in Pope fashion, it didn't keep him from feeling out Chadwick and determining his motivations. It's natural to be wary of Chadwick when he came across as a wet around the ears rookie cop, and now we're seeing this cool, confident opportunist.

Not only did he deliver with the case files, but he also used the information he has about Livengood to negotiate a better salary. At the very least, he's reliable so far.

Chadwick -tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 9

For now, J's move to get a cop on the take was solid and is paying off. It seems J has the space to make the moves he did the whole time as the brains of all of this without getting any flack from Deran or others.

J doesn't mind falling back now that Pope returned. J even went out of his way to show Deran how he listened, and he wasn't challenging anything.

I wouldn't have sold my condo on the demand of a man who burned his down, but J did, and it puts half a million in the account for them. He can give them each ten grand, and they won't be struggling while they take new jobs and figure out their system.

But J has been thinking about that as well, coming up with better ways to wash their money and such, and he's not above eliciting the help of an attorney to scheme smarter.

Pouring Over Files -tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 9

Of course, this is putting him back in the path of Lark, and this time, the flirting between the pair was mutual. They're totally banging by the end of the season, yes?

Let's be real --J could've had her right then and there if he made a move. Lark is so into him, despite her teasing and statements about his criminality. If he followed her inquiry on if he ever smiles with anything more, she would've gone with it.

Lark: Well, I've got one more question for you.
J: What?
Lark: Do you ever smile?

She's an asset, and she does know Smurf's estate and what they're working with and trying to do better than anyone. Interestingly, Pamela has kept her clean from whatever Pamela's shading dealings are.

But that also means that Lark didn't have too many reservations about helping J. A part of her must've wanted a taste of that side of life.

Lark and J - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 9

J, as far as we know, has put his thoughts of breaking away from his uncles aside, and he's focused on building up their family, and he's also thinking ahead, wanting a good criminal lawyer on retainer, too.

Given the looming threat of Livengood, they're going to need it.

Deran: One grand a month.
Chadwick: I'm worth more than that.

Getting back to that -- for a bit, it seemed like Chadwick was setting Deran and J up when he sent them to that trap house where they perform exercises. But the files were there, and my goodness, there are tons of them.

The police have a lot of information, including many of the Codys' associates. They had Pete, Jake, and Billy listed, but I wonder if Renn was anywhere near them, too.

Cody Case Files - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 9

While they went through all the files, we didn't get much information about the full extent of what was in them. I'm sure intel about what they said will trickle down or work its way into episodes down the road.

It was interesting to see how antsy Craig was about the whole thing, especially his reaction when he saw Pope holding Baz's file. He didn't want to know anything about any of that. He barely paid attention to his own, which showed that he was in and out of juvie.

Renn: This is about me making my own money!
Craig: Well, then go get a real job like real people.
Renn: Like you? You don't even know what that is.
Craig: I do this so that you don't have to.
Renn: You've always known who I am.
Craig: Yeah, but I didn't know you'd be such a shitty mother.
Renn: Because Smurf was such a great one?
Craig: Don't bring her into this.

Craig was still keyed up about Renn's dealing. We went from a wonderful Craig ass shot and steamy shower sex to the two at each other's throats.

Craig hated that she was still doing it behind his back after he told her not to, but it goes back to his audacity. Who is he to lay down the law on her and expect her to fall suit?

Her hiding space was as obvious as it gets -- the tampon box should've been the first place he looked. And their fight was ugly, too.

Money and Reflection - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 9

Craig has no leeway here as a criminal claiming that his illicit activities are somehow necessary for their family -- some sacrifice that he makes so she doesn't have to -- and only she needs to get a regular job.

Craig is behaving like a sexist hypocrite. As Renn mentioned yet again, he knew who she was when they got together, and it's unfair of him to expect her to change into something else when he gets to stay the same.

He considers her a shitty mother for still dealing drugs, but he isn't a shitty father for being a criminal and addict who avoids taking care of Nick altogether.

He earned that slap, and it's not surprising that Renn left him and took Nick with her. Craig's expectations are warped.

Renn on the Job - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 6

He mentioned another thing about his mother he wanted Renn to incorporate, bake pies, but he only wants to shove Renn into the matriarchal role Smurf played and not the badass crime mogul.

Renn is as wild as he is, hell, as Smurf too, and she's untameable, so the nerve of Craig to think he can somehow break her down into submission.

It's funny that those police files brought up Jake, and they wrote him off as some guy that was at Smurf's funeral. Something tells me if Craig finds out who his father is and the role he played, more often than not, subservient to Smurf, he'd mellow out.

Jake was damn near a glorified purse holder in the flashbacks. He rode shotgun to a gun-slinging, no-nonsense Smurf.

Smurf and Jake - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 9

Finally, the Manny gambling stuff came to a head, and it was overdue for Smurf to express some anger with how Manny dropped the ball on them and her more than once.

At first glance, Manny bailing on the job was something unworthy of much attention until we learned that Smurf's inside woman at the strip joint they were about to hit was none other than Baz's mother.

It was the first moment of the flashback scenes that clicked into place and sparked some excitement. And then it carried over to Smurf rolling on the father of the Pete we know to settle Manny's debts.

Senior respected and admired Smurf's gumption. And it was the beginning of a long-lasting working relationship. Smurf's move at that moment asserted herself to outsiders as the head of their crew.

Queen of Oceanside - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 7

Before that, it felt more balanced. Paying off Manny's debts like she was taking responsibility for a wayward employee, thus handling business and looking after her own -- it was queen shit.

And when she returned to Manny's home with food, encouraging him to eat, telling him that of course she looked after him and took care of his business with the "because we're family" implied, it was enough to give you chills.

Her almost patronizing, motherly tone as she caressed Manny's face and called him "baby," it felt like the transformation from Janine to Smurf was complete.

Janine became the Smurf that we know, and with all of these people falling into place around her, it's probably the highlight of the origin story flashbacks.

Smurf Pulls a Job -tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 2

Manny's reaction to Smurf was fascinating. Our introduction to him was as this alpha male, all machismo, running a crew of his own, and hesitant to work with Janine.

But at that moment, he became Smurf's submissive, there was an unspoken power shift in their dynamic, and you could see it in his eyes that he was reluctantly accepting it.

Jake: She paid him.
Manny: Thank you.
Smurf: Oh, you don't have to pay me, baby. We look out for each other. You can pay me back later.

And with that, it was another solid hour as the season continues to course-correct after losing us a bit in the middle.

Over to you, Animal Kingdom Fanatics.

Pope Skateboards - tall - Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 9

Do you trust Chadwick? Are you surprised by who was sending money to Adrian? Has Renn left Craig for good? Does Janine/Smurf's transformation feel complete?

Hit the comments below, my friends.

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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