Ozark’shas come and gone. Endings are tough, especially for a critically acclaimed show, but after five years Ozark finally has its finale. Was it a good ending? Depends on who you ask.
Ozark began in 2017 with Chicago accountant Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) making a deal for his life: After finding himself on the wrong side of a drug cartel gun, he says he’ll launder money in the Ozarks in exchange for the safety of his family. By the time we got tofirst part, back in January, Marty and his wife, Wendy (Laura Linney), were in deep with that cartel.
They’d set up a casino to launder millions, had buckets of blood on their hands and were working with both the cartel and the FBI to strike a deal that would finally let them skip town and start afresh. Throughout Ozark’s four seasons, the couple constantly got themselves into tight situations that they were able to slip out of at the last second. But the walls were closing in on them as season four part two began: Could they pull off a final Houdini?
As the petition toshows, devoted fan bases can be difficult to please. Some of what goes down in the final episode has fans split. Here’s how that story ends. Spoilers ahead.
Pour one out for Ruth Langmore
Before we get to the Byrde family, the big news item coming out of the Ozark finale instead surrounds Ruth Langmore. While the Byrdes may get a happy ending, Ruth doesn’t. She was shot and killed by Camila Navarro, the new cartel boss.
Played by Julia Garner, Ruth is a consistent highlight of the show, and her turbulent relationship with Marty was especially compelling in Ozark’s first three seasons. Season four part onein search of Javier, the nephew of Omar Navarro. (Recall that much of the events of season four revolved around Omar’s fear of his hotheaded, ambitious nephew: Sensing bloody usurpation by Javi, Omar strikes a deal with the FBI that ultimately backfired.) Javi had just shot dead Darlene Snell and Wyatt Langmore. Wyatt was Ruth’s closest relation, the one she hoped would end the “Langmore curse” of ending up prematurely dead or in jail.
Ruth wanted revenge for her cousin’s death. And revenge she got.
In the second episode of season four part two, Ruth traps and kills Javi. It went down inside the offices of Shaw Medical. Ruth hijacks a dinner between the Byrdes and Shaw Medical CEO Clare Shaw. (The cartel via Wendy struck a deal with Shaw in season four to provide cheap heroin, a key ingredient in many pharmaceutical products, and Shaw in exchange would make a large donation to Wendy’s foundation.) At gunpoint, she demands Shaw lure Javi into the office to sign a deal handing stocks over to Javi’s mother. When Javi rocks up, Ruth shoots him down.
Fortunately for Ruth, Omar Navarro takes credit for the murder of Javi. Plotting with the Byrdes from prison, Navarro wants to take back control of his cartel. To do that, he sends Marty to Mexico to inform the cartel that Navarro was the one who killed the over-ambitious Javi. While there, Marty meets Camila, sister of Omar and mother of Javi.
Enter Camila, the new boss
Camila pretends to understand cartel politics but orders a hit on Omar in prison. Omar survives the assassination attempt and suspects one among the cartel ranks was behind the plot. More treachery: The Byrdes plot with Camila to overthrow Omar, organizing yet another hit and for Camila to strike the same FBI deal accepted by Omar that would see the Byrde’s wipe their hands of the whole cartel thing.
That plan goes awry when Camila goes to prison to say a final goodbye to Omar. There Omar, realizing something’s amiss, tells Camila that he didn’t kill Javi at all and that he doesn’t know who did — he only knows what Wendy Byrde told him. Camila believes him but goes through with the assassination anyway. After four seasons of pulling strings, Omar Navarro is taken out.
The final scenes of the final episode center on a Byrde Family Foundation gala, where big donors are coming through to make all of the Byrde’s fantasies come true. The gala is attracting big-ticket donors, so they can go back to Chicago and live out their days as the charitable owners of a massive non-profit organization. Finally, they did it. Until Camila enters the party.
She confronts Clare Shaw about the day Javi died. Camila says that she’ll forgive Shaw for hiding information if she reveals it right now, but all sorts of unpublishable things would happen if she finds out Shaw had been lying to her. Shaw buckles and tells Camila that Ruth Langmore did it. (Shaw does lie though, covering from the Byrdes by saying only Shaw and Javi were in the office at the time of the killing.)
Camila calls over one of her henchman and tells him to kill the Byrdes and their kids if Marty or Wendy try to give Ruth any advance notice and Camila is coming for her. In the final scenes, we see Marty and Wendy congregate about their options and realize they have none. After four seasons of wriggling out of tough spots, they’re utterly powerless. They’re safe, but can do nothing to save Ruth — which is painful to both them and us.
As the Byrde family takes the stage at their gala, Ruth Langmore is confronted outside her home by Camila. She knows what’s coming, but is defiant ’till the end. “”I’m not sorry,” she tells Camila. “Your son was a murdering bitch. And I now I know where he got it from.” Camila shoots Ruth right in the heart.
Explaining the death to, showrunner Chris Mundy said Ozark would be too much of a fairytale if Ruth were to survive. “I wanted everybody to have active choices in the last seven episodes,” Mundy said to the publication. “Ruth could go for revenge or not, and she knows if she did, it is going to unleash things that might end up with her getting harmed.”
A miraculous escape
Before we get to other big moment, a quick note on the car crash that opened season four part one. In the scene, if you don’t recall, the whole Byrde family is in the family car talking about their big move to Chicago now that they’re done with the Ozarks. Amid the euphoria, Marty stops paying attention and swerves off the road, making the car flip and tumble off road.
It turns out it wasn’t a dream — or anything important. The crash happens in the middle of the final episode, but improbably, no one is hurt. It comes after one of season four part two’s biggest subplots, that of Wendy’s dad Nathan Davis trying to get custody over Jonah and Charlotte. He plays the part of concerned grandpa, and Wendy has a breakdown that sends her straight into a mental health facility.
But thanks to an interrogation from Ruth Langmore, Nathan is shown to be nothing more than a vindictive dad who’s taking Jonah and Charlotte away purely to spite Wendy. Once Nathan Davis, held at gunpoint by Ruth, tells this to Jonah and Charlotte, the kids decide to reunite with Marty and Wendy.
Their happy car ride home is when the dramatic but insignificant crash happens.
Jonah becomes a Byrde again
After the gala, moments after we see Ruth killed, the Byrde family arrives at their home. The kids run inside, and Marty and Wendy are both crestfallen on the fate that fell upon Ruth and their inability to do anything at all about it.
Marty sits at the family table, head in hands, and the camera pans out to show us that the glass door has been shattered. Someone’s been inside.
It turns out to be Mel Sattem, a disgraced ex-cop turned private investigator. He made his Ozark debut in season four part one, where he was investigating the disappearance of Helen Pierce. He returns here, working for Nathan Davis in an effort to find Ben Davis. Ben was notably killed in season three by order of his sister Wendy because Ben’s antics would have literally gotten the entire family murdered. Of course, no one knows that other than the Byrdes and Ruth.
Sattem discovers that Wendy had been lying about the last time she saw Ben and got photo evidence of Wendy taking Ben into the diner that was to be the site of his last known appearance. He becomes a key asset in Nathan Davis’ attempt to get a court to separate Jonah and Charlotte from their parents, so Marty and Wendy have him taken out. Not with violence, but with sweet diplomacy.
Since arriving on the show, Sattem has sought vindication. He was fired from the Chicago PD for stealing cocaine from evidence but, apart from that, appeared to be a legitimate and good-intentioned cop. Now he’s drug free and wants back into the force. Marty and Wendy, well connected with Midwest officials, get him reinstated. But there’s a catch: If he wants back, Sattem has to go immediately. He can’t testify against the Byrdes in court.
Leave he does. Sattem was staying at Ruth Langmore’s Lazy-O Motel and checks out to head back to Chicago. As he leaves though, he notices that the large goat cookie jar he saw in Langmore’s trailer was now at the Lazy-O. He doesn’t know it, but that’s where Ruth has been keeping Ben’s ashes.
When he gets back to Chicago, he just can’t do it. He keeps thinking about the Byrdes, and about that cookie jar. Then it clicks: Ben wanted to buy a farm and raise goats, and Ruth was keeping his ashes in a goat-themed cookie jar. The ashes of Wendy’s brother represented cold, hard evidence against the Byrdes.
The Byrdes try to buy him off, but Sattem refuses.
“You don’t get to win. You don’t get to be the Kochs or the Kennedys,” he says. “World doesn’t work like that.” Wendy replies: “Since when?”
Then we hear a gun cock. It’s Jonah Byrde, who for both part one and two of season four has been estranged from the family. He can’t square the immoral acts his parents have committed, and is especially frustrated by his unrepentant mother. Yet there he is, aiming a gun squarely at an investigator trying to do good. Marty and Wendy look on, pride creeping onto their face as Jonah accepts the family and what they’ve done.
As the screen fades to black we hear a gunshot. But who, or what, did Jonah shoot? Did he shoot Sattem, or did he shoot the cookie jar to destroy the only evidence against his family that exists? Some have speculated that Jonah, with the keenest sense of justice among them, wouldn’t have shot dead Sattem.
If you go by what showrunner Chris Mundy says, Jonah shot the Sattem. Mundy told Vanity Fair that Jonah’s muder of Sattem showed “the family being brought back together through this act of violence.” But that killing isn’t shown on the screen, so is ultimately left open ended. Who, or what, do you think Jonah shot?
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