By: Bill Cushing – Oct. 2018
After the first season of the excellent Netflix drama ‘Ozark’ there were many comparisons to ‘Breaking Bad.’ While ‘Breaking Bad’ was a story about a man transforming from upstanding citizen to hardened criminal, ‘Ozark’ deals with a couple taking that same journey. With ‘Breaking Bad’ we had Walter White. With ‘Ozark’ we have Marty and Wendy Byrde. By no means is ‘Ozark’ as good as ‘Breaking Bad’ yet, but its second season has cemented its status as one of TV’s best and most bingeworthy dramas.
Jason Bateman and Laura Linney return as Marty and Wendy, who ended up in the Ozarks after an unfortunate association with a Mexican drug cartel. Marty’s time as the money manager is taking a backseat this season to a new career path. This time the plan is to launder all of the dirty drug money through a casino.
However, the new endeavor brings the Byrdes in contact with a whole slew of new and unsavory characters. It also is straining the family’s relationship with each other.
Bateman, who doubles as producer and occasional director this season, is perfectly suited to play Marty and delivers an excellent performance as he does in most of his roles. Linney’s role got even juicier this season as Wendy begins to assume a much more pivotal role in the business.
But the star of season 2 is Julia Garner. Her performance as Ruth Langmore has made her the most captivating part of ‘Ozark.’ This season Ruth wrecks a marina, breaks up fights in the strip club she manages, and juggled assorted tasks from Marty, and watches out for her cousin Wyatt, all while contending with the return of her toxic father after his release from prison. Garner is a scene stealer and is most certainly is bound to win an Emmy someday.
The rest of the returning supporting cast is excellent. Sofia Hublitz and Skylar Gaertner as the Byrde kids Charlotte and Jonah can be just as calculating as their parents. Harris Yulin as Buddy, who shares a house with the Byrde’s, has plays an expanded role this season as well. Jason Butler Harner as Roy Petty, the FBI agent trying to bring the Byrde’s down. Trevor Long as Cade Langmore, Ruth’s ex-con father, and Peter Mullan and Lisa Emery as Jacob and Darlene Snell, do a little scene stealing of their own. They’re business partners of Marty’s and they don’t exactly make things easy for him.
Janet McTeer was a welcomed addition to the cast this season. She plays Helen Pierce, the lawyer for the cartel, who comes in and keeps an eye on Marty. She has some great scenes with Bateman, Garner, and Linney.
Ozark’s writing is smart, with great dialogue. All of the actors are excellent. The casino storyline was a nice wrinkle. It made season two even better than the first and laid plenty of groundwork for season three.
If you’re going to watch ‘Ozark’ make sure you’ve got several free days, because once you start, you won’t want to stop until it’s done.
Seasons 1 & 2 of ‘Ozark’ are currently streaming on Netflix.
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