This winter, Ozark is approaching the beginning of its end. That’s because this week marks the premiere of Season 4 Part 1, the first half of this thriller’s final installment. And if this show’s past is anything to go by, this finale is going to be a wild one.
Ozark started as a relatively conservative crime drama. After aligning himself with the worst business partner ever, all that Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) wanted to do was appease a cartel and save his family. That appeasement started with some small stakes money laundering. Four seasons, a funeral home, a strip club, a bar, a casino, and multiple deaths later, this story has gotten bigger than Marty could ever imagine. If you’ve been looking for a guide to Ozark‘s first three seasons ahead of Season 4, we have you covered.
What Happened to Ben Again?
You have to feel for Ben (Tom Pelphrey), Wendy’s troubled, bipolar brother. When Ben first appeared in Season 3, he seemed like he was exactly the influence this band of misfits needed. He was a great uncle to Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz) and Jonah (Skylar Gaertner), who both needed a kind adult in their lives. He made his sister Wendy (Laura Linney) positively giddy. And then there was Ben’s relationship with the prickly Ruth (Julia Garner). For three seasons now, we’ve watched Ruth sacrifice everything and scrape her way from the bottom to provide a nice life for her cousin. It was only through her romance with Ben that she finally did something nice for herself.
But it wasn’t meant to last. Ben was a loose cannon, and if you’ve seen any crime drama, you know that loose cannons don’t work well with cartels. And in this case, it resulted in Ben telling Helen’s (Janet McTeer) daughter that her mom was working for some bad dudes. Helen gave Wendy a choice. Wendy could either vote to have Ben killed before he caused the cartel any more damage or someone would kill her, Ben, and the rest of her family. If you know Wendy, you know what she chose. Ben was murdered on his beloved sister’s orders and in a restaurant, no less.
What’s Going on Between Ruth and Wendy?
When Ruth thought that Ben died because of the cartel’s orders, she was understandably upset but overall all right with what happened. If nothing else, this series has taught us that Ruth is one smart cookie. She knows that people have to die when cartels come to town. But when she learned that Wendy was the one who gave the order, her entire demeanor changed. Hurt and horrified to learn what Wendy is truly capable of, Ruth quit working for Marty and Wendy. That betrayal may be just as terrifying as pissing off the Navarro Cartel. Even when she was a nobody, Ruth could command an army, and these days she is far from a nobody.
Who Is Ruth Working for Now?
In a classy move that proved that Ruth truly understands this business, Ruth paid a visit to Helen and made it clear she didn’t blame Helen or the cartel for Ben’s death. Helen took the admission in stride while one-upping Ruth. What if, Helen asked, the Byrde family wasn’t a factor? Would Ruth consider coming back to the Navarro Cartel? Ruth said yes, but that doesn’t mean her future is secure. It just means that the cartel is surprisingly cool with her at the moment.
Speaking of surprises, do you know who else wanted Ruth to work for them? Darlene (Lisa Emery) and Wyatt (Charlie Tahan). Initially, Ruth refused. But after Darlene shot Ruth’s rival in the pecker, she became a bit more agreeable. Going into Season 4, it’s unclear which business opportunity Ruth will pursue. But since she has one woman contemplating murdering an entire family for her and another picking wars with the Kansas City mob on her behalf, it’s safe to say that it’s a good time to be Ruth.
What’s Going on with the Lagunas Cartel?
The Navarro Cartel has one rival they can’t shoot in the face: the Lagunas Cartel. In Season 3, it became apparent that the Kansas City mob had been working with the Lagunas Cartel, making Marty’s dealings with Frank Cosgrove (John Bedford Lloyd) all the more complicated. But Marty put an end to all those complications. Using the drone footage his son captured, Marty showed FBI agent Maya Miller (Jessica Frances Dukes) pictures of an illegal business deal the Lagunas Cartel undertook. And if a Mexican cartel is caught committing a crime on U.S. soil, that gives the United States military permission to take action against that organization.
The bottom line? Some major members of the Lagunas Cartel were arrested, the cartel as a whole was placed under FBI investigation, and Marty and Wendy became the Navarro Cartel’s biggest heroes. That’s pretty important for what came next.
What Happened to Helen?
Remember how Helen talked to Ruth about removing the Byrde family? She took her concerns to the top, aka Omar Navarro (Felix Solis) and asked that all money laundering operations be handed over to her. Navarro didn’t say no but he didn’t say yes either, preferring to keep both his righthand woman and his emotional confidante Wendy by his side. At least, that was the case until Navarro invited Marty, Wendy, and Helen to his son’s baptism.
Seconds after Helen stepped out of her car, Nelson the hitman (Nelson Bonilla) shot her in the face. That’s a violent way of saying Helen’s out, Marty and Wendy are in.
What Does Helen’s Death Mean for Marty and Wendy?
It means that Marty and Wendy are officially at the top, which is the last place they want to be. Prior to Season 3’s finale, there was some distance between the Brydes and the Navarro Cartel. Marty and Wendy may have orchestrated some murders, but it was always on Helen’s orders and under direct threat to their lives. Now they’re going to be the ones calling the shots. And since they have Darlene’s gang, Ruth, the FBI, and the Kansas City mob breathing down their necks, being in charge just became a hell of a lot more stressful.
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