By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – March 27, 2020)
EPISODE 5: IT CAME FROM MICHOACÁN
EPISODE 6: SU CASA ES MI CASA
What we’re reminded of from creators Bill Dubuque and Mark Williams as the sixth episode comes to a close is the real stakes involved her. Sometimes, we forget because we hear of Omar Navarro as a “client” and have really only seen him in action in first person once, when he kidnapped Marty as a loyalty test. We spend so much time watching Marty and Wendy bicker, the kids act like kids, Ruth drop f-bombs, and even Frank Jr. try to play big time gangster, that these are MEXICAN DRUG CARTELS.
There’s a whole other Netflix series based on what people like this are capable of, so when the truck goes boom, Tommy and his two associates get clipped, and Ruth barely hides in time to stay alive, we remember… “Oh yeah, none of these people has a chance.” Recall Marty telling Navarro he was rooting for the other guys and hoped they killed him? Well, my suspicious is these are the other guys, because who else would blow up the money, kill Evans’ mole, and shadow Marty in order to figure it all out. These three black SUVs are undoubtedly the ones Helen thought were headed to Chicago, and now they’ve cost Navarro’s operation big time, ruining a drop and leaving a lot of dirty money burning on the asphalt.
I asked in the previous review whether the new Marty Byrde would come back as an aggressor, and in some ways that’s exactly what he did. He was calm, he decided he would unilaterally try to turn Maya, and he shirked off his wife’s trepidation. This leads to the blowup in therapy when Sue reveals both of them tried to bribe her, which is the most Ozark thing imaginable, other than Wyatt Langmore ending up in Darlene Snell’s bed. If you can simply determine the most outlandish and unsettling occurrence in any given scene, that’s usually what ends up happening. I laughed when Carl sent Anita rolling down that hill, because in my head that’s exactly what I predicted. This show is never not attempting to shock you, and although not all of it lands, enough does that it feels monumental and filled with twists and turns.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the first season at all, which if you read my review, was arguably my most polarizing opinion ever. However, I did see in the last few episodes a glimmer of more. I thought it was shock for shock’s sake and was all style, trying to throw the most salacious stuff a human mind could conceive at the audience every time, with every character. Season 2 was very compelling, no doubt, and even though this content is far darker than I usually enjoy anymore, I’m riveted by Season 3. It has problems, just as its predecessors do, but we do have some people to at least SORT OF root for.
Wendy isn’t one of them. Marty sometimes is. Ruth always is. Jonah and Charlotte have both become much more well-rounded and sympathetic, and the biggest surprise is unquestionably Ben Davis, who hasn’t been a problem. We also learn why we saw that crazy open with the smart phones in the wood chipper. He’s bipolar, and now he’s off his meds so he can perform sexually with Ruth and just feel human. Impotence can make people do bad things, including go off necessary pills that keep them from losing control. Unfortunately, this new Ben is indeed about to do something stupid, one would think. The birdseed prank was funny and it was from a good hearted place to someone he loves, who he believes was greatly wronged. He’s right. But whatever’s about to happen, that might be the off meds mistake we have feared. Hopefully it won’t cost him his life. It might.
He’s the first person, along with Marty, to treat Ruth as if she’s important or deserving of respect. Here’s another reminder, by the way, of just how unreal Julia Garner is in this role. She’s superb. She was the highlight of both the previous seasons, and that’s no disrespect at all to either Jason Bateman or Laura Linney, who have been stellar throughout. But Julia is the star on screen, even if her name isn’t atop the page like theirs as an actress. What would this show be without that character and her performance? But the Ruth Langmore character has somehow always been the compass of the series. She’s the one that we probably relate to more than anyone, even though she’s gruff, she has a heart that cares deeply for her family, especially Wyatt, who wants nothing to do with her now that he’s got Darlene, a poppy field to tend, and a new lease on life.
Navarro’s “next” is a horse farm in Kentucky, but he can’t just buy it, he has to castrate a prize stud owned by his competitor, costing Oly Brennan millions and leaving her heartbroken and dismayed. Helen always knows how to handle business, but even Wendy is appalled and we see a bit of a fracture here between the two women, which only gets worse following Erin, Charlotte, and Jonah’s arrest. Helen might be frightening, but her daughter is atrocious. She’s the quintessential brat, but her act wears awfully thin and she comes across not like a rebel, but like an idiot. Who shows up to a new location, meets her mother’s friend’s daughter, and hopes that person will help her lose her virginity? This gal is dim, folks. And annoying. She still doesn’t seem to get it either, but here’s the good news…
…she won’t be seeing Tommy anymore.
He was acting on behalf of Agent Evans, which also is a line that just got cut in that episode. A lot of people lost a lot of stuff in that incident, from money to informants to leverage in a drug war to, if there were any left, innocence for Ruth. She’s seen so much, but she feels like the Jesse Pinkman of the show, the one that you want to see get away to a better life. This show isn’t going to let her, however. She’s the one that draws us in and tries to do her best at all times, without much of a selfish motive. She does have loyalty to Marty, shown as she embraces him when he returns from Mexico, apologizing profusely not to stay alive, but because she legitimately felt responsible for his predicament. He’s the closest thing she has to a father.
Wyatt being the star witness to keep Zeke with Darlene is pretty well thought-out, because it totally blindsides Wendy, who always thinks she knows everything. Whatever sympathy she gained back when her husband was abducted disappears as she goes full Anita Knarlsson on him in therapy and suggests all his moves are simply because he’s jealous of how great a scumbag she’s become, eclipsing him. She always moves from semi-good to all bad, and it often happens within each episode. She was awful to open the sixth ep, but by the end, you kind of felt for her again as Marty has to stay the night and she acts like a wife and mother. Linney is great, but her character is baffling in its bipolar nature.
Ben might actually be medically diagnosed as such, but Wendy is written as a Jeckyl and Hyde kind of person.
So, now we have the police on Darlene’s side after the threats, no longer covering for the Byrdes, we have Navarro’s opposition pulling a major operation, we have Marty living in the same motel Maya is, still mulling over her offer (while trying to turn her and test her), we have her pregnant, which scares me to death with it being this show, a known bipolar Ben, a powderkeg relationship between Helen and her daughter, three dead Frank Jr. associates, Sue wanting a “sh–load” of money to stay quiet after hearing way too much during the therapy fight, and Ruth an emotional wreck for a myriad of reasons, the newest of which witnessing the cartel hit one day after the conversation with Wyatt and sleeping with Ben Davis.
Oh, and we’ve got Wendy Byrde working to do something “good” with a charitable foundation and various causes, raising money and support, completely legitimately, on the liberal side, and using Jim Rettelsdorf to help her put together a list. What’s her angle here? Or is this actually legit? Again, she has two sides, both very powerful at times, to her identity, so it could start out as one thing and quickly morph into another. Still, it’s another log on the fire.
Four more episodes this season, means another two pieces from me to write, but first, I have to watch the next pair. Here, while you wait, I got you some french toast sticks. I hear they’re your favorite.