Ozark Season 4 sees blood bonds tested to their limit
When I told a fellow fan that the Byrdes might be able to escape from under the cartel’s thumb this season, she shrieked, “Spoilers! I haven’t watched Season 3 yet!”. First of all, not my problem. Secondly, it can hardly be qualified as a spoiler: the moment the Byrdes are released from their obligations to the cartel, Ozark will cease to exist.
It will cease to exist anyway, probably before this year is out. Season 4 is the final one, split into two parts of seven episodes each, the first half of which is now available to stream. As a viewer, this makes little sense and is more than slightly annoying semantics but apparently there are reasons (none of which have to do with us). Part of it is a cost-saving measure, and there’s often also a question of awards eligibility, explains National World.
In any event, the opening scene of episode one is of a dreadfully shocking nature, the likes of which is usually followed by “six months earlier” or some such (it doesn’t say it in this case, but the timeline is implied because it’s clearly in the future). This means you can try to keep it in the back of your mind, waiting on tenterhooks for things to play out – while deciphering what the opening credit symbols mean and trying to remember them for identification while watching.
My advice? Release yourself from the stress; there are four of them, and their reference in each episode is often so fleeting. They’re fun Easter eggs if you’re a nerd though.
Alternatively, I recommend forgetting the opening scene and going with the flow. To catch you up, there’s a good recap here, which will tell you all you need to know, and is worth 20 minutes of your time even if only for its frenetic pace, which will leave you breathless.
Season 4 picks up – after that scene, and there are a few spoilers below – with Marty (Jason Bateman, who has also directed a few episodes and is an executive producer too) and Wendy (Laura Linney) Byrde still at the same party at cartel leader Omar Navarro’s (Felix Solis) hacienda in Mexico, rinsing Helen’s blood from themselves before hearing his proposal: make him clean – essentially launder him into legitimacy with no fear of prosecution.
Add to this (feel free to count on your fingers) Navarro’s nephew Javi (Alfonso Herrera), a new character, a wild card and a loose cannon who is keen to take over his uncle’s business and doesn’t care who dies in the process.
There’s Darlene, who is back to making heroin and cares not one bit about Navarro’s threats to stop-or-else, communicated to her by Marty and Wendy. She’s also waist deep in a love affair with Ruth’s cousin Wyatt (Charlie Tahan), which might want to make you bleach your eyeballs, and generally being her usual nightmare double- and triple-crossing shotgun-toting self to the point you think “someone really needs to take her out, that will fix a lot of problems”.
Wendy, after initially being hesitant, becomes determined to pull off Navarro’s demands while at the same time carving herself a place in politics and charitable foundations and concocting a fantasy that her brother Ben is still alive, only missing, while no one cuts her a moment’s slack or hesitates to remind her she essentially killed him. There’s private investigator Mel Slattem (Adam Rothenberg) who’s nosing around looking for Helen to sign divorce papers but definitely stirring up way more trouble than that; a dead sheriff; and Jonah Byrde (Skylar Gaertner) walking elegantly in Dad’s money laundering footsteps at the tender age of 14.
And then there’s Ruth (Julia Garner). We love Ruth. We love the best-line Ruth meme. And we love the new heights to which she takes her lurid language. She has become the greatest part of the show. She’s working with Darlene now, but that’s easier said than done, and the two clash time and again. Ruth has endured so much tragedy, and sadly her suffering is far from over, and your heart will break along with hers.
All the main characters have travelled a fraught and rocky road during this series, and none of us could have imagined what they would become. Except Jonah, maybe. He alway possessed sociopathic tendencies. As we enter the end game, Ozark remains compelling viewing and if you don’t binge all seven of these episodes in one go, are you even a fan?
“Part One’s seven episodes manage to keep the stakes just high enough to make you desperately crave Part Two at the end of it all,” says Esquire.