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Ozark Ending Explained: The Polarizing Way The Netflix Series Ended For The Byrde Family, Ruth, And More

One of the biggest streaming shows recently came to an end, and those with a Netflix subscription got to see the Ozark ending and how things worked out for Marty Byrde, his family, and Ruth. The finale was certainly a bit polarizing for fans so far, and there are a lot of opinions about it online. 

Not everything in the Ozark ending was controversial, but there were certainly a couple of moments that might have fans talking for years after the finale. Let’s break it all down below and include some insight from those who worked on the show about why certain decisions were made.

Jason Bateman in Ozark

(Image credit: Netflix)

The Byrdes Worked Out A New Deal To Secure Their Safety

The Byrdes successfully navigated a deal at the midpoint in the season that got them free of prosecution and allowed them to “go legit,” but then Ruth went and killed Omar Navarro’s nephew, Javi. With Javi dead, the FBI didn’t have a cartel leader under their thumb and pulled their deal as a result. The Byrdes, who felt pressure from the cartel to get Navarro out of prison and now back under potential prosecution from the FBI once again, were in a tight spot. 

In the end, they worked out a new deal to get themselves free from the cartel, but it wasn’t easy. Oscar Navarro’s sister, Camila, ultimately agreed to run the cartel under a verbal agreement with the FBI. Ruth, who now owned the controlling shares of the Missouri Belle, allowed money to continue to be laundered through it. The deal was essentially the same as the one that came before, without a deal for Omar in place. The antagonist did have a special part to play in the whole thing, however, just not one that he liked. 

Omar on Ozark on Netflix

(Image credit: Netflix)

Omar Navarro Died For The Deal To Go Through

Omar Navarro wanted out of the cartel, but it’s fair to say that that whole dream ultimately led to his undoing. He was in jail for a vast amount of Season 4, but he assumed he could use his influence to navigate his way out of prison and back into a quiet life free from the cartel and prosecution. It seemed he still thought that right up until the moment a hired prison guard shot him and then set up the whole thing as an attempted escape. 

The hit was orchestrated by Camila, Omar Navarro’s sister, who originally wanted to take her brother’s cartel business from him. Originally, her son (Javi) was supposed to be the face of the operation, but after his death, Camila ultimately had to make a move and have her brother killed in the process. Ironically, it seemed like Omar might’ve stood a better chance at survival had he stayed in the cartel, though with someone like Javi breathing down his neck, perhaps that’s just wishful thinking that he wouldn’t have died like that, as well. 

Julia Garner stands in front of a table stacked with packages in Ozark.

(Image credit: Netflix)

Ruth Was Murdered By Camila 

Ozark killed off a ton of notable characters during its run, but I’m not sure any of them hold a candle to the death of Ruth Langmore. Camila followed her back to her house with the new knowledge that she had killed Javi. Ruth admitted to Camila that she shot her son, and Camila shot her in the chest. Jason Bateman talked about the thought that went into Ruth’s death with Vanity Fair, and the amount of care taken by showrunner Chris Mundy:

Chris was really passionate about making sure that, if we’re going to kill a beloved character, we better do it in a way that fans of that character can feel good about. Metaphorically standing her ground and going out on her terms. I talked to Julia about how to navigate what Chris had given us [in the script], which was that the character has a moment of fear and realization of what was coming, then a moment to transition to acceptance and almost turning it into a good thing.

Ruth’s death was a devastating moment for Ozark fans, but perhaps killing off the character was the smartest thing the series could’ve done. Imagine how many fans would’ve clamored for a spinoff centered around Ruth, otherwise (which would've certainly been awesome). Julia Garner definitely seems like an actress whose star is only rising, however, so who knows if she ever would’ve been available for such a thing, anyway. I hate to admit it, but perhaps the sad ending for Ruth was the best decision after all. 

Jonah on Ozark on Netflix

(Image credit: Netflix)

Jonah Closed His Eyes And Shot At The Investigator And The Credits Rolled  

The final moments of Ozark showed that the Byrdes got their deal and amnesty, but not without cost. The family had to stand aside while Camila killed Ruth, and as if that weren’t enough, Mel returned after finally figuring out what happened to Ben. Mel, being the good detective that he is, finally worked out that the Byrdes stashed Ben’s ashes in the goat cookie jar he’d seen a handful of times. He realized that with this evidence, he could reliably prove the Byrdes had something to do with Ben's death, meaning they’d finally face legal repercussions. 

Of course, that was assuming Mel got to take that news to someone. Jonah appeared with a rifle and had it aimed at Mel. The teen closed his eyes, and the screen went black as a gunshot rang out. Ozark fans might think this was another Sopranos ending, but showrunner Chris Mundy assured EW that wasn’t what happened:

It's funny. I've had people ask, 'Are we supposed to think that he killed one of his parents or this…' No, no. Yeah, absolutely, it's not supposed to be ambiguous in that way. It's not. It's supposed to be Mel got it. For sure, 100 percent. It's just, we didn't want to live in the aftermath of that violence for long. Then where do you go from there? At what point, then, do you take it through that act? Do you then go to the crematorium? What do you do? We didn't want to wallow. We wanted to be out. It happened. That's the end, and we wanted to be gone. But we were not trying to ask the question of whether or not, of who got it or…You know what I mean? That felt really clear. The gun was on Mel.

In short, fans can stop spinning theories about who Jonah might’ve shot. Mel was 100% the person shot, but his death just meant another problem the Byrdes had to clean up. I’m not sure that makes the ending any less polarizing for some, but at least it’s more clear, and explains Jason Bateman’s tease it was a somewhat happy ending for the family.

Ozark is now available to stream in its entirety over on Netflix. Now that it’s over, anyone looking for something new can certainly find it by checking out our 2022 Netflix TV schedule to see what else is worth checking out this year. 

Mick Joest
Mick Joest

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.