Title: Ozark: Season 2
Directed by: Jason Bateman, Andrew Bernstein, Phil Abraham, Alik Sakharov, Ben Semanoff & Amanda Marsalis
Written by: Chris Mundy, David Manson, Alyson Feltes, Ryan Farley, Paul Kolsby, Ning Zhou & Martin Zimmerman
Starring: Jason Bateman, Laura Linney, Sofia Hublitz, Skylar Gaertner, Julia Garner, Lise Emery, Charlie Tahan & Jordana Spiro with Others
Produced by: Jason Bateman, Chris Mundy, Bill Dubuque & Mark Williams
Reel Talk - Ozark: Season 2 (2018)
Season 2 of Ozark delves deeper into its murky lake waters and its supporting cast for an action-packed and tense ten episodes. If the writing lagged in parts, strong performances from the entire cast more than compensated for that. Laura Linney, in particular, steps up to the plate in a big way, slowly building up her character to an icy apotheosis in the season’s final moments.
After brokering a deal between the Snells and the Navarro cartel, the Byrdes find themselves racing to set up a casino to launder both party’s dirty money while trying to elude an increasingly desperate FBI.
If the first season of Ozark was about marriage, then the second season is about family. Season 2 expands the roles of just about every character at the expense of some screen time for Jason Bateman. It’s a trade-off that might have ended poorly had Julia Garner (Ruth Langmore), Jason Butler Harner (Roy Petty), Lisa Emery (Darlene Snell), Jordana Spiro (Rachel), Trevor Long (Cade) and Janet McTeer (Helen Pierce) not have stepped up. Fortunately, everyone did and their character arcs were satisfying and interesting enough in their own right not to feel like fluff.
Nevertheless, Season 2 of Ozark flirts with a couple of inevitably dead-ended storylines for some of its more peripheral characters. Do we actually believe that this show will ship someone off to college? No. But it explores these narrow avenues with enough sincerity to make the detour worth the while and, in every character’s case, reaches an appropriate destination.
While some of the character arcs may have meandered or been gratuitous, the story writing was sharper than ever… and it had to be. Season 2 packs a lot of new into its ten episodes and asks each episode to propel multiple, intertwined storylines forward by leaps and bounds. Cluttered and complicated as the story might become—by the end of the season, you will need a recap—it moves along smoothly and naturally and you should never feel… lost at lake.
Once again, Jason Bateman as Marty Byrde is tremendous but it is Laura Linney and Wendy Byrde who are awakened in this second season. For Laura Linney, that means unleashing her talents on her character to juggle the contradictions and complexity that she only hinted at or promised in the first season. For Wendy Byrde, that means finding the balance between her own ambitions and motherhood. For both, it means a character arc that is as scrumptious and satiating to watch as it is terrifying.
Bateman’s direction in the first two episodes—he also directed the first two and final two episodes of Season 1—sets the particular tone that has helped distinguish Ozark from other crime dramas such as those mentioned in the review of the first season above. The distinctive music of Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans is used to particular effect in this season and is a large part of what creates the atmosphere of the Ozarks.
You’ll want to hold your breath as you explore the depths of Ozark’s second season… who needs air when they’re binge-watching anyways?