Few years ago when the world was longing for another family crime drama that gets deep into drug business, Netflix unleashed Ozark. More of a word-of-mouth hit rather than critical one in the first season, second season expanded show’s mainstream impact but still didn’t break the seal of prestige. Now with the third season out the show has upped its stakes and it pays off.
The series keeps the same strengths of last seasons in tact. Cinematography with the green and dark blue color palettes is still some of the most elegant work we can see right now. Ben Kutchins, Armando Salas and Manuel Billeter constantly create striking shots in their respective episodes. Acting continues to be top notch: As Laura Linney (as Wendy) really took ownership of the last season, she keeps that up again while Jason Bateman (as Marty) matches her level after taking a bit of a backseat before. Breakout star of the show, Julia Garner (Ruth), doesn’t really get the character growth this season but does make the best out of her scenes. That’s a bummer since she is mainly partnered with the new guy on the block, Tom Pelphrey as Ben Davis who is Wendy’s bipolar brother. (notice Uncle Ben hah). He is absolutely incredible after he cashes in (casino joke, enough with the goofs) his talent after showing some promise in another Netflix project, Iron Fist. Pelphrey seems like a real contender for an Emmy this year as his portrayal is heartbreaking, delicate and purposeful for all the storylines of the season.
Casting for Ozark is still going strong, as it continues to churn out fantastic actors in interesting supporting roles. However there are some misses: right from the start we’re introduced to Helen Pierce’s (Janet McTeer) daughter, Erin (played by Madison Thompson). Both the character and actor seem out of place in the big leagues, especially the character with very cheesy horror-movie-dying-teen-girl tropes that do not fit the show. We also get a glimpse in the beginning to what’s going on at Darlene Snell’s (perfectly cast Lisa Emery) and while it shows us a new romantic development, the last season’s struggles never come into play since there is two random scenes about it thrown in. Few of the 10 episodes are over an hour long and they still need some streamlining even after all these years. One thing that every season I want to happen is that the score of the show would be more dynamic. For some thirty episodes now it’s just been heartbeat-mimicking synth bass and reverb-y swells so it really could use something new to be exciting again.
Smileys: Tom Pelphrey, cinematography, Jason Bateman, Laura Linney
Ozark’s strongest season yet but it’s still not in full gear.