Ozark (Season 2)


Aug 30, 2018 Web Exclusive
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Viewers love a drugs-and-organized-crime show, don't they? Netflix's Ozark, which debuted last year, delves into an aspect of this world not explored in depth in other shows: money laundering. The topic is intriguing but Ozark's execution significantly less so. What was amiss in the 10-episode first season continues to be a problem in the second season; namely, the cast.

Season 2 picks up right where we left off, with the unlikely Jason Bateman and his enviable bedhead of hair as the financial planning family man, Marty Byrde, continuing his money laundering. The fact that Bateman eternally looks like Teen Wolf makes him hard-to-swallow as an adult parent, let alone an underworld guy disguised as an upright citizen. Furthermore, what Ozark tries to pass off as his slick talking is simply unconvincing. And the fact that he tells every single person he deals with exactly what he's doing, money laundering, is even more unbelievable.

This is further exacerbated by his wife, Wendy, the miscast Laura Linney, who looks more like the grandmother of the family than Marty's partner. There is no sign of Linney's much lauded acting skills on Ozark. Her involvement in the money laundering operations and the politics behind getting permits and licenses is elevated this season. This puts her on par with Marty in the attempted slick talking, except in Wendy's case, there is a lobbyist smarminess to her words and actions that is too sleazy to be enjoyable.

Meanwhile, Agent Roy Petty (Jason Butler Harner), the FBI man who has been chasing Marty for two years is frankly losing his mind. This is exemplified by him frantically masturbating to audio obtained from a wire one of Marty's business partners he blackmailed into wearing. Some of these business partners were almost interesting in season 1, but they return almost unrecognizable with brand-new personalities that don't match up with the reasons for these dramatic changes. The exception is the dangerously clever and permanently damaged Ruth Langmore (played by Julia Garner) who was annoying in season 1 and is back more interesting and someone to be contended with this time around.

The only two characters whose portrayals are intriguing, layered, and worth watching are the Byrde offspring, 15-year-old Charlotte (who looks like she's 25), played by Sofia Hublitz, and 13-year-old Jonah (who looks like he's 10), played by Skylar Gaertner. Both of them were pushed into maturity beyond expectation the instant they were told their father was a money launderer early on in season 1. Their ways of dealing with the situation wildly differ. Charlotte becomes a pothead who is nevertheless hardworking and loyal to her family. Jonah becomes a rifle-toting hunter who forges connections with the elder members of the community. None of the self-involved, entitled characteristics of a typical modern day teenager can be ascribed to these two, which is a refreshing change, even if the reason for it is extreme. Charlotte and Jonah don't get enough screen time, which is the shame as they are the main reasons to tune into Ozark, which is otherwise not worth the commitment. (www.netflix.com/title/80117552)

Author rating: 4.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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