SERIES REVIEW – The third season of the Mexican cartel’s story of a money-laundering accountant and his family ended with a „bang” (haha), but the fourth season could be even more dramatic as it’s the final season…
Accounting for the mafia is a very promising but also life-threatening occupation. We’ve known this from movies and TV series for a long time, but the Netflix series Ozark, which has been running since 2017, gives us an even better insight into the ‘mysteries’ of money laundering through the lives of a family who are involved in it.
Initially starting as a strong Breaking Bad „copycat”, the series quickly became a unique and exciting creation, with the lead character, Marty Byrde (played by Jason Bateman), his wife Wendy (Laura Linney) and their children Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz) and Jonah (Skylar Gaertner), but the other characters are all also very unique and special.
Drugs, money laundering, murders and other cartel activities – the daily life of the Byrde family
In Ozark’s fourth and final season, the Byrds continue their dangerous dance with creepy characters you’d run away from in real life.
What started out as a story about ordinary people entering the world of drugs and money laundering has now become a family affair. This is especially true now that the Byrde children have grown up and found out what their parents, Marty (Jason Bateman) and Wendy (Laura Linney), are up to.
So the role of the children is even more pronounced this season, but of course, the role of the two primary parents is still emphasised. The series, like Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul, for example, is brilliant in the development and portrayal of its supporting characters, and we’ll be rooting for almost all of them – or if we hate them, we’ll be rooting for them to bite the dust.
The Navarros are not kidding this time…
The split final season (now seven episodes, with more to come) focuses first and foremost on the Byrde’s relationship with Omar Navarro (Felix Solis), the drug lord who, as soft-spoken and calm as he is, has shown his cruelty to such an extent.
Yet even Navarro has to contend with domestic politics and the US Drug Enforcement Agency, further complicating Marty and Wendy’s lives, making the constant game even more life-threatening for them.
In addition to the Mexican drug cartel, the Byrde’s still have to face the problems of the psychotic and erratic Darlene (Lisa Emery), whose commitment to the domestic drug trade risks thoroughly inflaming the anger of Navarro and his men and putting Marty and Wendy between two fires. Lastly, the Kansas City mob, led by Frank and his son Frank J.R., is not left out of the party and connected to Darlene’s drug dealing.
Marty is now trying to talk his way out of everything
Showrunner Chris Mundy has impressively navigated the story from one seemingly impossible corner to the next, as the (mostly) cold-blooded stalwart Marty repeatedly tests both his financial acumen and his ability to talk fast and avoid getting caught or killed. This performance deservedly earned Bateman three Emmy nominations, although his only win was for directing the series.
The Byrde’s, of course, are now in serious conflict with each other and others within the family, while perhaps naively, but still with tremendous effort, trying to find the means to return to Chicago where it all began. This tenacity is equally evident in Ruth (Julia Garner), whose alliance with the Byrds has been strained by the events of season three.
Let’s wait (out) for the end…
After series like Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul, Netflix’s “Ozark” is not really a novel concept, so its appeal is a function of the qualities that usually define the best series: proper casting, great story and dialogue, and really unpredictable twists and turns to make each season and episode sufficiently exciting while cleverly building on the previous ones.
The fourth season’s second half will decide whether the series and the Byrde’s can sustain this throughout and give the series a worthy send-off. This “half-season” has been just exciting, twisty and often witty or amusingly cynical enough that I’m looking forward to the second half and conclusion.