The third episode of the final season of Ozark is about the art of the deal, making and keeping it between people like Maya and Omar, Ruth and Darlene, and Claire and the Byrdes. This season centers on very tenuous connections, the kind that could pull the Byrdes out of this quicksand or drag them deeper into it.
It opens with a subtle shot of Marty taking care of Maya’s baby while Wendy digs in the dirt outside. Again, Wendy doesn’t have maternal instincts, which will come back to haunt her with Jonah. But maybe Marty’s can save the family?
Maya is taken onto Omar’s grounded plane, where he’s pretty instantly threatening, wanting to know about her dynamic with Marty and how getting him out of the cartel business will work. She has some demands. It has to be “inconvenient” for the FBI to kill Omar — years in a cell; details on how the cartels operate; surrender of products and weapons; names and locations of bodies. When he doesn’t respond, she gets up and leaves as his plane takes off. He can’t give up that much, but what’s the counteroffer? Does he blow it all up? She doesn’t seem to care and rages at Marty when she returns. Marty calls Omar, who tells him an essential line — one that’s repeated later in the episode — “You don’t win until I win, Marty.” Will Marty remember that in his endgame? Is there a way for both of them to win?
There’s a clever little beat when Charlotte tells Jonah that Wendy has something she wants to show them outside, showing how Wendy uses Charlotte, who is on her side, to communicate with Jonah, who is not communicating with his mom at all. Wendy wants to show Jonah and Charlotte a shrine she’s built for Ben, a place to come and remember him. Of course, for Jonah — and anyone sane — it’s a reminder that Wendy killed Ben. It feels hollow and manipulative like so much of what Wendy does nowadays. Jonah goes back to laundering money, and his immature mother lashes out, turning off the power to the basement. How petty. Did she expect her shrine to solve their problems?
Omar gets home from his meeting with Maya, and Javi sulks in a big room. Interestingly, Omar hasn’t said a word about Maya. He can’t trust Javi. And he’s reticent when his nephew insists on overseeing the deal between Clare Shaw and the Byrdes. He wants to keep his monster locked up in the castle.
Back at the Lazy-O, Ruth has gone around Darlene to rekindle the supply chain through Kerry Stone. There’s no way this ends well, right? Wyatt is the first to admonish her, unhappy with the power move and criticizing her for fighting with everyone she works with.
There’s another potential loose end this season in Erin Pierce (Madison Thompson), the daughter of power player Helen Pierce. She’s wondering where her mom is and finally gets up the courage to call Charlotte to ask some tough questions. She reveals that her father indeed hired Mel, and he’s returned to Chicago empty-handed. What role will Erin play in the endgame? And Charlotte? She hasn’t been much more than a hype man for Wendy this season. It leads Charlotte to suggest she go to Chicago with them to talk to Erin. Marty wants Jonah to come, but he’s not interested. The divide between Jonah and the other three Byrde family members continues to deepen.
The boy in the middle is going over his new laundering system with Ruth when an angry Darlene shows up, spewing lines like “You got balls for being such a slight little thing.” The power plays between Darlene and Ruth are already starting to feel a little thin. Darlene is the most formidable woman in the Ozarks, and Ruth is one of the smartest. They’d get much further if they teamed up instead of trying to figure out which one is the alpha. And the “Crazy Darlene” bit is already getting tired too. I hope they move on soon.
While Wendy and Marty are running into acquaintances in Chicago, Darlene is off to talk to an angry Cosgrove. She owes him money even though the pipeline has been cut off. She’s not giving an inch, ready to go to war with everyone. That’s not going to end well.
Charlotte meets Erin in a beautiful Chicago park, dropping the truth that Helen is dead but hiding how much she really knows. “She worked with dangerous people,” Charlotte says, and she encourages Erin to move or, well, everyone she cares about will die. The Byrdes didn’t kill Helen, but they could kill her and everyone else if they needed to. Charlotte is Wendy’s daughter through and through, leading with faux sympathy and then landing the gut punch.
Marty discovers the hard way that Javi will lead the meeting with Clare, which includes a sample of their product. Meanwhile, Wendy speaks to Senator Schafer, a heavy-hitter they need for their new political empire. He hates Wendy, but he’s smart enough to know the value of what she’s offering. Wendy kisses just enough ass, offering to make him into one of the most powerful Republican kingmakers in the country with access to a $150 million war chest. The road to the White House will go through him. Wendy, who was once scared of men like Schafer, feels proud of her political maneuvering.
While Shaw and her team are testing the product, Ruth moves some of her own through Kerry. His latest clients need a place to party, and apparently, her trailer park will do. Angry Darlene shows up yet again, and Ruth talks tough, showing her how much money has been made through Kerry. Was it always a test on Darlene’s part to see what Ruth could do under pressure, or is Darlene now pivoting after the mess with Cosgrove? Maybe a little bit of both? She’s responding to Ruth’s initiative, but it’s also because she kind of has no choice.
After the Shaw demo, Marty hears about a gun sale from Javi and convinces Omar on the phone to give up the details to Maya. It’s the kind of olive branch she needs. It’s a bit unbelievable that Maya would go to the bust herself, but she does precisely that as the Byrdes are dining with a flirtatious Javi, who teaches Charlotte how to eat oysters in a way that shouts “red flag.” And they toast: “To your business being my business and mine being yours.”
• Did Wyatt look a little strung out to anyone else in that first scene with Darlene? He’s pale and sweaty. I’m worried he’s using the product. However, it could just be that shiny blue aesthetic of the show.
• Javi gets one of the best lines of the season to Shaw: “You’re the first gringo I’ve met whose family has killed more people than mine.”
• Killer Mike closes the episode! Season three ended beautifully with a new track from Run the Jewels before the album was even out, and this chapter digs deeper to unearth an excellent 2012 track from the rapper, “Untitled.”
• Marty tells Wendy, “That’s muscling; that’s not parenting.” The line between how the two of them respond to Jonah continues to feel definitive for this season.
• Every Chicagoan probably smiled at the Portillo’s reference.
• Bruce Davison! The great Oscar nominee plays Schafer. One of the hardest-working actors in history, he has over 270 credits but is probably best known as another senator from the first two X-Men movies.