Spoilers for Ozark Season 3 follow below.
The Netflix original series Ozark dropped its highly anticipated third season recently, coming over a year and a half since Season 2 debuted in 2018, and showrunner Chris Mundy has a lot to say about that ending and what’s ahead. It’s been a long wait for new episodes, but that’s to be expected when you’re juggling the busy schedules of folks like Jason Bateman, Laura Linney, and the now Emmy-winning Julia Garner.
But it was well worth the wait, as Season 3 deepened the relationships between the characters while upping the ante stakes-wise. Cartel leader Navarro (Felix Solis) came fully into the picture as he developed a relationship with Wendy (Linney), all the while the relationship and partnership between Wendy and Marty (Bateman) was strained to the extreme as the two disagreed on how to proceed with their criminal enterprise. As if that wasn’t enough, Ruth Langmore (Garner) began questioning her blind allegiance to the Byrde family and, despite a tentative friendship at the beginning of the season between Helen and Wendy, the end of the season found Helen making plans to take the Byrdes out of the picture.
Helen’s scheme didn’t go according to plan, though. In the Ozark Season 3 finale “All In,” Marty attempts to get the FBI to take down Navarro’s rival cartel, but at the same time is abruptly asked by Navarro to board a plane with Helen and Wendy to attend Navarro’s son’s second baptism (because the first one ended in mass murder). Helen squares away paperwork to put her name on the gaming license to take over the riverboat casino should anything happen to Marty and Wendy, and tells Navarro she’s more than ready to take over the duo’s enterprise. She expresses doubt over the recent troubles the Byrdes have been having (Wendy’s brother threatening to out their whole gambit to the world, Marty’s dealings with the FBI, etc.), and makes the case that she could certainly handle it all herself.
That seems to be the way things are going, but the final shot of the season is of Marty, Wendy, and Helen getting out of the car in Mexico to greet Navarro, only for Helen to be shot in the head by Navarro’s henchman. Navarro embraces a shocked Marty and Wendy, blood covering their faces, and says, “This is a beginning.” And thus the season ends.
In an interview with EW, Mundy explained why he chose to end the season here while also discussing the triptych structure of the season as a whole:
“We thought of the first third of the season as Marty vs. Wendy, and Wendy kind of wins that battle, and then it transitions to this tentative alliance between Wendy and Helen, and by extension Wendy and Marty vs. Helen. By the time it came to the end, we really wanted to hold that tension of these two things cannot cohabitate, somebody’s got to win this battle, because Navarro isn’t going to put up with anything unstable and he was going to have to pick a side. The whole last episode starts in a very tentative way because there’s fallout from things that happened in episode 9, and once it clicks into gear we didn’t want it to stop until the very last possible second.”
As for why Navarro chose the Byrdes over Helen, Mundy says Marty and Wendy have done a solid job of making themselves indispensable:
“As good as Helen is, there’s other lawyers in the world. But Wendy and Marty have now pulled off two impossibilities for him. One is getting a casino to launder through in the first place, which is sort of the holy grail of money laundering. And the second is that, at least in Navarro’s mind, their claim that they have the FBI on their side and can swing the power of the U.S. government in the intervention in the drug war against their rivals, that’s something virtually no one else can do, and that essentially tipped the scales for Marty and Wendy.”
While Ozark Season 4 hasn’t officially been ordered yet, this is understood to be one of Netflix’s most popular series and that finale is certainly a season finale, not a series finale. For Mundy’s part, he teased where the Marty/Wendy/Navarro relationship goes from here:
“Marty kind of said it in the speech that he gives to try and get Wendy out of bed, which is that we have to burrow all the way into the center of this thing. To us, it’s that. It’s, you’re a vital part of this enterprise now and you’re completely on his radar, to the point where he’s commingling his or someone else’s blood with yours, you’re sharing in that. And so, for better or worse, you’re completely in this game, and now it’s yours to see if you have another play left in you.”
The showrunner also spoke more broadly about Ozark Season 4 plans, noting that he certainly has an idea of where the series goes next:
“Well, if we’re lucky enough to get a season 4, I think it will be about whether or not Ruth really can create something of her own that she wants and is sustainable, or if she wants something else. And I think it will be about if the Byrdes can they turn the biggest mistake of their lives into this huge advantage, and how much will karma catch up with them if they do?”
Yeah, I’d watch that. Ozark is currently streaming on Netflix.
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