News

Ozark First Reviews: Jason Bateman Takes the Backseat As Laura Linney Breaks Bad in Season 3

Linney's Wendy Byrde takes the criminal reins, bolstering Netflix drama's narrative strength.

by | March 24, 2020 | Comments

Netflix’s Ozark, created by Bill Dubuque and Mark Williams and showrun by Chris Mundy, follows the downward spiral of a seemingly innocent Chicago accountant, Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman). When his secret money-laundering deal with a Mexican cartel goes south, he decides to move his family to central Missouri to protect himself and the lives of his wife, Wendy (Laura Linney), and kids Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz) and Jonah (Skylar Gaertner).

Over the course of the show’s first two seasons, Marty’s various criminal dealings resulted in overly bloody consequences; in fact, the amount of bone-chilling violence featured here, along with the strong performances delivered from each member of the cast, resulted in a bleak, yet action-packed series that surpassed genre expectations.

It’s no surprise that, upon its initial premiere, Ozark drew heavy comparisons to AMC’s Breaking Bad. Each shows a family unit on the verge of collapse as its patriarch — whether it’s Bryan Cranston’s Walter White or Bateman’s Marty Byrde — dabbles, to varying degrees, in the criminal underworld. Add in a cartel menace, snooping law enforcement entities, and the inevitable collateral damage each family faces, it’s easy to see the similarities here. But as the story evolved in its second season, Ozark completely broke free from the Breaking Bad mold, as the Byrdes became complicit in Marty’s crimes. His deal-with-the-devil became the family business, causing the overall brokenness of their fragile union to grow exponentially.


Jason Bateman as Marty Byrde in Episode 301 of OZARK Cr. Guy D'Alema/Netflix © 2020

(Photo by Guy D'Alema/Netflix)

In the wake of Wendy’s infidelity and the constant tension of who may be trying to kill them next, Marty tapped his significant other for help in a move to find solidarity and support. But things have a habit of not going his way, and as Wendy’s taste for breaking the law grew, Marty was faced with one more challenge for him to deal with, or try to avoid at all costs in his crime boss–in–training wife.

Season 1 didn’t exactly dazzle critics, scoring a decent, but not stellar, 70% on the Tomatometer with 69 reviews. The second installment of the Netflix series performed a bit better and is now Certified Fresh at 76% on 45 reviews.

Now, with new episodes dropping on Netflix, the question lingers: Is Ozark able to breathe new life into this bleak family drama or is the jig finally up for this bloody money-laundering tale?

Here’s what critics have to say about season 3 of Ozark.


Marty and Wendy’s Marital (and Criminal) Conflict Carries the Season

Laura Linney and Jason Bateman in Ozark SEASON 3 EPISODE 10 PHOTO CREDIT Steve Deitl/Netflix

(Photo by Steve Deitl/Netflix)

Though the Byrde’s situation remains tenuous in some ways, they’re in a better position than ever before in others, the problem being that Marty and Wendy simply don’t see eye to eye on what’s best for their business and their family. As such, the series opens the door for the long-building conflict between the couple to finally come to a head. And the results are some of the best and most tense episodes of the series to date. — Kevin Yeoman, ScreenRant

Wendy seems hellbent on roaming the same criminal grounds Marty is now too afraid to retread while avoiding (or repeating) his mistakes. She wants to expand the family business. She wants to increase their profile, despite its obvious fallbacks (like attracting the FBI). And when her husband refuses to continue laundering money for the cartel and their other interests, Wendy picks up the pace of her campaign against him. — Andrew Husband, Den Of Geek


Evil Laura Linney Is the Best Laura Linney

Ozark SEASON 3 EPISODE 3 PHOTO CREDIT Steve Deitl/Netflix

Wendy in particular realizes her penchant for illicit and illegal activities this season, taking the lead of operations against Marty’s wishes, allowing Laura Linney countless moments to dominant a scene, proving exactly why she deserved her Emmy win. — Katie Awad, Hypable

In some ways, this run of episodes is all about Wendy, whose new, flinty resolve scared her husband at the end of season two—and who is now putting that mettle to the ultimate stress test. The results are fascinatingly shaded; Wendy realizes she’s in perilously deep, while also digging in further. She’s horrified by the erosion of her ethics, while quietly thrilled by what’s possible once those bonds have been shaken off. This is the most that Linney has been allowed to tear into her character, and it’s thrilling to watch. — Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair


Ruth Langmore Is the Unexpected Heart of the Show

Julia Garner, who won a supporting actress Emmy last year, is the saving grace of this season as Marty’s right hand and most senior employee, Ruth Langmore. Through brashness and bravery, her loyalty to Marty affords her increasing responsibility. Soon she’s running the casino and closer to the apex of danger. Through the loss of her father, uncles and cousins, we get to see Ruth’s vulnerable side. She softens in the face of a potential love interest, and toward Marty, who fills a fatherly void. It’s predictable character arc yet it doesn’t disappoint because it’s the season’s most finely drawn development. — Rachna Raj Kaur, Now Toronto

Fresh off her Emmy win for Best Supporting Actress last year, Garner remains a standout in this series. Ruth’s foul-mouthed spitfire attitude is still an absolute delight, but Garner continues to flesh out this character with complexity and a moving vulnerability that makes her one of the most interesting characters on the show. — Adam Chitwood, Collider

After a fine first season and a so-so second, this show is full of fresh energy. The best character is the casino manager (Emmy-winning Julia Garner), a spitfire you’ll want to meet. — Tim Appelo, AARP


Season 3 Is an Improvement, but Ozark Isn’t Taking Any Narrative Chances

Ozark SEASON 3 EPISODE 10 PHOTO CREDIT Steve Dietl/Netflix PICTURED Janet McTeer, Laura Linney

(Photo by Steve Dietl/Netflix)

‘Ozark’ lacks that brilliance that only few achieve, but it continues to do more with each season, and always manages to solve with efficiency all the mishaps in which it puts its characters. — Mikel Zorrilla, Espinof

Even with a lot of the right pieces in place, “Ozark” remains short-sighted in how it manufactures drama, relying far too often on quick positional pivots and bad decisions to generate immediate conflict, rather than building long-term arcs with more satisfying payoffs. — Ben Travers, IndieWire

Ozark season 3 premieres on Friday, March 27 on Netflix.

Ozark: Season 3 (2020)
98%

#1
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: Ozark finally finds its footing in a third season that ramps up the tension and shines a brighter spotlight on Laura Linney's exceptional performance.

Tag Cloud

cars festivals Women's History Month dceu Dark Horse Comics video Song of Ice and Fire king arthur MTV Binge Guide prank Captain marvel sag awards 2018 A&E Christmas RT History Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 2017 canceled scene in color film series crime drama christmas movies theme song psycho AMC Plus summer preview screen actors guild 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards a nightmare on elm street Amazon Prime satire kaiju Alien GoT japanese australia dark DGA police drama dreamworks Mary Poppins Returns Thanksgiving crime thriller Paramount Network CBS All Access Native The Walt Disney Company doctor who Ellie Kemper Hallmark Trophy Talk TCA Winter 2020 Tokyo Olympics 4/20 Acorn TV rt archives saw concert dc WGN Paramount comedies IMDb TV Ovation NBA documentary spider-man GLAAD TLC Marvel Studios Warner Bros. Marvel Television royal family Hollywood Foreign Press Association video on demand Vudu social media Photos supernatural DC streaming service TCA 2017 Writers Guild of America technology ID spinoff spanish language pirates of the caribbean Masterpiece The Witch discovery foreign Musicals 94th Oscars Mary Tyler Moore CMT YouTube Red anthology Paramount Pictures renewed TV shows Comics on TV FX Winter TV Horror Animation slashers fast and furious cartoon Nickelodeon Hallmark Christmas movies Spring TV TV halloween Podcast MSNBC boxing news 93rd Oscars new zealand Box Office vampires The Academy FOX 79th Golden Globes Awards Apple TV Plus latino worst Musical Baby Yoda archives television cancelled TV series award winner richard e. Grant YouTube Universal witnail ViacomCBS canceled TV shows rotten harry potter twilight mutant Marathons blockbusters TV One quibi Super Bowl Star Wars Oscar ABC Crunchyroll Focus Features HBO Go Reality Competition period drama festival interviews 007 USA President DirecTV reboot crime fresh lord of the rings MCU football Rocky slasher scary movies Extras Emmy Nominations Broadway Pirates The Purge robots New York Comic Con Mystery tv talk CBS superhero Certified Fresh Western sequel Lucasfilm superman spanish Nat Geo Teen travel Television Academy CNN sequels OWN trophy Film Festival Awards Family WarnerMedia stand-up comedy Set visit streaming YA hidden camera joker cancelled TV shows mockumentary scorecard ITV free movies high school politics 2015 Tubi First Reviews Best Director 2021 Amazon Studios vs. Music 72 Emmy Awards cinemax universal monsters Comic-Con@Home 2021 strong female leads San Diego Comic-Con docudrama Apple TV+ cults ABC Signature Fantasy Superheroes spain talk show The Arrangement Brie Larson LGBT south america cancelled television mob toy story popular summer TV Turner king kong black DC Comics international Quiz A24 Holidays DC Universe Disney Plus dexter cooking serial killer Anna Paquin GIFs cats wonder woman FX on Hulu Shondaland adaptation Best Actor PBS Comedy Polls and Games Funimation medical drama HFPA ABC Family halloween tv know your critic Country National Geographic children's TV Toys screenings Mindy Kaling Wes Anderson Character Guide TBS Summer Grammys OneApp PlayStation Best Picture godzilla basketball 1990s live action Showtime gangster Heroines aliens X-Men scene in color diversity ESPN what to watch composers documentaries animated Pet Sematary mcc Lionsgate Fox Searchlight Disney streaming service Arrowverse Valentine's Day Logo nature italian IFC Films BBC Universal Pictures deadpool SundanceTV Star Wars Celebration Geeked Week Cosplay Sony Pictures independent miniseries stoner 45 TNT biopic indiana jones Infographic Rocketman action-comedy all-time Cannes worst movies TCM Film classics Comic Book Netflix Christmas movies Peacock posters Ghostbusters Schedule target Trivia spy thriller zombie NBC Rock thriller Holiday Sundance BBC America American Society of Cinematographers Watching Series Kids & Family rom-coms black comedy Instagram Live FXX breaking bad SXSW 2022 IFC SXSW Martial Arts green book streamig Shudder blaxploitation E! Disney Channel History live event best scene in color series cops Legendary sports anime comics NYCC disaster ratings Sci-Fi remakes binge SDCC Comedy Central Amazon Prime Video space rt labs boxoffice romance Prime Video hollywood movies Black Mirror TV movies streaming movies Best Actress Pop biography BAFTA Disney reviews genre obi wan child's play VH1 Tarantino aapi historical drama Calendar singing competition MGM Biopics Stephen King Exclusive Video art house TV renewals Tumblr BET debate Pride Month hispanic Mary poppins series 24 frames Apple Trailer batman APB Television Critics Association emmy awards TV Land Syfy obituary book Pop TV Premiere Dates Action book adaptation 2019 mission: impossible 2020 comic scary transformers PaleyFest Avengers spider-verse Spike TCA Interview comic books Sundance TV YouTube Premium Image Comics revenge Food Network Lifetime Christmas movies Nominations feel good game show Starz Mudbound Freeform Black History Month die hard E3 new star wars movies dragons criterion Amazon Endgame venice Red Carpet parents Cartoon Network critic resources Pixar Hulu target scene in color zombies 2016 Awards Tour laika Discovery Channel Britbox Rom-Com suspense Turner Classic Movies South by Southwest Film Festival ghosts Esquire Fall TV 71st Emmy Awards marvel cinematic universe BET Awards Marvel rt labs critics edition dramedy crossover 73rd Emmy Awards 90s young adult sitcom El Rey TCA Awards game of thrones true crime zero dark thirty comic book movies comiccon Fargo Creative Arts Emmys Reality franchise AMC japan legend RT21 99% jurassic park monster movies toronto women casting critics Lifetime razzies justice league Indigenous USA Network Year in Review teaser Academy Awards french LGBTQ VICE Star Trek Epix Crackle Opinion Paramount Plus HBO Tomatazos stop motion summer TV preview Neflix chucky romantic comedy adenture hist The CW new york nfl Oscars werewolf Pacific Islander blockbuster name the review kong 21st Century Fox Spectrum Originals VOD Election TruTV political drama rotten movies we love elevated horror Bravo Video Games kids war Netflix Sneak Peek Adult Swim HBO Max marvel comics golden globes Travel Channel trailers Tags: Comedy Fox News golden globe awards Classic Film science fiction 20th Century Fox Chernobyl BBC One comic book movie Sundance Now versus movie Sony Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt jamie lee curtis nbcuniversal finale leaderboard Best and Worst cancelled dogs Columbia Pictures telelvision facebook docuseries Elton John psychological thriller Superheroe unscripted Disney+ Disney Plus See It Skip It natural history indie based on movie directors Walt Disney Pictures Emmys TIFF olympics hispanic heritage month james bond sopranos heist movie films First Look Winners adventure CW Seed Drama Hear Us Out broadcast asian-american The Walking Dead Countdown