The beginning of the end of ‘Ozark’ 

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The latest installment of Netflix’s original series “Ozark” is proving to be the wildest one yet. Fans of the gritty crime drama starring Jason Bateman (“Arrested Development”) and Laura Linney (“Frasier”) were treated to the first part of the fourth and final season of the series on Jan. 21. This season follows the Byrde family in the aftermath of season three’s brutal ending, which landed them in a dangerous partnership with the notorious Mexican cartel leader, Omar Navarro (Felix Solis). 

This first part of season four offers a taste of the series’ conclusion, without leaving fans too unsatisfied — only seven episodes have been released so far, as opposed to the usual 10 episodes dropped at a time. Part one introduces a few new characters and establishes some key relationships that will undoubtedly serve as obstacles to the Byrdes’ main objective this season — wriggling themselves out from under the thumb of Omar Navarro for good.  

Jonah (Skylar Gaetner), inheriting the brains and skills of his father, turns on the Byrde clan this season and begins cleaning money for the Navarro cartel and family rival, Darlene Snell (Lisa Emery). His relationship with his mother Wendy is especially strained and serves as the main point of contention within the Byrde family, mirroring the rocky relationship between Wendy and elder daughter Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz) in earlier seasons.  

Also allied with Snell is spunky and bad-ass fan-favorite Ruth Langmore, played by Julia Garner (“The Americans”). After splitting from the Byrde’s operation in season three, Ruth struts her entrepreneurial stuff in part one of season four, expanding Darlene’s heroin business and purchasing the motel where her character was first introduced as the sticky-fingered maid in season one. She also grapples with grief over the loss of her boyfriend Ben at the hands of Wendy in last season’s penultimate episode.  

The dominant conflict of this season, however, pertains to the question fans have been asking since the pilot episode: How will the Byrde’s free themselves from the clutches of the ruthless Omar Navarro? While Marty tries to strike a deal with the FBI to secure immunity for Navarro, a new villain manifests in his nephew, Javi (Alfonso Herrera), who wants a piece of the pie for himself. Despite the trouble caused by Javi, Navarro’s terms are set, and the Byrdes must comply. Whether or not they can swing it is something fans will have to wait until part two to find out.  

“Ozark,” which has garnered a large following since its premiere in 2017, is wrapping up the story of the money-laundering Byrde family after only four seasons, despite its popularity. While many, including myself, would love to see more of Wendy and Marty Byrde, showrunner Chris Mundy explains why “Ozark” should not drag on. He prefers to give the show a clean — although sudden — ending.  

“We always thought five [seasons] was the outside number,” Mundy said in an interview with The Wrap. “It just felt like after that — we didn’t want to repeat ourselves, we didn’t want the show to feel like it was continuing because it was a TV show and it had to continue.” 

In true Netflix fashion, the release date of season four, part two hasn’t been announced yet, but online buzz points toward sometime this spring. The first seven episodes of season four of “Ozark”  are available to stream on Netflix now.  

Rating: 5/5 

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