Spoiler Alert: This article contains spoilers for Season 5 of Animal Kingdom.
First premiering in 2016, TNT’s Animal Kingdom centers around 17-year-old Joshua “J” Cody (Finn Cole). After his mother dies from a heroin overdose, J moves to Southern California to live with an estranged criminal family led by his no-nonsense grandmother, Smurf (Ellen Barkin). Animal Kingdom is now in Season 5, and over the years, the series has killed off a few major characters along the way.
In Season 4, Smurf found out that she was dying from cancer, and in the penultimate episode, she started a massive gunfight that was supposed to end her life. However, Pope (Shawn Hatosy) ended up saving her, which prompted Smurf to ask her son to finish the job. When he didn’t, audiences were completely stunned when her grandson pulled the trigger and ended her life. Then in Season 5, Episode 5, it was revealed that Angela (Emily Deschanel) was killed off.
Angela, a recovering addict and newly released ex-con who was introduced in Season 4, was beaten to death by a man named Shane and never appeared in Season 5. However, no character’s death was more shocking than Barry “Baz” Blackwell’s (Scott Speedman) in the Season 3 premiere. Baz was known as J’s more level-headed uncle, who turned out to be his father. Viewers never expected the demise of Baz. Here’s why he was killed and which characters had a hand in killing him.
Why was Baz killed off in ‘Animal Kingdom’?
Baz was adopted by Smurf when he was 12, and as he grew up with the Codys, he got involved in her criminal schemes. Because of Baz’s smarts, he became the second in command rather quickly. Baz was a fan favorite early on in the series, but his greediness and self-centeredness brought him down a dark path of evilness. He cheated on his wife and ended up neglecting his daughter in the process, but his decision to steal from Smurf is what ultimately sealed his fate in the series.
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He discovered millions of dollars in cash, watches, and jewelry. Even though he divided up the money amongst J and his brothers, he harbored extra money for himself. Then he went one step further and framed Smurf for Javi’s (Alex Meraz) murder, and when she got thrown into jail, he tried to run off to Mexico with Lucy (Carolina Guerra). However, in Season 2, Episode 12, as Baz set off to Mexico, he was shot four times in the chest by an unknown assailant wearing all black.
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Fans figured he would make it through, but he died in the hospital during the premiere of Season 3. Audiences were trying to come to grips with his death and wanted to know who killed him. Baz’s killer wasn’t revealed until Season 4, Episode 8. Mia Benitez (Sohvi Rodriguez), Pete Trujillo’s (Rey Gallegos) niece and J’s love interest, told J that she murdered Baz and that his grandmother was the one who ordered the hit.
Baz was killed off the show because, in the movie with the same name that the series is based on, that character dies as well. Producers just weren’t sure how long they were going to keep Baz alive. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, executive producer John Wells said of the decision, “The Baz character dies in the first 15 minutes of the movie. So that’s where we thought we were going and then we realized we had more material for Baz, more stories we wanted to tell, so we put it off a little bit.”
Even though Baz was always going to be killed off the show, it doesn’t make his death any less sad. Mia may have pulled the trigger, but knowing that it was on Smurf’s command makes it so much more tragic. It will be interesting to see if any other key characters are killed off before the series ends for good with the Season 6 finale.
Animal Kingdom airs Sundays at 9 p.m. EST on TNT.