Ozark Season 4 Part 1 review: The Byrdes undertake cartel emancipation

Jason Bateman as Martin 'Marty' Byrde, Laura Linney as Wendy Byrde.
Jason Bateman as Martin ‘Marty’ Byrde, Laura Linney as Wendy Byrde. Pic credit: Netflix

Ozark Season 4 Part 1 will hit streaming this week to bring viewers back to the dark and dreary Missouri crime world of the Byrde family.

The series returns with so much to unpack with new crime bosses, annoying private investigators, politicians, and questionable FBI agents. And it carries this heavy luggage in a jam-packed seven-episode introduction to the series finale.

At the heart of this final chapter is another massive question Marty and his family must solve. How does one make a drug kingpin become a man free of his crimes?

What works and what does not? Here is our Ozark Season 4 Part 1 review and whether it is worth streaming on Netflix.

Ozark Season 4 Part 1 review

The 4th season begins very similarly to the final season of Breaking Bad. There is a flash-forward of sorts, and the nature of the scene raises questions about the destinies of the Byrde family.

Admittingly, this reviewer’s jaw hit the floor from the opening moments of the season and it makes the rest of the series feel dangerous.

From here, we are reintroduced to the present, as we are brought back to Mexico, moments after Omar Navarro (Felix Solis) shot Helen Pierce (Janet McTeer) in the head and made the Byrdes his sole business partners.

After recovering from the shock of Helen being murdered, Marty and Wendy join the festivities at Navarro’s mansion, where we are quickly introduced to the two biggest stakes for Ozark season 4.

The first is the welcoming of a new threat in Navarro’s nephew Javi Elizonndro (Alfonso Herrera)– a young, ambitious family member of Navarro who seeks to take over his uncle’s empire. Herrera absolutely dominates the season, being an antagonist that is organized as well as chaotic in his business dealings. Even Navarro realizes that his nephew might be the end of him if he is not careful.

This leads us to the second central issue at play throughout the first half of season 4. Navarro knows his time as a king is running short and demands that Marty (Jason Bateman) and Wendy (Laura Linney) use their connection with Special Agent Maya Miller (Jessica Frances Dukes) of the FBI to grant him full immunity to be able to leave Mexico as he pleases as a free man.

In doing so, the Byrdes will be free of any obligations they have left to the cartel and can return to a normal life.

Alfonso Herrera as Javi, Felix Solis as Omar Navarro in Ozark.
Alfonso Herrera as Javi, Felix Solis as Omar Navarro in Ozark. Pic credit: Netflix

And of course, this places Marty in the position of attempting the impossible once again, as he tries to smooth talk his way out of every formidable obstacle possible. That aspect of Ozark has always remained the most engaging characteristic of the series, and season 4 is no exception. Although, the idea of the FBI remotely considering giving a man like Navarro a pardon is a heavy sell to the audience.

Beyond the conflicts with Mexico, season 4 reckons with the ghost of Ben, who Wendy killed in the previous season. Marty and Wendy’s son Jonah (Skylar Gaertner) is anything but forgiving about the way his uncle was handled. And throughout this entry, he makes his feelings clearly known to his mother and father, then joins with Ruth Langmore (Julia Garner) to help run her business, a person Jonah absolutely knows his mother cannot tolerate.

Garner as Ruth Langmore remains one of the best performers in Ozark. This season has Ruth trying to find herself as a business person outside of Marty’s mentorship as she begins money laundering for Darlene Snell (Lisa Emery). Even though Ruth is a criminal, the one thing about her is she might be the only good person in the entire show. One cannot help but hope that the showrunners offer her the same mercy as Breaking Bad did for Jesse Pinkman.

Ozark Season 4 Part 1 is not perfect by any means and might be slightly bloated for it being seven episodes. For example, there is a subplot involving a rich drug-addicted chef that gets invested with Ruth and Darlene’s business that did not land anywhere important.

Julia Garner as Ruth Langmore, Skylar Gaertner as Jonah Byrde  in Ozark.
Julia Garner as Ruth Langmore, Skylar Gaertner as Jonah Byrde in Ozark. Pic credit: Netflix

The show introduces a new character named Mel Sattem (Adam Rothenberg)– a private investigator trying to find Helen Pierce in order to have her sign papers for a divorce. Sattem acts as an annoyance to the Byrdes as he keeps pressing for answers. And while his persistence is hilarious, he shows up at the Byrde’s house and mostly asks the same questions each time, one of those scenes could have possibly been trimmed just to make things tighter.

As a whole though, Ozark Season 4 Part 1 will not disappoint hardcore fans of the series. For a show that is almost 90% characters having conversations, it remains incredibly engaging. Mostly because those conversations are characters trying to prevent bloodshed from happening moment to moment.

What viewers might notice, is the only time someone dies in the show or comes close to dying, is when someone loses their cool. And this is why Marty has been able to live as long as he has despite being in countless life-threatening situations. The only person who defies this rule is Ruth Langmore, which considering her explosive temper, is insanely impressive.

Ozark Season 4 Part 1: Should you stream it?

Part 1 of the 4th season of Ozark will satisfy its fans despite being a tad bloated for seven episodes. The tension that comes with each season as the Byrde family use wit, skill, and conversational warfare to survive the cartel remains infectious viewing.

The newcomers offer interesting stakes for its final season as we continue to ask ourselves, “How will they get out of this one?”

The performances remain great, especially from Laura Linney (who we almost forgot to mention). She is extremely unlikable this season in the best way possible and should be a frontrunner this Emmy season.

What else there is to say about Ozark? It’s dark, dreary, and somehow remains addicting television.

For more Netflix coverage from Monsters & Critics, readers can visit our coverage of films such as Bo Burnham’s Inside and Gunpowder Milkshake.

Ozark Season 4 Part 1 begins streaming on Netflix on January 21.

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