The 12 Wildest 'Ozark' Moments of All Time
Things can get pretty out of hand in Missouri.
Ozark, Netflix's blood-soaked money-laundering crime drama, takes great pleasure in making viewers squirm. While the show's action mostly plays out in a scenic Missouri vacation spot, the type of sleepy community where out-of-towners drink beers and drive boats all summer, the actual activities the characters engage in tend to be incredibly grisly, violent, and just plain unpleasant. Betrayal, murder, and torture are all on the menu. It's not all fun in the sun—in fact, it's mostly dark and shadowy.
After three nerve-rattling seasons, including the latest batch of Season 4, Part 1 episodes that recently dropped on Netflix, we wouldn't have it any other way. The misadventures of Marty (Jason Bateman) and Wendy Byrde (Laura Linney) tend to be filled with surprises and inspire some burning questions. Raising their children, protecting their business interests, fending off the FBI, and not killing each other in the process takes a lot of work. To celebrate the Byrde family's persistence, we've gone ahead and assembled a list of the 12 wildest Ozark moments in the show's brief history, the scenes and twists that made us gasp and cover our eyes. Climb aboard and read on.
Wendy's lover gets thrown from a high-rise
Season 1, Episode 1
This is the big bang of Ozark twists, a shocking "splat" teased in the trailer for the series and dropped right towards the end of the first episode. As Jason Bateman's Marty Byrde angrily approaches a Chicago office building, fuming about his wife's affair with the smarmy businessman Gary Silverberg, he sees a body smack right against the pavement, hitting the ground so hard a shoe flies off. Some shows might have waited to kill off the character, letting Gary's conflict with Marty stretch out for a whole season, but, as we quickly learned, that's not the Ozark way. When I talk to friends or family about the series, the body falling from the sky is usually the moment people describe as an "in or out" scene. Either you're completely disgusted and want to turn the TV off—a totally reasonable reaction—or you're sucked in and can't wait to find out what happens next. If you're reading this list, we've got a good guess where your loyalties lie. —Dan Jackson
Ruth electrocutes her uncles Russ and Boyd
Season 1, Episode 9
Once Ruth had sniffed out that her Uncle Russ had turned informant for the FBI after a plot to kill Marty had been derailed by agent Roy Petty (since Russ had indeed snitched), it was practically only a matter of time until Russ was dead. What we didn't see coming was that Ruth would be the one to take out her own family. Deciding they'd loot Marty's hidden cash in his house and skip town, Russ and his brother Boyd ferry their motorized dinghy to the Byrde household, only to be brutally electrocuted by the charged waters around the dock with the same kind of rig that Ruth had tried to kill Marty with at her father Cade's direction earlier in the season. Their deaths set off a chain reaction of bad times for the Langmore family, who suspect it was Marty's fault. Even minor characters aren't safe in Ozark territory. —Leanne Butkovic
Del Rio rips off Marty's toenails
Season 1, Episode 10
Marty Byrde's been through his fair share of torture. Yes, he was eventually held captive in an underground bunker in Season 3, but what was even harder to watch came in the first season's finale when cartel leader Del Rio had his henchman rip off his toenails with a pair of pliers after one of Del's men goes missing and they suspect Marty has something to do with it. It sure looks bloody painful, but what's even wilder is Marty just forces himself to calm down to continue talking about his grand plan because, you know, gotta protect those now eight other toenails. Ouch! —Sadie Bell
Mason Young almost drowns his baby
Season 1, Episode 10
Once the Snells derailed the Byrdes' plan to build Mason Young a church, and murdered his wife, the pastor started to lose his sanity. Alone with his newborn Zeke and without a congregation, the holy roller became a cause for concern, and proved he was one when he nearly drowned his son at the very end of Season 1. The entire scene leaves you on edge, as Mason walks straight into the lake with a crazed look on his face and dunks the infant underwater for what feels like forever. Fortunately, he lifts Zeke up and you hear a cry, as it turns out that he was just performing an eerie, frigid lake baptism. —SB
The Kansas City mob shoots a truck driver's hand off to "send a message"
Season 2, Episode 2
Ozark loves an ominous, violent cold open. This tense, brutal scene might not have had the biggest impact on the larger plot of the series—it doesn't even include any of the main characters and, like many of the plotlines in Season 2, it feels a little inconsequential—but the filmmaking, courtesy of director and star Jason Bateman, is top-notch. As a Mercer truck moves along a foggy road, a pick-up truck with a shotgun-wielding mob enforcer in the back slides in front of the larger vehicle. (For a second, it looks like a Fast and Furious-style chase is about to break out in the middle of Missouri.) The tough guy shoots the truck, demands the driver get out, and then blasts the poor guy's hand off right before the screen cuts to black and we get the creepy title card. As far as "messages" go, this one is pretty direct and to the point: Don't mess with the Kansas City mob. —DJ
Buddy burns down the Snell family's poppy farm
Season 2, Episode 5
Pour it out for the realest one on Ozark: Buddy, the Byrde's nudist elderly basement tenant who practically becomes an extended member of the family. He dies during the car ride home with Wendy after one last crazy act in his probably very storied life: Buddy torches the Snell's poppy farm by emptying the family's own tankard of liquid fertilizer on-site and igniting it by throwing a lit roadside flare (while Wendy distracts Darlene with a hard-copy list of Missouri adoption agencies), placating the Navarro cartel and infuriating the already unpredictable Snells, who rejected the idea they do it themselves when the Byrdes approach them, lamenting they're already destroying their pristine land with the casino. Who'd have thought that sagacious Buddy, who had been hospitalized for health complications a mere episode prior, would be the one to convince Wendy and Marty to take action instead of letting themselves be tied to the Snells in the FBI investigation, and taking it upon himself to do it, no less? He clearly relishes the experience, watching the field catch fire and saying "burn, baby, burn" while laughing to himself, before giddily fleeing the scene. —LB
Cade Langmore bashes FBI Agent Petty's skull in with his own tackle box
Season 2, Episode 10
FBI Agent Roy Petty's first way into the Byrde money laundering scheme might have failed, after Ruth killed her uncles after suspecting Russ had turned informant (he did; Petty had been honeypotting the secretly closeted Russ Langmore), but he had frantic backup plans for Season 2, recruiting Rachel to wear a wire and collect evidence (until she overdoses on heroin laced with Fentanyl) and trying to broker a deal with politician Charles Wilkes (which fails). With none of his new avenues panning out, and Marty pulling some cartel strings after learning that Roy's mother is a heroin addict, Roy planned to return home to take care of his ailing mom.
There are a few other twists and turns that lead Cade Langmore to Roy, who was getting in one last fishing session before leaving town in the first 10 minutes of the finale of Season 2, to snitch on his own daughter after she ultimately betrays him to side with Marty. After telling Cade that his information is essentially worthless—he doesn't have any evidence and, besides, he's not imparting anything new—Roy flings one last insult about Ruth ("your trailer trash daughter […] is in way over her head"), and Cade loses it, impulsively swinging Roy's tackle box, leaving Roy with a huge, bleeding head gash. He realizes he just assaulted an FBI agent, and instead of letting Roy call in the incident which would surely lead to another arrest, Cade bashes him over the head with the box until he's good and dead. After one last knife stab in his corpse's back, presumably a weak attempt to cover up the cause of death, Cade stuffs Roy's pockets with rocks, swims him out into the middle of the river, and pushes him down to the bottom. This shocking murder comes around karmically to bite the truly awful Cade in the ass, however, when one of Wendy's hired henchmen shoots him as he's fleeing town to avoid being arrested, yet again. —LB
Carl accidentally murders his wife, Anita
Season 3, Episode 3
You may remember when Wendy wanted to expand the casino by purchasing Big Muddy, the nearby hotel and casino, it took a while to get the couple who owned it, Anita and Carl, to budge. Or, rather, despite Anita being a tough cookie and her husband willing to sell, Wendy got what she wanted once Carl… accidentally killed his wife. It's not that this was one of the most dramatic deaths on Ozark, or even that important of a character (sorry, Anita), but it was just so strange. While on a walk in the woods, the two started bickering about business, leading Anita to get so riled up she exclaimed she should've married his brother, who was taller than him—and that was the final straw! He whacked her over the head, unintentionally flinging her down the hill and into the lake where her bones make a nasty cracking sound, and he just slowly walked away like nothing happened. Bizarre! —SB
Darlene sleeps with Wyatt
Season 3, Episode 5
It was hard to say where Wyatt Langmore and Darlene Snell's relationship was going when she bailed him out of jail for breaking and entering a stranger's home. Was it suspected that their relationship would eventually turn sexual? By most viewers's expectations, absolutely not! It made sense she offered that he become her new farmhand now that she's alone with baby Zeke and all after, you know, murdering her own husband—but a sexual relationship didn't immediately seem in the cards. A familial bond between the two seemed inevitable with Wyatt vulnerable and without parents and Darlene desperate for (more?) children, but after he defended her parental fitness for being in custody of Zeke, the show took a 180 as they professed their love to one another and got into bed. And it was "awesome!" According to Ozark, "mommy issues" are apparently not played out! —SB
Helen Pierce gets shot right when she exits the SUV
Season 3, Episode 10
The best season of Ozark so far also has the best ending. While the Season 1 finale, the 80-minute-long nail-biter "The Toll," is filled with some truly surprising bursts of violence, including Darlene's impulsive murder of Del, the swift execution of Helen Pierce that closes out the Season 3 finale "All In" is even more expertly staged and dramatically satisfying. Part of what makes the moment, which occurs right as Marty, Wendy, and Helen climb out of a car to attend the second baptism of Navarro's son, work so well is that it feels both inevitable and shocking. Going into the finale, it was clear that Helen had pushed her luck in attempting to take over Bryde's casino and run the money-laundering operation herself. She had to go, and she was outplayed by Marty and Wendy. But did she have to get her blood splattered all over Marty and Wendy's faces? Apparently, the answer was yes. —DJ
Javi blows away Sheriff Nix
Season 4, Episode 1
As we enter the fourth and final season of Ozark, we knew the stakes were going to be higher as the pressure intensified for our main cast—and the premiere episode doesn’t waste any time adding to the body count, either. The first big exit goes to Sheriff John Nix (Robert C. Treveiler), who’s been closely allied to the Snell family since Season 1. Not long after Marty and Wendy were splattered with the blood and brains of Helen Pierce, they’re introduced to Navarro’s nephew, Ozark’s newest impulsive, cold-blood killer, Javi Elizonndro (Alfonso Herrera), who makes it clear that he’s not exactly on Team Byrde (he reveals that he voted to have them killed instead of Helen). As Marty and Wendy return to the Ozarks to get moving on Navarro’s latest list of demands, the impatient Javi makes a surprise trip and hounds them about their progress on shutting down Darlene Snell’s heroin operation. Wendy insists that they handle the matter with caution due to Darlene’s control over the local sheriff—and Javi clearly isn’t having it. To make matters even more complicated, a private investigator named Mel (Adam Rothenberg) has been sniffing around about Helen's whereabouts. During a visit with Sheriff Nix, Mel suggests foul play and leaves a note on the back of his business card saying, “Do your fucking job… PLEASE,” which was basically a death sentence.
Nix heads over to Helen’s vacated home, only to find that Javi is shacking up there during his little Ozark excursion. While blasting “Bam Bam” by Sister Nancy, Javi is surprised to find Nix knocking at the door. After Nix says he’s looking to get in touch with Helen, Javi homes in on his badge and says, “You’re the sheriff. Like, the sheriff," and then excuses himself to turn the music down—but when he turns it up instead, you know the old sheriff is a goner. Before Nix can even react, Javi pulls out his pistol and shoots him in the chest and head, blasting his brains on Helen’s front door (oh, the irony). As if this act alone wasn’t already ruthless enough, Javi then heads on over to the Byrde residence—using Nix’s patrol car—and tells them, “I solved your problem, come have a look.” As a speechless Marty and Wendy gaze upon Nix’s corpse in the trunk, Javi says, “You have a crematorium, right?” R.I.P. Sheriff Nix. —Gil Macias
Darlene and Wyatt's romance comes to a bloody conclusion
Season 4, Episode 7
Did you really think things were going to work out between these two crazy kids? After getting together in Season 3, Darlene and Wyatt's oddly tender (but also just plain odd) relationship felt doomed, especially given how many people Darlene pissed off and killed in the first half of Season 4. Still, it was a surprise when Javi, who knows a thing or two about abruptly killing folks, shot them both right on the couch in their home. Darlene begins to offer a not-exactly sincere apology to Javi right before he shoots her square in the chest. Wyatt gets a chance to look on in shock before Javi turns to him and utters one of the coldest lines in the history of the show: "Sorry. Whoever you are." Then he fires off one more shot into Wyatt's skull and he's out of there, leaving baby Zeke crying in the background and the corpses rotting in the living room for Ruth to discover. How will Javi pay for this brutal act? Presumably, the second half of Season 4 will provide an answer soon enough. —DJ