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Animal Kingdom Recap: Dead to Me (1.04)

There ain’t no party like the Pope’s birthday party! Well, not the Pope, but rather the one who just got out of prison, has a creepy relationship with his mother, and thinks fear and intimidation are qualities to aspire to. Anyway, “Dead To Me” uses Pope’s birthday as a way to muse about just how messed up this family is — and how many secrets they may be hiding.

The boys are trying their best to make something memorable of Pope’s first birthday since getting out of the pokey. They have a day of paintball and skydiving planned, but the birthday boy doesn’t seem too interested. Baz and Deran try their best to cheer him up by grabbing the paintball guns, running around the backyard, and shooting at him, but that all comes to an end when Pope smashes a paintball gun with a sledgehammer. He’s a serious party pooper, huh?

Meanwhile, Smurf leaves the house to pick up a few things for the party, but she has a bigger plan in mind. She texts “CUTBACK” to all her boys, which is some sort of signal she’s been arrested and everyone needs to initiate an escape. They all pack their bags — Craig too, who’s spending more coked-up, sweaty naked time with Ren — and head to the safe house. Once they’re there, they wait for instructions, and Pope gets on Baz’s case about calling Catherine. Yeah, those two don’t have any bad blood brewing, right? When the boys hear a knock at the door, they cock their guns and prepare for the worst — only to hear Smurf’s voice. She walks in cool and confident, and they all realize Smurf was testing them. But why?

Well, she knows things have been financially tight lately, and the elaborate plans for Pope’s birthday would suggest the boys have been running jobs on their own despite her instructions to lay low. Nobody fesses up, so she cuts them off, taking all the money and saying there’s no new jobs on the horizon.

J and Nicky get caught smoking weed back at school, only for J to step up and take the fall for both of them. Somehow that “fall” means the teacher lights up and offers for him to go on some sort of trip for a surfing photo shoot? Anyway, what this scene really sets up is Nicky heading to Smurf’s place to thank J for taking the blame, only to spend the day hanging out with Smurf. Smurf clearly sees Nicky as someone she can control, and she’s slowly luring her into this world of drugs and too-close relationships.

J, on the other hand, is making a connection with Catherine. It turns out it’s his mother’s birthday, too, and he’s a little pissed the family hasn’t mentioned Julia. So he brings some mac and cheese to Catherine and her daughter, and the two outcasts of this family connect while acknowledging Smurf is a little much (to say the least).

NEXT: When the dead rise, Craig freaks out (read more at the source … )

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