Warning: The following contains spoilers for Tuesday’s pivotal Animal Kingdom. If you want its surprises to remain surprises, read no further till you’ve watched.
Finally, in Tuesday’s climactic Animal Kingdom, we — along with Pope — learned that Smurf had indeed ordered the hit on Baz. What’s more, the plot that the Cody family’s matriarch hatched to exchange Marco for her fortune in stolen goods resulted in Lucy’s brother being killed, Pope being briefly abducted and J getting off his grandma’s s— list by shielding her during the shootout. Here, to break down for TVLine the big twists in “Jackpot” — and to reflect on the daunting task of it being his directorial debut — is Shawn Hatosy, aka Pope.
TVLINE | Were you more excited or intimidated to get such a big episode for your first time as director?
I’m not gonna lie — I was a little scared. John [Wells, the executive producer] actually sent me the outline rather early, I think because it was such a big episode, not only as a director but just because of Pope’s heavy involvement in it. And on top of that, there’s the shootout, 10 characters in the scene, there’s squibs, there’s an SUV crashing through the door — which was my idea — so that all costs money. It’s a really large-scale episode. But [any nervousness I had] quickly changed once we got going. Being in so many scenes rather than sitting behind a monitor and watching, I got to feel the energy of the actors and see it up close, so I was quickly at ease.
TVLINE | What was your biggest surprise about directing your castmates?
I wasn’t surprised by this, I kind of expected it, but just the way they rallied for me and were delivering in a way that… I mean, they’re always delivering, but it just felt extra special. And not just the cast but the crew as well. The support was so intense, I could feel it. And it being my first time, it felt like there was a lot on the line. I guess in a way there was.
TVLINE | If you want to direct again, there was!
For sure. I’ve always known I wanted to do this. I’ve been acting since I was 12, and for as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to direct. I’m 42 now, so it’s like 30 years of being on sets. I’ve never been more ready to do it.
TVLINE | My favorite shot was the one of Smurf and Lucy when they first get together at the courthouse. Did you deliberately frame it to look like they were in church sitting in a pew because Smurf was about to confess?
Actually, I was inspired by Atlanta, [a scene] where they were sitting on a couch out in a field. But I knew that that moment was going to be sort of about evil vs. more evil, and to me, just seeing Smurf’s platinum hair and Lucy’s dark hair sitting there… you don’t even need to see their faces, you know it’s like a chess match.
TVLINE | Moving forward, how does it impact Pope knowing finally that Smurf had Baz killed?
Pope’s been seeking this information for a long time. Now he’s armed with it, and it’s a question of what is he going to do? And what is Smurf going to do to him. She speaks of protecting these kids, and I guess in a way she is, but at the same time, she’s slowly murdering them one by one — or at least their souls!
TVLINE | And Pope’s in an especially impossible situation with her, because she seems like his best chance of getting custody — or even getting to see — Lena.
Totally. And with Smurf, it’s never what she’s saying on the surface. Like, she’s totally gaslighting Pope [in the season’s last two episodes], and that has a scary effect on him.
TVLINE | Do you think Lucy can really let Marco’s death go un-avenged?
The whole episode to me is about her getting Smurf to confess. Initially, the script didn’t have that. It was something that the actors, John Wells and the writer, Matt Kester, came together and [decided to add]. And for Lucy, there’s so much strength in her saying, “I want this to end.” She realizes that she has a kid, so how far are we going to take this? If she does something to Pope, then they’re going to send the boys for revenge, and it’s a never-ending cycle. My expectation for Lucy is that she does believe that this will end it.
What did you think of “Jackpot”? Were you more surprised that Smurf had Baz rubbed out or that she admitted it? Hit the comments.