DUBAI: With seven of its final 14 episodes out, it’s the beginning of the end for the Bryde family — Marty, Wendy and their kids Charlotte and Jonah.
Marty (played with deadpan brilliance by Jason Bateman) is a great financier. So good he’s responsible for laundering drug money for the Navarro cartel, which has led the family to reluctantly leave Chicago for a resort in the Ozarks — aka “the redneck Riviera.” Throughout the previous three seasons, Wendy (the surface-sweet, center-sour Laura Linney) and Marty have told themselves they are doing what is necessary to ensure their children survive and have a prosperous future, even setting up the Byrde Family Foundation, with the intention of doing some good.
If we’ve learned anything from “Ozark,” though, it’s that good intentions are rarely as useful as powerful friends, and plans are prone to falling apart. So the Byrdes are dragged ever deeper into the criminal underworld that they are (so they say, at least) trying to escape.
In the meantime, the family is falling apart. Jonah — enraged by master-manipulator Wendy’s betrayal and sacrifice of her own brother Ben — is rebelling, helping heroin farmer Darlene Snell and Marty’s ex-business partner, the trailer-park entrepreneur Ruth Langmore (further excellence from Emmy winner Julia Garner) clean their drug money using tricks he’s learned from his dad.
Wendy is equally enraged by Jonah’s betrayal and the ongoing battle of wills between the pair is central to season four. Not least because it’s unclear just how far either will go to win.
“Ozark” isn’t big on clarity. With just half a season to go, it’s still impossible to say if and/or how the Byrdes will ever escape the clutches of the cartel, or the FBI (or the dogged private investigator looking for another of the Byrde’s ‘disappeared’ rivals), particularly given the foreshadowing scene of a car accident at the start of this season. And that uncertainty — the constant recalibration required by Marty and Wendy as schemes collapse and alliances shift — is key to its success.
The Byrdes’ tightrope-walking double-dealing requires nerves of steel on their part. And from the audience. No other show right now will bring you to the edge of your seat so consistently.