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Animal Kingdom Season 5 Release Date, Cast, And Plot - What We Know So Far

It's been a year and a half since TNT's Animal Kingdom was renewed for a fifth season. The COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to production on the show, which was unfortunate since season 4 ended with quite a whammy. Production of the show's fifth season started in September 2020 and ended in December of that year. Now TNT is finally gearing up for the release of season 5, as well as beginning of production for a sixth and final season. 

The TNT drama, based on the 2010 Australian film of the same name, starred Ellen Barkin for its first four seasons. Janine "Smurf" Cody, played by Barkin, led the criminal and dysfunctional Cody clan until her shocking death in season 4. The Codys commit robberies to stay afloat, with Smurf often playing the mastermind of the operation. Here's what to expect in Animal Kingdom's fifth season, as well as what that season 6 news means for the Cody family.

When will Animal Kingdom season 5 drop?

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the fifth season of Animal Kingdom will premiere sometime in the summer of 2021. This amorphous release date was later confirmed when the first teaser trailer for season 5 dropped (via Bleeding Cool). At least we have some concrete sense that the new episodes are on the way. Production was halted on the show March 16, 2020, due to the coronavirus epidemic. Production resumed with strengthened health and safety protocols in September. Actor Shawn Hatosy, who plays Pope, posted on Instagram that he had wrapped shooting season 5 in December, so the release date announcement had to be imminent. 

Ahead of the fifth season premiere, TNT also announced that the show had been picked up for a sixth and final season. According to Deadline, Animal Kingdom was supposed to begin production on this final season in February. Animal Kingdom is one of TNT's highest performers, with 27 million viewers watching season 4 across all platforms, per Deadline. It's also one of the network's last scripted dramas. Claws, another scripted drama on TNT, is ending as well. The show will return for a final fourth season, which was filmed in the fall and winter of 2020.

The Cody family is in more disarray than ever

According to the show's website, season 5 of Animal Kingdom will be split between the past and present of the Cody family. In the present, the family is struggling to recover from the death of Smurf. "Pope, Craig, Deran and J still are dealing with the fallout from the events surrounding Smurf's death, including family members out for revenge," the site states. Smurf had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. In season 4, she planned an elaborate heist that would have let her die on her own terms, and possibly take Pope with her. Rather than let this happen, her grandson J (Finn Cole) shot her.

In the past, we will see a young Smurf raising twins Pope and Julia while also "leading the charge on dangerous jobs with new and old friends." Sounds a little Godfather Pt. II, no? Heirs to a crime family scramble to seize power after the death of their leader/parent, meanwhile the viewers are treated to flashbacks as to how this leader got so important in the first place. Hopefully none of the Cody boys pull a Fredo Corleone. Actually, come to think of it, that's all they ever do.

Who is returning for Animal Kingdom season 5?

The show's website makes clear that many of the Codys will be returning for season 5. Hatosy's Pope, Ben Robson's Craig, Jake Weary's Deran, and Cole's J are all mentioned by name. Meanwhile, we should expect a whole host of younger versions of characters in the 1984 flashbacks. No cast announcements have been made for young Smurf. Will a new actress join the Animal Kingdom family, or will they de-age Ellen Barkin ala The Irishman?

We should also expect to see child versions of Pope and his twin Julia, who has been dead since the beginning of the series. J comes to live with Smurf and the Cody gang in the pilot after her death. 

The Cody family will also be investigating a woman named Pamela Johnson, "whom Smurf made the beneficiary of her estate," according to the TNT website. In the season 4 finale, we learned that Pamela was a friend of Smurf in the '70s, but she hasn't been shown on screen yet. We'll have to watch to find out who she is, as well as to find out which characters will make it to Animal Kingdom season 6.