Animal Kingdom recap: J keeps his promise and [spoiler] dies

Animal Kingdom ep12 "Ghosts" via TNT/Turner Press
Animal Kingdom ep12 "Ghosts" via TNT/Turner Press /

In the penultimate episode of Animal Kingdom Season 4, J keeps a promise to Smurf that he made a long time ago and the Cody’s suffer a major loss.

Caution: There are major spoilers for Animal Kingdom Season 4, Episode 12 immediately in this post! If you haven’t watched yet, I suggest you check out the episode before reading, unless you’re here for the spoilers.

I’m just going to get right down to it and announce that, yes folks, it finally happened. Ding dong the witch is dead, and it was none other than her nephew that did it. Back in Season 2 of Animal Kingdom, “Bleed for It,” J promises Smurf that he’d put a bullet in her head if she were ever too weak to carry on, and he kept his word.

Most of this episode takes place at the farm during the heist but it makes it very clear in the beginning that it’s not going to end the way they planned. Uneasy vibes hover over their heads like cartoon storm clouds raining down on them. They’re all nervous and Adrian, Renn, and Angela all see their Cody men off to work with many “good lucks”, but even they feel the tension.

Why she hates Jed

When Smurf first announced that she wanted to steal Jed’s gold, I knew she targeted him for personal reasons and that she planned to kill him before committing suicide by gunfire, only we had to wait until now to finally see why. At first, I assumed he took part in Colin’s death, but in actuality, he attempted to force himself on Janine while she was eight months pregnant with his brother’s children.

He disrespected not only her, but Colin’s memory and I can see why she would want him dead. Can’t blame her for that.

After they bury Colin, Janine offers Jed $500 for an old car he has lying around but being a total creeper, he offers a different exchange in the form of sexual favors. Personally, I think trading a car for oral sex is bad business, but that’s just me.

Smurf, of course, doesn’t take his offer well either and hits him over the head with a shovel. Janine takes off running down the road but then quickly goes into labor, giving birth to Andrew and Julia at the farm.

Animal Kingdom ep12 “Ghosts” via TNT/Turner Press
Animal Kingdom ep12 “Ghosts” via TNT/Turner Press /

The heist

Smurf prepares for what is going to be her intended blaze of glory and dresses her best. She leaves a pile of pills for Angela to find (even on her death bed she can’t let the little things go) and hands the keys to the kingdom over to Baby J, giving him his first order of business by informing him of Adrian’s alleged rat status.

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When they get to the farm, they split up into two groups. J, Craig, and Deran head to the bunker while Smurf and Pope pay Jed a visit.

The heist goes as planned and is relatively short so there’s no need to talk about it, but I will say that the gold stash looked awfully small. This is what Jed spent his whole life collecting? It’s barely enough to fill a container the size of a desktop tower. Not sure what it’s all worth but I doubt it’s enough to take on the Apocalypse the way he intended.

While the others are underground, Smurf takes Pope to his father’s grave and stares out at the long field, looking just as lost as she looked 40 years ago. Who knows how many times she stood at that very spot staring at the wound that never healed. That’s when Jed appears, along with his son Odin and Pope meets his uncle and cousin for the first time, a reunion he’s not thrilled about.

They sit around talking while Smurf waits for the others to finis, and for Jed’s other two sons to return. When they do all hell breaks loose.

Animal Kingdom ep12 “Ghosts” via TNT/Turner Press
Animal Kingdom ep12 “Ghosts” via TNT/Turner Press /

The end of Janine Cody

Finally getting her revenge for literally trying to screw her over, Smurf shoots Jed in the head shouting “a deal’s a deal”. Then runs out straight in the open with her arms spread wide like a mess-head version of Clint Eastwood daring someone to shoot him. Go on, make my day.

She has no intention of surviving and plans on taking Pope with her. They’re going to die together as a family beside Colin. Together forever. However, Pope shoots his way out and carries a wounded Smurf, shot in the leg (like Colin), back to the truck.

The Codys regroup on a side road outside the farm but at this point. Smurf has given up her act and the boys see her unveiled, possibly for the first time. The cool and collected Smurf is gone, and in her place is a deranged foaming-at-the-mouth animal begging for death. Her plan to die in a blaze of glory with her lost love is ruined, something she reviles Pope for doing and even admits that she wanted him to die with her because he can’t survive on his own.

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This moment is split with images of young Janine giving birth, showing the tragic change from the woman in the past to the cruel one covered in blood and tears four decades later. I think that we need to take a pause for a moment and give Ellen Barkin an Emmy for this performance. Wow.

The guys are stunned speechless as Smurf takes Deran’s gun from his belt and points it at Pope then makes Craig give Pope his gun and demands her oldest to kill her. The whole thing is painful to see because of Pope, the lost boy looking anywhere but at her, trying to ignore Smurf’s screams even when she shoots at him. This is when J decides enough is enough and kills her.

Animal Kingdom ep12 “Ghosts” via TNT/Turner Press
Animal Kingdom ep12 “Ghosts” via TNT/Turner Press /


The guys get home and mourn their mother. Pope takes it the hardest while J immediately takes the lead as the new family head. As if anyone else really cares; they’re all ready to collapse. Pope is falling apart, Craig cries in Renn’s arms, and Deran decides it’s time to take Adrian and leave Oceanside forever.

Before I wrap up, let me briefly mention Angela who did nothing but fish some pills out of the toilet and almost drown herself in the tub. She’s falling off the deep end, again.

What will happen in Animal Kingdom Season 5?. dark. Next

I always knew J would kill Smurf but I never saw it going down like that, and before the show’s end too. Do you think Animal Kingdom made a mistake killing Smurf or will it become stronger by moving in a new direction?

Don’t miss the Season 4 finale next Tuesday night at 9:00 p.m. EST on TNT.