(Ozark Season 4, part 2 premieres on Netflix Friday, April 29. 2022.)
Considering everything the Byrds have gone through, calling it “running the gauntlet” feels like an apt metaphor. But I prefer the Finnish term for it. Kujanjuoksu. Literally “running the alley.” It means the same thing, but paints a picture of tightening alleyways full of blind corners. Something where discomfort is as natural as breathing.
But what comes at the end of the alley? What happens when that alley is everything you’ve known for so long that it feels like second nature? And what if that alley never ends?
It’s here that the Byrds find themselves, five years later, as their rope begins to run out.
Things pick up exactly where we left them. Things are now in motion that can’t be undone. Every play, every mistake, everyone the Byrds have wronged, are now vital pawns in a final game for survival. If you’ve seen the trailer for the finale, you know as much as you need to. Spoiling even an iota of the conclusion would be a disservice.
But it is fair to say that some are going to find things unsatisfying when the dust settles. There’s no way a crime epic like this can satisfy everyone. Especially when lines are drawn this deep in the sand even amongst the fandom. Some will even find parts of it unfair. To which Ozark might say it doesn’t care. It leans on the unapologetic nature of its leads until the bitter end.
Everything that holds true from a few months ago is still accurate. Ozark remains one of the finest crime series of the last decade. From pitch-perfect acting to its tight scripting and directing, there is nothing out of place here. As the breathless conclusion does stumble in places, the overall picture is so grand and ambitious it feels wrong to fault it. As a finale, it’s among the very finest.
Eagle-eyed readers will note I’m using the same pictures from my Season 4, part 1 review. That’s intentional. While this is a full season on its own, the part 2 monicker is extremely earned. The breather between them is necessary for the maelstrom that follows. It’s the quiet before the storm. As part 2 gets going, the plot threads unravel in rapid succession. Some, arguably, too quickly. Others are tethers to events so long ago that even dedicated viewers could do with a recap.
Ozark has spent so long filling out its textured world that now, by the end, closing it all down will feel rushed no matter what. Even at ten hours, I wanted more. Maybe even another season.
But Ozark has one final gamble it can play, and it does so beautifully. In tearing down Marty and Wendy these past few seasons, Ozark has found its leading anti-heroes nearing tabula rasa. A wiped slate. In doing so, the final season finally allows them to figure out what to do with it. Will they reinvent themselves once again, as they have in the past? Or, finally, allow their true natures to emerge from hibernation?
It poses a fascinating contradiction. One that resets the entire series in a new light. It throws the renewed spotlight on Ruth, the ever-brilliant Julia Garner, who now has nothing to ground her. Her livewire energy unleashed, she is a bolt of energy that propels the series into lasting drastic measures.
And as the lights go down, it’s hard to say who, if any, there is to root for. As with Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece, The Godfather, Ozark believes in America. But, like its idol, it also knows America. That corporate tribe of unbridled wealth for some; biblical malice for others. And as with any tribe, The Byrds know that every time you think you’re out, it will pull you back in again.