That’s more like it. After a clunky episode, we get a tightly edited chapter of Ozark that deftly contrasts the difficult marriages of the Snells and the Byrdes, and how family ties can choke us to death. Both Marty Byrde and Jacob Snell use the same word when admonishing their wives this week: undermine. Both relationships are collapsing under the weight of bad decisions and recent disagreements. And the episode ends with the death of Jacob Snell, murdered by his wife before he could do the same to her. Is this foreshadowing, even possibly seasons down the line, of what will happen to the Byrdes? Will one of them kill the other?
By that time, children Jonah and Charlotte may be long gone. Charlotte dropped a bomb at the end of the last episode, telling her parents that she wanted out of the Byrde family. She was going to file for emancipation and leave this criminal enterprise behind. Marty and Wendy respond to this news in very different ways that says a lot about how they handle crisis. Marty seems sad, asking his daughter to trust that he can fix the situation. Wendy gets angry, threatening Charlotte’s attorney and raising her voice at her family. She tries to be political and then she lashes out. Meanwhile, Marty operates stealthily, asking for trust, the most important commodity to him. Is it too late to get back the trust of his daughter?
It’s definitely too late for the trust between Jacob and Darlene Snell to return. First, it’s somewhat shocking that they made it out of that barrage of gunfire at the end of the last episode with one bullet through the shoulder, but okay, it’s TV. While he’s recovering from his miraculous single bullet, Darlene tries to play hardball with the cartel again, shutting down access to the casino construction. Before he’s even really better, Jacob goes to meet with Marty and Pearce. He learns that he does not have much leverage here. Not only does he not really own the property — when he flooded the land, it became part of the Mississippi River, making it federal — but they will box him in however they can, building up every inch of land around them. Jacob knows they have no move but to play along. All he asks is for a promise for no more violence.
And yet he brings that violence home. It raises the question, when did Jacob decide to kill Darlene? And did she know he was planning to do so and simply acted first? On an otherwise beautiful morning, they walk their land for the last time before construction begins, Jacob with a knife in his sleeve. He marches toward her, they stare in each other’s eyes, and then he collapses. She reveals that she poisoned him before they left the house, and that the cyanide should act quickly. We watch the life go out of Jacob’s eyes. Does this mean Darlene will stop construction again? What could possibly be her plan? Does she have one? Pearce, Marty, even Cosgrove are just going to kill her at this point. Hell, maybe Ruth will take her out.
Speaking of Cosgrove, things are about to get tense with the Kansas City mob. Before the final soiree needed to get the casino approved, Charlie Wilkes tells Wendy that the Chairman of the Board will ask for a favor that they simply must grant. How very Corleone of them. Well, the favor turns out to be a big one — the casino project can’t be a union job. So, now Marty has to find a way to get Cosgrove and his teams off the project. That will not be easy.
If that wasn’t enough to worry about, Marty has to figure out a way to keep his family together. It looks like he’s planning to run again, this time to Arkansas. Will next season be called Little Rock? He goes to Ruth Langmore and asks her to take over the business the day the casino gets started. They’re going to run. The cartel will need Ruth. It will help keep her alive.
The problem with this plan is one Cade Langmore, who is a weight around Ruth’s ankle. Not only does he rob Lickety Splitz in the middle of the day, but he is dragging Wyatt, who just got into the University of Missouri, down with him. Ruth pulls a shotgun on him, demanding he give the money back and leave Wyatt alone. It raises a few questions now that the season is coming to an end. Ozark doesn’t always hold up under scrutiny and that’s kind of the case here in that Cade is doing something illegal pretty much every single day. Wouldn’t it be incredibly easy to send him back to jail? Call his parole officer. Show him the video from Lickety. Show him the boat parts. Tell him about the funeral home. Cade is a walking garbage fire, and it feels like Ruth’s best course of action would be to just get him back behind bars for as long as possible. Or kill him. That would work too. But it’s time for Cade to go, he’s been something of a dramatic weight on this season, never becoming a truly interesting character.
She doesn’t kill him or snitch on him in time, which gives Cade the chance to get to Agent Petty, just before he appears to be leaving the Ozarks forever to take care of his mom. This is clearly meant as a cliffhanger, but what does Cade really know outside of his suspicion about what Ruth did to his brothers? He’s a moron and watching him team with Petty could lead to total disaster for both of them. Actually, that might be fun.
There’s an interesting parallel between two young women trying to leave their poisonous parents in Ruth Langmore and Charlotte Byrde. Wyatt has pointed out how much these two families handle things differently, and that’s true again this week. Ruth pulls a shotgun on her dad; Charlotte pulls an attorney. Will either escape their criminal families before it’s too late?
• Wondering a bit about the history of the flooding of the Ozarks that the Snells speak about so much in relation to their land and their ancestors? This is a good read on the subject.
• It’s interesting to hear Marty talk to his daughter about trust. It’s one of the most important commodities to him, to the point that he even trusts people who have betrayed him like Rachel and Ruth. Once he trusts you, you’re in. Forever. Sometimes even as you drag him down.
• I can’t tell you how much I love “Wichita Lineman” by Glen Campbell. You should, too.
• I’d like a mash-up of every time Ruth has said “I swear to fucking God.” And maybe Marty answering the phone, listening for a beat, and then saying, “Jesus Christ.”