“I’m taking it one catastrophe at a time.”
And now we’re at the fallout from the last two episodes. Javi chose to murder Darlene and Wyatt. Ruth chose to murder Javi. And now Wendy and Marty Byrde are scrambling to figure out how they can rebuild the bridges that get them out of the Ozarks and back to Chicago. The most interesting thing about this transitional chapter is where it ends: setting up Marty and Ruth as essentially warring drug operation leaders. The drug business just replaces its downed soldiers, and Marty goes to Mexico to become the new Javi while Ruth looks like she might become the new Darlene. New bosses, same as the old bosses.
The death of Javi severs all ties for Marty and Wendy Byrde because it kills both the Shaw deal and any connection to the FBI. The presumption would be that the Mexican leadership of the cartel would replace Javi, but with whom? Would it be someone who works with the Byrdes and Claire Shaw? Or just someone who kills them all? Wendy starts the episode with a stiff drink. Who can blame her?
There’s a fantastic exchange between Bateman and Linney discussing the deep hole life has thrown them into. It’s a conversation that highlights the difference between the two: Marty seems genuinely sad while Wendy tends to righteous anger. He says, “I didn’t know she was going to kill him.” She replies, “Then you’re a fucking idiot.” Wendy doesn’t have the same sympathy as Marty for anyone, much less Ruth, accusing Marty of dining on excuses to feel like shit. He believes they destroyed Ruth’s life, and it’s an interesting thing to consider. Wendy then goes into some absolute nonsense about Marty being “a good salesman” regarding how they got into this situation. Go rewatch season one. She was with this plan from day one and has often been the one to turn down witness protection and other ways to get out. Even here, she refuses to let go of the Shaw deal until she knows it’s dead. “Have some fucking faith,” she says, not realizing that she rarely has any in Marty.
After that excellent prologue, “Pick a God and Pray” gets back to the Ozarks. Ruth tells Three that it’s over. She can finally sleep.
Meanwhile, Claire won’t talk to Wendy, and P.I. Mel Sattem goes to meet with Helen’s ex-husband, telling him that Helen worked for the drug cartel and is probably dead. Following Charlotte’s lead from the first half of this season, her daughter comes in and pleads with dad to let it go. Cut to Charlotte confessing to Wendy that she told Ruth where to find Javi. How do they get out of this? Could they testify against Omar and go into Witness Protection? Wendy shuts that down immediately. Get Omar back to Mexico? How do they get him into power again? What would it take to get Omar back in control? Wendy needs to talk to him first.
As Javi’s people start questioning Claire about his location, someone calls Mel to come back to the Ozarks. It turns out that Nathan Davis, played by the great Richard Thomas, is back. As if Wendy doesn’t have enough problems. Remember how Mel and Maya were going to team up at the end of the first half-season. Well, now Nathan, searching for his missing son Ben, can add some fuel to that fire. Speaking of missing kids, remember Zeke? The baby that has already lived in like four homes wasn’t killed by Javi and is now apparently in Ruth’s custody. What a twist that would be if the child that was cut out of a woman’s stomach in season one ends up raised by Ruth Langmore, of all people.
Marty takes a Hail Mary by going to Maya in the hope of rekindling the deal that she once offered. He could do 18 months and work for her as an informant. She thinks he’s kidding. “You’re just another criminal to me now. Get out of my office.” Another lifeboat off the sinking ship that is the Byrde empire has floated away.
Omar Navarro has a visitor. A character who seemed like he could be done is thrust back into the spotlight. It’s Wendy. She met with the FBI, Javi has disappeared, and Omar is sick of Wendy’s shit. She knows where Javi is. She knows who killed him. He’s furious she’s even talking to him. He gets angry enough to rise and yell. “I will kill you, Wendy! I will find a way!” Is Wendy scared? Never. She actually makes a power move, calling the FBI to get Omar out of solitary AND make it clear that she did it. The idea is that she is the puppet master here, not him.
Marty goes to Ruth to ask what to do with Wyatt’s body. After all, the Byrdes own the only funeral home in town. Of course, Wyatt didn’t have plans for his death. So they decide to put on a service for him. After a few transitional scenes, including an important one in which Marty confesses to going to see Maya and Wendy does not respond with the same transparency regarding Omar and one in which Mel shows Maya proof that Wendy rented a car on the day that Ben disappeared, it’s time for a funeral. They claim Wendy had to work (she didn’t), and she meets the terrifying Father Benitez (Bruno Bichir), the new rep for Omar, who may want to keep his boss behind bars. The funeral is sad, including a vision of Wyatt and Ruth digging the grave. They’re exhausted, but it ends with them laughing. Wyatt could always do that for Ruth.
What now? They must resecure Omar’s power in Mexico. Marty suggests that he goes down to get a handle on things and keep the money flowing to the FBI and the Shaws. Marty has to convince the cartel that Omar killed Javi. Is this setting up an endgame for the series in which Marty Byrde is a Mexican drug lord?
Clare Shaw comes to Ruth looking for product and tries to blackmail her with security cam footage from Javi’s murder. Dumb idea. Ruth comes out with a shotgun. Life tip: Don’t blackmail someone who just killed in cold blood. However, the exchange does give Ruth an idea: The Snells’ whole drug operation is just waiting to be taken over.
As Ruth considers this, Marty heads to Mexico and learns that Omar promised to kill them all. It dawns on him that while he has been conveying every piece of information and step in his plan to Wendy, she hasn’t been doing the same. After all of his risk analysis, is Wendy Byrde the one risk he never considered enough?
• I know we live in an era of too many spinoffs, but I would totally watch Mel Sattem solve crimes every week. Maya can join the show too because they have really cute chemistry. It would be like a new Moonlighting.
• Something is terrifying about the serene delivery of Bruno Bichir as Father Benitez, right? It feels like he could be comfortable telling you how this is God’s will as he slits your throat. He’ll bring another kind of danger to the final run.
• It’s hard to believe there are only five episodes left because there are so many potential outs and traps for the Byrdes. We’ll know soon enough which ones they avoid.