When I wrote up the last episode, I talked a lot about Wendy and Marty basically being invasive species in the criminal ecosystem that is the Ozarks. I still think that’s a good point, but the other thing this show has always been about is how much keeping themselves alive for the Byrdes is a really delicate balancing act going on at all times.
And now there’s a wild card.
Yeah, much of this episode focuses on Wendy’s brother Ben. He’s bi-polar, in love with Ruth, and off his meds. That means he’s spending a lot of time trying to get to Frank Jr. to give the guy the bashing he deserves for what he did to Ruth and that Wendy and Marty wouldn’t give him. Somehow, this means Ruth ends up defending (somewhat half-heartedly) Wendy to Ben. Ruth, maybe, gets why they can’t take out Frank Jr. One mob war at a time.
Ben, because he’s being increasingly irrational, doesn’t see it that way.
For Marty and Wendy, that means debating what to do about him. Ben was institutionalized once for his own good. Marty wants to do that again. Wendy does not. Wendy doesn’t want to hurt her brother. Marty doesn’t want to hurt him either, but at the rate the fellow is going, the best option after institutionalization will be prison, and that’s the one that won’t get Ben killed immediately.
This all comes to a head when Ben crashes a charitable event Wendy is hosting for the new foundation she and Marty are starting, an above-board kind of thing. Ben crashes, shouts about liars, and even punches Marty. That gets him arrested, and that would seem to force Wendy into having Ben put in a mental institution.
Small problem: state law says Ben has to go to one, and the state gets to pick it. Or, you know, send him to the crappy state-run facility instead of the nice one Marty and Wendy picked out. Ben will see Ruth there, but not Wendy.
Now, you’d think getting the guy attacking random people in bars because he can’t get to Frank Jr. into a hospital would make things easier for everyone. Sure, it’s not ideal, but if balance is the key to staying alive, that should help, right?
Well, it would be if Darlene didn’t pull some strings to get Ben out.
And even knowing that, Ben’s first stop isn’t somewhere that the Byrdes can find. Instead, he goes to yell at Helen about what she does in front of the daughter that doesn’t know her mom is a Cartel lawyer. Or didn’t.
See. Balance. If the Byrdes are invasive species, Ben is the side effect that can bite back at everyone in unexpected ways. Ben is the thing that can knock everything down without even trying.
He can do much worse when he is trying.