‘Ozark’ season four part two review: twists and turns in a souped-up Mexican standoff

Can the Byrdes make it out alive?

The opening shot of Ozark’s final episode shows one of its characters digging a hole. We won’t say who or what that hole is for (spoilers!), but fans of the bloodthirsty crime drama will have their own theories. No one is safe in Ozark – and after four thrilling seasons, it’s finally time to find out who’s gone the distance.

First though, a recap. In season one, we met nice, suburban couple Marty and Wendy Byrde. After many happy years spent laundering money for a Mexican drug cartel, the Chicago-based accountant saw his relationship with them go sour. In an effort to appease head gangster Omar Navarro, Marty moved his family cross-country to the picturesque Ozarks. It’s all a bit ‘maths’ for us, but his basic pitch was that it’s easier to “wash” dirty money in Nowheresville than it is in the big city under the noses of the feds. Amazingly, it worked. 37 episodes later and the Byrdes are still alive – and still cleaning the Cartel’s cash in the Ozarks.

So what’s next? At the end of season four part one, Omar’s reckless nephew Javi murdered rival heroin dealer Darlene Snell and her new husband/weird surrogate son Wyatt. Unfortunately, Marty’s one-time assistant Ruth, Wyatt’s cousin, found the bodies. Now she’s on the warpath – and the Byrdes’ fragile exit agreement with the FBI could be in jeopardy. If Ruth kills Javi, it might ruin their last chance for a normal, crime-free future.

If the set-up sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Ozark has been criticised in the past for trotting out old ideas: the Byrdes get themselves into a fix, they run about like mad to solve the problem, then something else goes wrong again. It would be a valid argument too, if each go-around wasn’t so thrilling. Jason Bateman has never been better than as Marty – dead behind the eyes, seemingly beaten yet relentless in getting them out of a corner. Then there’s Laura Linney’s Wendy, the increasingly impetuous wife/mother/demon with a maniacal druglord in her pocket. Watching their marriage disintegrate, and their souls slowly blacken over time has always been the most engrossing part of the show – and in the new episodes that doesn’t change.

There’s still room for a stellar support cast though. Helpfully, Wendy’s estranged dad pops by for the summer. Very much unwanted by the adults, he grows close with Jonah and Charlotte, the two Byrde teenagers. And Ruth, of course, gets plenty of scenes to tie up her plot arc in a satisfying way. One bizarre moment, in which she meets Run The Jewels rapper Killer Mike in a Chicago diner, proves the writers should ignore the critics and stick to what they do best. Luckily, they mostly do here, which makes for a twisty, turny farewell that’ll keep you guessing to the very end.

‘Ozark’ season four is streaming now on Netflix

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