Created by Bill DuBuque, Netflix’s Ozark takes viewers on a journey of suspense and action as protagonist, Marty Byrde, is forced to relocate with his family after getting involved with the Mexican drug cartel.
Right out of the gate, the show had my at the edge of my seat- well, bed- who watches Netflix in a chair? Each episode leaves you on a cliffhanger, so prepare to lose a day or two to binge or die from curiosity because this show knows how to keep you coming back for more.
The atmosphere of show is conveyed beautifully through the cool-toned lighting of the shots, making the normally gorgeous scenes of nature into more sinister, unsettling scenery.
The characters are well thought out and fall well on the spectrum of realistic portrayals of real people. The lines are quickly blurred between ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’– something I really admire when pulled off right. I often found myself rooting for people I wouldn’t normally consider to be ‘good’ or ‘nice’ people in my own life because of how much development and focus they get throughout the series. You genuinely understand how they became themselves as characters and how the environments that they grew up in shaped them.
I want to give a warning to anyone considering watching this show, it gets dark fast. With graphic depictions of violence, murder, and even torture, however I don’t think the show could be taken seriously without it. I don’t believe there is a way to seriously address topics like drug cartels and homicide without getting graphic. I think it is one of the best methods of setting the serious tone of the situation and giving the audience a better understanding of how dark reality can be.
At this point in my review, I’m going to get into spoiler territory to dissect the scene that I felt to be the most impactful of the series and I’ll be attempting to do as much of an in depth analysis of this scene as possible with my limited word count. DO NOT READ THIS IS YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE SEASON 1 FINALE. You have been warned.
In Episode 10– “The Toll”– I found one of the most mundanely powerful scenes that I have ever encountered in digital media. Throughout the episode, we watch as Wendy and the kids aimlessly flee the Ozarks in order to escape the impending threat of the aggravated cartel, leaving Marty behind in a last attempt to deal with the main antagonist of the series. Meanwhile, we watch as Sam Dermody, the preacher, discovers his newborn baby and the absence of his wife– alluding to the threats of her murder having been realized. Following this, we’re met with a shocking scene as Sam silently drives the baby to the lake, emotionless for the whole duration, and approaches the water with his newborn. Everything about the scene leads you to one conclusion of what could possibly happen next– Sam is going to drown the baby.
Meanwhile, we follow Marty as he does everything in his power to prevent his inevitable encounter with the head of the cartel. We’re met with an incredible cut between two scenes that instantly brought me to tears. These two scenes take place simultaneously and the combined anticipation and realization that you receive from them can be nearly overwhelming.
We watch as Sam proceeds to plunge the baby into the water of the lake, surrounded by the show’s signature cold, dark lighting. The baby remains under the water for what seems like eternity as the camera focuses in on Sam’s emotionless, unblinking eyes. After nearly a minute of this, and to my absolute shock, Sam pulls the child out of the water and into the air above him and proceeds the baptize the child
Instantly after this shocking, yet relieving scene, we cut directly to an aerial shot of Marty, lying on the trampoline, and in that moment it instantly clicks in your mind what’s going on. Marty has accepted his fate. He is relieved that his family has escaped and he has accepted that he won’t be able to escape this time. The trampoline that once held so many happy memories with his family has now become almost sinister. Marty seems almost serene in what appears to be his final moments, laying there waiting.
I love everything about this transition. It isn’t a traditional scene to bring an audience to tears either, it’s something unique and powerful at the same time time. It’s one of the only scenes that I’ve ever encountered to to convey such strong emotions without any words. Throughout that whole sequence and transition from the preacher and his baby to the shot of Marty on the trampoline lacks even a word of dialog, yet it conveys so much emotion and meaning all at once. It is truly an incredible feat of visual media.
Ozark season two is set to premiere on August 31st on Netflix. To be entirely honest, I’m not sure how to feel about the show getting another season, I was honestly content with the way the first season ended, but I’ll be sure to share my opinions on season two in another review after bingeing the new season.
Lexi is the co-founder of The Weekly Cad.