Fourth Season of “Ozark” Goes Beyond Expectations


The series returned on Jan. 21 keeping viewers on the edge of their seats (Courtesy of Instagram).


Everybody’s favorite money-laundering family is back for an action-packed first half to the final season of Netflix thriller “Ozark.” Just when you thought the cartel could not put the Byrdes in more of a crunch, they must deal with their most impossible task yet: help the world’s most infamous cartel leader walk away without consequence, or face the same fate as many of their coworkers. Part one delivers plenty of backstabbing, gun fights and other elements that have hooked viewers, all while setting things up for a likely epic yet ill-fated conclusion to the series. The latest plot developments will have you yelling with excitement and simultaneously wanting to divert your eyes. Part one serves as a harrowing portrait of what the Byrdes have become since their innocent start in Chicago, which alone makes this season worth the watch.

The first part introduces a wealth of new characters, as well as many familiar faces up to their usual antics. Private investigator Mel Sattam is introduced, whose task is to figure out the whereabouts of Helen Pierce, although pissing off the Byrdes seems like more of his focus. Helen Pierce was a lawyer and affiliate of the cartel who met her end after pursuing an angle contrary to the Navarros’ interest. The season begins with the Byrdes washing her remains out of their hair, which serves as a reminder of just how high the stakes are for the Byrdes. Besides some dirt that reveals his questionable past as a cop, and gaining steam on the case through eavesdropping on the Byrde kids, not much is brewing for Mel this season, which only means one thing: it’s about to go down! Another notable character new to “Ozark” is Omar Navarro’s nephew Javi, who quickly turns from Omar’s afterthought to the Byrdes’ biggest problem. Through a series of botched maneuvers by Marty and Omar, Javi is quickly put into the driver’s seat heading into part two.

Female characters continue to motor the storyline, particularly the notorious Ruth Langmore who comes to terms with the heartbreaking loss of her lover, Ben, at the hands of Wendy, and Darlene Snell who continues her full-fledged heroin operation. The two join forces to pedal heroin, and Darlene’s rash actions get them into hot water. Ruth has cut ties to the Byrdes for obvious reasons, but has taken what Marty has taught her and continues to be the savvy business woman she is. Her character arc is astonishing, from a novice crook to making business plays with mobs and cartels acting solo, she is easily the most well-written character. 

Not only does season four show just how far Ruth has come, but it is a depiction of the Byrde family in their final diabolical form. What once seemed like a tight-knit family forced against their morals to get out of a bind with the cartel, is now an irrefutably evil band of independent actors. Wendy, the most wicked of them all, pedals heroin and orders hits like they are errands to do before driving the kids to soccer practice. Her inherent wickedness is masked by smiles and sweet-talking. She is matched with the deceptively reserved Marty, and their competition of undermining one another usually results in some dire situation they somehow always get out of.  

Their children really come into their own, each one taking after the parent of their respective gender. Charlotte, who is now all in on team Byrde, has many of her mom’s mannerisms, and has taken to her ability to gaslight. Jonah, disgusted by Wendy’s hand in Ben’s murder, resents the family, yet still runs his own money laundering operation for Ruth like her dad. 

What started as a good intention, laundering money through a bar and strip club to fund a nonprofit to do good things, has turned into something far from it. It is now obvious  that the Byrdes only act if it serves themselves, such as laundering drug money for the Navarro cartel through multiple casinos, pedaling heroin with the KC Mob, amongst other things. As time goes by, Wendy’s attempts to rectify her situation by doing good in the nonprofit space through her political campaign just seem more deluded and vain. It is a Sisyphean task, being that for a while now, the Byrdes have been utterly irredeemable. The days of rooting for Wendy and the Byrdes are long gone. Although it is hard to imagine a good ending for them, there is plenty that is yet to unravel as the series hurtles to an eerie end. As it never fails to do, once you watch this season of “Ozark,” you will be begging for a second part.