The end of season 1 of Netflix’s dark and melancholy Ozark puts Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) in an impossible situation. No thanks to the Snell’s mainly Darlene (Lisa Emery). Her actions created a ripple effect that lands significant ramifications in season 2. After all, Marty’s job is to find solutions to the Mexican Cartels money laundering requirements, not start a war between the Ozark heroin kingpin Jacob (Peter Mullan) and his employers. Similar to season 1, Ozark season 2 will grab hold of the innocent and corrupt them beyond a reasonable doubt which shines a light on a person’s true colors. Don’t believe the façade – everyone has a dark side here.
Picking up where they left off, the Byrde family’s main goal at this point is to survive by any means necessary. Their new environment where their roots begin to grow make that impossible. That literally means going to the extremes to protect their family, and they thought Chicago was bad – the Lake at the Ozarks is full of criminals and schemers looking for an upper hand no matter who must get hurt in the process. Marty and his complicit wife Wendy (Laura Linney) are knee deep in a fresh pile that drag Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz) and Jonah (Skylar Gaertner) in. But within this dark corner of the country set against a gorgeous backdrop of land is an opportunity ripe for the taking.
That opportunity to get out of this life relies in a casino, lucky number 14 for Missouri. Season 2’s main plot revolves around Marty and new face of the cartel, taking Del’s place after well you know, getting his face blown off by Darlene, Helen Pierce (Janet McTeer) setting up a riverboat casino to launder millions of dollars through. I’d make an argument that Helen is more terrifying than Del ever was – Janet plays the role colder than ice but with a sense of understanding, she’s brilliant and isn’t afraid to intimidate but its Laura Linney who embodies true fear with her calm but petrifying cadence and dialogue. This is one person you don’t ever want to cross.
I could feel Linney looking directly through my soul whenever she had to get her way for the family.
With so much criminal activity, drugs, murder, blackmail, and violence the series main villain isn’t a person, its pride, among the other deadly sins. Sure, the villainous characters are around every corner, but the seven deadly sins easily overpower the human element. Show creators and showrunners Bill Dubuque & Mark Williams prove that no one person is incorruptible – all are motivated by one of the deadly sins – innocence is not an option in the Ozarks.
Without a second thought to it Jonah starts to learn how to launder money and Charlotte begins to steal.
Ozark season 2 makes significant strides to catch up to the legendary shows it shares the same genre with – The Sopranos & Breaking Bad. While not at that level yet, Ozark paints a gritty and disturbing picture of true desperation. Marty can talk his way out of anything, and Bateman gives a stronger performance in season 2 as the smartest in the room. He also goes behind the camera again directing the first two episodes that set the tone for the rest of the season. But really, he’s continuing what was left off at the end of season 1.
The color palette Dubuque and Williams chose continues to stand out – I don’t think the sun has shown itself once in two seasons. Muted colors juxtapose what emotional state the characters are in, slight panic and full of anxiety.
Season two’s consistency is ever present through its characters. The strength is in the unpredictable nature of the Ozark natives. Darlene is a ticking time bomb – if it’s not in her best interest (on behalf of Jacob) she isn’t afraid to speak her mind or poison a batch of Jacob’s heroine empire putting the agreement at risk. Another wild card is Cade (Trevor Long) whose viciousness doesn’t take much effort to poke through. It’s his mission to cause disruption between Ruth (Julia Garner), Wyatt (Charlie Tahan) and Three (Carson Holmes).
The Langmore clan has become the Byrdes’ equals in significance to the story. Was I the only one who teared up when Wyatt got the letter from Mizzou? Or when the truth about his father came out? Julia Garner gives another engrossing performance giving the ladies of Ozark the upper hand against their male counterparts.
While the show attempts to spread the wealth across all established characters, anytime Roy Petty (Jason Butler Harner) or Rachel (Jordana Spiro) is the focus, the Byrde family is missed. It’s as if were missing out on Wendy ruthlessly intimidating her way through the Missouri political scene (she had experience on Obama’s senator campaign in Chicago) or Marty saving his entire operation with just a sentence or two from the Kansas City Mafia. Dubuque and Williams don’t have an ounce of trouble setting the tension between characters and building up the momentum until it all boils over in a shock value manner. Ozark season 2 picks up speed with no signs of slowing down.
Created By: Bill Dubuque & Mark Williams
Episodes Directed By: Jason Bateman, Andrew Bernstein, Phil Abraham, Alik Sakharov, Ben Semanoff & Amanda Marsalis
Music By: Danny Bensi & Saunder Jurriaans
Cinematography: Ben Kutchins & Armando Salas
Starring: Jason Bateman, Laura Linney, Sofia Hublitz, Skylar Gaertner, Julia Garner, Jordana Spiro, Jason Butler Harner, Peter Mullan, Lisa Emery, Charlie Tahan, Janet McTeer
Where to Watch: Netflix
Release Date: August 31, 2018
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76%
My Score: 4 out of 5