Animal Kingdom 5×13 Review: “Launch”

Launch animal kingdom season 5 episode 13 review
Young Julia being tired of her mother in ‘Launch’ (Screengrab: Animal Kingdom season 5 episode 13)

Episode 13 of Animal Kingdom season 5, ‘Launch’, offered an intense finale as the Cody men tried to do a complicated and dangerous job. Also, something from their past is ready to cause a lot of trouble next season.

While I understand that certain fans didn’t like the slow pace of some of the episodes this season, I think the slower moments were necessary to develop certain characters. After Smurf’s death, the Cody men weren’t on the same page. Instead of working as a group, Deran and Joshua got involved in a race to become the leader while Andrew went off on a personal journey and Craig tried to handle domestic life with Renn and their son Nick.

Smurf had a reign of terror in Oceanside because she kept her family tight. They worked as a pack even if they had certain disagreements. Seeing the Cody men so scattered after Smurf’s death had sent signals throughout the Oceanside criminal world that the Cody family had grown weak. It was due to said weakness that Pete decided to lie to Joshua about flushing the drugs the Codys stole from the cartel.

I’ll get to Pete in a bit because I have to talk about what Andrew did to him. Wow. But first, let’s go over the high-stakes sequence as the Codys stole money from Wyatt. There was so much that could have gone wrong at any point due to the numerous moving parts. I was even worried about Craig messing up the job as he tried to prevent himself from getting high.

Due to it being the finale, I fully expected someone to get hurt or be gravely injured. ‘Launch’ even made me care about Joshua’s fate as he ran away from a gun-wielding Wyatt. The Codys also had to stay away from the harbor police. As I said, there were a lot of moving parts for the Codys to keep track of.

I think the writing team did an impressive job when it came to setting the pace and explaining how the Codys managed to come out victorious in the end. Everything fell in the realm of possibility, even if certain moments came across as a bit too convenient.

The Codys deserved a win and they managed to pull one off by getting their biggest haul yet, one to the tune of $1.2 million. As Frankie put it, Smurf would have been proud of the Cody men working together in such a manner. Also, shoutout to Frankie for being part of the job. Her role wasn’t big, but I liked seeing her there.

I’m okay with Frankie getting her cut of the haul and deciding to leave the country. However, I’m a bit disappointed we didn’t get to meet the guy (mob boss?) that was looking for her. Talking about disappointments, I was expecting Pamela to play a far bigger role in the present. Perhaps Pamela will get more do to in the upcoming sixth and final season? Here’s hoping.

With the job done, it was time for Andrew to pay a visit to Pete. Frankly, I can’t make myself feel sorry for Pete. He had it coming. Like, seriously, what did he expect was going to happen if the Codys ever figured out he had lied to them about flushing away the drugs? Pete did manage to put up a brave front in front of an intimidating Andrew as he told the oldest Cody about how the criminal hierarchy had changed after Smurf’s death. However, Pete underestimated Andrew’s craziness and determination to keep his family safe. And Pete’s cocky attitude cost him an eye.

The scene where Andrew picked up a pair of pliers and stuck it right into Pete’s eye was so gross. I loved it. I also liked Joshua’s worried expression during the gruesome moment. Yes, Joshua’s a little psychopathic murderer, but Andrew’s in a league of his own. It’s a good thing Joshua didn’t pick up a fight with Andrew when this season began.

I’m here for how Andrew and Joshua continued to bond throughout this season. With Smurf gone, Andrew can be more open about his emotions. Joshua’s the only remaining part of Andrew’s twin sister Julia. I think, in Andrew’s mind, protecting Joshua meant taking care of Julia in a way.

‘Launch’ showed that Andrew was now the rightful leader of the Cody family. He didn’t have to fight his brothers and nephew for the position. It just naturally came to him as he walked out of Smurf’s shadow.

With Andrew at the helm, a new day’s about to dawn for the Cody family as Andrew and Craig accepted Joshua’s plan to sell Smurf apartments and buy businesses to launder money faster. Even Deran agreed to use his bar to launder money. I think Deran’s decision showed that he was fully committed to being part of the Cody family now even though he was thinking of running away with Adrian during the previous season.

Launch Animal Kingdom season 5 review
Joshua telling his uncles his plan, over dinner, to buy businesses in ‘Launch’ (Screengrab: Animal Kingdom season 5 episode 13)

While I understood Joshua’s new strategy (which he mentioned to Deran in the previous episode), I think he still needs to realize the importance of forming connections at the ground level. Smurf used the apartments to launder money. However, she was also making the apartments available to people in need and she continued to look after those people in her own way. Smurf’s criminal career involved helping others so they would feel indebted to her. It was all about having eyes and ears spread across Oceanside. Smurf knew how essential it was to network. Selling the apartments and destroying certain connections might not be the most beneficial move in the long run for the Codys. But let’s see what happens.

As for what more fans can expect from the next season, I was surprised when the recap portion of ‘Launch’ showed Catherine, whom Andrew killed a couple of years ago (back in season one). Turns out, she was part of the recap because the finale closed with her body being found at a construction site and detectives getting involved. I laughed when the authorities retrieved her passport. You would think Andrew would have had enough sense to burn her identification papers before burying her.

Coming to what happened during the flashbacks, it focused on the continuing rift between young Smurf and her daughter Julia. It’s clear that Janine didn’t like anyone she couldn’t control. Unlike Andrew, Julia wasn’t into stealing stuff and Janine couldn’t have that. Janine also didn’t appreciate Julia possibly steering Andrew away from a life of crime.

So, what did a mother like Janine do? She decided to dull Julia’s perceptive nature. The scene where Janine handed Julia a glass of alcohol made me sad because we, as viewers, already know what happened to her in the present. Things might have worked out differently for Julia if she had accepted Janine’s criminal lifestyle. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

I have to say I was surprised by Julia’s characterization during Animal Kingdom season 5. I had not expected her to start defying Janine from such a young age. Julia was quite quick at sensing when something was wrong or when Janine was lying to her. One could even argue that Joshua got his smarts from his mother.

Other thoughts and questions:

  • Of course, Janine’s pregnant with Jake’s baby. The way she told Andrew and Julia they were going to have a little brother soon was chilling because it meant there was going to be yet another little soul for Janine to corrupt.
  • I liked seeing Jake take a stand against Janine and tell her how she should want something better for her kids instead of pushing them to become criminals.
  • Will Craig ever be able to get Nick back?
  • With Deran making Tommy the manager of the bar and asking him to begin laundering money from the establishment, I was expecting Tommy to reveal he’s actually an undercover cop.
  • While some fans expected Adrian to show up during the finale, after Livengood’s death, thankfully, he didn’t. I need Adrian to stay away from the danger always surrounding the Cody family.

What did you think of ‘Launch’? Are you excited for Animal Kingdom season 6?

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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