By Teddy Stoddart, Second year, Engineering Design
Ozark is back with seven new episodes – Part 1 of a fourteen episode season. And, in a move unusual for many popular TV shows, the show-runners have decided to quit while they’re ahead by confirming that this will be the final season. But then again, Ozark is no ordinary TV show.
So far, we have been following accountant Marty Byrd (Jason Bateman) and his wife Wendy (Laura Linney) as their entanglement in a drug cartel spirals from ‘creative accounting’ to money-laundering. With their family abruptly forced to relocate from Chicago to the eerie Ozark Lakes, Marty and Wendy must navigate local personalities, a corrupt sheriff, and lore of the Ozark’s ancestral population in order to launder money and keep their family alive – inadvertently becoming kingpins in the process. These taxing circumstances, however, take a toll on their family, bringing out personality extremes and threatening the integrity of the unit itself.
Season 4’s underlying plot? Omar Navarro, the head of the international cartel that the Byrds are embroiled in, wants to retire; he has been touched by his own mortality, and his ambitious (and psychopathic) nephew is snapping at his heels. With the prospect of escaping the cartel as a reward, Marty and Wendy pull all the strings they can, from manipulating FBI agents to using the political influence of their drug-funded charitable foundation, to try and make that happen.
The emotional weight of this season is carried by the Bryds’ son Jonah. Despite his previous loyalty to his family, the killing of a mentor by his mother last season proves a breaking point. This season, Jonah goes off the rails; laundering money for a rival drug operation in an act of furious rebellion against his mum and dysfunctional imitation of his dad Marty – ‘Do not be proud of him right now,’ chastises Wendy when Marty finds out.
The story of Ruth Langmore, a young trailer-dwelling Ozark native who proclaims “[God] built me smart enough to know how f***** up my life is, but not quite smart enough to haul my ass out of it,” also delivers this season an emotional punch. Julia Garner’s portrayal of Ruth has already earned her consecutive Emmys for the previous two seasons, and after this season a hat-trick is definitely on the cards.
By the end of Part 1 the writers have brewed Jonah’s mutiny, Navarro’s rampaging nephew, and Ruth Langmore into a perfect storm.
With an evocative soundtrack, rich cinematography that captures the verdant foreboding of the Ozarks, and the talent that every actor pours into their performances, Ozark never fails to be anything other than utterly absorbing. This season was no different.
However, it did feel like the weakest season yet. We’ve been watching Marty and Wendy hustle to survive since Season 1, so the main plot-line regarding Navarro's retirement does not elicit the tension it should. Arguably, this could be due to its two-part format, which has minimised the crescendo that Ozark usually reaches by its season finale. Ozark Season 4: Part 1’s ending is not quite as dramatic as those it has previously achieved.
Nonetheless, Ozark Season 4: Part 1 is a must-watch. The plot is water-tight and rewards the viewer for paying close attention; the acting performances are best-in-class, and the production value is fantastic. And, I have a sneaky feeling that any doubts I have are only because this Part 1 has been spent laying the groundwork for an absolutely barnstorming Part 2.
Featured Image: IMDB
What are your thoughts on Ozark’s final season?