The centerpiece of the second half of the final season is a bit slow — even the half-seasons on Netflix have that sag in the middle — but it ends with a banger of a scene and features great work throughout from Jason Bateman (this is arguably his best season to date).
The main narrative thrust of the episode is the return of Rachel Garrison, played by Jordana Spiro, who hasn’t been seen since the eighth episode of season two, “The Big Sleep.” Ruth tries to bring Rachel to her side while Wendy scrambles with power players like Senator Schafer. Really, Ruth tries to control Rachel while the Byrdes try to control Navarro. Meanwhile, Marty has finally had enough of it all, and a road-rage encounter becomes a TV scene for the ages.
It doesn’t help Marty’s anger that he opens the episode watching a woman clean Arturo’s blood off the tiled floor. After that, he’s seen playing fetch with a giant dog. The scrubbing sound gets louder, though maybe only in Marty’s guilty conscience. After the credits roll, Marty is giving orders and Camila asks to see Omar.
While Wendy scrambles with Schafer, Ruth is off on a first-class plane trip, soaking in the luxury and smiling for the first time in days. She’s going to Miami to find Rachel and make her an offer that will make Rachel “filthy fucking rich.”
In the brief meeting with Schafer, Wendy learns that someone is basically trying to keep Omar behind bars, and there’s really only one person who could do that: Camila Elizonndro. Does this mean she tried to have him killed? That’s what Marty thinks, spiraling him even further into grief and guilt. Wendy’s reaction is fascinating. She suggests to Marty that it’s not his fault because he was only doing what Omar would have done. The idea is that stepping into someone’s shoes is like taking on a role and makes someone less culpable. It’s an amazing sociopathology that can really excuse the worst behavior. In other words, it’s how Wendy sleeps at night. It’s how she can run a criminal operation without considering herself a criminal — she’s wearing a costume just to get a job done. When she takes it off, she leaves all of its guilt.
There’s an awkward and sad moment between Marty and Jonah when Dad checks in to see if his son needs anything. It’s a broken relationship that may not have time to mend. Shortly thereafter, Marty and Wendy meet with Ruth and Rachel at the Belle. The different reactions of the Byrdes are telling. “What is she doing here?” Wendy snarls when she sees Rachel. Marty sees Rachel and goes in for a hug and a “Good to see you.” Ruth cuts to the chase: She wants to make a deal — the Shaw money for the foundation and Ruth takes the casino. Wendy, naturally, hates the idea, but it’s really not bad. She claims to Marty that it’s just a plea for his attention, but it really is safer to get cash from around home while the Camila/Omar thing plays out. But Wendy doesn’t it see it that way, so she counters by revealing that Ruth killed Javi and that Rachel would be getting into business with a very dangerous woman with secrets of her own. Naturally, Rachel isn’t happy about not being kept in the loop.
Much of the midsection of this long episode feels like it’s spinning its wheels. Mel goes to talk to Ruth, reminding viewers how Ms. Langmore really does hold the cards when it comes to what happened to Ben. Marty and Wendy argue over what to do about Omar and Camila. Do they reveal that his sister tried to kill him? Can Marty keep running the Mexico operation while Omar heals up? Who knows how long that will be? And what to do about Camila wanting to see her brother? Is that a good idea?
Another potential problem surfaces in the increased awareness of Nathan Davis, Wendy’s father. He tells Ruth that Mel thinks she knows more than she’s letting on. Nathan is getting too nosy for everyone, which is really what got his son killed. He saw Ruth and Wendy arguing at the bake sale, and he presumes that Ruth is trying to protect Jonah, but from what?
Tuck! Rachel’s BFF, played by Evan George Vourazeris, makes his first appearance since the last time we saw Rachel. She had asked Marty to keep an eye on the lovable Tuck, but, of course, Byrde forgot about him almost immediately. Tuck doesn’t work at the Blue Cat anymore because new managers stopped scheduling him. Rachel calls to give Marty a piece of her mind, and Marty’s neglect leads Garrison back to Ruth. Marty is a character who is always considering risk but too rarely remembers human connections and needs. Rachel has a lot of information that could derail Marty’s life. You’d think he’d take care of Tuck just so she didn’t get angry enough to spill it. She doesn’t spill to the feds, but she does change the endgame of Ozark by suggesting a legal approach: Ruth is Wyatt’s legal guardian, and Wyatt married Darlene. Doesn’t that give Ruth rights to Darlene’s share of the casino?
Wendy turns up the heat on Clare, telling her that it’s time to meet with Camila and to honor the deal that Shaw presented to Javi. Wendy isn’t messing around: “Sister of a cartel boss, show some respect … See you at one!” she says with a smile. Clare comes with a fair enough offer for profit, but Camila wants the five-year distribution deal too. And Wendy demands the rest of the foundation donation. “When should I tell my brother to send the next shipment?” Camila asks. Clare isn’t getting out of this without lying down for Camilla and Wendy.
The Camila Problem could be the final one for Marty and Wendy Byrde. The truth is that Wendy needs to work with Camila to keep the foundation alive, and Marty needs her out of the picture because she’s too dangerous. Marty wants to tell Navarro the truth: Wendy promised Camila that she could see her brother, even though she just tried to have him murdered.
If that’s not bad enough, Nathan and Mel pop by the Byrdes. They need to talk to Wendy. After dropping the evidence that Wendy had seen Ben after he left town, she changes her story. She claims they got into a fight, and she left him at a diner. He’s on the run. He’s wanted by the State Police. It’s a weak story, but Nathan seems to buy it. Why did Nathan protect Ben but humiliate Wendy for so long? “Well, you were a lot less easy to love.” Yikes. Wendy almost seems to admire the brutal honesty. It leads Nathan to drink back in his hotel while Marty unloads on Charlotte about how hard Wendy can make their lives. She suggests marriage counseling. It’s a little too late for that, and not just because their counselor “retired.”
Camila gets to see Omar. Wendy blindsides Marty by offering to have Camila take control in Mexico. Marty doesn’t know about this and doesn’t like it. It’s a dumb move. Camila is too risky. But Marty can’t say that there, in front of Omar. Doesn’t this make the Byrdes very expendable to Camila? She gets control, and she has the Shaw connection — why does she still need Wendy? Put her on the throne and she ices her brother and the Byrdes the next day.
Marty probably knows this, and he’s seething while stuck in traffic. Horns honk and tensions rise. It’s time for Marty’s Falling Down moment. Marty gets cut off and stops talking to Wendy, turning up the Todd Rundgren instead. Wendy gives him a hard time again. An asshole behind them keeps honking. Marty gets out of his car and orders the guy to get out. The dude advances on them and calls Wendy a bitch twice before she yells, “Suck my cock, asshole!” (A moment that must be GIF-ed immediately.) And then a fight really breaks out. Well, more of a beating than a fight. Marty takes him down, switching hooks and even getting in a kick. And he marches off, covered in blood.
• Is this Bateman’s best season? It’s this or season one. Could this be the year he wins the Emmy? It would be the last chance for the Academy to give him one for a show they very clearly like. And he’s been phenomenal.
• Laura Linney directed! It’s the first directorial credit for the Oscar-nominated actress. Let’s hope it’s not the last.
• Wendy says to Marty, “You cannot be that naïve.” How many times has she said that to Marty? Hundreds?
• This episode tosses around acronyms that you may not know, so OFAC means Office of Foreign Assets Control, and SDN means Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List, the one they’re trying to get Omar Navarro off that restricts his movement.