Ozark’ S4 Review: In It's Endgame, The Final Season Pulls Out All The Stops

The Byrde family wants to get out of the money laundering game for good. This is an oft-repeated theme from Netflix's "Ozark," which has propelled cutthroat married couple Wendy (Laura Linney) and Marty (Jason Bateman) and their two children through all four seasons of the popular crime series. 

However, in the final seven episodes of the show, their occasionally hollow statements begin to ring real. This is their final chance, a frenzied sprint for a happy ending, and "Ozark" pulls off a devious ending that lets us feel every second of it. 

"Ozark" began its last season earlier this year, with a string of episodes concluding with backwoods entrepreneur Ruth (Julia Garner) discovering the murder of her cousin Wyatt (Charlie Tahan). Wyatt and drug dealer Darlene (Lisa Emery) were brutally murdered by up-and-coming cartel lord Javi (Alfonso Herrera), and the mid-season cliffhanger ended with a shattered, enraged Ruth vowing vengeance. 

It was "Ozark" at its most ferocious, and the show maintains that ferocity into the final hours. 

Marty and Wendy may want to go, but Javi and Ruth's feud sends them running back into defense mode. The FBI, various cartel factions, and private investigator Mel Sattern (Adam Rothenberg) all circle them like hungry sharks, ready to pounce at any hint of weakness. 

Wendy's own father, Nathan (Richard Thomas), is among the school of sharp-toothed foes, having arrived in town to keep a check on the Byrde children, Jonah (Skylar Gaertner) and Charlotte (Skylar Gaertner) (Sofia Hublitz). 

Wendy has grown into one of the show's most interesting villains over the course of its four seasons. Linney has done an excellent job portraying her, bringing a chilling cold-blooded calm to every threat and promise, and this season is no exception.

 "Ozark" has already pushed her character a long way down the Lady MacBeth path, but the final arc makes the brave decision to explain rather than ennoble her cruelty. 

Surprisingly, the biggest quality of these last episodes is their emotional reward, not their twists and turns. Viewers learn more about Wendy and her father's relationship as they butt heads, as well as her sweet, bipolar late brother Ben (Tom Pelphrey). 

Linney gracefully transitions from the ice queen persona to unexplored territory, leading audiences through an unexpected but convincing character growth. 

The last season of "Ozark" features packed of ghosts, many of whom contribute significantly to the show's plot-heavy plotline. Ruth gets lost in recollections of a period before her family died, and illusions of a time when all the killing will be done, while Wendy wrestles with her own issues. Even Marty, the show's apparent protagonist, who has recently become so bloodless as to be dull, begins to ponder about death and forgiveness in the larger context. 

When he encounters a cartel priest, he is asked if he is capable of unconditional love. "I'm not convinced that's the best course of action," he responds. 

Ruth, Marty, and Wendy are the show's power trio, and while the season relies on the same shifting allegiances it's always relied on to advance the plot, they actually appear to mean something this time. 

The show's never-ending power plays can get tiring at times, but with the endgame approaching, every broken promise and risky bargain gains fresh significance. Characters from all walks of life are dragged into the conflict, as the writers seem desperate to find any excuse to give each member of the show's large cast a dignified send-off. 

No one is untouchable now in a franchise that has built its thrills on unfulfilled threats and perfectly timed saves that have always allowed most main characters to survive another day. 

Parts of the last season of "Ozark" are unsatisfactory on a storyline level. In the eleventh hour, the show seems to revert to its tendency for superficial twists of fate, and it doesle out some of its characters' conclusions fairly randomly. On the other hand, the show has never been better in terms of emotional impact.

 Its generally detached wheel-of-fortune manner of narrative is abandoned in favor of forcing audiences to confront the hope, fear, guilt, and shame that force each individual into their current predicament. 

"Ozark" has never deserved to be compared to "Breaking Bad," and the last season is primarily visually uninteresting. However, in its final arc, the show's creators appear to be aiming for an emotional pitch on par with other great modern-day crime shows, with unexpectedly strong results.

 Ruth is embodied with greater purpose than ever before by Garner, who has long been a series star, as the fiery young lady who has been constantly marginalized refuses to be ignored. Garner's sympathetic character anchored the series even at its most rote points, and now she confidently ushers it into its conclusion. 

The show's last run of episodes is among the best in the series, despite some of its narrative choices dividing audiences. "Ozark" corrects a lot of the issues that plagued the first half of the season, and with nothing to lose, it pulls out all the narrative stops. 

At its worst, the series feels like an endless procession of contract conversations between criminal companies punctuated by the occasional sudden shooting to the head. 

This isn't the case. The difference in quality between the last arc of "Ozark" and some of the previous arcs is so stark that it's as if the authors were saving every ace until the last possible minute. 

Despite this, the show's final season offers a surprisingly rich viewing experience, and a fitting conclusion to a series that never stopped challenging viewers. [B+]

Source: ThePlaylist

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