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Ozark season 4 review: Things heat up for the Byrdes

Still from Ozark season 4 part 1 on Netflix, featuring Marty, Wendy, and Charlotte outside the family home.

A dark cloud hangs over the latest season of Netflix‘s Ozark. Part one of Ozark season four, which premieres January 20, launches right into the action, taking up where season three left off after a brief and grim flash forward to what’s to come.

One of the pleasures of Ozark is watching the stakes rise from season to season. The story of a white-collar criminal moving his family to the Ozarks to start fresh when he angers the wrong people has grown and shifted over the years. Left with a huge amount of debt to his former employer, accountant Marty Byrde begins money laundering in his new home to make good. The Byrdes all eventually get more actively involved in the family business, making tons of money and some enemies along the way, all while acclimating to their new home.

The new season manages to keep the pressure on, with a palpable sense that things are coming to a head. Netflix hasn’t yet announced when part two of Ozark season four will drop, but part one has left us plenty of questions that need answers. Netflix shared the latest season of Ozark with Android Authority ahead of its premiere. Below is our review and a glimpse of what to expect.

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What is Ozark season 4 about?

The new season opens with the Byrde family driving, cryptically discussing an upcoming move and meeting with the FBI, when they suddenly swerve off the road in a massive accident. Will they survive? Are they finally about to leave their life of crime behind them? We don’t know, because we jump right back from there to Marty and Wendy in Mexico, where we last saw them.

Check out: Shows like Ozark

The couple cleans blood off of their clothing at a party hosted by drug cartel boss Omar Navarro. With their former business partner and middle man Helen now dead, they’re still in the game, barely holding on for dear life.

We pick up right where season 3 left off.

The Byrdes are now working directly with Navarro, who wants out of the crime life and hopes to get help from the Byrdes. Meanwhile, Ruth and Darlene are in business together and at odds with the Byrdes, except for Jonah, who sees an opportunity to break off on his own and work for Ruth.

All of this is happening as the FBI closes in and a pesky P.I. asks around about Helen. Can the Byrdes stay ahead of everyone as the body count continues to rise?

The Byrdes are getting in deep

Ozark season 4 image of Navarro on the phone

The stakes are the highest they’ve ever been in Ozark season four. The Byrdes are working directly with Navarro now. One false move and he could have them killed with a single phone call.

See also: The best Netflix original series

They hold some cards as they work to help broker a deal between him and the FBI, but if they can’t keep both parties happy, it could easily spell their end.

Navarro’s overambitious nephew Javi isn’t helping matters, taking a hands-on approach as he tries to line up his own powerplay, making just about everything harder for the Byrdes.

Ruth holds strong as MVP 

Still from Ozark season 4 part 1 showing Ruth yelling at Marty.

Julia Garner has already won two Emmys for her performance as Ruth Langmore in Ozark. She’s become something of a fan favorite on the show. She deserves every bit of praise and every award for her work. Garner turns in an incredible performance.

Julia Garner is on fire as Ruth Langmore.

Ruth is also just a terrific character. While she clashes with the Byrdes, we can’t help but root for her. You’ll want to follow her every move with rapt attention. Her seething anger is understandable. She’s lost more than most in this show. Garner manages to imbue the character with a world-weariness and rage that still endears her to us. Ozark season four is no exception. Garner is on fire, and Ruth is a must-watch character.

Read: The best original streaming shows on every service

She’s not alone, certainly. Everyone is pulling their weight in season four, including all of the main cast. Felix Solis stands out in particular as Omar Navarro, along with Ozark newcomer Alfonso Herrera Rodríguez as Navarro’s ambitious nephew and loose cannon Javi Elizondo.

Verdict: Ozark season 4 review

Ozark season 4 still of the Byrdes eating dinner together.

Netflix is playing the long game here. In a lot of ways, part one of Ozark season four feels like all set-up and no payoff. Then again, the set-up is electrifying TV. Nothing is off the table, it seems, and that makes it riveting to follow.

As the pieces are set in place for part two, there’s a clear sense that the Byrdes are about to face some major challenges. And Ruth is on a seemingly unwinnable warpath that could upend everything.

Fans of Ozark have a lot to look forward to in season 4.

Fans of Ozark can rest assured that the show is as good as ever in season four. Part one offers real hope that the creators are set to stick the landing. Check it out January 20 on Netflix.

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