Ozark may be very much about the ties that bind, how family isn’t really a refuge if everything you do just drags your relatives down the same moral path you started on, but there are other things that bind. That would be religion.
How does religion function in this messed up world?
That’s a good question because in a world where most people aren’t that good, and the only person I’ve seen that is, without question, a moral human being is Maya Miller (here seen demoted and eventually joining forces with Mel to find the missing Ben for Wendy’s religious father Nathan), then what role if anything does religion play? Pastor Mason thought he was doing God’s work and didn’t take it well when he learned he didn’t. This episode features two openly religious men. One is the aforementioned Nathan Davis. The others is the Navarro family priest Father Benitez.
I’ve seen both characters before, and Nathan at least looks to be playing a larger role in the narrative for these last few episodes. Sure, he’s friendly and all smiles, telling stories to his grandkids about the way their mother pulled stunts on him growing up, but leaving out, according to Wendy, how hard he hit her afterwards. The show has made it clear Wendy and her father don’t get along, and that Nathan might be something of a hypocrite. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case, if Nathan was more self-righteous than righteous, and the fact his church group showed up in town determined to find the missing Ben or else never leave says a lot. He doesn’t trust his daughter. The feeling is mutual. And Wendy is certain that Nathan is poisoning her children against her.
Not that I think he has to go that far with Jonah. Then again, Wendy was certain it was Jonah and only Jonah that told Ruth where Javi would be. She’s shocked to learn the well-meaning Charlotte also helped. Marty, as before, is more understanding at least on the surface, but Wendy did accuse him of making up reasons to hate himself at the start of the episode, so whether or not Marty’s conscience even exists or not is a big question mark. It would depend on how astute and accurate Wendy’s observations are. I can see it either way, but given what most people on this show are like, yeah, I do think there’s a 50-50 chance Wendy is right. She might have said it just to hurt Marty in a moment of anger, or she might have said it because it’s true, or she might have even said it because both of those possibilities are true.
Regardless, she said it.
As for Father Benitez, he appears in the Byrde house under the protection of Navarro muscle to basically say he wants Omar to stay in jail. He thinks Omar has sinned, and redemption is not possible without some sort of penance, and Omar’s potential prison time would satisfy that requirement. Never mind Wendy is already working to get Omar out. Benitez seems a more benevolent figure than Nathan does, but the fact that he seems to enjoy some perks being associated with the Navarros makes that a bit less doubtful. Omar is certain Benitez won’t act as a go-between to himself and the rest of the cartel in Mexico regardless.
So, if anything, the religious are not immune from the corruption of this universe. However, there is something else worth mentioning: the religious are not as likely to be particularly grandiose in their posturing. The argument that opens the episode is about what Wendy and Marty are going to do now that Javi is dead and their deal with the FBI presumably with it. Marty is willing to just go to witness protection, but Wendy, who can’t help poking bears (as she does with Omar later), basically refuses to give up everything they’ve built no matter how they’ve built it. Maybe the power is more important to Wendy. Marty seems to prefer just being the smart guy. Hard to say. All I know is, as things are turning out now, Wendy is a much more audacious gambler. Maybe she could use some more of that humility her father fakes.