Netflix crime drama Ozark returned for its highly-anticipated third season with a bang, the Byrde family once again pushed to their limits on more than one occasion.
Marty was abducted and tortured by the drug kingpin himself, Omar Navarro, who isn’t done with his star accountant and Wendy just yet. Meanwhile, the Byrde matriarch was forced to do the unthinkable and order a hit on her own brother Ben to save their family from being slaughtered by the cartel.
They’ve come far, but this story isn’t over just yet.
Netflix has confirmed that the series will return for a fourth (and final) 14-episode season, which will be split into two parts.
“We’re so happy Netflix recognised the importance of giving Ozark more time to end the Byrdes’ saga right,” showrunner Chris Mundy said in a statement (via Variety). “It’s been such a great adventure for all of us — both on screen and off — so we’re thrilled to get the chance to bring it home in the most fulfilling way possible.”
Jason Bateman added: “A super sized season means super sized problems for the Byrdes. I’m excited to end with a bang(s).”
They’re going to go out with a bang.
Ozark will be back with an expanded 14-episode final season. pic.twitter.com/otIoUeTXyH
— Netflix (@netflix) June 30, 2020
Before that news broke, Mundy told The Hollywood Reporter that they had “always talked about it as as five seasons”.
“It could be four, it could be seven… that always seemed like a good number to us,” he added.
But he did say that “there are people that are in bigger chairs than mine who make those decisions”, and we finally have confirmation that it will be four and then out.
Still, that’s more than most shows seem to be getting when you look at the string of one-season cancellations happening over at Netflix.
So, what’s its secret?
Mundy thinks the show’s season three reception was given a boost by the pandemic.
“We are very proud of what we did, but we would be lying if we said we didn’t have a little virus aid,” he told Deadline. “We had some gratuitous timing with the show coming out when everyone had nothing to look at except their walls and television. Hopefully people liked what they were looking at.”
Here’s everything you need to know.
Ozark season 4 cast: Who’s in it?
In typical Ozark fashion, we lost some people in season three.
The most notable deaths were Helen Pierce (Janet McTeer), Navarro’s representative, who was shot dead in front of Marty (Jason Bateman) and Wendy (Laura Linney) by Nelson, and Ben Davis (Tom Pelphrey), Wendy’s brother, who was also killed by Nelson after Wendy gave the nod.
Another shout out must go to Marty and Wendy’s therapist Sue (Marylouise Burke), who was also murdered by… wait for it… Nelson on Helen’s orders.
It’s safe to say that we won’t be seeing any of them again.
But all of the other major players are, against all odds, alive and kicking, so that’s Marty and Wendy alongside: Navarro (Felix Solis), Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz) and Jonah (Skylar Gaertner), Ruth Langmore (Julia Garner), Darlene Snell (Lisa Emery), Wyatt Langmore (Charlie Tahan), and FBI Special Agent Maya Miller (Jessica Frances Dukes).
We should add that Miller is expecting a baby, so that could affect her involvement in future episodes.
There’s also KC mob boss Frank Cosgrove (John Bedford Lloyd) and his son Frank Cosgrove Jr (Joseph Sikora) – KC mob member Tommy (Tyler Chase) was gunned down during one of the money drops – corrupt sheriff John Nix (Robert Treveiler), Sam Dermody (Kevin L Johnson), FBI agent and Petty’s former lover Trevor Evans (McKinley Belcher III), plus minor players Three Langmore (Carson Holmes) and Sam’s wife-to-be Jade (Melissa Saint-Amand).
Charles Wilkes (Darren Goldstein), who played a significantly more central role in season two, popped up briefly – so there’s room for him to return alongside his right-hand man Jim (Damian Young).
As for Helen’s daughter Erin (Madison Thompson), it feels like we’ve seen the last of her now that her mum is dead.
And there’s always a chance we’ll meet some brand new faces in season four.
Ozark season 4 release date on Netflix: When will it premiere?
The air dates for Ozark have been somewhat erratic.
Season one arrived back in July 2017, with season two dropping the following year in August.
But then fans had to wait more than a year and a half for season three, which arrived on March 27, 2020.
This, we’d assume, was down to Jason Bateman’s busy schedule.
Not only did he appear in HBO horror crime drama The Outsider, he played a key role in getting it to screen and directed the first two episodes.
Exactly when we’ll get the final season, however, remains to be seen.
Everything That’s Going On Right Now halted the vast majority of productions, which inevitably meant Ozark’s fourth chapter was affected.
However, the schedule got back on track in August, with production company MRC making a pretty strong statement on the show’s return.
“The health and safety of our Ozark family is our first priority,” an MRC spokesperson said. “Our team has approached return to production with a mandate of exceeding guidelines outlined by the CDC, government officials and others; and we expect our protocols to evolve as we learn from the industry and our own productions.
“As we aim toward a return, we are working with the unions, health officials, our consultants, and Netflix on our COVID safety guidelines and protocols. Upon approvals from our partners and the implementation of safety required in this new environment, we are targeting a November start date.”
And that November start got even more specific, with Jason Bateman confirming the exact shoot date to IndieWire.
“We’re going to start November 9. Everything is moving well toward that, and we’re very confident in the guidelines and protocols we’re going to be following. We’ve got tons of consultants, [and] we’re learning a lot from other productions.”
And it sounds like Bateman and his team will be ready for every contingency.
“I’ll bet you we get a positive [test result] every week down there, so it’s going to be challenging,” he said. “You’re effectively starting up a school, and look at the infections that are starting up at schools down there – they just had to shut a bunch down. [Sometimes] we’ve got 60 or 70 people on stage, [and] sometimes [we’re] in a very small location.
“You’ve got ad hoc air conditioning tubes and vents going in there, pushing air. Every one of those crew members is going home every night to families that are not having to follow a strict quarantine. […] So chances are high that we’re going to have some virus come through our set – often.”
“We’re prepared for all of that. It will be disruptive, but these people, we’ve got to get back to work,” Bateman said. “We’re getting it as safe as we possibly can. I want to prepare for the worst but expect the best.”
Sadly, the risks do mean that Bateman won’t be directing any episodes of the final season – which is a blow for Ozarkers, as his episodes are consistently the fan favourites.
“As normal, I was going to do the first two episodes, but as we were looking through the protocols, the guidelines, all the complications [and] the producer side of me made me think it’s just not responsible to have one of the actors direct the first two, given that we’re still going to be getting our perimeter safe,” Bateman said.
“Because if one of the actors gets sick, we all have to go home for weeks. If one of the crew members gets sick – while I’m making sure their salary is protected while they’re in quarantine – we can hire a replacement. So it just didn’t seem smart for me to [direct] the first two [episodes].”
“As an actor, you just sit in your trailer until they’re ready for you, then you come on out, say your words, and go back to your trailer,” he said.
“As a director, you’re out there all the time: in pre-production, on location scouts, in production meetings, there are so many more opportunities to get infected.”
“We’d have to shut down for me to prep an episode in-season – that’s why I’ve only ever done the first two, with the exception of that first season,” he said. “That’s disruptive for the crew. It’s tough for them. They have to take no salary while I’m prepping and then come back for two episodes, so they potentially miss out on work that might have a longer life.”
“It’s breaking my heart. I love directing that show, but it just didn’t make any sense to start out the season like that,” Bateman said.
Meanwhile, Lisa Emery has discussed the new shooting circumstances with The Natural Aristocrat, revealing some conflicted feelings around having season 4 officially confirmed, while having to shoot it under so many (understandable) restrictions.
“I feel I knew it right after we finished shooting Season 3, maybe a few months after that. Yeah, it’s sad but at the same time, I can’t wait to get back there! I mean I know they were working on the script last fall because I ran into Chris Mundy the showrunner/main writer on the street with Laura (Linney) and we were talking about it. COVID just threw a monkey wrench into the whole thing.”
“I’m just thrilled that it’s going to happen! I’m so grateful because it was such a terrible place for it to stop for a lot of reasons. Especially, because I’m finally starting to get everything I want out of life as Darlene. I’m building a family, I’m rebuilding my business… God, I have a baby! (laughs)
“I keep thinking how I can get that cop’s baby, the new FBI agent! If I see her walking around with that thing, I’m going to be like, ‘Hmmmmm.’ (laughs)
“I don’t know how you maintain any kind of distance on a movie set and certainly on the set of Ozark. Very strange. But I guess if everyone’s tested and you’re tested everyday… You either feel safe or you don’t feel safe.
“It’s testing a lot of people in terms of Ozark, a big bunch of crew people, a lot of actors, a lot of hair and makeup, the list goes on and on. I don’t know how they plan to do it, and I don’t know how pleased I am about going to Atlanta. Atlanta is a little bit of a mess right now.
“In the meantime, I’m the masked woman! (laughs)”
Ozark season 4 plot and spoilers: What will happen?
Chatting to IndieWire, Laura Linney revealed that unlike lots of other show bosses, Mundy is happy to share big details with his cast before shooting starts.
“I like to have as much information as I can possibly have, and Chris Mundy is incredibly generous — many people are not,” she said.
“There’s a cultural thing in television not to give out information to actors…[maybe] they’re afraid an actor might have a comment about it or want them to write it differently. But it never makes any sense to me when you don’t give the actors as much information as you can give them, so they can go do their job and craft their work accordingly.”
But what will the narrative entail?
At the end of season three, Navarro chose the Byrdes over Helen, giving Wendy the assurances she had asked for by shooting his attorney in the head.
Helen was making moves in a bid to take the reins from Marty and Wendy, in turn proving them redundant and ensuring their deaths. But she failed and as it stands, the Byrdes are still in bed with the Navarro cartel.
Chatting to Entertainment Weekly about that shocking finale, Mundy said: “We thought of the first third of the season as Marty vs Wendy, and Wendy kind of wins that battle, and then it transitions to this tentative alliance between Wendy and Helen, and by extension Wendy and Marty vs Helen.
“By the time it came to the end, we really wanted to hold that tension of these two things [that] cannot co-habitate, somebody’s got to win this battle because Navarro isn’t going to put up with anything unstable and he was going to have to pick a side.”
He added: “As good as Helen is, there’s other lawyers in the world. But Wendy and Marty have now pulled off two impossibilities for him.
“One is getting a casino to launder through in the first place, which is sort of the holy grail of money laundering.
“And the second is that, at least in Navarro’s mind, their claim that they have the FBI on their side and can swing the power of the US government in the intervention in the drug war against their rivals, that’s something virtually no one else can do, and that essentially tipped the scales for Marty and Wendy.”
The fact that the Byrdes are still involved with Navarro means that the FBI is still on their case, with agents Miller and Evans circling.
The pair have come close, but they’ve yet to prove what Marty and Wendy are up to. Will that change in season four?
Marty has been close to walking away from the money laundering operation on two occasions, but his partnership with the crime lord still stands… for now.
Will he make the leap in season four?
Team Byrde has also lost prized asset Ruth, who has been snapped up by Darlene and will help the widow run her heroin operation alongside Wyatt. Darlene also has the KC mob on her side, with Frank Cosgrove managing the distribution.
That, we’d assume, won’t go down well with Navarro.
Mundy told EW that Ruth will continue to play a central role in the drama.
“I think it will be about whether or not Ruth really can create something of her own that she wants and is sustainable, or if she wants something else,” he said.
“And I think it will be about if the Byrdes can turn the biggest mistake of their lives into this huge advantage, and how much will karma catch up with them if they do?”
Then there’s Jonah, who now knows that his mum ordered the hit on his uncle Ben. The last time we saw him, he was tearing around with a gun after finally learning what his parents are capable of.
It’s safe to say that he’s not handling it very well and we’d expect that to ramp up in the next chapter.
Chatting previously to The Hollywood Reporter, showrunner Mundy didn’t say how the series would wrap up, but he did promise an “emotional” finale: “We’re building little things in, if we keep on track for the emotional ending we’re guessing we’ll have.”
If you’re wondering exactly how the show ends, well, you can always ask Jason Bateman.
“I do know where everything is going to end,” Bateman said (via IndieWire) about his conversations with showrunner Chris Mundy. “The specifics leading up to it, I didn’t really grind him on. But I was interested in the big question he has the opportunity to answer: Are they going to get away with it, or are they going to pay a bill? What does he want to message to the audience about the consequences of what the Byrdes have done – or lack thereof?
“We had some great conversations about that, and he’s got really good ideas about that. Specifically, what kind of happens at the end of the last episode: I know, and it’s great.”
Ozark season 4 trailer: When can I watch it?
Trailers usually arrive in the month leading up to the premiere, so once we know that we’ll have a better idea.
Expect more of the same.