The penultimate episode of this half-season of Ozark tracks dual family betrayals — that of Omar and his nephew, Javi, and that of Wendy and her son, Jonah. One could even toss the death of Frank Cosgrove on this pile in that it doesn’t happen if his son doesn’t work a deal behind his back with Darlene. Again, this season’s theme has been how family and business don’t mix. And those who forget that may not even live to regret it.
FBI agent Maya Miller is on another bust to open the episode, and it’s easy to sense that something is going to go wrong from the second the driver flees the truck. Maybe TV viewers are trained for this kind of thing, but didn’t you sense the truck was going to explode long before it did? At least long before the SWAT team member says there are no warm bodies in the truck? Clearly, Javi wanted to send a message, but will that message derail any hope for his uncle’s scheme? Later, Maya calls Marty about the explosion, and he immediately calls Omar, who demands a meeting. If Omar is going to get out of his drug business, it has to be sooner than they planned.
Back in the Ozarks, we discover that Wendy Byrde didn’t just let Darlene Snell die in the driveway. Is anyone else a little disappointed? Not only would that move have really cemented Wendy as the sociopath she’s increasingly become over the run of this show, but it also would have created such upheaval in the drug trade. No, Darlene is still alive and blaming Ruth for the heart attack. She tells Wyatt that she doesn’t want his cousin around them anymore. As has been foreshadowed, Wyatt will probably have to choose between the two most powerful women in his life. Before Wyatt can talk to Ruth, Garner has a nice beat when she tells Jonah about how her mom died: in a hit-and-run when Ruth was only 8.
Jim is about to learn the truth about his favorite client. After invoking attorney-client privilege, Wendy reveals what the Byrdes do for a living, laundering drug-cartel money through the many foundations and power structures Jim has helped set up. She does so because she wants him there when the deal is drawn up between Omar and the FBI, but it feels like the kind of information that could get him killed. Damian Young is very good this season, capturing someone who realizes he’s too deep in the woods to turn back even if moving forward may get him killed.
Marty goes to Jefferson City to smooth out the FBI/Omar deal. He reminds them that they’ve been chasing Omar for years, and now is the time to catch him. It would cripple half of the drug trade in the country. However, they’re going to need proof that Omar wasn’t behind the bombing himself. Can Marty figure out a way to throw Javi under the bus? He tries to convince Omar to do just that a few scenes later, but Omar plays tough, at least at first. However, he talks to his nephew and basically passes the torch, telling him that the Ozarks are now his. Omar will get out. He even says, “The Byrdes are yours.” Is this an honest succession of power, or is Omar pushing Javi out in front just before the firing squad takes aim?
A great scene between Laura Linney and Lisa Emery unfolds in the hospital wherein Wendy claims to have saved Darlene’s life. Yeah, just barely. And Darlene noticed: “You didn’t want to. I saw.” Just a mention of Ruth dealing with Marty again and Charlotte’s friendship with Wyatt nearly killed Darlene. And Wendy digs into the wounds, reminding Darlene who’s in charge. “We can take everything else you have,” she says. With oxygen tubes coming out of her nose, Darlene has the nerve to say, “I am as strong as a bull.”
Ruth knows that the brief business relationship with Darlene will come to a crashing end soon, and she asks Wyatt to choose. He takes the side of Darlene and Zeke, leaving Ruth nowhere to go. Wyatt was her only remaining ally other than poor Sam.
Wendy goes to Paducah to ID a body that someone thinks is Ben, but she knows it isn’t. How creepy. And she goes with her relatively estranged father, which leads to a brutal scene over coffee. These two hate each other, and they passive-aggressively hurl insults. Dad gets a really good line that makes clear how long Wendy’s fatal narcissism has been a part of her identity: “You never did understand the world didn’t revolve around you.”
Javi has raced to the Belle to cause trouble, telling Marty he’s the new boss, suggesting that the Byrdes move to Macau. Javi wants to run the operation, talk to Maya, and be in charge of every decision. But Marty calls Omar, who makes clear that he’s ready to give up almost everything that Javi thinks he’s now controlling — the money, the routes, and possibly even his flesh and blood.
These fraught family ties define the final arcs of this episode. First, Frank gives his son a hard time about the Snell deal and then goes to Darlene herself to continue the tirade. As he’s ranting, Darlene casually walks into the other room and returns with a shotgun, with which she blasts a hole in Frank’s chest. She’s done taking orders. Wyatt returns later and freaks out about the murder before going to Ruth. Will this be the decision that pushes him to the other side? It looks possible as Wyatt even rehearses breaking up with Darlene, but the poor kid goes in the exact opposite direction in which he should be running. Finding an upset Darlene, he asks her to marry him. Does Wyatt have a savior complex? Does he just need to be needed?
While all that is happening, and after Javi subtly threatens Jim with a visit, Wendy is planning for the downfall of her own son. First, she figures out that he wouldn’t do much time and that they could get a laundering charge stricken from his record. Second, she goes to the motel and convinces poor Sam to let her into Jonah’s office, from which she gets the information to flag one of his accounts. This is followed by a fascinatingly long scene in which a smiling Wendy drinks with Charlotte. She’s really celebrating selling out her own son. Creepy.
Jonah gets the flag error and panics, calling his dad to come and fix it. Will he save Jonah from the trap set by his wife? He does a few things and then discovers a bit of Wendy’s trail. The flag came from an outside party. He knows it was Wendy. And Sam later reveals to Jonah that his mom was there earlier that day. He comes home furious, and Marty can’t believe it either. You don’t get credit for saving your kid from a burning building if you’re the one who set it on fire.
Just as Wendy is siccing the authorities on Jonah and Omar seems to be siccing the FBI on his nephew, Ruth is ready to do the same with Frank Jr. and Darlene. She emotionally tells him about the death of his father — another great Garner scene in what may be her best season — and then asks for a day to clean up some of the mess before he can “do whatever you need to do to Darlene.”
In the end, the pieces are in place to deliver Omar Navarro to the FBI in 12 hours, and the Byrdes can be free. But Jonah is gone? What will they have to do to get him there so everyone can go to Chicago?
• The title is translated as “Blood Over Everything,” which comes from the conversation in which Omar hands power down to Javi. His nephew takes it to mean something positive about the family connection, but it could also be interpreted as any violent means to an end can be taken. There’s no blood that these characters, especially Omar and Wendy, aren’t willing to spill.
• Only one episode left in part one! MVP this season seems to be Garner, but credit to Adam Rothenberg and Alfonso Herrera for the new energy they’ve given Ozark this season.
• One more quick credit before we catch up in the finale — the score. The work by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans has been fantastic this season, never overused but providing just the right backdrop of rising tension.