Ozark, Season 4: The Final Episodes

By Joanna Langfield

Think you know what’s going to happen? Yeah, so did I.

Looking back on it, the twists and turns of the popular crime family drama have been only part of what has made us watch. Sure, it is edge of the sofa kind of stuff to see drug cartels in action, money being laundered and people, and lots of them, biting the old bullet. But what made this series honestly more compelling were its characters, men and women of middle America, hovering around the Byrdes, a family that looks, at least at first glance, like so many of us.

By aiming squarely between the fancy billionaire types of Succession and the bada bing Sopranos, Ozark is not only set in the middle of the US, its central figures are a white, middle class mother and father, daughter and son. Even though Wendy dresses primarily in nondescript blouses and pants, and Marty drives a beat up old sedan, these are people with colorful dreams, the loftiest of goals. And they, like their counterparts on all ends of the socioeconomic scale, discover they have the guts to do what it takes to get them where they want to go.

Much has been made of Julia Garner’s dandy spin as the not-as-broken-as-she-looks Ruth, a character that brings a complicated perspective to Wendy, young Jonah and, most interestingly, Marty. But I also enjoyed the work from Lisa Emery, Charlie Tahan, Damian Young, Adam Rothenberg, Janet McTeer and especially Tom Pelphrey, who was a knockout as Wendy’s struggling brother. But the steely heart of all this comes from the lady Macbeth of our “friends”, Wendy, who is wonderfully played by Laura Linney. Yet, as terrific as she is, I just couldn’t stop watching Jason Bateman, marvelous as the conflicted, or is he, Marty. Bateman is one of those actors who doesn’t change much with each, very different part he plays, but always manages to make each piece distinctive. He’s great as Marty and if he weren’t so scary in the role, I’d miss him now that the series if over, even more.