Photo: COURTESY OF NETFLIX
So what has ozark been all this time? Now that it’s over, we can look back on the story of a family that was ready to make anything survive and could literally get away with murder. When Marty and Wendy chose to uproot their family and launder money for a Mexican drug cartel, they knew in their hearts it would come at a cost. But it turned out that the cost was mostly paid for by others. Think of the few who survived the Byrdes’ orbit. Turn back the seasons and the body count becomes remarkable: Mason Young, Russ Langmore, Darlene Snell, Javi Elizondro. It’s a show about a privileged family who always come out of a car accident unscathed when the other driver isn’t so lucky. And the series ends with at least two more notable deaths: Omar Navarro and Ruth Langmore (and possibly Mel Sattem). A show that has always been deeply cynical ends with one of its darkest chapters in many ways, suggesting that people like the Byrdes are untouchable. God helps anyone who gets in their way.
The episode opens with a shovel patting the muddy ground. Ruth buried Nelson and she has a vision of Wyatt watching. It’s the base of the pool he always wanted. And it makes sense that there is a body underneath. Marty comes for Ruth with a threat: he will tell Camila that Ruth killed her if Ruth does not help Marty get her children back. It’s a last desperate plea because Marty knows Jonah is still listening to Ruth. Convince him, or Marty reveals Ruth’s secrets.
After Marty and Camila review the plan to transfer power to him and have Omar killed in a transfer, there is a scene between Ruth and Wendy in the hospital. Ruth agrees to bring the kids to see Ruth, but she needs reassurance from Wendy that if Ruth does her part, Wendy won’t retaliate even if Jonah decides to go with Nathan. It can’t be his fault that Jonah still insists on leaving. Wendy agrees, and they share a moment about their shitty dads and past mistakes. Ruth admits that she wished she had left Ben in the facility that now houses Wendy because he would still be alive. That’s the difference between Ruth and Wendy: Ruth accepts responsibility even when she probably shouldn’t, while Wendy always passes the ball.
Ruth confronts Nathan with a toast “for Ben” and pushes her buttons in the process. “Every beating I received from my father, I knew it was my fault.” Won’t Nathan just beat Jonah and Charlotte? What if Jonah was a mini-Marty and Charlotte was a Wendy? Nathan Davis is human trash, using his grandchildren as weapons, and Ruth can’t let that happen. He even admits that he does this to get revenge on Wendy. Ruth has had enough, so she pulls out a gun, fires a warning shot, and forces Nathan to confess his ulterior motives to Charlotte and Jonah.
After a tender scene in the hospital between Wendy, Charlotte and Jonah (beautifully played by Linney), where Wendy confesses her role in Ben’s death, the show ultimately arrives at the season four prologue. Do you remember the scene that opened the season thirteen episodes ago? The Byrdes drive while Sam Cooke plays on the radio. They joke, smile and discuss a move after an upcoming FBI meeting. And then a truck serves in their lane and hits them almost straight. Marty veers out of the way and the van flips over several times. Marty comes out first, shooting Jonah and then Charlotte. Wendy? She doesn’t respond at first, but turns out she’s fine too. They are kissing. It’s a show about sudden danger – everything seems to be fine, then a truck gets in your lane. But it’s also a show about Byrdes being able to weather any storm. They are invincible. Even if it means everyone around them has to die.
They return home safe and sound to learn that Nelson is missing. Father Benitez suggests the accident could be a final warning; Wendy sees in it the assurance that they will make it out alive. They can survive anything. It will turn out to be correct.
Marty asks Ruth to confirm that Nelson is under his new pool. He offers her a deal to escape, a new identity, a chance to leave town and start over cleanly. Or she can wait until Navarro is out of power. Make her participate in the operation with the FBI so that Beauty is part of it. Later, Ruth has a vision of the men of Langmore having a good day, singing the amazing “Angel of Montgomery” by John Prine. Wyatt is on the rooftop, talking about the lakeside pool he’s always wanted. Three show up. It’s a beautiful scene and it’s good to see Ruth’s smile.
Despite Rachel’s guilt-driven anxiety, they go to the meeting with the FBI and Camila at the funeral home. First, Ruth demands an apology from the FBI for what Petty did to Rachel, which she gets, and then the deals are done. Ruth and Beauty will always be part of the operation that Camila will lead. It looks like everything will work.
Wendy says goodbye to Sam, who is moving to North Carolina – a fun ending for a fun character. “Thanks for always having my back,” he says, and it makes sense that Sam is basically the only local to make it out alive. Wendy basically tells Nathan she’ll pay him to stay away. “Research money” for Ben that he can use for whatever he wants, but he can’t hurt Wendy.
The Byrdes smile more here than they have in all seasons combined, preparing for the fundraiser. Everything happens Byrdes! But why do you feel like there’s a truck around the corner? Wendy feels so confident that she pulls the rug out from under Schafer. “You’re going to want to take a quiet outing,” she said. They are removing voting machines from Michigan and Wisconsin. They don’t need him to remove Omar from the SDN list anymore because Omar won’t survive the night. At least Byrde’s long list of sins won’t include voter fraud anymore.
As Omar is transferred and the Byrdes children discuss their future, the key scene is between Marty, Wendy, Camila and Clare Shaw, the one variable Marty never really considered enough. Mr. Risk Management ignored Clare’s vulnerability. Camila starts asking tough questions and Clare’s story changes a few too many times. Camila says she’ll forgive Clare if she tells the truth now, but not if she finds out later. Clare cracks up: “It was Ruth Langmore.” And everyone’s stomach drops. Oh no. They can’t warn Ruth or everyone will die. The Byrdes need to watch this truck coming and stay in the way. They have nothing to do. Marty puts it simply, “Anything we try to do, Wendy, will be suicide.” Wendy is afraid it will be too much to bear, but Marty assures her that it won’t be.
Omar is killed during the transfer just as Ruth returns home to find someone beat her there. She knows and slowly approaches the car. Camila comes out of the woods with a gun. “Clare Shaw told me.” Ruth is impassive. She does not turn away. She does not run. She does not beg. “Your son was a murderous bitch,” she growls. And then she screams, “Well you gonna do this shit or what?” And these are his last words. The legacy of Byrde’s death ultimately eliminates Ruth. They will escape. They will move to the northern suburbs of Chicago. No one will know the extent of their body count in the Ozarks. No one will know how many people had to die to live, including almost everyone who shares the Langmore name.
A sad Wendy and Marty return home for one of the last times. They exchange rare “I love you”. The camera pans through the broken glass of a door to reveal a figure outside. It’s Mel with Ben’s ashes. He broke in to retrieve them. It looks like he might be drunk. “I couldn’t do my job,” he says. He couldn’t “put all the guilt aside”. The Byrdes are so good at taking all the guilt away. And so he came to find the evidence in Ben’s ashes. Marty offers to pay, but Mel says, “You don’t win. The world doesn’t work like that. Wendy’s response: “Since when? And Jonah points a gun at Mel. Cut to black. Gunshot.
The last free end is closed on ozark. The Byrdes can finally go home and leave everything behind. And it really looks like they will. They repeated over and over again that nothing is too costly when it comes to protecting their families. That was the theme of the show – how far these people were willing to go to stay together. To the Ozarks and back. With so many lives destroyed along the way.
• Are all loose ends tied? Let’s think about it. With Ruth gone, the FBI might have questions. The presumption might be that Rachel is taking over Beauty and running this operation, but she has heavy guilt towards Nelson and will know what happened to Ruth. Looks like this could all come crashing down and bring the Byrdes back inside.
• Does anyone else think the final scene is a bit too much? The thematic push that the Byrdes can do anything hits home, but Jonah killing a man who’s just trying to find justice for his uncle? Does that seem in character to you? Not really. Yes, they’ve kind of been playing Chekhov’s gun with Jonah and a gun since season one, but he’s probably the least likely to be a cold-blooded murderer in Clan Byrde. Felt like a cheap joke to end the series.
• So, who is the MVP of the season and the series for you? For the series, it probably has to be Julia Garner, likely headed for a deserved third Emmy for this starring role. For the season, I think it’s time to give Laura Linney and Jason Bateman some more love. They have both been excellent this year, doing arguably the best job of their careers.
• Thank you so much for reading for all four seasons! It was a pleasure and a joy to dig this show with you.