In Season Four, blood and betrayal run through the ‘Ozark’ mountains

The Byrdes’ risky adventures in money laundering continue to captivate as the Netflix show nears its end

SHARE In Season Four, blood and betrayal run through the ‘Ozark’ mountains
OZARK_S4_Promo_TIFF7_20211108R.jpg

Marty (Jason Bateman) and Wendy (Laura Linney) are reeling from witnessing the execution of Helen Pierce as Season Four of “Ozark” begins.

NETFLIX

The financial advisor Marty Byrde and his family have sunk so deep into the crime-riddled Lake of the Ozarks we almost forgot their journey began in Chicago, when Marty was doing some risky but non-life-threatening money laundering for a drug cartel while his wife and children were just living their best lives, unaware of Marty’s longtime criminal doings.

‘Ozark’ Season Four, Part 1

Untitled

Seven episodes available Friday on Netflix.

Of course, despite their posh house in Naperville and their outwardly happy appearance, life for the Byrdes was hardly idyllic even then, as Marty was obsessing over a secret video recording of his wife Wendy having sex with a wealthy Chicago attorney — who later wound up splattered on a downtown sidewalk after being tossed over his balcony when the cartel felt he knew too much (and wanted to send a warning to the Byrdes).

Season Four of the brilliant Netflix crime drama “Ozark” kicks off with a callback to certain Chicago-based events from 2017 and in later episodes the Byrdes find themselves back in town — and I’ll say no more about that other than there’s a great moment when Marty and his wife Wendy are at one of those ritzy Chicago rooftop hotel bars, gazing out at the skyline, and Marty cracks, “Should we go [inside] and sit down, we’re not tourists.” No, Marty, you’re not — but you’re not really home when you’re in Chicago and you’re always looking over your shoulder when you’re in the Ozarks, and almost always with good reason.

The fourth season of “Ozark” is to be the last, but the show’s creators felt they couldn’t wrap up the story in the usual 10-episode arc, so this season will be split into two parts, each of seven chapters. The timing seems right to wind things down, as the series remains captivating and capable of great surprises, but we’re getting to the point where there’s a little bit of repetition and plausibility is being stretched to late-season “Sons of Anarchy” levels, i.e., the body count is so high it’s a wonder the national news hasn’t swooped into town and the president isn’t making pledges to find out just what in the wide world of sports is happening in that relatively small community.

Aside from the Chicago flashback moment and a shocking scene that appears to foreshadow future events, Season Four takes place in the immediate aftermath of the Season Three finale, in which the Chicago-based cartel attorney Helen Pierce (Janet McTeer) was executed with Jason Bateman’s Marty and Laura Linney’s Wendy standing so close their clothes and faces were spattered with blood and bits of brain.

Cartel kingpin Omar Navarro (Felix Solis) has chosen to side with Marty and Wendy, at least for now — but as always, the Byrdes are in constant danger of either being knocked off by one of the many dangerous characters lurking in their lives or busted by the feds. And by this point, daughter Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz) and son Jonah (Skylar Gaertner) are knee-deep in the criminal muck and mud as well, with Charlotte remaining loyal to her parents while the sullen, tech-savvy Jonah has had it with this family and moves into the motel owned by Julia Garner’s Ruth Langmore, who continues to careen back and forth between being Marty’s closest ally and arguably his most formidable opponent.

(It’s complicated. It’s always complicated. But the series’ great writing team and the fantastic ensemble cast always manage to find a way to keep us in the loop and understand where the players are on the field at any particular moment.)

OZARK_S4_Promo_TIFF2_20211027R.jpg

Ruth (Julia Garner) welcomes Jonah (Skylar Gaertner) to her hotel.

NETFLIX

We’re introduced to a new villain: Omar’s nephew Javi (Alfonso Herrera), a lieutenant for the cartel who oozes slick charm and is always smiling, but is more violent, more ruthless and more reckless than his uncle and is prepared to take over the cartel, with zero effs to give about who he has to kill to make that happen. Meanwhile, the ex-cop turned private investigator Mel Sattem (Adam Rothenberg) is poking around and trying to find out what happened to Helen.

With the walls closing in on all sides, is this finally the moment when the Byrdes cash in their chips and disappear into the wind before they disappear in much worse fashion? It looks that way, until it doesn’t and then it does, and then … well, it’s “Ozark.” Twists and turns abound everywhere, and even when those twists and turns defy plausibility, it’s still entertaining as hell.

The Latest
Local 1220 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is seeking to represent the chain’s employees in Chicago.
Illinois hunters harvested 13,701 wild turkeys during the spring seasons, up slightly from the harvest in 2021.
The former governor will attend an exhibition at the Clearing library of 300 portraits of Illinois soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’ll be remembering my dad, a decorated World War II soldier.
At the time of Schulz’s retirement in 1999 following a cancer diagnosis, his creation ran in more than 2,600 newspapers, was translated into 21 languages in 75 countries and had an estimated daily readership of 355 million.
Bridges spent five months in the hospital with an already-weakened immune system, severe pain and, often, a need for supplemental oxygen.