Ozark: Season 4 Part 2 REVIEW- Treading Water
Ozark, a crime drama, has been criticized for making the audience idolize the criminal protagonists. This was and will continue to be the case with Tony Sopranos, Walter Whites, and Walter Whites. But it’s difficult to imagine anyone looking at Ozark’s washed-out existence and saying, “Yes, that’s who I want to become when I grow up.” However, this time, it’s not because they’re trying to twist the knife of their many wrongs. Instead, it’s because there is too much admin and endless negotiation.
It’s great to see Ozark still engaging with the Byrdes’ evil side and when they show some self-awareness rather than following blindly after the plot’s next goal. Marty and Wendy can become a madhouse if left to their own devices. To enjoy this, you don’t need to idolize them.
Ozark is not a fan of the absurd, despite his skill. While there are rare treats, it is not enough to make you feel bad. Jason Bateman, who approaches high-level criminal politics in the floundering and stuttering way he has since Arrested Development, is a reliable example. “Uh, okay, I get why you feel this way. But, killing entire families and selling heroin to schoolchildren is wrong, etc.
This contrast is obvious when the screentime is spent on what amounts to business meetings. Named characters sit around tables and laboriously tell what’s next. It can be set up in prison. You can involve all the cartel heads or g-men that you want. But, these signifiers of interesting crimes won’t make it interesting.
This reflects that Ozark is a very apartheid show with strict distinctions between main characters and hoi polloi. Four seasons into the series, it’s rare that a person who hasn’t been there since its inception is given a speaking role. Those few lucky ones who get a speaking role are usually family members with existing names and faces. It just seems like they’re picking another one.
(And in any event, they end up rather limp substitutes for some of those faces the show’s lost.
There has always been something about the stage play of Ozark. Not just the beauty of phrases such as Julia Garner’s immortal, “I don’t know shitabout fuck”, but the way that what should be a vast plot is reduced to a few essential dramatis personae. This is how you can see high-ranking cartel leaders committing their murders. They should have thousands of street hoodlums to help them. But we don’t operate on real-world logic. We are in the world where the performance.
The same reason is why the geography of the Ozarks has always been quite up in the air. They are located exactly where they should be in the Ozarks. Who cares? It’s no wonder that the eight-hour journey between Chicago and the Ozarks is treated as a short outing you could do on a bicycle. However, this trip is treated as a road trip.
Sometimes, this last outing feels like a greatest hits reel. They relive past glory, most notably when they indulge in a flashback to Wendy’s troubled brother Ben. This episode was a highlight of the third series. Flashbacks add nothing except that the man has another soliloquy as an automobile passenger. This makes it clear that they want to reclaim the magic.
The South Pacific cargo cults are a group of innocent, grass-age people who American GIs suddenly enslaved during World War II. Many built their landing strips and airfields to try to make the planes return full of food after the war was over. Ozark did something similar. He made a rough estimate and is now puzzled why it doesn’t work in the same way. Ben’s second last ride is not the only one that stops on the runway.
Here, even Garner’s cornerstone is thrown away. Ozark has a touch of poignancy as she recalls the deaths of all her relatives. However, it is ruined when her cousin Three appears, still alive but being relegated to the occasional appearance. This cordon sanitaire is again used between the main and secondary characters. However, when applied to a close-knit family relationship, it can be not very pleasant.
This type of prestige crime drama expects the criminal protagonists to get some comeuppance at the end. This is what The Sopranos was doing with its famous cut to black, and Breaking Bad, which Ozark was always following, fully embraces.
I have tried my best not to spoil or allude to spoil any major plot developments in Ozark’s last trip to the lake. This is the big finale that everyone has been waiting for. To spoil it would be like revealing how Game of Thrones ended with Sean Bean finally getting to kiss Mark Addy.
(Speaking of Game of Thrones: Ozark’s final season has and often made proceedings dark enough to see.
I think Ozark’s ending doesn’t seem like it would have one without going into details. This is quite a surprise considering Ozark’s stagey, flamboyantly dramatic nature. This is where they should, and could, go all out, showing off their explosive potential.
It goes through the motions until it eventually gives up. There is no tying up of loose ends. Although it may happen, spoilers do not.
The epitaph of Ozark is now complete. It’s been done. Give Garner a role that is less burdensome than Inventing Anna.