Ozark: Second Half (Episodes 8-14)
April 29, 2022 9:00 AM - Season 4, Episode 8 - Subscribe

The finale...
posted by chill (27 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've only watched episode 8 so far, and my goodness they have certainly hit the ground running.

I loved the two fake out shootings, adding to the sense of "Wow, I can't believe she actually did it" when the real shooting happened. I don't pretend to understand what the consequences of this might be, but I'm enjoying the ride.
posted by chill at 9:03 AM on April 29 [1 favorite]

Holy shit this show squeezed in a Killer Mike cameo? Or is that Ruth losing her shit?

I'll have to finish watching next week and see how it all ends.
posted by Catblack at 11:55 AM on April 29 [2 favorites]

How dare they? Those fuckers.
posted by Stanczyk at 7:05 PM on April 30 [3 favorites]

I'm jamming the Illamatic, about to cause mass hysteria
posted by zenon at 12:17 AM on May 1 [2 favorites]

That was the most disappointing ending to a series I've ever watched. The last few minutes felt rushed and arbitrary. I feel like I wasted the time I spent watching 44 episodes over the last 5 years.
posted by orbific at 10:16 AM on May 1 [7 favorites]

I have seen about a third of the episodes of Ozark as my partner watches - enough to get the gist but not enough to know 100% of all the details.

The actress that plays Ruth is really incredible and deserves every award thrown her way.

It seems like the Byrds backed the wrong cartel leader. Being a kingmaker is all fine and good but what keeps the king from doing their own thing once they're made?

I don't think the storyline with Wendy's dad needed to be there.

This seems like an odd place to end, but maybe it is more Ruth's story than the Byrds' story after all.
posted by jeoc at 11:44 AM on May 1 [2 favorites]

Pretty bleak and unsatisfying. Why make them, especially Wendy, so awful and then deny the audience the thrill of seeing everything unravel for them?
posted by snofoam at 6:29 PM on May 1 [6 favorites]

Such a total cop out.
posted by porpoise at 9:57 PM on May 1 [2 favorites]

I imagined Ruth's housemate would intervene again and was wrong, but I was confident that Jonah would defend the home again. Ruth deserved better, and Marty and Wendy deserved worse.
posted by emelenjr at 7:45 AM on May 2 [4 favorites]

Is that all there is?

Ruth really deserved better.
posted by Catblack at 9:49 AM on May 2 [6 favorites]

WTF? I can’t believe that is the ending they chose. I mean, sure I didn’t expect things to end any other way for poor Ruth, but to cop out at the end … I may be a bad person but I hope that final bullet ended up on Wendy.
posted by Megami at 2:15 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]

I appear to be very much in the minority thinking that this was a fitting ending. I’d be interested to know what ending people were expecting/hoping for. I get the sense that some people were hoping for some sort of justice, but that to me would have seemed like a sudden left turn for the show to take so never seemed to be on the cards. The Byrds are poison, it would have seemed a stretch for someone to suddenly arrive with the antidote.
posted by chill at 12:09 AM on May 3 [9 favorites]

I was always more interested in Ruth and the Langmores than I was in the Byrdes, and for that reason the ending was unsatisfying for me.

The show seemed to be reaching for this idea that Ruth had given up, she'd accepted her fate, she was ready to die, and threw in stuff like her imagining her dead family all around her.

But it didn't make sense to me. Ruth's wily and a fighter, and she's not going to just waltz right over and get shot, ffs.
posted by champers at 4:05 AM on May 3 [4 favorites]

The whole run of the show was basically a "yes, and" improv exercise allowing the Byrdes to get out of every scrape via financial shenanigans, political connections, FBI connections, legal connections or violence. So that the Byrdes apparently survived it all wasn't surprising.
posted by emelenjr at 6:40 AM on May 3 [1 favorite]

Here's why I'm disappointed. First, fade to black and then a gun shot was stolen from the Sopranos. Second, Why did Ruth have to die but Wendy got to live? Ruth was no angel, but she was also repeatedly victimized. They knew the fans loved her and they killed her anyway. It was a great shot (camera not gun) though. The red spot on that beautiful dress burned into my retinas. But soooo tragic and sad. It really made me angry.
posted by Stanczyk at 6:56 AM on May 3 [3 favorites]

I went back and watched the last 15 minutes again and here's a new thought. Unless they are stupid and try to pull some multiverse shit, it was an effective ending. It was telling us they were done with the story and we should be too, even though we suspect the Byrds were destined to become rich and powerful shitballs. There's more story there, but the real story, Ruth's story, was over. So come to peace with it and move on in the knowledge that Ruth's story won't be franchised or spun off. It's complete. No one gets to comeback and retell or extend her story, the writers made sure of it. And maybe there's a little genius in that.

But as for stealing the Sopranos final shot, leaving you with a mystery, my first thought was that it was different because Jonah obviously shot Mel, but upon rewatching it I noticed that Wendy and Marty are just a few feet left of Mel, so we don't know who the gun is pointed at after Jonah opens his eyes. So now I live in hope that he moved the barrel an 1/8th of an inch to the left and shot those fucking assholes who destroyed Ruth.

I'm probably wrong about them never exploiting this property again and should probably expect a trailer for Ozark Babies to be released in spring of 2023.
posted by Stanczyk at 1:46 PM on May 3 [3 favorites]

I apologize cuz I haven't read the comments yet. Worried about spoilers. But I just watched the part of S04E11 where Marty finally snaps. First sharing his anger at his wife to his daughter, then punching out the rando in traffic. And holy shit that was the longest payoff in TV history. Good on ya, Marty, now let's work on dealing with your anger in more appropriate ways.
posted by Nelson at 9:08 PM on May 3 [2 favorites]

I was disappointed too. I kind of felt like the writers considered the Byrdes the "Good guys" and no matter what they did they deserved to be rewarded. The only justice was that they had to have Ruth's death on their conscience, and we all know by now they don't have a conscience.

The traffic accident from Episode 1 finally happened and turned out to be a nothingburger. And I felt like the last episode or two spent a lot of time bringing back characters from Season 1 for Ruth to reminisce about, but frankly Season 1 aired in 2017 and we've all lived through a lot since then. I didn't remember any of them.

(And Three has somehow gotten about 20 years older since then)

The show was well done in a lot of ways and I wanted to see it through, but it could have been better.

I'm not asking for a happy ending, but killing Ruth just so Marty and Wendy can feel bad for a day and a half seems pretty pointless.

Also, I have trouble believing that:

1. Ruth, who was a shrewd survivor with good instincts and was threatened by a drug cartel assassin days before, would react to seeing a strange black SUV in her driveway by walking up without any protection and sticking her head right next to the drivers-side window.

2. Mel, who was "a damn good cop" and a smart PI, would show up at the home of some murdering drug cartel associates to accuse them of murder without bringing a weapon or calling the cops first.

posted by mmoncur at 6:50 AM on May 4 [6 favorites]

I don't see how it could have ended any other way. I'd love to think that Mel was right, that the Byrdes of the world don't get to win, but anyone who's lived through the last few years knows better than that. And Jonah is so clearly a chip off the old block that I don't see any doubt at all about who he shot. If that felt ambiguous, I'd join in the fury about stealing the Sopranos ending, but I don't see it that way at all.

The only really surprising development for me was that Marty found it easier than Wendy to leave Ruth to her fate. Wendy had previously seemed to be the more, er, ruthless of the two, but we finally got a glimpse under Marty's mask when he beat up the guy in the traffic jam and his actions here were consistent with what we saw then. (It's also telling that he'd have lost that fight if Wendy hadn't gotten involved.)

Ruth always knew, at least in general, how she'd end up -- she'd complained earlier that God had made her smart enough to see her situation but not smart enough to get out of it. Her conversation with Killer Mike about Nas seeing the glittering towers of Manhattan while being stuck in a bad part of Queens -- "so hopeful and so cruel at the same time" as he put it -- was along the same lines.

I suppose that my largest complaint about the show is that it bit off more than it could really chew with the vote fraud and pharmaceutical opiates plot lines. But if you're going to cast Laura Linney (always a good idea) you need to give her things to do, so it's understandable. I also wish the show had made better use of Rachel's return.

So overall I'm in the "liked it, but didn't love it" camp. It wasn't a great show, but it was a good one, and I'm glad I watched it.
posted by Zonker at 7:25 AM on May 4 [4 favorites]

Finished the series last night, and I'm disappointed but at peace with the ending.

They tried to do to much and go too far with the various threads and ever-expanding plot lines. Definitely agree that they got too ambitious and things got muddy.

I'm also really annoyed with shows that are too timid to let the lead characters get what they deserve. IMO a far better ending would have been Ruth triumphant and Wendy and Marty under her pool or something. The car accident... that was just gimmicky and cheap. Viewers deserved better than that.

Wendy's arc... TBH I don't know what to think. Laura Linney is brilliant, but it was hard to peg Wendy's true character IMO. At times I was sure she had no moral core at all, other times it felt like the writers wanted you to side with her - not sure they ever made up their minds. I certainly never want to do business with Wendy and Marty, but they wrote them inconsistently.

Maybe that was intentional and the writers wanted us to question whether people have a consistent moral code? Whereas Breaking Bad / Better Call Saul have characters that (as Mike says) make choices that set them on a road, maybe Ozark is saying that isn't always the case. Maybe it's nothing as profound as that and just Netflix execs tinkering with scripts...

I do wonder if and how the pandemic may have affected the show's narrative -- were any of the plotlines or anything impacted by those constraints?

On the spectrum of Dexter (original series) and Game of Thrones endings (rushed, inappropriate, and unsatisfying), The Sopranos and The Wire (okay but so-so endings) and Breaking Bad and The Shield (satisfying and appropriate consequences) I'd put Ozark somewhere closer to The Sopranos. Started strong, had some excellent moments, but didn't stick the landing.

All that said - Ozark was gifted with an amazing cast. Even when the writing was not up to par, I was never less than enthralled with the actors.
posted by jzb at 8:43 AM on May 4 [1 favorite]

Bryce Edward Brown has an explainer on YouTube that finds some interesting parallels from different episodes throughout the series . It pulls together the use of some of the reoccurring images, like broken glass, the car accident, and the trampoline, and reminded me where and when we first saw them. Speaking of which, was I the only one who played the game of find the four objects revealed in the opening O during the episode?
posted by Stanczyk at 11:01 AM on May 4 [2 favorites]

"I kind of felt like the writers considered the Byrdes the 'Good guys' and no matter what they did they deserved to be rewarded."

The thesis statement for the show was Wendy responding to Mel's "People like you don't get to win" with "Whatever gave you that idea?" By the middle of this last season, there's absolutely no ambiguity about them: they're the bad guys.

Ozark, unlike Breaking Bad / Better Call Saul, doesn't exist in anything remotely a "just" universe. Ozark is entirely cynical. So, from that perspective, I felt like this was actually a brave ending that didn't give the audience what they wanted. Ruth died, the Byrds lived — which totally sucked. Like the last six years of the real world.

I do think the execution of this theme was flawed, though. It felt rushed and somewhat disjointed.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:00 PM on May 5 [5 favorites]

I definitely expected a cynical ending based on this show's general attitude, but agree on the flawed execution.

Upon reflection I like that they survived the dramatic flash-forward car accident with no real injuries because it's a great synecdoche for the entire show: Due to their privilege, and connections, and just plain unfair luck, the Byrdes seem to come out of everything unharmed.

I can forgive pretty much everything except Ruth (Who was frantically telling Rachel to shoot the guy in the SUV as soon as he arrived because she was in grave danger a few days ago) walking right up to a similar SUV that was in her driveway, unarmed, to see what was going on.

I would have loved to see a proper Ruth reaction to the situation where she plows into the SUV, pushes it into the swimming pool, and then comes out screaming with a shotgun, even if Camila still ends up shooting her.

Speaking of Camila, she was a highlight of this season. She first appeared to be the stereotypical poor grieving mother who knows nothing about the business the men are running, but within a few episodes she was revealed as something far scarier than Navarro or Javi.
posted by mmoncur at 9:39 PM on May 5 [9 favorites]

I enjoyed this show and its conclusion. I understand why folks commenting here wanted an ending that finally leads to justice but I appreciate the show didn't do it. One major theme of this show is how the Byrdes keep getting away with it by exploiting their power and privilege. It felt true that it succeeded in the end, even against the backdrop of the increasingly outlandish plot points. The very final thing with Jonah didn't quite feel right to me, and of course I was super mad because I was hoping the kids would somehow magically get out clean. But they were trapped by their parents despite their grandfather offering them a literal escape.

But the real conclusion for me was this line from Marty to Wendy halfway through the last episode
I'm not saying that I love you unconditionally, but we have been through a shitload of conditions, and I'm still here.
It's the payoff for the whole show, the whole four seasons. It is the summary of Marty and Wendy's relationship. And it's so awful. On one hand it seems loving, that he's still there for her. OTOH it's also passive aggressive and controlling, explicitly saying he does not offer his wife of 20 years his unconditional love. And he holds both in balance and that is part of the fucked up marriage that is Marty and Wendy. My heart nearly broke in that moment.

Overall I thought Ozark was remarkably good TV that got better with each season. I enjoyed the final tour back to previous characters, particularly Rachel's return to fuck shit up with Ruth. I also liked the tone of the show, somehow simultaneously feeling like a real personal drama and yet having outlandish stories that were just believable enough to work.
posted by Nelson at 8:01 AM on May 7 [6 favorites]

On a scale of 1 (Game of Thrones, Battlestar Galactica) to 10 (The Americans, The Leftovers) I'd give this a solid 4.

It was disappointing. We are not wrong for wanting something better for Ruth. It became clear pretty early in the series that Ruth was the only true heroic figure in the show. This wasn't one of those shows where all the principals are equally despicable; Ruthie was flawed, but as a person, she was good as gold. And she tries. The scene with the judge where she "goes legit" ... let's just say some dust may have gotten in my eye at that point. And it's not just that she died — although that would have been bad enough on its own — its that she didn't even get a particularly meaningful death. Okay, fine, she suffered because she avenged one of her own. Fine. But to be offed by a cartel figure so that Wendy and Marty could live, what does that mean for Ruthie's character development? Not much, really. Where's the catharsis? Where's the acknowledgement that we just saw something awful and unfair happen to someone we care about? It's just kind of an anticlimactic end for such a beloved character, which brings us to...

It was anticlimatic. Somebody upthread compared it to the Sopranos ending, which I think is apt. One minute things are happening, the next minute things just ... stop happening. And then we're done. There was no gravitas. After all we've been through with these characters, I'd hoped for a more meaty resolution to their stories. Wendy and Marty are evil and they get away with it. So what? Meet the new cartel boss, same as the old cartel boss. Again, so what? The people who suffer the most in this show are the "locals" : the Langmore clan, the boat pastor (and his family), Rachel and Tuck, poor dumb Sam Dermody, heck, even the Snells. These folks live in an economically depressed, drug-ravaged part of America, and they all suffer so that a bunch of big city folk and violent cartel folk can get even richer. Something more could have been made of this theme, but I feel like it was only alluded to throughout the series — and not even really touched in the finale.

It felt rushed. This is more of a feeling than anything else, but the last several episodes really did feel rushed. Events that, in earlier seasons, would have taken many episodes to develop were treated as mere plot points to get past. A few examples :
Nobody noticing that Ruthie had a major stake in the casino. How did this escape anyone's attention? Especially Wendy. In earlier seasons, this would have been top-of-mind for her. Her greatest enemy/business partner dies and she doesn't even spare a thought to who she's now in business with? Or Ruthie not realizing that she's been suddenly lifted out of poverty? Not to harp on this too much, but wouldn't at very least the State had set some sort of Probate process into action?
Ruthie burying Nelson by herself. After I watched this episode, I posted this to Facebook (without mentioning Ozark) : "I love how movies and tv shows make it look like burying a body is something your average person could do. It’s like, the typical American can’t climb a flight of stairs without getting winded, and I’m supposed to believe folks could excavate 18 square feet of dirt and rock without even having a pair of work gloves on?" One of my friends responded immediately, "I thought about this the entire last season of Ozark!"
Marty deducing Nelson's fate. Again, this is something that really should have been more of a slow burn. Instead it just felt like Marty somehow got to peek at the script. Or the writers thought "okay, we don't have time to make more of a thing of this, so let's have Marty figure it out and move on." And how come there aren't more repercussions for killing the bodyguard of a major cartel figure? And how exactly is it that Nelson works alone and unprotected?
Ruthie's willingness to get back in business with the Byrdes and help them launder money through the casino. What an odd turn, after all the effort she went through to get clean. She absolutely could have said "no" to this. Made no sense to me.
Mel Saddam figuring out the goat cookie jar. Yes, I know, he saw the cookie jar in Ruthie's trailer and remarks on it. Yes I realize the seed was planted. Nonetheless, sorry, I'm just not buying it. Quite a leap from "oh hey there's an odd cookie jar" to "I bet they cremated her brother and he's in the cookie jar." Like how would he even know that (1) they had access to Ben's body (wouldn't it be more likely the cartel would have it?), (2) that Ben would have been cremated (why not buried?), or (3) that his remains wouldn't be literally anywhere else in the house or grounds or any of their other many properties?

And I could go on, but this post is long enough. Hard to say why they went with such a weird, rushed ending. They certainly had enough time to get it right. My own take on series endings is that it doesn't so much matter what happens to the show's set pieces — what matters is that the characters get an emotionally satisfying ending. Who the hell cares about who winds up sitting on the Iron Throne in the end? We've spent years with these characters, and we want to see their story arcs complete in a meaningful, emotionally satisfying way.

And goddamn it we want to see our heroes succeed — or else fail and die in a meaningful, cathartic way.
posted by panama joe at 4:38 PM on May 8 [7 favorites]

But as for stealing the Sopranos final shot, leaving you with a mystery, my first thought was that it was different because Jonah obviously shot Mel, but upon rewatching it I noticed that Wendy and Marty are just a few feet left of Mel, so we don't know who the gun is pointed at after Jonah opens his eyes. So now I live in hope that he moved the barrel an 1/8th of an inch to the left and shot those fucking assholes who destroyed Ruth.

Jonah's one shot did indeed appear to be for Mel - but it could have been for Wendy, or Marty, or himself, or it could have been a miss. Or it could have been for the devil goat cookie jar. Having watched all of Ozark I would like to advance the cookie jar theory (and add that I suspect it had a fabulously acted death scene). Destroying the cookie jar deprives Mel of his evidence against the Byrdes, yet it avoids murder and serves as a pay off for Season 1 where Jonah is obsessively developing his marksmanship.
posted by rongorongo at 7:20 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]

My assumption was that the ending isn't meant to be ambiguous at all, and that its weight is entirely dependent on recognizing that young Jonah, the family member who rebelled the most against his parents' slide into amorality (however much it might be dressed up each and every time as mere self-preservation), has, in one quick move, now fully joined them in both their worldview and their enterprise. It's meant to be a tragic ending, dovetailing with Ruth's.

What tripped me up about this season was how it sure seemed to be revealing Wendy to be -- in both affect and action -- an actual psychopath/sociopathic-narcissist, but then seemed to drastically pull back on that for this last episode, with her suddenly seeming to feel genuine remorse about Ruth. (I can't remember now much of the details from earlier seasons, but I think she wasn't quite the full-fledged sociopath then?)
posted by nobody at 2:10 PM on May 11 [6 favorites]

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