Before J knows what is happening, Smurf has pulled up to a lavish home piled with expensive cars, trucks, jet skis, and other such toys and he is introduced to his new "home" and family. His four uncles are a rough group of men and include Smurf's eldest adopted son Baz (Scott Speedman, the Underworld series), middle wild child Craig, (Ben Robson, Vikings), youngest son Deran (Jake Weary, Pretty Little Liars), and eventually, Julia's twin and oldest child Andrew AKA Pope (Shawn Hatosy, Southland), fresh out of prison. J is definitely not used to the strange ways of this eccentric and dysfunctional family, whether it is the fact that Smurf walks around in her bra and panties in front of everyone and kisses her sons on the lips just a bit too long, while the boys run around naked half the time, or the level of violence and chaos in which the family operates. You see, the Cody's are criminals, pulling theft jobs to make their grand living. Pope got sent to jail and took the rap for the rest of them, which he likes to remind them of often, and he doesn't like the fact that Baz took his place as 1st Lieutenant when he got sent away. To complicate matters, the boys have a big job coming up and they don't want Pope around the house or in on the job, with him being fresh out of jail and all. Also, Pope is now and always has been in love with Baz's wife, Catherine (Daniella Alonso), but he is also off his meds and quite a bit unhinged, despite his calm OCD appearance. Can you say Cody powder keg?
Smurf is willing to accept J into the family, but none of them know if he can be trusted since his mom was exiled from the family long ago. However, during the task of the boys sussing J out, he becomes involved in a few things and finds himself being pulled into the Cody rabbit hole, whether he wants it or not. His pretty young girlfriend Nicky (Molly Gordon) loves hanging out at the Cody abode, mainly because it's a "no rules" kind of place and she loves the drugs, sex and rock 'n roll vibe, as opposed to her home run by her military strict dad, Paul (C. Thomas Howell, Criminal Minds). As J realizes that Nicky and her family could be in danger being too close to the Cody's, he tries to separate himself from her, but in an unexpected twist, she is drawn to the Cody's like a moth to a flame and things go in a direction he hadn't anticipated.
As Smurf and the boys plan the next big job - and it's the biggest one of their lives - little do they realize that a few people in the inner circle are talking to the cops, though begrudgingly, and it could all blow up at any moment. Smurf also has her own secret side mission, seeking out a man from her distant past, and her interactions with him could very well come back to haunt her and the rest of the family.
Besides the Baz/Cath/Pope sort-of love triangle, Craig finds himself in some deep stuff when his dealer girlfriend overdoses and he doesn't handle things quite right. Meanwhile, Deran is having a fling with Adrian (Spencer Treat Clark, The Last House on the Left), a surf shop guy who rents a building from Smurf, but Deran feels like he needs to keep this relationship a secret because he could face ramifications from Smurf. When J sees something he shouldn't, Deran turns violent, as is his way.
Last, but not least, is J's hot science teacher, Alexa Anderson (Ellen Wroe), who shows a bit too much interest in his well being, but has ulterior motives. Is she trying to save him from his dangerous family or does she just want him for herself... or is it altogether something else.
As the boys work to pull off their biggest score, things become more dangerous than ever before with the cops closing in on them. Can J take the heat or will he fold under the pressure?
Animal Kingdom: The Complete First Season is a roller coaster ride with a group of incredibly volatile and dangerous people. I found myself feeling sorry for J being thrown in among the wolves and thought Animal Kingdom to be the perfect name for this show, as the Cody's are definitely at the top of the food chain, with everyone else being their prey. While different crew members described the characters in featurettes as people you'd want to be friends with, I'd have to disagree, as this family was pretty much completely reprehensible in their behavior. Sure, they party hard, but still. That said, as the show progressed, I found myself surprised that I was actually rooting for them as they were pulling off their big job.
Special features include a handful of featurettes on the characters, the stunts, the set (which was an actual house that was built as opposed to a sound stage), the family dynamic, the actors preparing for their roles, and also a slew of deleted scenes. Additionally, this show takes place in Southern California with a lot of gorgeous surfing scenes and it all looks amazing on Blu-ray.
Animal Kingdom: The Complete First Season is definitely not a show for kids, what with the rampant drug use, violence, crime and sex (lots of man ass on this show), but I did find myself interested in the Cody family's antics, wanting to find out what happens next. While it's not the most compelling crime drama on TV, it is a different take on the typical drama out there and I want to see what next season holds for the Cody's.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray. The opinions I share are my own.