From the moment the diminutive, snarling Ruth (Julia Garner) first appeared in Ozark she demanded our attention and respect. What other teenage girl would dare go toe-to-toe with a drug cartel? Ruth’s always been a champion, but it’s taken until Season 3 to prove that she’s our queen. Ruth Langmore started this season by pushing her bully off a casino boat, and it was awesome.
To fully appreciate the epic visual that is Ruth kicking the balls of a grown man while dressed in evening wear you have to take into account her full journey. When Marty (Jason Bateman) was first confronted by the angry blonde, they fought in a men’s public restroom over a cooler full of cash. Though the Langmores have always been a criminal force in this world, that’s where Ruth started: outhouse turf wars.
But as she became closer to Marty, she became a better criminal. Not only did Marty teach her to hold her tongue and think more strategically, but he put her in charge of her own business. Sure, that business was a strip club called the Lickety Splitz, but thanks to Marty’s guidance Ruth evolved from a run-of-the-mill local delinquent into a criminal mastermind to be feared.
That’s the woman Frank Cosgrove Jr. (Joseph Sikora) is messing with in Season 3’s “Wartime.” Despite her elegant dress and perfectly applied lipstick, Ruth isn’t some overly refined wimp who won’t stand up for herself. Whether she’s at her trailer park or heading the Missouri Belle, the Ozarks’ hottest new casino, Ruth does not tolerate other people’s shit.
And Frank Jr., the son of the Kansas City mafia’s head, gives her a lot of it before she snaps. It’s not just that he talks down to her and curses her out, two things that immediately infuriate the Byrdes’ righthand woman. It’s that Frank Jr. insists on being part of Ruth’s carefully constructed Texas Hold ‘Em tournament. Because of Frank Jr., an event that’s supposed to add credibility to the Missouri Belle and give their illegal operation some clean money is infected with Kansas City mob cash. And to top off his stupidity, Frank Jr. spends the entire game yelling and drawing attention to himself, two things that he’s never supposed to do. It’s Frank Jr.’s arrogance that makes her see red more than anything else.
So what does she do when Frank Jr. yells at her and threatens to turn her into the cops? She kicks him in the balls and pushes him off the side of a two-story riverboat. Marty’s reaction sums up the incredible moment best.
That’s Ruth Langmore. Yeah, she’s tiny, young, and a woman. Sure, she cleans up nicely and can rock the hell out of a cocktail dress. And of course she’s smart enough to come up with money laundering and casino-ruining schemes that her higher ranked allies can’t even fathom. But beneath all her newfound glitz and and upper class friends never — never — forget how Ruth started. She’s a Langmore through and through, and if Julia Garner has taught us anything it’s that you don’t fuck with a Langmore.
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