The following story contains giant, enormous, huge spoilers for Ozark Season 4, Part 1. Do not read on unless if you have already watched or don’t mind being spoiled. Seriously!
We’re at the end of the beginning of the end. That’s right—Ozark‘s final season, which has been split into two parts, has now concluded its first part. And, man, is there a lot to think about, and probably even more to be nervous about as we move towards Part 2 of Season 4. We’ve long known that the Byrde family was in deep, deep trouble—being in a close relationship with the leader of a mass-murdering drug cartel will probably have that effect. But Season 4, Part 1 kept the tension and stakes high for the entirety of its 7 episode run. A lot of shit went down, and now we’ll have to wait just a little bit longer to see how it all winds up playing out.
The story seemed to be at a fairly logical place to start winding down. While Omar Navarro’s deal with the FBI didn’t turn out exactly how everyone planned, it created an offramp for Marty and Wendy to finally get their family out for good. But then Maya Miller arrested Navarro, going rogue and creating the first bump in the road. Still, Marty and Wendy’s scheming got them back in good graces; the FBI decided to make the same deal with Navarro’s loose-cannon nephew and successor, Javi. And the Byrdes again seemed to be in the clear.
But then Javi had to settle old grudges: he met the newlywed Darlene Snell and Wyatt Langmore at home, and murdered them both in cold blood. When Ruth found out…you won’t see a more intensely acted series of moments than what Julia Garner does at the end of the season. She’s got nothing left to lose—Ozark fans won’t forget her rage-filled wails for a long, long time: or, at least until Season 4, Part 2 comes out.
There’s a lot going on. And that’s not even to mention a scene we certainly cannot forget about: the one that opens the season. Seemingly set in the future, an undisclosed period of time past everything we’ve seen in Season 4, Part 1, when the Byrde family are driving off, problems seemingly behind them, when a terrible car accident happens. All bets are off—but we haven’t caught back up here just yet.
Just like with our Ozark refresher ahead of the final season, we’re going to take a look at where things stand individually, through the lens of each of our most important characters.
Our leading man is kind of a unique character in the space of shows like Ozark: he has stayed pretty consistent with where he was when he started the series. Granted, his relationships with many characters in the show—including Wendy, Charlotte, Jonah, Ruth, Omar, Javi, and Maya—have deeply evolved, but he’s still at his core the same guy he was when this all started: a decent guy. He was involved in some bad stuff, and while he’s all along been good at keeping afloat and talking his way out of some messy situations, unlike some others in his orbit, his ambition has never been for anything other than to just find an easy off-ramp from this life.
In the final episode, an opening flashback to season 1 comes full circle when Marty once again talks his way out of what would have been a certain death, again with a gun from the cartel pointed in his face—this time at Jim’s house.
Marty is well aware of how the people around him have changed; Wendy is basically ruthless at this point, while Jonah is kind of a loose cannon financial criminal. (Charlotte, for whatever reason, is basically just a cog in their system.) He’s keeping with his traditional balancing act, but when Ruth bursts into their house at the end of Season 4, Part 1, all he can do is try to talk her down. And when Jonah gives Ruth Javi’s name, there’s not much more Marty can do other than hoping he continues to do what he’s best at: staying alive, against all odds.
Wendy, meanwhile, is the Ozark character who truly has broken bad. While Marty’s whole thing has just been to do what they need to do and stay afloat (and alive), Wendy’s ambition has gotten the best of her. She’s friendly with the dangerous Omar, spiteful with her husband and son, and always just seems to be making a play for the most power rather than what might be most practical. After a season of wheeling and dealing for the Byrdes to help Navarro with his deal with the FBI (and bringing her pal Jim on as the family’s official lawyer), Wendy is caught in a web of lies about what happened to both her brother, Ben, and Helen Pierce. She also, uh, set up her son, Jonah, to potentially go to jail for his financial crimes. Not cool. Mel Sattem, the PI, is right on their tail and might figure something out sooner or later—if she can even stay alive long enough.
Let’s also just quickly shout out the best thing Wendy did in Season 4, Part 1, when she very nearly kills Darlene Snell with kindness—literally. Wendy thanks Darlene for all her meddling, to a point that so aggrieves Darlene that she has a heart attack and ends up in the hospital.
Jonah’s money laundering as “Mike Fleming” has reached new highs; he’s got his own algorithm (which he claims is better than his father’s), and has made himself a nice chunk of change in the meantime. In an act of defiance toward his parents (but particularly Wendy, who he hates for having Ben killed), he goes to work for Darlene, Ruth, and Wyatt, laundering money for their heroin operation. A very lucrative but not totally safe part-time job for a 14 year old, all things considered.
Jonah is never shy about selling his parents out; when Ruth stormed into the Byrde home following Wyatt and Darlene’s death, Jonah was the one to tell Ruth the name while his parents were busy playing dumb. Jonah, at this point, doesn’t give a shit—to what may turn out to be a dangerous fault.
Charlotte…doesn’t have much to do in Ozark yet again. She breaks the news to Erin Pierce that her mother is dead due to a cartel problem during the Byrdes’ trip back to Chicago. She seems to be not quite interested in going to college anymore, instead OK with just being a cog in the family business. And she openly, freely, publicly is seen drinking all season, despite her character being only 18. She reunites with Wyatt briefly, bringing on Wendy’s taunting Darlene, leading to Darlene’s heart attack. So that’s kind of cool.
The. Best. Character. On. The. Show. And it’s clear that the Ozark team, led by showrunner Chris Mundy, knows it. Ruth has the hammer moment of Season 4 Part 1, screaming her god damn head off at the end of episode 7 after learning that Darlene and Wyatt have been murdered. Ruth doesn’t particularly care—and is probably even a little relieved—that Darlene is gone, but she is 100% crushed about Wyatt; he was always the “smart one,” and the one she could most relate to.
After starting the season off at odds with Marty and Wendy, of course she worked her way back into a good relationship; it seems like she and Marty are the connection that Ozark is most built around. And while it may not always be love, they deeply respect one another. And it’s sort of an interesting relationship to depict on TV.
Ruth has now lost her dad, her uncle, her favorite cousin, and her boyfriend—and seems to be on the warparth going forward. Ruth and Javi are going to have a confrontation, and I’m not going to bet against this badass motherfucker.
Omar’s story seems to have mostly wrapped up. He wanted to be able to get out of the drug trade, and move freely between America and Mexico; Marty and Wendy nearly negotiated this for him (with Maya’s help), but not quite in the manner he was looking for. But then the entire thing was blown up when Maya went rogue and arrested him on the highway; this made national news and wasn’t anything that could be undone.
After the FBI instead worked a deal with Javi, Omar is supposed to be extradited back to Mexico, but we’l see what winds up happening. Worth noting that he was so wanting to get out of the drug business that he was willing to sacrifice his entire operation, and his dangerous nephew, Javi, to do so.
Javi enters the show in Season 4, Part 1, and from the jump is clearly someone to be concerned about. Omar says he’s ambitious, and he talks with the Byrdes about meeting with them in or near Chicago, where he got a proper business education at Loyola. Javi is very, very ambitious, and Marty is constantly trying to get him out of the picture—and sometimes, Omar is even on board. But it doesn’t work out, and Javi winds up both in charge of the cartel, and in a deal with the FBI. He’s very, very dangerous, and also very, very protected. Certainly smells like Ozark‘s final big bad villain.
And that’s a lot of protection for him to do some particularly violent and aggressive stuff. He announces his presence in the series by killing longtime Ozark character Sheriff Nix, and bookends that by killing both Darlene and Wyatt in the final episode, much to Ruth’s rage. We don’t know what’s going to happen, but there’s going to certainly be some fireworks when Ozark returns.
After a season filled with even more threats, drama, a heart attack (brought on by Wendy’s passively-aggressive kindness) and of course one more impulsive murder (RIP Frank Cosgrove Sr., you had no idea what you were doing), Ozark finally closed the book on the lunatic known as Darlene Snell. How many people did she unnecessarily kill over the course of the show? I’m not about to start counting but it’s simply so many. So it’s fitting that she gets a fairly anti-climactic, undignified death: shot in the stomach by Javi, who warned her to stop growing heroin. It’s Wyatt’s fate, as a result of Darlene’s actions, that makes us much more upset.
Poor, sweet Wyatt. In a way, his story is the ultimate tragedy (so far, at least) of Ozark; he was smarter than the world that he was forced to settle into, but not cunning enough to take advantage of it like his cousin, Ruth, was.
In the end, Wyatt was too naive; he could have gotten away from Darlene so many times and eventually saved his hide, but he just wanted to do what he perceived as the right thing. Ultimately, the idea of losing Baby Zeke weighed too heavily on him, and he agreed to marry Darlene; this guilt wound up costing him his life. And it was brutal, too: frozen in fear, Javi shot him right in the head, seconds after shooting Darlene in the stomach.
Hopefully in Season 4, Part 2, Ruth can properly avenge him.
Jim is kind of a legend. He works very closely with Wendy, who is, of course, a sociopath, so that’s not entirely cool. But he’s very good at his job—and it’s fun to watch. Here’s hoping he makes it to the end, but now that he’s officially the Byrdes’ lawyer, that doesn’t seem particularly likely.
Maya has been playing both sides of the FBI, the Byrdes, and the Cartel for a little bit now. And while she was working something that initially seemed to be working out for all parties (not long after giving birth), something got under her skin in the end, and she brought a team to arrest Navarro—completely blowing up everything that had come before. Was this her own desire to do the right thing? Was it a way to get back at her FBI superiors for so condescendingly speaking down to her, despite being essential in setting up the progress they had made with Navarro? Either way, Maya’s decision doesn’t bode well for her future of ‘staying alive or not.’
We didn’t get a ton from Mel in Season 4, Part 1, and his role will certainly continue as we go forward. Basically, we saw one scene of his past—he’s a very talented detective and investigator, who got kicked out of the police force when his drug problem (we see him using in the evidence room) is exposed. Now, he’s a dedicated PI, just looking to figure out what happened to Helen Pearce. And he’s all over the map this season! We’ll see what he can piece together as we go forward. But…he’s another one that you can probably take a guess that for all he may accomplish, he’s probably not going to make it out of Ozark in one piece.
Frank Cosgrove Jr.
After a lot of shenanigans in Season 3 (involving both being thrown off a boat himself, and then having Ruth brutally attacked), Frank Jr. kind of became a harmless nice guy and real ally for Ruth in Season 4. Of course, he now walks with a walker after “having his dick shot off” (as we’re reminded numerous times throughout the season) by Darlene Snell, but he seems to have been made a better dude through the whole experience (would not be me!).
His father was brutally, impulsively murdered by that maniac Darlene, so Frank is now presumably in charge of the KC Mob. Guessing we have not seen the last of him—he could help Ruth to get back at Javi.
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