Ozark season 4 part 2 review: “An anticlimactic ending to a brilliant Netflix series”

Getting out is hard. That applies to finding a clean exit from a drug cartel and bringing a very successful Netflix series to an end. After an excellent part 1 that ratcheted up the tension and the stakes, Ozark season 4 part 2 has the difficult and delicate task of wrapping up all those lingering plot threads and giving the main cast a fitting send-off. Unfortunately, these last seven episodes aren’t without some significant stumbles – though thankfully they’re not severe enough to draw any Killing Eve or Game of Thrones comparisons. 

While part 1 took some huge swings as it hurtled towards its breathtaking conclusion, part 2 is more reserved. Not entirely, mind you – there are still major, gasp-worthy moments – but it’s undeniable that the second set of episodes has eased off the gas. Some of the show’s initial propulsive momentum is lost as the writers save the big consequences for later in the game. Nonetheless, the first episode still provides a significant wrinkle in Marty and Wendy Byrde’s (Jason Bateman and Laura Linney) plans of escaping to Chicago.

Ozark season 4 part 2

(Image credit: Netflix)

Although, it’s less Marty-and-Wendy and more just-Wendy this time round. She’s the driving force behind almost every decision, while Marty helplessly follows behind her, despite knowing that they’re careening toward disaster. He anxiously points out that Wendy’s latest idea isn’t going to work a few too many times, to the point where the question of why he’s going along with it all overbearingly rears its head. It’s a strange state of affairs (which other characters frequently comment on), and it’s one that leaves Bateman with very little to do besides fret over their situation. 

Meanwhile, Linney is phenomenal as the scheming, tricky Wendy, succeeding in revealing the vulnerability beneath that hard, unflappable surface. Wendy remains stubbornly insistent that the net isn’t closing. “Your reach is exceeding your grasp,” a character warns her early on, and it’s an assessment that’s entirely fair. Wendy’s goal is getting the family out intact and clean while also having outrageously ambitious plans for a political career via the Byrde foundation at the same time. The question underlining everything, though, is will she finally overextend herself? Her plans often seem delusional – and she’s been cut to size by the cartel before – but she does manage to pull off some truly audacious moves, meaning it’s constantly difficult to predict where she’s headed. 

Of course, the cartel aren’t the only players in town, and after the shocking death of Darlene Snell (Lisa Emery) and Wyatt Langmore (Charlie Tahan) at the end of part 1, Ruth Langmore (Julia Garner) is still on the ferocious hunt for revenge against Javi Elizondro (Alfonso Herrera). Her quest isn’t as rage-driven as you might think – in fact, we’re treated to a more meditative, Ruth-heavy episode in the season’s opening that explores her mental state. It adds complexity to her desire for revenge, raises some serious doubts about whether she’ll really go through with her plan to kill Javi, and is a welcome insight into one of the series’ most compelling characters. As always, Garner is incredible as Ruth, with all her fire, quiet sadness, and raw grief on display throughout the season. 

Ruth has her own plans, ones that inevitably cause trouble for the Byrdes – but it’s a shame that the relationship between Ruth and Marty falls by the wayside. Scenes between the duo, normally a delight, are few and far between in part 2, and it feels like a missed opportunity to bring their journey together to a satisfying close.

Jason Bateman and Laura Linney in Ozark season 4 part 2

(Image credit: Netflix)

That’s made more frustrating when most of this season retreads themes and decisions made in part 1. Once again, Marty and Wendy need to manoeuvre with the FBI, win back their children’s trust, stop Ruth from ruining their plans, protect their foundation, and deal with the fallout of Ben’s (Tom Pelphrey) death. New complications are introduced, with Wendy’s father Nathan Davis (Richard Thomas) arriving to town, and relentless private investigator Mel Sattem (Adam Rothenberg) intent on uncovering the truth behind Ben’s disappearance. FBI Agent Maya Miller (Jessica Frances Dukes) is also no longer an ally, and there’s a new face in the cartel to deal with: the quietly terrifying Camila Elizondro, former boss Omar Navarro’s (Felix Solis) sister and Javi’s mother, played by Veronica Falcón. There’s also the slightly odd matter of Navarro’s priest (Bruno Bichir) in an expanded role, who attempts to instil some Christian morality into the characters, to varying degrees of success. 

As you may expect, the final season comes full circle with familiar faces making reappearances. That only makes it all the stranger that certain threads go by completely unresolved – and here’s where the stumbles come in. 

Characters make entirely baffling decisions. At one point, Marty, on a make or break mission to Mexico, misses something (we’ll keep it vague) so glaringly obvious that it’s almost literally staring him in the face, which seems wildly out of character for the perennial thinker. At another point, he’s quick to give up and let something happen despite the season having led us to believe he would put up a fight.

Jonah Byrde (Skylar Gaertner) makes another bewildering choice later on, one that has almost no build up and no satisfying resolution. Even the car crash, which has been looming over everything since part 1’s opening, feels dissatisfying when it finally arrives. It doesn’t help that the prelude sucks any tension out the series – we know the Byrdes are going to make it through alive until the car crash finally happens in real time.

Worst of all, some of the major themes are not played through to their natural conclusion: there’s always been a sense that every debt must be paid, and that every decision made will have consequences felt down the line. In this season… not so much. 

Ozark season 4 part 2 is undeniably still Ozark. There’s the familiar measured pacing, weighty themes, complicated storylines concerned with deals, betrayals, and murders that eventually come together. It’s a season that takes us slowly to the end, and doesn’t go out with a bang so much as a controlled burn. That’s all very Ozark, but, after the breathtaking twists and turns of part 1, it all feels anticlimactic. 


Looking to fill out your watchlist? See our guide to the best Netflix shows streaming now. 

The Verdict

3

3 out of 5

Ozark season 4 part 2 review: “An anticlimactic ending to a brilliant Netflix series”

A faltering conclusion that muddles its themes and loses part 1’s breathtaking momentum, this final season is anchored by continued excellent performances from the lead cast.

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