All seven episodes of Ozark: Season Four, Part One are available now on Netflix.
Nowadays, fourteen years (or so) after the release of the iconic AMC crime thriller series Breaking Bad, there have been many shows and showrunners that have tried to ape its style or tone. But I think one of the better comparisons to Breaking Bad is Netflix’s crime darling Ozark, arguably the family-centered crime series equivalent of Pepsi to Breaking Bad‘s Coca-Cola. Of course, Ozark’s cold and blue aesthetic and color-grading also fit quite well with that comparison.
The first half of the fourth and final season of Ozark follows the Byrdes as Marty (played by Jason Bateman) and Wendy (played by Laura Linney) are ordered by Omar Navarro (played by Felix Solis), the leader of a Mexican drug cartel, to secure him an immunity deal with the FBI that would make it easy for him to retire without fear of prosecution. Meanwhile, his ambitious and trigger-happy nephew, as well as a private investigator, are breathing down their necks.
My biggest problem with this half-season is that the show essentially hindered its own chances of achieving genuine tension. The season opens with a flash-forward that I presume takes place in the second half of this final season, and the scene in question features four characters who we now know will be just fine, at the very least, until after this future incident. This makes it really difficult for the show to get the most out of its scenes involving these characters when they are in harm’s way.
That said, this half-season is quite suspenseful when it deals with its supporting cast, chiefly Ruth Langmore and her new partners in crime. Julia Garner is yet again terrific as Byrde’s protégé turned business competitor and occasional partner. In fact, the final episode of the half-season includes some of her most powerful work on the show yet.
The introduction of a new pivotal member of the cartel, Javi (played by Alfonso Herrera), leaves a lot to be desired though. The actor is perfectly fine in the role — and appropriately menacing — but he is also yet another generic and bland antagonist. Yes, he’s a hothead and he puts his nose in everything, but we’ve seen that before here and in better shows. I thought it lacked the energy of the Gilligan-verse, for comparison’s sake.
In this half-season, the show continues to focus on the way Laura Linney’s character r is slowly being transformed by the dangerous environment that she experiences. A part of her may be excited by it. One of the central themes this season is blood and whether you’re loyal to it. The Byrdes, for example, disagree on how to discipline their rebellious teenage son, who is acting out in dangerous and quite infuriating ways, while Omar Navarro has to figure out if he is willing to let a member of his family pay for his safety and peace of mind with his life.
The first half of the fourth and final season of Ozark continues the show’s hot streak. It is still an entertaining show that is willing to be very dark to transform its characters. Its ensemble cast, led by Bateman, Linney, and Garner, is uniformly good, and the show is moving in an interesting direction. However, I do think that this season messed up some of the tense scenes by revealing something to us way too soon.
– Review Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.