So, if I were being honest, the first episode of Ozark didn’t grab me as much as I had hoped it would.
But the second one? Oh yeah.
See, here’s what becomes very clear: Marty Byrde is not the strongest or the scariest criminal around–and he is a criminal, morally bankrupt to the core from the looks of things–but what he makes up for in his general lack-of-intimidation is he’s a fast talker who can and will talk his way into what he wants, most of the way.
Oh, and I know for episode one I was disappointed in Laura Linney’s Wendy since, well, there didn’t seem to be much there, but oh yeah, Wendy is a much better character in the second episode. I expected as much and was glad to be right about that.
First, it takes some balls on her part, metaphorically speaking, to talk about how Marty got a good man killed. That man, of course, is her lover. Marty, listening, answers that he was quite satisfied hearing that man go splat.
That gets him a slap across the face. Twice. I am not sure he cares.
That said, these two clearly have a complicated relationship. Marty comes up with a plan later when things aren’t going well to commit suicide in a way that looks like an accident, let the cartel have its money back, and let Wendy and the kids live off a million dollar insurance policy. He changes his mind when he learns that, well, it probably won’t work.
However, this is a new place for city-boy Marty. Both his kids screw up since they don’t know what’s going on (Wendy tells them at the end of the episode). Both kids left their motel room in the middle of the day while Marty was scouting for a business to launder money through and Wendy went house-hunting, settling on the home of one Buddy Dieker, a dying old man with some decidedly old-fashioned ideas. Buddy is under their budget so long as they let him live in the basement until his heart gives out. Marty, meanwhile, learns the local storage unit place’s owner is not the slightest bit ambitious, and the strip-club owner recognizes exactly what Marty is doing and wants a cut.
Here’s where we see Marty’s skills come into play, though. One of his suitcases full of money is stolen by Ruth Langmore, the 19 year old maid and one of a few lowlife Langmores in the area. Ruth’s male cousins had lured Charlotte away with a ride in what turned out to be a stolen boat, and Marty is able to track them down where he decides to confront them.
He’s unarmed. He’s not scary. What can he do?
Tell them the truth and point out that keeping any of that money would be a really a bad idea, something that works on most of the Langmores. The elder ones keep a few thousand as a finder’s fee, and Ruth stares Marty down in a significant way. So, that’s one victory.
The second comes when Marty does find a business to “invest” in in the form of the Blue Cat cafe and inn. The owner, Rachel, only really does good business in the summer, but her son Tuck has some mental disabilities. Jonah had befriended the lad earlier, so when two locals pick on the boy, Marty sticks up for him. But this guy has already been seen to be an amoral asshole, so why does he care?
Well, if he can get the one fellow mad enough to pop the city slicker, what do you want to wager Rachel will let the stranger invest in her business? If nothing else, Marty is really good at spreading the BS.
And that, I can say, is his real talent.