Animal Kingdom 5×8 Review: “Gladiators”

Gladiators Animal Kingdom Season 5 episode 8 review
The tension between Deran and Craig in ‘Gladiators’ (Screengrab – Animal Kingdom Season 5 Episode 8)

‘Gladiators’ was a good title to give Animal Kingdom Season 5, Episode 8 because the gurls are fighting! The gurls are fighting!

I have been waiting for the Cody men, especially Deran and Joshua, to have a physical altercation- and that’s exactly what ‘Gladiators’ gave me. However, let’s first talk about what led those two (as well as Craig) to partake in some bloody fisticuffs.

In the previous episode, we saw Pete tell Joshua about Agent Livengood’s crusade to build a case against Deran and have him arrested somehow. According to Pete, it was because of Livengood that he had to flush away the stash of drugs hidden in his garage. Joshua’s clearly frustrated with Deran. Apparently, that stash was worth half a million dollars. With Deran not answering his calls, it made sense for Joshua to reach out to Craig.

I enjoyed the blame game the two played as they discussed what had happened and how to move forward. Craig blamed Joshua for lying about the cartel job from the beginning while Joshua blamed Deran for involving the family in the Adrian-related mess and Pete getting rid of the drugs.

With Craig telling Joshua about how Deran sent Adrian away to Indonesia, I could feel the murderous side of Joshua’s brain revving up. If Adrian was in Oceanside, you know Joshua would have gone to kill Adrian himself. He can’t understand why Deran couldn’t just shoot Adrian to protect the Cody family. That boy has some serious issues.

Before Joshua could confront Deran, we had Craig visit Deran’s bar to argue with his younger brother. I think it was time for Craig to share his opinions about how the family was operating. Even though Deran told Craig that he never asked Joshua to move the drugs to Pete’s garage, I think Craig had a point that both Deran and Joshua were messing things up for everyone. Both of them were trying to lead the family without making it a democracy. Craig felt unappreciated. I liked seeing him state how Deran and Joshua were involved in a d*ck measuring contest instead of actually looking out for the family.

While I enjoyed seeing Craig stand up to Deran, I didn’t enjoy his continued spiral. After being bailed out by Renn, ‘Gladiators’ showed Craig getting high again and going on a robbery spree. He hit a number of small shops to steal their cash. With Joshua making them steal drugs from the cartel and Deran making the Cody men steal safes, Craig’s all about stealing actual cash because then they won’t have to wait around until they find a buyer (for drugs) or have valuable items be moved through an expensive fence.

I’m not against Craig going on his little trips to steal cash. However, what I don’t like watching is Craig getting high and indulging in reckless behavior. I thought he had changed after having a baby with Renn. Here’s to hoping the writers give Craig something else to do and don’t continue walking back the small amount of character development he’s been through.

Talking about character development, I guess Andrew got the closure he was looking for. The previous episode made it clear he was going to do something about Cassandra’s son and that’s exactly what he did in the latest installment. As far as Andrew’s concerned, kids need their mothers if their mothers are nice. He couldn’t mend his relationship with Smurf. One could argue that relationship couldn’t be mended even if he tried. Anyway, in Andrew’s mind, he could at least help Cassandra get her son back, and in doing so, in some weird way, gain some kind of satisfaction.

I’m just glad that Andrew decided not to kill Henry’s father. Andrew did leave him (hands tied up) in the desert with a bottle of water and a small knife, though. Baby steps, I guess. Anyway, Andrew’s current arc came to an end with him urging Cassandra to run away to Canada with Henry. Considering the fate of some of the women that have entered Andrew’s life, I’m happy to see Cassandra remain unharmed. And with Andrew now back with his brothers and nephew, I’m looking forward to seeing what the Codys will do next.

Coming to Deran vs Joshua in ‘Gladiators’, I think it became very clear to Deran that his nephew enjoys killing people. The way Joshua told Deran he should have shot Adrian when Smurf told him to pressed a very sensitive button. I don’t think Joshua’s ever truly loved anyone except his deceased mother. Joshua just can’t grasp the fact that Deran was unable to kill Adrian or even see Adrian get hurt because they’re basically married. Other than that, Deran’s not a murderer. He’s not into killing people while, on the other hand, Joshua will shoot someone’s skull off if it means protecting himself or getting closer to his goals.

Deran (between punches) yelling about Joshua possibly enjoying shooting Smurf is something I want the writers to explore more of. The Cody brothers need to figure out how to deal with Joshua because they know he’s not above killing family members. If the time comes, I can see Joshua taking down his uncles without hesitation.

As for the fight, which Craig also got involved in, I think the three men needed it. The Cody men aren’t into talking about their feelings with each other. Throwing a couple of punches allowed them to vent and open the door to start mending their relationship. Deran and Craig sorted things out between themselves and Andrew went to ask Joshua not to leave. There’s still some tension between Deran and Joshua because of Adrian. So, I’m looking forward to seeing how Joshua plans to deal with the Livengood situation.

I did enjoy the scene where Joshua decided to leave the Cody house after fighting with his uncles. It reminded me of how kids tend to think of running away after getting into an argument with family members. Joshua didn’t want to stay in the house with his uncles anymore. However, Andrew stepped in to make Joshua realize that the youngest member of the team still had a place in the Cody house.

As for the flashbacks in ‘Gladiators’, I liked seeing Pamela team up with Janine, Manny, and Jake to rob a jewelry store. I think the scene where Pamela mentioned how she couldn’t have acted as a decoy was the writing team’s way to continue showing that things were different between Pamela and Janine in the criminal world. Being a Black woman, Pamela didn’t have the same advantages as Janine when it came to blending in with the crowd, appearing innocent, and not attracting unwanted attention.

While I do enjoy the flashbacks, I think the random little time skips are a bit too much. We didn’t get to see Janine confront Manny about leaving her kids alone. We also never got to see what lead Manny and Jake to reconcile with Pamela. I do think the writers should consider exploring certain scenes focusing on the dynamics between Janine’s crew instead of having everyone be on the same page without proper explanation to move the plot along.

Some other thoughts and questions:

  • I continue to be a fan of Joshua and Lark’s interactions. He finally found a business savvy and smart peer to talk to.
  • If Craig and Renn continue being on their current paths, they will lose custody of their baby.
  • Poor Joshua needs to stay away from pools. This wasn’t the first time someone tried to drown him.
  • I understand Craig is frustrated and angry at Joshua, but wanting to drown his nephew in the pool was a bit too much.
  • With five more episodes left, I’m still waiting to see what bigger role Pamela is supposed to play in the present timeline. There has to be a reason behind the writers bringing her back.

What did you think of ‘Gladiators’?

Let us know.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.

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