The Reel Review

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The frenetic scheming reaches a new fervor in this first half of the final, fourth season of the crime series set in the Ozarks of Southern Missouri.  Following an unexplained car accident that foreshadows the season’s second half, we flashback to unlikely drug money launderers Marty and Wendy Byrne (a fantastic Jason Bateman and Laura Linney) cleaning former business partner Helen’s brains out of their hair at a party thrown by their keeper, powerful Mexican drug lord Omar Navarro (Felix Solis).

Jason Bateman and Laura Linney in Ozark.

Back home, Wendy’s decision to have her mentally unstable brother Ben whacked near the end of Season Three has created a major rift with her son Jonah and Ben’s girlfriend Ruth, who quits the Byrdes’ money laundering casino operation to join forces with trigger-happy heroin distributor Darlene Snell (Lisa Emery). Snell also happens to be shacked up with Ruth’s sweet, naive cousin Wyatt, in what may be the world’s most surreal May-December romance. Keeping up? 😜

Jason Bateman and Alfonso Herrera in Ozark.

Showrunner Chris Mundy keeps the pacing taut with lots of suspenseful, unexpected twists, and with the introduction of Alfonso Herrera as Navarro’s batshit crazy nephew Javi. Ozark‘s writing is crisp, its sinister mood amped up by the drab, dimly lit interiors and surroundings. Expect double Emmy winner Julia Garner to win a third award as the potty-mouthed, “get ‘er done” gal Ruth Langmore, always “making shit happen” when the feckless men around her lack the balls (or literally, penis!) to do so. Laura Linney also is amping up the drama in this final season, as the Byrde family matriarch spirals into a more unhinged, diabolical crime boss.

Julia Garner in Ozark.

The only real drawbacks to Season Four’s first half are the story arcs featuring a private investigator tracking the missing Helen Pierce and the drug company CEO whom the Byrdes convince to buy opium from them. The former is a snoozer, countered by off-the-charts ridiculousness of the latter, but given everything else going on this season, it all is still very entertaining. No surprise – Episode Seven is a doozy, which will have fans breathlessly awaiting the series-ending episodes later in 2022.

REEL FACTS

• Season Four’s COVID protocols marked the end of Jason Bateman’s tradition of directing the first two, tone-setting episodes of each season. Robin Wright (Land, House of Cards) directed the final two episodes of this first half of Season Four.

• The final seven episodes of Season Four will drop later in 2022, likely just before March 31st, for those final episodes to be eligible for the Emmys, where it is heavily expected to be a major frontrunner.

Ozark creators Mark Williams and Bill Dubuque.

• St. Louis-born screenwriter Bill Dubuque (The Accountant) very loosely based his crime saga on his own teenage years working summers at his family’s resort on the Lake of the Ozarks.

 

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