I wasn’t sure I would jump right back into Ozark right away. I know Netlfix has, as of this typing, only dropped the first half of the final season. I have no idea when the second half will drop. But I just finished up Succession, a show about awful people doing anything for money, power, and influence, so it does follow that I can go for another as I prep for something afterwards that will cover many more weeks in the future. If anything, Ozark‘s terrible people tend to go more for murder than belittling and creative swearing.
Let’s see if I can refrain from doing as I did in so many past Ozark write-ups and talk about how each episode represents a delicate balancing act that could tip the Byrdes into oblivion if they make the wrong move.
To be fair, after a long-ish gap between episodes, the natural thing to do is take stock of where everyone is in the wake of of the death of Ben and Helen. Sure, there’s what looks like a potentially fatal car accident in the opening minutes, but that’s clearly something for the future. And if that’s how the series ends–where the Byrdes somehow get out of all the trouble they’re in only to have at least some of them die in a freak car accident–that doesn’t seem like it would be too terrible a conclusion. I mean, some things are beyond the control of even the likes of Marty and Wendy Byrde.
Instead, the set-up is here that Marty and Wendy have their usual nemesis in Darlene, a new one in Ruth, and a new mission from Omar Navarro. Darlene, she’s gonna keep doing whatever she damn well feels like. Ruth, she’s still hurting from Ben’s death and Marty and Wendy’s role in it, particularly Wendy’s. Interestingly, she isn’t holding it against Charlotte and Jonah, but the kids’ individual reactions are polar opposites. Charlotte is siding with her parents, kicking Ruth out of the strip club when Ruth comes to try and swipe some software so Ruth can become Darlene’s launderer. Jonah, meanwhile, was also close to Ben, so he brings Ruth Ben’s ashes and is more interested in hanging out with Ruth than his family.
Interestingly, both Ruth and Jonah seem to realize how truly screwed over they are. Ruth is aware Darlene is a bit of a psycho, and given how much Wyatt seems more connected to Darlene than to Ruth, that can only make a survivor like Ruth a little more wary.
And then there’s Omar Navarro. He will give the Byrdes a way out of their obligation, provided they somehow negotiate a means for him to retire from his business without any sort of legal punishments coming his way from the U.S. government. Wendy seems to think that’s impossible. So does Jonah. Marty, well, he always takes a “let’s give a try” approach from the looks of things. The lone complication on top of everything else is Omar’s power-hungry nephew Javi. So, to get out of Omar’s debt, Marty and Wendy need to get Darlene to quit the heroin game, clear everything for Omar with the U.S. government, and make sure Javi doesn’t kill everyone in the process.
Oh, and maybe keep the kids in line, but Jonah’s interest in firearms is maybe catching up to him. Just as well since he’s working for Ruth now.
Oh, and there’s a private investigator, Mel Sattem, looking for Helen to sign some papers, a development that nobody could have seen coming. That may include Javi, living in Helen’s house, who shoots and kills the sheriff when he comes by looking for Helen.
So, really, the Byrdes are no closer to being free than they were before. There’s no shock there. If anything, it’s interesting to see Marty and Wendy smugly assume they are going to become rich, powerful, and change people’s lives for the better. It’s the sort of self-righteousness that would make them utterly insufferable even if they weren’t involved in a drug cartel’s business. They aren’t quite the same. Wendy is all volcano rage when Jonah defies them, and she’s a lot more outspoken about all the “good” they are going to do, but Marty, he seems to share that dream, and it’s the sort of thing that suggests these two are the sort of people who, if they were South Park characters, would get off by smelling their own flatulence.
It occurs to me I opened this entry with a comparison to Succession. That may be more apt than I had considered before. That show also featured a cast full of terrible people that, if I met them in real life, I probably wouldn’t want to have anything to do with them. Following Succession with Ozark was more appropriate than I thought.