By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – March 27, 2020)
One major point I forgot to cover in the previous review was Omar Navarro’s call to Wendy, where he pretty much reminded her who was in charge. We glossed over it, but didn’t speak about it nearly enough. Again, Wendy Byrde was acting like she was Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov from Crime and Punishment, someone “extraordinary” who was above the law. She owned everybody. She helped Obama retain his Senate seat in Illinois. She’s a king maker, she’s a gangster, she’s…
…nothing to the Navarro cartel but another operative. And, in the struggle between Navarro and Lagunas, any loss is acceptable, even her. So the horse farm and her demanding transparency from him wasn’t going to work. One thing’s for certain about Ozark, which we learned repeatedly in these two episodes, is that nobody is honest. Their motivations, their moves, their speeches, their altruism, their loyalty, and definitely not their charitable foundations.
Check that. There are two truly honest people on this show and both have received a plethora of screen time this season, and you could also include Wyatt Langmore and a few smaller players to this list, but Ruth and Ben are the only two that have… nope, Ruth still can’t tell her brother who really killed his father. Whoops. Even though she’s trying to protect him to some degree, it’s still a lie. So Ben, who flies off the handle, wants vengeance for Frank Jr.’s attack on the woman he loves, and also… crap, actually he isn’t either, because he played smurf in the casino and took part in the laundering scam.
Maya Miller? Okay, maybe we can go with her. She twice turned down good intel and accounting work Marty did, because it wasn’t the deal. “You can’t have your cake and avoid prison.” He goes over her head, makes sure her superiors get the intel, and that ends up costing her reputation, even as she tried to hang onto her integrity and do the right thing. As much as we sometimes do want to root for Marty, Wendy, and the villains, because their story is the perspective we see, Dubuque and Williams continually give us reasons not to. The conflict of our own emotions as we watch this all play out is the prime draw of Ozark as a series.
At this point, it’s fair to say I’m digging this season a lot. We’ve only got two more episodes to go, but as difficult as these watches can be at times, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed screening all this and writing about it. There’s so much content here, and with few exceptions, it’s been compelling and newsworthy. Even Sue and her banana yellow MacLaren, which we knew would instantaneously lead to her death, was handled well. Helen shows up as a client, then Nelson does, and then we see her wrapped up in a shower curtain as her laptop is copied and wiped.
Also, how bad and dangerous does your existence have to be that you, within five minutes of entering her home, know why she’s missing, what happened to her, and how many prints you’d better erase from the kitchen counter, her calendar, and everywhere else? No one told Marty Byrde a thing. He figured it out immediately, because THIS is his family’s life. Recall he was abducted and subjected to torture and sensory deprivation in a cartel boss’ mansion dungeon cell just a few weeks ago in the story’s timeline. Has any one person gone through more in three seasons of television than Marty Byrde?
I mean…other than Jack Bauer?
Agent Evans had no problems accusing the Byrdes of setting up Tommy and the other guys, makes sure to send Frank Jr. down that mental pathway, and nearly gets Ruth killed in the process. He’s hellbent, and notice Maya doesn’t speak in the scene we see with the two of them. She knows he’s a major problem, because he’s on a vendetta, but he’s responsible for this and couldn’t care less. Sadly, his assumption, while wrong, surely isn’t implausible, nor is it something unfair for him to have surmised.
Strangely, I started noticing that Frank Jr. is far less Tony Soprano than he is Biff Tannen. He’s a bit player, with a powerful father that Marty has now unfortunately cut ties with, but even with the loansharking, he’s more of an entitled bully than he is a mob boss. However, because of Frank Sr., it may not matter. And, because we haven’t heard a peep from KC since Marty told Frank off in the parking lot, said “We’re done,” and basically leveled a veiled threat to Cosgrove, the KC mob is going to do something major before the end of this season. That’s my prediction. At the end of the year, if it ends on a dark note, it will be Frank Cosgrove behind it, because he’s been conspicuously absent since that conversation.
Wyatt and Ruth are beginning to repair their relationship, with Darlene helping as the catalyst to slowly turn both of them completely against Marty and Wendy Byrde. Ruth wants Frank Jr. dead and can’t understand why these unscrupulous people wouldn’t do that for her, considering they killed Cade for far less. I was waiting for her to finally tell Wyatt the truth about his father at the end of the eighth episode, but it still hasn’t happened yet. But it’s going to. Somehow, he will know Ruth didn’t do it. And then, who knows how he will react.
He said it was “a lot” when Darlene tells him how Jacob died, but he handles it. This will be far worse. But, Darlene Snell has a curious and odd loyalty to the locals, especially to the Langmores, perhaps because of their mutual level of hatred for the entire Byrde family. She isn’t wrong when she says all their lives went down the drain the second they showed up in town. The Byrdes are basically the bubonic plague, but they’re also infected themselves. Even when they have small victories, like Andrew Wade agreeing to be the focus of the foundation, something goes wrong in a bad way. Helen makes sure Omar Navarro knows it as well, to which he responds, “Do what you have to do.”
Ben is a major liability at this point, but not as a character. He still ended up being much more likable than I ever expected, and he wasn’t a bad person, he was a bipolar person off his meds that couldn’t be… off his meds. He treated Ruth like a queen and defended her honor, and his actual feelings once he found out the depths his sister and brother-in-law had sunk to were more than reasonable. When he confronted Helen Pierce outside her home once Darlene got Nix to release him from the center, however, he probably signed his death warrant.
I mean… did you catch the look on Helen’s face as Ben walked away following the verbal altercation and overturning the table? She wasn’t just mad. She nearly killed him with her stare. The one person she cares anything about is her daughter, and for Erin to hear what they were all involved in, though she doesn’t know what to believe, is going to be too much. She had Nelson murder Sue just for asking for more money. What will she do to this poor guy? It’s going to be ugly.
Speaking of poor guys… can we talk about Sam Dermody for a second? This guy has been used over and over again by Wendy in particular, and now he’s become a 250K smurf in the casino that attracted Maya’s attention in all the wrong ways. Marty tries to calm him down, but he has been played for a fool so often it’s sad.
Darlene tells Wyatt that Marty is a disease, and then says something that nearly sums up Ozark as a whole, namely that after an encounter with him, or after enough of them, you forget who you are. It happened to her late husband, who she didn’t even recognize before she poisoned his coffee. Incidentally, it would have been a nice touch for Wyatt to have been drinking coffee when she said this. We could use the levity on this show every once in a while.
Wendy’s still the most unlikable, but it’s by design. We’re not supposed to root for her. When she walks out of that elevator after saying Marty was about to take that FBI deal, it’s a look of derision and disappointment. Yeah, it would have been awful for him to have tried to get them out of it. He’s not innocent, not by any means, and he may be more Walter White than she is, because he still believes his motives are right, but I do tend to think he’s more interested in getting them out of hell than she is. She seems to just want to control hell.
We don’t know how the series will end and I’ve got two more hours to finish and then write on, but if I’m ending this show, whenever that day comes, I’m doing it in a scene that leaves at LEAST Marty, Wendy, and Helen all dead and bleeding out in the home that’s all windows. I don’t want the kids to die, especially Charlotte and Jonah, who both confide in one another and in the case of the former, she is always trying to protect her brother from anything she can, even reminding him that with all that happened with Ben at the party, Erin kissed him. That’s what he should remember. She’s a good sister. And his weird dead animal thing from the first season that I truly hated is long in the rear view. They’re both likable and we know they’re trapped for the time being.
So much continues to happen that I’m sure I missed several things from these episodes I should have mentioned. It’s happened in all three of the previous ones. Never have I taken more notes in my life than I have in these eight… my fingers are just short of carpal tunnel, and I’ve got two hours or so more to knock out. But, we’ll get there, and you’ll read my final thoughts and analysis on how Season 3 ends… within 24 hours. Until then… since I’m doing this for you, find somebody else to run your product.