|The women of the Ozarks, Darlene, Wendy, Ruth and Helen. Bad assess, all of them|
The initial hot take on the Netflix series Ozark that it was Breaking Bad lite. Respectable family gets in over its head with the Mexican drug cartels, with murderous consequences. But somehow from the start you felt that much as he was a nice guy out of his depth, Marty Byrde's character development through the first two seasons simply lacked the complex brilliance of the transformation of Walter White into Heisenberg.
Well, I'm not to compare the two on any kind of balanced score card, but Season Three raised the game and took Ozark in a direction all of its own. We know by now what Mexican drug cartels are capable of. But the question you ask yourself all the way through, is how far will any of these characters go?
The acting, the writing, the tension, all ratchet up throughout. All of it makes for a totally bingeworthy series with twists and turns and the regular introduction of new characters that take the plot to new places and force the characters into darker moral choices. Foremost of them all is Ben, Wendy's brother, with a terrifying performance by Tom Pelphrey as worthy of an Emmy as Julia Garner was (and is, again) for her next level delivery of Ruth Langmore.
And it has to be said, at the centre, slap bang at the the molten core of this whole crazy show are the women. All of them. Darlene, Helen, Wendy, and especially Ruth. These are complex, vibrant, surprising, repulsive and mesmerising all at once. But also Charlotte, Marty and Wendy's daughter, their therapist Sue, and Maya, the six months pregnant FBI agent. Wow. Never once did you stop for breath and think, no, leave it out, that's exploitative or implausible. Well, as wild and unexpected as you can get with a family like the Byrde's and set ups like their labyrinthe money laundering empire.
And then as it all draws to a shocking conclusion, where it's the raw, abused and rough arsed hill billies that display empathy and love and are prepared to draw a line that defines decent, and beyond which they simply will not cross (apart from a new poppy field to pump smack into Season 4, but what's a bit of drug distribution amongst old friends?) No, that's the shocking trajectory that this series has taken you on. It's the not the educated, urban, ambitious politicos and lawyers, the people a bit like us, but the women of the Ozarks.
Wow. What an ending. We've all got a bit more time on our hands and time at home, but trust me, this is great.