Animal Kingdom Season 4 Premiere Recap: Caged Heat — Plus, Flashbacks Reveal [Spoiler]'s Dicey Origin Story

As the date of their next heist neared in the Season 4 premiere of TNT’s addictive Animal Kingdom, the Codys worried that Pope seemed weird. And when someone as weird as Pope seems weird even for him, you know you’ve got a problem. Read on, and we’ll not only marvel at just how big and dangerous that problem became, we’ll discuss the pickle in which Adrian has landed himself, Frankie’s surprise return (well, at least Craig was surprised) and the 1977 flashbacks that gave us a look at how Smurf became the queenpin we all know and love to hate.

‘HE’LL QUIT… WHEN HE WINS’ | As “Janine” began, we time-warped back more than three decades to watch a young Smurf (Leila George) on a bank job gone wrong with boyfriend Jake (Jon Beavers) and his crew. In subsequent flashbacks, the tension in the group came into sharp focus: Jake was all for Janine working jobs with them, but Colin (Grant Harvey) felt that, whether they wore masks, it made them stand out to have among them a girl with long blonde hair blowing in the breeze like a “Notice us!” sign. Her solution: She chopped it all off at the first opportunity. In the present, Smurf, her trademark ‘do long since perfected, calmly watched Pope work off a little aggression in an MMA cage fight that was so brutal, I think it bruised my eyeballs just from seeing it.

Later, after observing how well Adrian was surfing, Craig asked Deran’s boyfriend how come he kept losing. “It’s different when there’s cameras and judges and s—,” Adrian said. But the truth was, he was throwing contests in hopes of getting kicked off the circuit so that he wouldn’t be asked to smuggle drugs again. Only the DEA was extremely keen on him staying on the circuit and smuggling drugs. Despite his arrest, they didn’t want him. “You’re a bad liar and a bad drug smuggler,” an agent pointed out. They wanted bigger fish, and if he couldn’t reel them in, he’d be looking at decades in prison. Meanwhile, J was in college, dazzling a pretty classmate named Olivia (Kelli Berglund) with his boyish good looks as much as his aptitude for stats. “This is Josh,” she told pals Riley, Jackson and Benji. “He’s smart, and he hates fun.” Still, he was willing to let them join his study group. And though he turned down her invitation to hang, she was as undaunted as pretty girls always are. “One of these days,” she swore, “I will get you to come out with us.”

‘IF I WAS CHARGING YOU FOR THE SEX, YOU’D BE PAYING A LOT MORE’ | At Casa Cody, Smurf tormented Pope — as if that could possibly be a wise thing to do! — by contemplating repainting Lena’s room. “I’ll let you pick the color,” she said, smiling her insincerest smile. “Leave it,” he grumbled. “Reminds me why I’m here.” At J’s bowling alley, Mia delivered a photo of a teenage diner waitress named Rosie — part of the heist du jour, we’d later figure out —and asked when he’d be showing up at home again. What, did she miss him? Ha, she replied. She just wanted to make sure she wasn’t having sex with two guys on the couch when he walked in. But seriously, she added, he couldn’t just come and go as he pleased. Except, J noted, he could — it was his house.

While looking for a getaway vehicle for the heist, Craig suggested to Deran that Adrian wanted to quit the tour so much because he didn’t trust his boyfriend to remain faithful when he was away. Gay dudes get around, Craig added, prompting Deran to point out that “I see one person in this car who’s had antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea twice, and it’s not me.” Quickly, the subject changed to Pope. Deran didn’t want to admit that their elder brother was acting weirder than normal, but as Craig noted, Pope had once again developed that look “like he doesn’t care what happens to him, like he could hurt somebody.” That being the case, uh, maybe he shouldn’t be a part of the job. He could turn an armed robbery into a murder in the time it takes to pull a trigger! Back at Casa Cody, Smurf questioned J about the girlfriend that she wasn’t allowed to meet. “Are you hiding her from us,” asked Grandmommie Dearest, “or is it the other way around?”

‘NOW WHO WANTS DESSERT?’ | That evening at a family dinner, when Craig got done sharing horror stories about the tenants for whom he was now responsible as a property owner, Smurf asked Adrian when his and Deran’s housewarming was — and there did have to be a rager. “It will not be a home,” she insisted, “till you trash it with the ones you love.” Remember the first bash at their own house? she asked Pope. If he did, he didn’t say. He just finished Hoovering his food, grunted “Done” and left the table. See? Smurf said afterward. “He’s his normal self.” Was he, though? After Smurf sent Adrian inside, Craig announced that neither he nor Deran — surprise, Deran! — thought that Pope should be on the job. Smurf had not a scintilla of a s— to give. However, later, she did warn her eldest son, “Better make sure you got your s— together, baby.”

The following day, Frankie let herself into Craig’s unlocked condo and made coffee, scaring him half to death. “I love what you’ve done with the place,” she said, looking around the pigsty. Though yes, he’d gotten the money she sent, “I kinda thought I’d never see you again,” he admitted, reminding her that after their night of smoking crack and having sex, she’d disappeared on him. Oh, he of little faith! Not only was Frankie back, but she had another job if he was interested. And it was certainly safer than the bank job that he’d left plans for lying around. “Smurf’s gonna get you killed,” she predicted before offering her sometime lover’s bedmate a cup of coffee and taking her leave. At the same time, Deran ran Adrian through the steps that he had to take to be his alibi for the heist, and encouraged his boyfriend not to give up the circuit. Of course, he added when Adrian balked, the surfer could do whatever he wanted, no pressure.

‘IT’S A CONDOM!’ | Finally, heist day arrived. At the diner, J charmed Rosie, then spilled his coffee in order to steal her cell phone. Soon, it became clear what Rosie had been all about: The Codys were going to use her as leverage to make her bank-manager father escort them into the vault full of safety-deposit boxes. They even had the guy call Rosie’s phone so that J could answer and threaten her to get him to cooperate. Brilliant! Evil but brilliant. Craig and Pope thought that they had it made when they got the guy zip-tied in the vault. Only suddenly, Deran reported that someone had triggered a silent alarm — the cops were on their way! It hadn’t been the bank manager, though; the thing he was hiding in his hand turned out to be a rubber. He’d been trysting with a teller, and she had triggered the alarm!

Quicker than you could choose an expletive, Deran had bleached the van they’d taken to the bank, and he, Pope and Craig were motorcycling away from the police. The robbers easily lost the cops by veering into an orchard, but at some point, Pope ceased to be behind Craig and Deran. WTF? Sending Deran on to meet J at the rendezvous point, Craig doubled back and found Pope walking toward the sound of the sirens. He’d wiped out, he said, a crazier-than-usual look in his eyes. So “I was gonna cut ’em off, give you a head start.” After Craig took his turn saying “WTF?” he got Pope back on a bike, and J drove them right past the oblivious cops in a produce truck. When they returned home, Smurf was waiting with a feast fit for a king… or at least her kingpins. So, what did you think of “Janine”? Are you digging the flashbacks? Anyone else worry that Adrian’s gonna sign his own death warrant by ratting out Deran’s family to save his own skin? Grade the episode below, then hit the comments.

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