'Animal Kingdom' Star Shawn Hatosy on Traumatic Penultimate Episode: This 'Puts a Mark on Everybody's Backs'


Warning: If you haven’t seen Tuesday’s episode of Animal Kingdom, do not proceed. You will be spoiled and you will not be happy! Everyone else, enjoy...

Where does Animal Kingdom go from here?

The TNT drama, renewed in July for a sophomore season, ended Tuesday’s penultimate season one episode with one of the most heartbreaking and disturbing deaths yet.

After learning from Smurf (Ellen Barkin) that Catherine (Daniella Alonso) -- having stolen $10,000 of the Codys’ money -- was talking to the cops, Pope (Shawn Hatosy) went over to Catherine’s with a slim hope that Smurf’s suspicions were wrong. What Pope didn’t plan on was Catherine, mother to Baz’s young daughter, Lena, lying about everything.

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With her one hope of being spared gone, Catherine said the three words that should have made things better, but in fact, put Pope over the edge: “I love you.” What happened next was both intense and uncomfortable. Moments after the two had sex, Pope did the only thing he could think of to protect his family name, suffocating Catherine with her own pillow and burying her in a ditch -- all while Lena was asleep in the car.

Hatosy jumped on the phone with ET to discuss Tuesday’s game-changing episode, why Pope killed Catherine and what this means for the Cody family and the rest of the series moving forward.

ET: What was your initial reaction when you read that Pope was going to kill Catherine?

Shawn Hatosy:
When I read it, I threw the script on the ground and I was like “What the hell is going on?!” The whole scene is 20 minutes long, there's hardly any dialogue, there's all this intense action and having even been in it and knowing exactly what the outcome is, watching it I was still at the edge of my seat. There's something about this episode that created a visceral reaction in me. I was really, really affected by it.

ET: From the audience’s standpoint, there was a strong sense that you knew something terrible was going to happen, and that whatever took place, you couldn’t go back from that. Did you get a similar feeling when you were filming it, first the sex scene and then Catherine’s death?

: I'm very lucky to have worked with [director] Chris[topher Chulack] and [writer] John [Wells] for many years, so first, the level of trust I have with those guys creatively is the utmost importance when tackling subject matter like [this]. Doing a sex scene on-camera is never that much fun but then to go through the physical act of doing something that's so disturbing [as killing her with a pillow] and then the aftermath of that. The most challenging and difficult part was conveying that Pope was completely in love with Catherine, and having grown up with her and perhaps her being his first kiss when they were kids and the path that our narrative has taken to get Pope to where he is.

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ET: Do you believe it was only a matter of time before Pope reached his breaking point?

Baz coming in and Smurf taking Baz under her wing and Baz being the apple of Smurf’s eye and then Baz having a relationship with Julia and her being exiled because of Baz and Smurf and then Baz taking Catherine, who was Pope's love, it's all of this pressure that's surrounding Pope. When he's asked to do all these awful things for the family, he does them, but in that moment when Catherine lies to him, that goes against his DNA, his genetic make-up. When you do that to a Cody and they feel threatened, they're going to do what they have to do to protect the family. Murder is a family business but the aftermath of [Catherine’s death] and the toll it's going to take on Pope -- hopefully he makes it. (Laughs.) It’s going to change the dynamic of Animal Kingdom from what we knew it and what it will now become.


ET: What does Catherine’s death do to the brotherhood between Pope and Baz, specifically, as we approach the finale and start looking ahead to season two?

: We go over it in episode 10. We resolve many, many things in episode 10 in a very fulfilling way. But the loose end of what happens with Catherine is surrounding us. If I'm looking at it as an audience member -- how [Baz] has treated Catherine and what he's got going on in his life with Lucy and his dad -- he hasn’t been the world’s greatest father. It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch because Baz was a little bit ambivalent. Smurf and Pope are going to have to cover this thing up -- or not. I don't think Pope spends too much time worrying about what the repercussions are going to be. It’s like, “Look man, this is how things are done here and if it were somebody else and you had to do it you would've done the same thing if Smurf told you to.”

ET: There's a moment after Pope kills Catherine in her bedroom where he breaks down crying. Do you think he regrets doing it?

He's devastated by what he had to do. I do think he's wrecked from it. He's able to identify that he was programmed to do it in a way. And I think that because his place in the hierarchy in the family is being questioned after coming out of prison, he has to do things and he's going to do them because more than anything he wants Smurf to put him at the top. He's crushed but he does identify it and he's going to brush back against Smurf a little bit in the coming episode and that’s going to be something people are going to want to see. (Laughs.)

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ET: Catherine did tell Pope that she loved him. Is there an ounce of truth there?

It sent him over the top. That was what really pushed him because he knows that she doesn't love him and I think that's really sad.

ET: What is this going to do to the family and the trajectory of the show? Will Catherine’s death color the rest of the series?

I think what it does is it puts a mark on everybody’s back. I don't think anybody is safe, I really don't. When you're dealing with somebody like Smurf there's just no safety net. She did it to her own daughter, shushed her out because she got jealous of Baz and Julia's relationship. I'm terrified for what can happen to these people that we've all fallen in love with, even though they're pretty awful.

ET: Do you think there will be a time when Pope or other members of the family will rise up against Smurf?

You see little glimpses of it. It will be a nice experiment to try and go away from her but I don't see success for them. The Codys need to band together in order to succeed. Baz really showed his true colors by putting this big Pendleton thing together and that being a success. I see him continue to rise and that's not going to be pleasurable to Pope, so I'm curious to see how it pans out in season two. Also, we have Lena who is motherless. What is that do to the Cody compound? Who's going to take care of her? What influence is that going to have on this girl? Are they going to corrupt her? The truth of the matter is, out of all the people there, the one person that could probably take care of her the best is Pope.

Animal Kingdom
airs its season one finale next Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on TNT.