'Ozark' season 3: Netflix show needs to treat its female characters with the same strength and fortitude as season 2
The power-packed portrayal of women in 'Ozark' may be a window to the future of women in a world of action, conflict, and crime.
'Ozark' follows the path of 'Breaking Bad' as it dives deep into the life of average guy Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman). A Chicago-based financial advisor, his best bet is a deal with the Mexican drug cartel. A couple of bad decisions by Marty's reluctant business partner Rachel Garrison (Jordana Spiro) leave them at a messy end and the Byrde family should now move from the suburbs to the lake of the Ozarks, where Marty continues with the money-laundering business.
Married to Wendy Byrde (Laura Linney), he moves with his daughter Charlotte Byrde (Sofia Hublitz) and son Jonah Byrde (Skylar Gaertner). Trouble ensues when the Byrdes meet the Langmores and things take a complicated turn. It is at that point the crime-drama series created by Bill Dubuque and Mark Williams marks a shift in portraying ruthless women. Through the entire course of season two, 'Ozark' champions female stories and puts the spotlight on feminine power in a male-dominated crime world.
From Wendy to Darlene Snell and Ruth Langmore, women have an upper hand in the battle for power. Here are the five female figures in 'Ozark' who rule the roost by taking a fair crack of the whip and steering into the good, bad, and the ugly.
Portrayed by Laura Linney, the character's evil side comes through when she orders the murder of Cade Langmore (Trevor Long), leaving the audience shell-shocked. In a charming guise, she more than makes up for her husband's fall into a depression. From extorting a senator to bribing a woman and threatening a close friend, she crosses all limits to wiggle her way out of the complicated web of crime.
She navigates through the questionable decisions by telling her husband, "I don't care if you think it was right. It was a good decision, and I did it for the family. What did you do for our family today?" She makes her choices and stands by them. From an anxious woman in season one, she successfully streamlines herself into a confident charmer.
Daughter of Wendy and Marty, she is utterly unhappy in the Byrde clan and wishes to be freed. Actress Sofia Hublitz rounds out her rebellious streak to show her potential to maneuver her life independently and take it where she wishes it to go.
She has a heart of gold. Played by Julia Garner, Ruth is caught up between her surrogate father Marty, who she tried to kill and her dad Cade, who is on parole after exiting the prison. As she confesses to killing her uncle, it sends chills down the spine, yet outlines her humane side. Trying to wade out of the politics surrounding the Langmore family, she is effortlessly resilient in her ways.
From getting cousin Wyatt (Charlie Tahan) admitted to the University of Missouri, running a strip club and even making her way into the narcotics underworld, she is a tough nut to crack.
Darlene Snell, played by Lisa Emery, is the ruthless villain you will fall in love with. Following her own set of morals, she walks on dangerous paths and somehow bails out of it. From shaving a teenager's head to shooting a cartel bigwig and poisoning drugs that lead to a series of deaths, she comes across as mad as a hatter. However, there is a deep-entrenched logic to all her insane actions that not everyone can make sense of.
If she feels disrespected, she can go to any length to change it and get what she wants. It particularly comes across in the season when she interrupts her husband Jacob's date to give him a piece of her mind and at the end of season two when she kills him.
Headstrong and business-minded, Janet McTeer as Helen Pierce is quick to suspect that the Byrdes are not the ones to be trusted. With a smile, the Chicago-based attorney who represents the cartel makes smart moves and manages to tread the right path. With a fierce maternal instinct, she can go to any length to protect her children.
The power-packed portrayal of women in 'Ozark' may be a window to the future of women in a world of action, conflict, and crime, where they are usually relegated to portraying wives, girlfriends, love interests, evil housebreakers or damsels in distress. Anticipated to release in 2020, the third season will carry forward the female power in the crime-thriller.