Ozark “All In”

Ozark is an often brilliant work of television, incredibly tense, full of fantastic acting and a plot that always seems to be oh-so-delicately balanced at all times.  It’s been great to check out.

I am also glad I am done with it for now.

See, Ozark may be brilliant and everything I said above, but it is also often raw and incredibly tense in just about every scene.  So much of what everything the Byrdes do as a family involves a delicate balancing act of appeasing all kinds of criminal types, especially the Navarros.  Take the scene in this episode where Jonah confronts Helen with a shotgun over Ben’s death.  There’s a really good chance in my mind that Jonah is going to shoot somebody at some point.  It’s more of a question of “who” or “when” than “if”.  It isn’t Helen this time, but the fact Jonah is such a good shot and is so comfortable with a weapon, even if he’s never shot someone before, well, it’s only a matter of time.

Helen ends up dead by the end of the episode anyway because of Navarro.  Wendy and Marty get to live another day, in part because the two of them figured out how to end the cartel war in Navarro’s favor.  But let’s face it:  a good ending for this show will be if either Wendy or Marty are dead or in prison or both with the other one living and getting away with the kids.  As I see it, that’s the happy ending.  The more likely ending will be with both Marty and Wendy dead and Charlotte and Jonah in a bad place but living (I am not sure this show would kill the kids truth be told).  The downer ending will be all of the Byrdes dead, but that was likely from the minute Marty and Wendy both said, “Hey, we can launder money for a violent drug cartel without getting out hands dirty.”

I will give this show a great deal of credit in how it made it clear almost from the beginning that both Byrdes were culpable in what’s happening.

But this show has always been about balance.  Maintaining that balance is nerve-wracking work for both the audience and the characters.  Just because I recognize many of these characters are criminals doesn’t mean I want them to suffer.  But for now, the show is over.  A fourth and final season is coming.  I don’t know when.  It looks like it will be 14 episodes spread over two parts, with the first batch possibly arriving in November.  I’ll have to make a decision at some point whether I want to hit those seven or wait until all 14 are out to keep this train going.

After all, the end is clearly in sight here.  Being that close to Navarro can’t be healthy for anybody (as seen with Helen).  The FBI isn’t going anywhere even if Marty finally figured out how to use Agent Miller.  Darlene proved she’s a better partner in crime to the Langmores since Ruth finally quit working for the Byrdes and she and Wyatt made up.  Heck, Darlene proved she can get away with a, shall we say, shotgun circumcision on Frank Jr. because she knows how to talk to the local underworld elements far better than Marty or Wendy ever did.  This thing may all come down to a gang war between the cartel and the local Ozark underworld.  Or it might not.  The Byrdes have made far too many enemies and even worse friends.

Bottom line is I do look forward to more, but I need a break from this.  Ozark isn’t the kind of show I will give up on, but being able to catch my breath will be a good thing.  I mean, this episode began with a massacre at a child’s baptism and ended with a longtime character getting unexpectedly shot in the head.  This is not a light series.

So, I need something for Thursdays.  Something that will run for a while but not bog me down forever with one show even after Ozark eventually comes back.

You know, I have at least one co-worker who keeps telling me I need to watch Succession from HBO.  That seems to be the right way to go for now.  Plus, it’s about 20 episodes at this point.  That’ll last a while, and if Ozark comes back when it’s done, that’ll be fine by me.

Besides, this one will probably be my cup of tea on multiple levels, but more on that when I start those write-ups in this space next week.

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