Let The Bodies Hit The Floor: a Review of Season 2 of Ozark, a Netflix Original


The body count for the second season of Ozark is a high one. No less than five main cast members die during the course of the story. Tack on a couple of supporting cast members as well. Of course, I mean their characters died, not the actors themselves.

Without being too spoilerific here, this means that several loose plot threads are rather neatly cut off, which should bring Season 3 into even tighter focus. And there is definitely a third season in the works.

Jason Bateman is wonderful as Martin Byrde, the money launderer who finds himself in the middle of a Mexican drug cartel, the St. Louis Mafia, and the local drug kingpins, the Snells. Bateman’s performance is reminiscent of William H. Macy’s in Fargo. He conveys a sense of hopeless dread through his facial expressions alone. Laura Linney, as Wendy Byrde, truly emerges as Marty’s partner in this season. The Byrdes put aside their marital woes to save their lives and the lives of their children. Wendy uses her political savvy to maneuver her way through Missouri politics, to pave the way for a casino built on the Snells land, which will be the perfect money laundering business for the cartel.

Meanwhile, the cartel’s top lawyer, Helen Pierce, becomes a character on the show. She’s played by Janet McTeer, who I saw most recently as Jessica Jones’s mother on that other Netflix series. She’s a tough lady, as ruthless as her bosses.

Cade Langmore (Trevor Long) is finally released from prison, mainly to make the life of Ruth Langmore (Julia Garner) more difficult. Cade seems incapable of seeing the long game here and keeps pressuring his daughter to get Marty Byrde’s hidden cash. Ruth is capable of seeing herself as more than common white trash. She wants to put her cousin through college, and she demonstrates a knack for managing the strip club and working as Marty’s assistant. I identified more with the character of Ruth than I did the Byrdes. She didn’t grow up with the advantages that the Byrde family has had, and she never gives up in going after what she wants, even though her involvement with the Byrdes leads to her being tortured by the cartel.

The Byrde children have less impressive story arcs this season. Jonah (Skylar Gartner) is quickly becoming a young white collar criminal, following in his dad’s footsteps. Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz), meanwhile, is going through a rebellious teenager phase and wants to become emancipated. Not a whole lot of there there.

Agent Petty (Jason Butler Harner) and Rachel (Jordan Spiro) return to throw one monkey wrench among many into the mix. Rachel has unwillingly become Petty’s new confidential informant (since Ruth killed her uncle, Petty’s previous C.I.) and is being pressured to get the dirt on Marty to stay out of jail. Rachel is addicted to Oxy now as well.

Jacob Snell (Peter Mullan) has to clean up the mess made by his wife Darlene (Lisa Emery) to keep the cartel from exacting its revenge upon them. This leads to a reluctant partnership with the cartel in the casino deal. Keep in mind that Darlene is still batshit crazy and is definitely a wild card in this deck.

A lot of stuff happens in only ten episodes. And, as I said before, a lot of people die.

The season seemed to be working towards one inevitable ending, but Marty Byrde isn’t the only one surprised when something unexpected happens in the final episode. I was, too. Again, no real spoilers from me. I just want to say that Wendy Byrde is a true Boss on this show and she’s not afraid to make the big decisions.

Looking forward to Season 3 , , ,

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