Ozark season 4, episode 1 recap – the opening chapter explained

By Daniel Hart
Published: January 21, 2022 (Last updated: 4 weeks ago)
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Netflix Ozark season 4, episode 1 - The Beginning of the End


F*****g hell. This is certainly an episode that requires a lot to unpack.

This recap of Netflix’s Ozark season 4, episode 1, “The Beginning of the End,” contains spoilers. 

Read the review of part 1 of season 4 of Ozark. 

It’s been too long. After the season 3 finale, we were screaming for season 4. There is so much at stake, and the first episode of the fourth and final season does not disappoint. There’s so much complexity and danger; the tension building happens almost immediately. Being “all in” has its problems.

Ozark season 4, episode 1 recap

Episode 1 starts with Marty and Wendy in the car chilling to music; there’s a discussion about an FBI meeting, and there are 48 hours to endure before it is all over. Their car nearly hits a lorry and flips over with the Byrde family inside.

Episode 1 then moves back to where we were left in season 3; Omar is enjoying the party, while Marty and Wendy wash off blood in the bathroom. It’s Helen’s blood after her horrific demise; both characters are shaken as they head out to the party. Omar calls them both celebrities after bringing down his enemy. But then, Omar introduces a new character, his niece, Javier. Immediately, Javier wants to know what the plan is with Darlene Snell — he wants her to stop producing heroin. In a separate meeting, Omar tells Marty and Wendy that his nephew is impatient, and he’ll kill them all (including him) if he senses weakness. Omar wants Wendy and Marty to use their influence so he can walk away from his business and be able to move between USA and Mexico freely — he asks them to broker a deal with the FBI. Marty attempts to keep it cool, but Wendy is flabbergasted, believing it is impossible.

What’s incredible about the opening of season 4 is this idea of a neverending food chain; we’ve always seen Omar as the “last level boss,” but even he has to contend with someone, and that someone is a family member. The optics change immediately.

Episode 1 then moves to Ruth, who is at a motel she used to work at; she ends up in a spat with the manager, Lorna, who fired her. Ruth has a meeting with the motel owner Stan — she negotiates with him to buy the motel, and she needs to be convincing as to why, as it’s a family business she is purchasing. It doesn’t take Ruth long to buy the motel, and she gets revenge on Lorna by firing her. When she returns to the Ozarks, Wyatt is proud of her. Ruth tells Darlene that they needed the motel to launder money through it. They discuss percentages, and it does not take long to agree on shares.

It’s easy to root for Ruth; we want the very best for her.

Lurking in the darkness is Jonah in episode 1. The theme is that he’s still at odds with his family. Jonah gives Ruth Ben’s ashes and tells her he loved her. He doesn’t think she should work for his parents anymore and reveals that his mother had Ben killed. Ruth reveals she has quit the Byrde business anyway. Later on, Charlotte finds Ruth in the casino office, so she gets security to kick her out.

When Marty and Wendy return home, they are shocked to see some windows smashed. Jonah explains he shot the windows because he was upset that his mother got Ben killed. Wendy attempts to explain herself while scolding her son, but Jonah does not feel there was a reason for Ben to be killed, especially with Helen ending up dead anyway. And that is a great point to be fair. But this is where Mel Sattem arrives at the family home, and he’s a private investigator. He’s looking for Helen Pierce as her husband needs a quick divorce. Wendy leads the discussion to cover things up, but Jonah interrupts and tells Mel to talk to Helen’s daughter Erin. Wendy is furious at Jonah when Mel leaves. Later on, Marty tells Wendy that Jonah is smart and he’ll be rational about the family situation eventually.

Jonah will be a problem — that’s abundantly clear at the start of season 4.

We reach a crucial moment in episode 1; Wendy and Marty meet with Wyatt and Darlene. This is where it’s revealed to the Byrdes that Ruth has partnered with Darlene. Wendy knows that Ruth is laundering money for them. Marty and Wendy warn the trio, on behalf of the cartel, not to produce heroin again, but Darlene does not care. Marty offers a stern warning that the cartel’s response will be brutal, and Wendy raises how Helen worked for the organization for ten years, and they’ve blown her brains out. Darlene does not care and ends the meeting, so Marty tells Ruth to make Darlene listen, or they’ll all be killed. Ruth does not believe Marty cares. She’s probably right.

Seeing Wendy and Marty take on Helen’s role is fascinating with the veiled threats and the suggestion of incoming violence.

We get a Byrde family meal in episode 1 that gets tense very quickly, with Jonah asking questions about Ruth while Charlotte is on board with the family protocols. Marty reveals that they need Maya’s help from the FBI to help free Omar so he can move between USA and Mexico. Like his mother earlier in the episode, Jonah believes that it’s impossible to get the FBI to agree to that. Still, Wendy states it is not out of the possibility and reminds Jonah that they could be a powerful family one day with the foundation.

And that’s when Mel interrupts their meal; he has a photo of Jonah pointing a shotgun at Helen, but Marty cuts him off, stating it’s “family business.” When Mel leaves, Jonah tells his family that he went to shoot her before she killed the whole family but didn’t go through with it. At this moment, Jonah walks out as his mother scolds him.

And so, Jonah meets up with Ruth and offers his software to launder money. She asks Jonah to run her laundering, but he isn’t sure at this stage of the chapter.

As we near the ending of a chaotic opening episode, Marty is surprised to see Javi at the casino; Javi wants an update on Darlene. Marty warns him that the casino is crawling with feds, so Javi suggests they go to his family home. Javi tells Marty and Helen that he initially wanted them killed when he first heard they disagreed with Helen, but he accepts his uncle has confidence in them both.

It’s not only Jonah and Mel who will cause problems, but Javi is going to be an issue too.

The ending

The episode ends with an increased uncertainty on how things may play out.

Jonah finds Ruth at the motel, and he accepts her offer to launder her money. This is a massive conflict of interest.

Episode 1 ends bloody; Sheriff Nix visits Helen’s house, and Javi answers — the sheriff is looking for Helen after the private investigator visited him. Javi invites the sheriff inside Helen’s home and states that Helen “is away.” He then turns up the music and shoots the sheriff in the head. As the episode ends, Javi shows Marty and Wendy the sheriff’s dead body and asks them if they own a crematorium. In the distance, Jonah sees his parents help carry the sheriff’s body in the boot of a car.

F*****g hell. This is certainly an episode that requires a lot to unpack.

Additional points

  • Darlene asks Wyatt if he’s happy. He is, and they agree, “what’s mine is yours.” Wyatt thanks Darlene for bringing Ruth into the equation.
  • Agent Maya Millar is praised for organizing the raid that led to $350 million of heroin found. She’s told to stay in the Ozarks and be in the field.

What did you think of Netflix’s Ozark season 4, episode 1? Comment below. 

You can watch Ozark with a subscription to Netflix.

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