Ozark spoilers follow.
Ozark season four part one ended with a bang (and plenty of blood splatter) when pseudo cartel boss Javi Elizonndro (Alfonso Herrera) blew the brains out of newlyweds Darlene nee Snell (Lisa Emery) and Wyatt Langmore (Charlie Tahan).
This was the kick in the teeth that sparked Ruth’s grief-stricken rage and set in motion some explosive events that even the Byrdes couldn’t talk their way out of this time.
Enough foreplay! Let’s get into what really happened in the Ozark season four finale.
Ozark season four ending explained
Part two opens with an unstable Ruth (Julia Garner) hunting down Wyatt’s killer. It isn’t long before her rage rampage ends with her shooting Javi to death in front of the Byrdes and Shaw medical boss Clare Shaw (Katrina Lenk).
To protect themselves and Ruth the Byrdes cover up her deed by telling Omar Navarro (Felix Solis) that his nephew has disappeared, and is presumed dead. Which puts Navarro back in prime position to reaffirm his extradition deal with the FBI but first he must regain control of his drug cartel.
He does so by getting Marty to personally deliver the message that he killed Javi and sending him to temporarily act as his emissary in Mexico.
The news doesn’t go down well and someone makes an attempt on Navarro’s life – that someone being his sister Camila (Javi’s mum, played by Veronica Falcón).
Meanwhile Clare Shaw’s feeling a little cool towards the Byrdes after helping to scrub Javi’s blood out of the floors of her office. She strikes up a deal with Ruth Langmore to oust the Byrdes by using the Darlene-inherited drugs to supply Shaw medical.
This suits Ruth just fine because on top of screwing over the Byrdes out of their arrangement she means to use her new earnings to buy the majority shares of the casino The Missouri Belle from them.
Naturally they refuse, it being their main money-laundering business for the cartel. However Ruth’s a Langmore and Langmores don’t quit, apparently.
Thanks to the Langmore-Snell nuptials Ruth has inherited Darlene’s estate as well as her shares in the Belle. She buys the remaining shares off Charles Wilkes and gets her criminal record expunged, making her the proud majority owner of the Belle and the first clean Langmore in five generations.
If only there was some kind of gold plaque for that. Oh hell, she can buy one.
Wendy Byrde (Laura Linney) – who has also got a backbone – finds a way to needle Clare back into a five-year drug-supply deal with the cartel and a $150 million donation to the Byrde foundation, as well as shares for Camila in Shaw Medical.
The loss of the Belle, however, still presents a pressing problem for the Byrdes as they need it to launder Navarro’s money, who has also moved up his extradition plans from months to days.
It’s a no-go for Ruth, who insists on running a legitimate business. So what do the Byrdes do? Formulate another plan on top of their quicksand foundation of half-built plans.
After the hit on Navarro the FBI mention that if he were to die they’d be happy for Marty (Jason Bateman) to run the cartel to keep their drug seizures rolling in.
Of course that isn’t going to work for the Byrdes but that does give shifty Wendy an idea: have Navarro killed and replaced with his sister. Still sore about her son, Camila agrees.
Despite Wendy’s apparent black soul, her warped fierce love of her children means all of this is insignificant unless she gets them back.
From where you may wonder? Well in the midst of this life and death chaos her own dad – having learned she ordered the hit on her brother Ben (Tom Pelphrey) coerces Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz) and Jonah (Skylar Gaertner) into moving away with him.
The news provokes an already fraught Wendy to commit herself and she refuses to leave the institution until Marty makes them come back.
Marty – already having his hands full – delegates the task to Ruth by threatening to tell Camila the truth about his death. She agrees and gets Jonah and Charlotte to see the truth about their vile, drunk grandfather whose real intent was to cause Wendy heartbreak and embarrassment.
Charlotte and Jonah hash it out with Wendy, who admits she’s been trying to control them. She explains (in these very important words):
“Your dad and I were trying to build something for all of us, and I promise I will not trap you inside it.”
Feeling emosh, well, as emotional as Byrdes get, they move forward and agree to reunite as a family.
This touching heart-to-heart is followed by that car-crash scene. You remember, the flashforward at the beginning of the season. Sam Cooke’s playing on the stereo then bam! The Byrdes take flight.
It turns out it really was all just a symbol for the unpredictability of life because they all escape unscathed and ready dance the night away at the Belle-Byrde foundation event later that evening.
All seems to being going incredibly well. The Byrdes are on the home stretch to getting out of the drugs business, having handed over the laundering reins of the Missouri Belle to Ruth and Rachel (Jordana Spiro) – yeah, she’s back. Legally, of course – can’t dirty up Ruth’s squeaky-clean record – as the FBI have given her the green light, under the guise of a cooperating witness.
However this wouldn’t be Ozark if there weren’t a few more twists and turns.
At the foundation fundraising Camila has an inkling that the Byrdes and Clare know more about her son’s death than they’re letting on. Especially after finding out her brother wasn’t responsible (she still proceeds to have him killed and take his business though, which is kind of bad sibling behaviour).
The Byrdes remain cool and tight-lipped but a little mention of a gratuitous death and Clare spills the beans that it was Ruth who was responsible.
Camila instructs her henchman to kill the Byrde children if Ruth is warned of what is coming. Despite their clear anguish – even Wendy was beside herself – they keep calm and carry on while the formidable Ruth Langmore is gunned down by Camila at the side of the road.
A bitter end to their dysfunctional pseudo-family relationship. This note sounds heavily throughout the final act of Ozark, but in true Ozark fashion there’s one last stinger for the Byrdes.
Remember Mel Sattem (Adam Rothenberg), the disgraced cop-turned-PI who was gung-ho about proving the Byrdes killed Ben?
Wendy and Marty pulled strings to get him his job back as a cop in exchange for his dropping the Ben case. He agreed initially but his moral compass apparently kept coming up due north.
He returns to Missouri and confronts the Byrdes with evidence that Ben is dead, not missing (that damn cookie jar full of ashes!).
The Byrdes rely on their fail-safe tactic of bribery but this time he cannot be bought.
Their delicate house of cards is about to come tumbling down when Jonah whips out a gun and shoots Mel dead.
Yes, formally little Jonah Byrde, who abhors this life (except when he was keeping Ruth’s money-laundering books) takes Mel out, sealing his own fate.
Just as Wendy finally let go, offering him and Charlotte freedom, his murderous act traps him in the life she wanted to save him from.
Marty and Wendy Byrde may have achieved the freedom they sought but this act is a reminder that their ill deeds have impacted and continue to impact that which they valued above all: their children.
We think they call that one poetic justice.
Ozark is available now on Netflix.
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