OZARK: Why I Believe Ruth Is the Savior

*** There are no spoilers in this post . . . not really ***

Netflix has been hitting it out of the park. Their original shows are some of the best on streaming, and better than most on regular television. The latest release, OZARK, starring Jason Bateman (as Marty Byrde), is no exception. If anything it is yet another installment that sets higher the expectation bar of excellency.

IMDB sets a one-sentence premise for the show: A Chicago-based financial advisor secretly relocates his family to the Missouri Ozarks when his dealings with a drug cartel go awry.

Unfortunately, the brief synopsis is an unfair, and unjust summary. If I read that snippet, I might not watch the show. The single sentence is dry and boring –the exact opposite of what I have witnessed in the first three (of ten) episodes of Season 1 of OZARK.

Let me see if I can try composing a better fitting synopsis: Marty Byrde’s life as a financial advisor gets turned upside down. His wife is cheating on him, and his friend and firm partner has angered a dangerous drug cartel (Esai Morales). Marty is forced to launder half a billion dollars for the cartel. Using the shores of the Ozarks as a front, Marty has only a few months to turn $8 million into $500 million. If he fails, he and his family will be murdered.

Sharing a house with a terminally ill landlord, Marty’s  two teenage kids, Jonah (Skylar Gaertner) and Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz), forge forward doing their best to make heads or tails of a seriously dysfunctional, and messed-up family situation. Marty’s (unfaithful) wife, Wendy (Laura Linney), struggles to keep her head straight, and her mind focused on holding the family together. And Marty, he invests in a local restaurant with plans to increase profits so when he starts laundering millions, and millions, it seems more natural.

Now. Ruth (Julia Garner) is a thorn in Marty’s side, or is she? This dangerously clever teenager knows all about the money Marty keeps in suitcases. She is well aware of the drug cartel’s interest in the Marty, his family, and the prominent role the Ozark’s play in producing a fortune. She is from a stereotypical “backwoods,” “redneck” family. Living in a trailer with a brother, and uncles, and cousins she is forced to be the smart, witty, and ruthless one of her kin. (With little effort, I don’t see why she wouldn’t succeed. Her uncle seems more concerned with fireworks and Jack Daniels, while Ruth is concentrating on parlaying $20,000 into hundreds of thousands of dollars. Foresight. Intelligence).

Ruth, not at all lazy, forces Marty into giving her a job at his new restaurant. Even taunts him with, “Don’t you want to keep your friends close, and your enemies closer?” But is Ruth really the enemy? Seems like she could be. She knows too much. She seems cutthroat, and heartless. At first glance, anyway.

The feds are all over the Ozarks. Marty’s partner and his fiancee have gone missing. The F.B.I. finds it odd that the disappearance coincides with Marty’s closing of his bank account, and leaving Chicago. They aren’t buying Marty’s professed interest in owning a restaurant in the Ozarks. Surveillance is constant, and now Marty has to be extra careful. Every step he makes he has to suspect is monitored, recorded. That will slow him down. Thing is, the cartel won’t care about excuses. They want their money. That is the bottom line.

Now me, this viewer –I see something different than just Ruth’s potential for a successful career in crime. I see Ruth as the possible savior in the show. I also believe she is the more dangerous of the two when compared with the drug cartel. Her cunning is evident. She has foresight, and goals. She wants more than what the Ozarks offer. Wealth. Power. Freedom. Those are the three things I believe Ruth has her eye on.

But . . . I believe she is more than just those three things. And it is the “more” I believe will come out in the end, and save the day!

I am only on Episode 3, people, and yet –it is right there. Ruth is a glue for her family. She cares about their well-being, especially the happiness, and safety of her brother. And while she is sly, and cunning, and now employed by Marty (with the intention of getting her hands on a cut of the millions, perhaps?), I believe when it comes down to it –when Marty and his family are in danger from the cartels, (or the feds, for that matter), Ruth will be the one to swoop in and save the day.

It is just a guess. My guess. But it is what I see happening.

Only when Ruth shows up in the nick of time . . . it won’t be all pretty, roses, and rainbows. The scenes, I am certain, will be gritty, hardcore, and relentlessly violent.

Are you watching the show? It is dark. It is filled with unexpected scenes. The acting is phenomenal. Although the premise is a bit fantasy-ish, and unbelievable, I am having no problem accepting what’s what and just going with it.

I promise to do a follow-up post about the show. Especially if I am correct about Ruth. (Which, I think I am).

Hey –have an awesome day!


Phillip Tomasso
Author of the Severed Empire Series
and the Vaccination Trilogy

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