Martin “Marty” Byrde (Jason Bateman) is a successful Chicago investment advisor and an absolute genius with numbers. Shortly after he has watched a secret video of his wife Wendy (Laura Linney) getting it on with her boyfriend Gary Silverberg, Marty and his partner Bruce Lydell (Josh Randall) get an unexpected visit from drug cartel jefe Camino Del Rio (Esai Morales). Del suspects that their firm has shorted him millions of dollars and quickly wipes out everyone involved in the money laundering operation except for Marty who concocts a skin-saving deal: let him move with his family to Lake of the Ozarks, a location far off the FBI’s grid, and reap even bigger profits for the cartel.
After Del’s boys pitch Gary off his high-risk balcony, Marty decides to spare Wendy’s life, withdraws all their cash, and takes her, daughter Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz) and son Jonah (Skylar Gaertner) to their new Missouri home. Chicago-based FBI agents (and gay lovers) Roy Petty (Jason Butler Hamer) and Trevor Evans (McKinley Belcher III) have been investigating Del Rio’s cartel as the Netflix Original series Ozark bolts out of the starting gate.
To regain Del’s confidence, Marty must demonstrate that he can “re-clean” $8 million of his own previously laundered money in this ”hillbilly haven.” The Byrdes attempt to adapt to their new surroundings: Wendy starts working for Sam Dermody’s (Kevin L. Johnson) real estate company and buys a lake house from old Buddy Dierker (Harris Yulin) who plans to stay there until he dies from his so-called terminal heart condition. Jonah takes up “recreational” riflery, and Charlotte gets introduced to the “hot” summer social scene. Finding that money laundering in the Ozarks is more challenging than he had anticipated, Marty “invests” in Rachel Garrison’s (Jordana Spiro) failing Blue Cat Lodge and buys the Lickety Split strip club from Bobby Dean (Kenny Barr) who almost immediately gets offed by local drug boss Jacob Snell (Peter Mullan). After Marty has a confrontation with the white trash Langmore clan, Russ (Marc Menacha), Boyd, (Christopher James Baker), and Ruth (Julia Garner), he sees the enterprising young woman’s as his new partner-in-crime.
Preacher Mason Young (Michael Mosley) and his pregnant wife Grace (Bethany Anne Lind) conduct their worship services on the lake and are thrilled when Marty offers to build them a new church (yet another money laundering opportunity). However, Snell gives Marty a blunt ultimatum: immediately stop this project since it would jeopardize the transfer of hymnals containing bags of opiates to the congregation’s needy boaters. There is now a long list of those wishing to murder Marty that includes Ruth’s jailbird father Cade (Trevor Long), her Uncle Russ, Snell, and Del Rio. Meanwhile, Agent Petty, posing as a fly fisherman, has resided in the lodge and calls up his partner Evans as the pair try to bring Marty to justice.
Ozark is a neo-noir thriller in which Jason Bateman (who directed four of the episodes) reveals his considerable acting chops as a very complex and surprisingly low-key anti-hero who continually surprises us with his ingenuity. Laura Linney is a woman in the throes of a midlife crisis who becomes adept at coping with new challenges while Sofia Hublitz and Skylar Gaertner play displaced, unhappy adolescents. The major find here is Julia Garner whose Ruth is a very credible, true grit survivor in a stereotypic and dysfunctional redneck family. Ozark is the Netflix hit of the summer with enough “to-be-continued” questions that make a Season 2 absolutely mandatory. Power up your bass boats, load up your over-and-unders, watch out for live wires on the boat dock, and give this show a tumble. You will be richly rewarded.
Ozark: Season 1 is available for streaming in its entirety on Netflix.
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