Warning: The following contains spoilers for Sunday’s series finale of Animal Kingdom. If you’ve yet to watch, you may want to do so before you read any further.
As much as Animal Kingdom fans may have hoped that poor, tormented Pope would get to live happily after, c’mon. In our hearts, we knew, didn’t we, that no way was he going to survive the TNT drama’s gut punch of a finale (recapped here). Certainly, showrunner Daniele Nathanson, who also wrote Sunday’s “FUBAR,” knew. “He’s a killer,” she reminds TVLine, “so there needs to be an ending [that’s fitting].
“You don’t get away with it. You shouldn’t. And even he knows,” she adds, “because he’s the soul of the show, which is sort of a perverse concept, considering who he was at the beginning.”
If we squint hard enough, those of us who have now and then sympathized with Smurf’s twisted oldest son can almost see in his untimely demise a happy ending of a sort. “That wasn’t necessarily what we were thinking, but it is a peaceful place… that freedom from Smurf, freedom from what he did to Julia,” Nathanson observes. “I can’t argue that him being out of the sort of psychic torture that we’ve all seen for a few seasons [wouldn’t be] a relief.
“With that said,” she continues, “he didn’t commit suicide, and I want to be very clear about that, because that’s very important. He didn’t. People might ask, ‘What did he die of?’ He was shot at and he dug [a tracker] out of his side. I think [he succumbed to a] heart attack/heartache. The poetic feeling was that. And he’d been losing blood all day!”