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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 on a sixth and final season. 

The TNT drama, based on the 2010 Australian film of the same name, stars 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 Season 5, as well as what that Season 6 news means for the Cody family.

When will Animal Kingdom Season 5 drop?

Production was halted on the show March 16, 2020, due to the coronavirus epidemic, but fortunately things got back on track. Production resumed with strengthened health and safety protocols in September, and Actor Shawn Hatosy, who plays Pope, posted on Instagram that he had wrapped shooting Season 5 back in December. Then, with the drop of the official Season 5 trailer, we learned the equally official release date. "Animal Kingdom" will be returning to liven up your summer on July 11.

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. The series 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 remaining scripted dramas. "Claws," another scripted drama on TNT, is ending as well. That 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 on Animal Kingdom Season 5

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. InSseason 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 Part II," no? Heirs to a crime family scramble to seize power after the death of their leader and parent, meanwhile the viewers are treated to flashbacks depicting 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. It's a whole family of Fredos.

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, and the new trailer corroborates all that early info. 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. Actress Leila George of "Mortal Engines" fame has been cast in the juicy role of young smurf (via IMDb), and we can't wait to see what she does with it.

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.