It’s good now and then to take a break from highly acclaimed movies, television, and video games and focus on the nuts and bolts of what makes a show watchable. Ozark, by the grace of the Netflix algorithm, thought you’d like something more with your Breaking Bad and has provided 3 and a half seasons of a money-laundering show where people talk about how dangerous someone is before getting killed by someone else at the end.
There are a few fundamentals a TV Show must provide. The one major thing is a hook. As outlined in my pandemic era beginning Season 3 review. A financial adviser drags his family from Chicago to the Missouri Ozarks, where he must launder $500 million in five years to appease a drug boss. You have a location audiences haven’t seen that they can explore.
The next thing you need to do is populate that area with characters. Jason Bateman is the main draw here, although Season 4: Part One has him finally take a back seat to the rest of the ensemble. The true character of the show rests in two-time Emmy Winner Julia Garner as a local Missouran named Ruth Langmore who connects all the characters.
The show is aware of how good this character is but doesn’t give her as many obstacles to overcome as last season resulting in much less fun. The cliche of opponents turned allies that happens on many long-running shows starts to rear its ugly head here as does the endgame. What should be a no-holds-barred season still feels far too careful with no wild card characters like last season’s Ben (Tom Pelphrey). But that’s how the show has always played. It seems to have done nothing with the higher level of popularity and acclaimed it earned *checks notes… almost two years ago with its last season.
Still, the bright side is that the 7 episodes are easy to burn through despite not much happening, and when you have dependable stars like Jason Bateman and Julia Garner on TV and Oscar nominee Laura Linney and a bunch of hillbilly characters subtly reminding you how good they can be, it’s easy to imagine how worse off you can be and how better could possibly be right around the corner.
37 episodes are available to binge before the last 7 episodes arrive sometime in the next year.