Ozark’s last season at times feels formulaic, and seemingly recognizing that you can see dramatic decisions were made in an attempt to shake things up.
|Genre(s)||Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller, Family|
This content contains pertinent spoilers.
If you’ve seen one season of Ozark, you may feel like you have seen them all. For once again, Wendy and Marty get lucky and survive working for the Navarro Cartel. But now, the stakes are higher. The FBI is more involved, Wendy is heavily focused on making the Byrde Foundation a political heavyweight, and Marty? He is just trying to stay alive and appease all parties. Be it Wendy’s ambitions, Ruth’s attitude, Omar’s desire to be able to fly and go where he wants, or his kids who have adjusted to their parents’ lifestyle yet also grow tired of it.
But things reach a fever pitch this season as politics get involved, not just in American politics but in Cartel politics. As Omar’s sister Camila and nephew Javi come into play, Wendy and Marty try to figure out how to make it so there is a balance of power, if not influence being in their favor. Alongside that, Wendy is dealing with Jonah getting real tired of his mom’s ways, and Wendy has to deal with Nathan, her dad, alongside an investigation into Ben’s death.
Add in Darlene pissing off people, killing them for disrespecting her, and being non-cooperative with the Byrdes, Ruth, and even the Kansas City Mob, and it’s all the drama you expect and may have built a tolerance for, taken to the next level.
Things To Note
Question(s) Left Unanswered
- Did Camila ever have the desire to be the head of the Cartel?
- Why didn’t we see more of Chuck, considering they could have provided more insight into Ruth’s mom?
- Why didn’t Charles Wilkes do more to humble Wendy and the Byrdes?
- What was the end game plan for Jim in terms of his working relationship with Wendy?
What Could Happen Next
- Us learning if anyone could stop the runaway train, which is Wendy’s ambitions
- Seeing if Jonah could ever live a normal life after all his trauma and experiences
- Seeing Jonah and Charlotte date and attempt to have a normal life despite their family’s business
- Wendy and Marty become separated or divorced
- It coming to a point where the secrets and controlling the people who know the secrets becomes too much for Marty
- The Navarro Cartel’s rivals joining to take them down
- Maya making the kind of ally that would take down the Byrdes
When it comes to Ozark, women have long been the best characters and villains. Hence, it was so sad when Omar and Javi dominated the first half of the season and a notable part of the second. However, it was a beautiful thing once Camila was asked to step up and take the reins. Now, she doesn’t get to play a threat to Marty and Wendy for long, maybe a handful of episodes, but her presence, voice, and demeanor may remind you of Helen in some ways. Just with more power and far less vulnerability.
Where Things Were Going For Ruth
Ruth has a rough season. She wants to leave life with Marty behind and really make things work with Darlene, but Darlene is old school, used to doing things one way, and pulls rank whenever Ruth gets too big for her britches. Because of this, that part of the season for Ruth is hard, and sadly at times, it gets worse. Between dealing with more death, Wendy, and even getting involved with local politics, Ruth finds herself unprotected for the most part, but reminds us of the grit which made many fall in love with the character.
Hence, the final episodes get you in your feelings as Ruth finds her slate wiped clean but is unable to enjoy getting a second chance for long.
How Far Wendy Was Willing To Go For What She Wanted
While Marty is no saint, he isn’t the sinner Wendy is. To escape the trajectory her father has long expected her to be on, to gain some semblance of lasting power, she blackmails, orders people to be tortured, and uses Marty like he is an employee and not a partner. Heck, when she, Jonah, and Charlotte really hit a low point in their relationship, to force them to see her, she even checks herself into the same mental health hospital Ben was in. The woman is truly limitless.
Which in some ways makes her one of the top villains of the show, just without the backing of the more notable ones.
Until Camila Came Along, The “Villains” Were Bland Or Lost Their Luster
Whether you want to talk about the FBI, Darlene, Omar, or Javi, those who opposed the Byrde family either lost their luster or didn’t have any. The FBI gave us generic government officials as we met Maya’s superiors, and all we got was their names and a mission. That was it, and if they were to die, like Agent Smith of The Matrix, they would easily be replaced.
Javi and Omar, similar to Darlene, we know and see are capable of violence, cursing, and flipping out. But it seems like their best days are behind them. You’ve grown used to what they are capable of, even the fairly new Javi, and with them never presenting a real threat to the Byrde family, it’s hard to take them seriously. This is especially true for Javi, who noted more than once he voted for the Byrdes to die over Helen, yet the worst thing he does is beat Marty with the back of his gun rather than kill him.
Oh, and Darlene? They utterly destroyed her character. Between being bested by Ruth and especially Wendy, she is constantly undermined, put on the ropes, and her legacy gets decimated.
Clare is a key part of Wendy’s ascent to becoming a queenpin in Great Lake politics. Because of that, it is understandable that she’d do anything to charm or control Clare. But, sadly, Clare doesn’t really have much fight in her. More often than not, Wendy tells her to jump, and Clare says, “How high?”
This isn’t to discount the one time she tried to rebel against Wendy, but within days Clare found herself under Wendy’s thumb again, making this character eye-roll inducing. Especially since she could have had the ability to take down the Byrdes, specifically Wendy, or at least tarnish their reputation.
Only One Death Really Triggered An Emotional Reaction
People die on this show, and often it feels like it is done for a reaction, mainly from fans, than because the story calls for it or because someone’s arc is over. Wyatt and Darlene’s death, alongside Frank Sr., just lacks that special something. Now, don’t get us wrong, we get Wyatt’s death means Ruth going on a tear, which sets up the events that cause her demise. However, I would say Ruth’s death was the only one with impact since her death was unexpected. If anything, you’d think she was untouchable like the Byrde family.
But as a reminder that, despite Ruth being the best character, she isn’t a lead character, it seems they took her out so if there is ever a movie or a distant season 5 (it could happen), it could focus more on the characters you love to hate than the one you just love.
On The Fence
Mel is central to a few stories dealing with Wendy. Primarily he is the reminder that she had her brother killed for the sake of her new family. Secondary, Mel helps Nathan enter Wendy’s life and reignite all her childhood trauma. For this, Mel works as a decent catalyst for a lot of drama, but what puts him on the “On The Fence” side is that he also had the opportunity to take down the Byrdes over their part in hiding Ben’s whereabouts and how he died.
Unfortunately, rather than report this and see the Byrdes finally get a comeuppance, he confronts them, with no backup, and may have left his fate to Jonah.
Wishing We Got More Flashbacks
Strangely, we get a flashback of when Ruth was a child before her mom left. However, that is one of the few meaningful flashbacks we get this season. We don’t get any flashbacks of Nathan and Wendy to further illustrate their tumultuous relationship, or even flashbacks where we can see Ruth and Chuck together, never mind Chuck interacting with Ruth’s mom. Which sucks in a way since Ruth, as noted above, is the only character who really gives you their heart this season.
This isn’t to downplay Wendy breaking down on the court steps as Nathan tries to take her kids legally, but there were so many missed opportunities to give us the full story, which is saddening considering this is the final season.
Marty and Wendy’s Alliance
It has been a long time since Marty and Wendy were bonded by love and not survival. Which is why, as Wendy has the foundation setup and Marty is gaining more concrete influence in the Cartel, so comes the question if they need each other anymore? In some ways, this is explored, as Wendy takes to heart her father making it seem she is hard to love. But rather than confront his feelings or even his children implying the possibility he should divorce Wendy, Marty buries his feelings. Even as he becomes continually surprised at how far Wendy is willing to go to get what she wants.
Our Rating: Mixed (Stick Around)
It’s a difficult task to deliver a satisfying end to any show. You have to decide whether it will end on an ellipsis, which could leave the door open for movies or more seasons down the line, or making an absolute ending that destroys any chance of continuing the story. Ozark went with an ellipsis, and unfortunately, it wasn’t when the Byrde’s family found their luck has run out, but when they have reached a whole new platform.
Because of that and the rest of the decisions made this season, we believe Ozark season 4 is worth sticking with, even if the decisions made for an average final season. For ultimately, it shows what it means to have white privilege in America.
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