One of the most shocking moments on Animal Kingdom occurred when the matriarch of the family took a bullet and Smurf died on the series. But, is Ellen Barkin leaving the show for good?
The answer to that is yes, Ellen Barkin is leaving Animal Kingdom and it is time to see if Smurf’s boys can make it without her there to steer them.
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Animal Kingdom showrunner John Wells explained what his plans were when it came to Smurf and why it was important for Barkin to leave the series.
Wells did point out that this was not a case where Ellen Barkin wanted to leave the show and do other things. He said that is normal on longrunning shows, though, and it is often a good thing when a long-standing cast member leaves.
In the case of Janine “Smurf” Cody, Wells said that the entire reason for taking her out of the show was for story reasons. He said that Smurf dying will lead to “great storytelling” for Animal Kingdom.
“You have to have people coming and going to be able to shake up the dynamics of the relationships between the characters,” Wells said.
The entire season was leading to Smurf’s death, all starting with her realization that she developed terminal skin cancer. With that diagnosis and the realization of her own mortality, she set up one last heist.
In that heist, Smurf started a gunfight and her entire goal was to die in a blaze of glory. Her son Pope (Shawn Hatosy) ruined everything by saving her life and she broke down after that, begging her sons to kill her.
No one would do it until J (Finn Cole), the boy that she took in during the show’s first season premiere, took up a gun and ended her life, giving her that final wish.
As for Ellen Barkin, she had no problems with Smurf dying and her leaving the series.
“She’s a movie star, so she’s used to doing three months on a show or on a film and then going off and doing something else,” Wells said. “So she was amazed that there was four years worth of work, so it wasn’t that. She was like, ‘Yeah, these people have to die.'”
Animal Kingdom airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on TNT.