Brendan Da Costa

Ozark Season 3 Poster

Title: Ozark: Season 3


Directed by: Jason Bateman, Cherien Dabis, Amanda Marsalis, Ben Semanoff & Alik Sakharov


Written by: Chris Mundy, Martin Zimmerman, Miki Johnson, John Shiban, Laura Deeley, Paul Kolsby & Ning Zhou


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

“It’s

      war

     in

Ozark.”

Reel Talk - Ozark: Season 3 (2020)

December 6, 2021
by Brendan Da Costa

Navarro vs. Lagunas, KC Mob vs. Langmore, FBI vs. Marty, Pierce vs. Wendy, Byrde vs. Byrde—Ozark’s third season is war. With another round of exceptional performances and some Herculean writing, this is Ozark’s finest season yet.

 

Marty Byrde’s employer, the Navarro cartel, finds itself embroiled in a bloody war at the same time that Marty finds himself engaged in a tussle for power of his own with his most formidable foe yet, his wife.

 

In its first two seasons, Ozark largely steered clear of contemporary political/social issues, opting instead to tackle more eternal struggles. In Season 3, however, Ozark cannonballs into our culture’s discussion around feminism and completely upsets the waters… forget Bombshell, it’s the women of Ozark who have something explosive to say.

 

There’s always the possibility that shows tackling current social/political issues will veer off-track—the final two seasons of House of Cards come to mind—but Ozark stays firmly on course. From Laura Linney and Julia Garner to Lisa Emery and Janet McTeer, the women take charge of both the action and the drama in Season 3 in a big way. But it never feels like the show is pandering to either side of the political divide—it is only the most natural progression for the show and its characters. The writers offer an honest opinion with strong evidence… and a lot of blood.

 

And for all that the acting and directing in this season were great, it really is the writing that is the standout accomplishment in Season 3.

 

The script is tangible throughout, pulling off one of the most impressive balancing acts in television—juggling multiple storylines, character arcs and social discourse without ever losing sight of itself. It is a Herculean accomplishment, all the more impressive because the writers pulled it off so deftly so as to be almost unnoticeable as the wars rage on.

“[…] forget Bombshell, it’s the women of Ozark who have something explosive to say.”

As with Season 2, however, Season 3 has some difficulty finding a place for some of its supporting characters but, by the end, we can be happy with where these characters are even if how they got there doesn’t really add up. And there are some moments in this show that lag. There’s one scene in particular with Ruth Langmore and Ben Davis that is almost painfully purposeless. But these moments—more directorial choices than writing ones—allow you an opportunity to call for a much-needed armistice from the affray.

“Jason Bateman […] brings some elements out of Marty Byrde like skeletons from a closet, eking humanity, kindness and vulnerability out of Byrde’s robotic exterior.”

There are, also, two glaring sound mixing mishaps and, while they may pull you out of the fiction for a split second, they don’t involve pivotal moments in the show and can be forgiven in light of Season 3’s massive artistic triumphs.

 

With even less screen time as he continues to share the spotlight, Jason Bateman manages to do more with less. He brings some elements out of Marty Byrde like skeletons from a closet, eking humanity, kindness and vulnerability out of Byrde’s robotic exterior. Particularly in the final episodes of the season, Bateman expands Byrde’s character and elevates him to the level of intrigue that his spouse has possessed from the beginning. And speaking of, Laura Linney swings her character from meltdowns to mettle and back again as smoothly as a speedboat across the water.

Where most actresses may have shied away from portraying the ugly side of a powerful female character—a symbol of feminism—for fear of garnering backlash, Linney delved right into the power-hungry, blood-thirsty side of Wendy Byrde… and then swam in the consequences. Linney is as celebratory of her character as she is critical of her. It’s the uncoloured, unbiased portrayal of the benefits and pitfalls of being Wendy Byrde that the character deserves.

 

It might be peaceful on the lake, but it’s war in Ozark.