Ozark Season 4 Part 1 First Reviews: Critics Say Emmy-Winner Julia Garner Is a 'Total Revelation'

Marty, Wendy, and Ruth are hailed as three of "the greatest TV characters of all time."

by | January 19, 2022 | Comments

It’s been five years since Ozark first premiered to Netflix and the series is finally setting up its bloody endgame. The show follows the events that transpire after shady accountant Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) relocates his wife Wendy (Laura Linney) and children from Chicago to the Ozarks, in an effort to escape a money laundering scheme gone bad. While it was meant as an escape, Marty, Wendy, and the kids get folded into Marty’s criminal plans and as things progressed, one insane challenge after the next made their attempt to head back to the life they knew more and more impossible. As the show begins its final bow, a big question remains: How will the Byrde family get out of this murderous mess — or will they even survive at all?

Two-time Emmy-winner Julia Garner returns to the series, which also features Sofia Hublitz, Skylar Gaetner, Lisa Emery, Alfonso Herrera, Felix Solis, Joseph Sikora, and Jessica Frances Dukes. In similar fashion to the way AMC unleashed the end of Breaking Bad (a series Ozark gets compared to regularly), the fourth installment of the the Netflix thriller is being presented in two halves with the first seven episodes dropping on Friday, January 21 to the streamer.

With anticipation running high for the new episodes, here’s what critics are saying about Ozark season 4, part 1:

Do Jason Bateman and Laura Linney still deliver?

(Photo by Netflix)

Bateman’s a world-class straight man in comedies (“Arrested Development”), which makes him perfect for the ice-cold, quietly calculating Marty. Linney’s just good, period, so Wendy’s transformation has felt genuine. – Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic

Seeing Linney unleashed is reason enough to plow through Part 1, but how her character justifies her position presents its own additional incentive. – Ben Travers, IndieWire

Bateman and Linney’s chemistry is raw and impressive as they navigate the fragility of their bond. Bateman’s masterful comedic flair offsets Marty’s deadpan delivery, their dark banter making a doomed relationship between recognizably horrible people both heartbreaking and entertaining. – Saloni Gajjar, AV Club

What about Julia Garner’s Emmy-winning performance as Ruth?

(Photo by Netflix)

Julia Garner’s performance as an ambitious local young person tied up in the Byrdes’ business stands out all the more because what’s around it leans so heavily on an outsized bleakness. – Daniel D’addario, Variety

Garner is gunning for a deserved hat-trick at the Emmys with her astounding turn in season four. The actor’s gut-wrenching performance captures Ruth’s despondency and desperation for companionship, especially now that she’s lost her lover, Ben. – Saloni Gajjar, AV Club

Despite having given multiple outstanding and award-winning performances Garner gives us an all-time best this season. Truly, I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather watch more in this show than Garner – which is saying a lot with a cast as stacked as this one. – Amanda Sink, The Hollywood Outsider

Across one of the best ensemble casts on television right now, Julia Garner has been a total revelation and once again as Ozark bows out Ruth is the most captivating force throughout. – Adam Miller,

What are the overarching themes this season?

(Photo by Netflix)

One of the stronger elements of the new season is the deteriorating relationship between Jonah and his mother. Much as she tries to justify her treatment of her troubled brother in Season 3, Jonah won’t have it. Their portrayal of even greater dysfunction in a family drowning in it is appropriately uncomfortable yet weirdly compelling. – Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic

As the Byrdes expand from a typical upper-middle class family into a mega-wealthy political power couple, they’re becoming more than an outlier or an oddity; with their win-at-all-costs attitude, ever-deepening pockets, and lack of comeuppance for irrefutable wrongs, they represent the corruption rooted within the country itself. – Ben Travers, IndieWire

This show began in a place of vacuous amorality and, in this fourth outing, restates once more that the people at the center of the frame are very, very bad. And very, very bad things happen to and around them, at a distracting rate that allows this show to hopscotch that — this deep into its run — it’s struggling to be about much of anything. – Daniel D’addario, Variety

Just how tense will things get?

It’s all very tense, but the shocking plot turns deliver diminishing returns. – David Cheal, Financial Times

“Ozark” can feel like watching “Breaking Bad” in the NFL RedZone, the viewing option that delivers each and every touchdown on in-season Sundays. It’s chaos and gunshots without anything but the most glancing nod to a moral reckoning; it’s everything that people enjoy about high-gloss, expensive TV, without the parts that act as ballast. – Daniel D’addario, Variety

Ozark continues to take its audience on a suspenseful ride, delivering its most thrilling season yet. – Sharronda Williams, Pay or Wait

The show’s tapestry of characters and their illicit activities might not be wholly original, but it’s spun in exciting and foreboding ways. – Saloni Gajjar, AV Club

The last show to bring this heightened level of anxiety in its viewers with real-world baddies is Breaking Bad, where each episode and season filled us with a plethora of emotions. In Ozark Season 4: Part 1, the stakes are just as real and our blood continues to boil. – Amanda Sink, The Hollywood Outsider

Any final thoughts?

(Photo by Netflix)

The fourth season of Ozark confirms the growth that the series showed in the final stretch of the third and is paving the way for what promises to be an exciting finale. – Mikel Zorrilla, Espinof

Ozark is still going strong even as it nears the end, thanks to a stellar cast and sharp writing. Marty, Wendy & Ruth are some of the greatest TV characters of all time. – Grace Randolph, Beyond the Trailer

With the concluding seven episodes still under lock and key, it remains to be seen whether Bateman and co can pull of an ending as devastating as that of The Sopranos or Breaking Bad. But Ozark’s long farewell is certainly off to a gripping start. – Ed Power, Daily Telegraph (UK)

Part 1 isn’t the end, so much as a chance to take stock in what’s kept us coming back to “Ozark” each season. Be it the thrills, the performances, or morbid curiosity, Mundy’s series is still searching for more meaning in its final hours. When Part 2 hits, we’ll finally hear how much “Ozark” has to say. – Ben Travers, IndieWire

Ozark returns to prove its worth in the genre by remaining a riveting and satisfying crime drama to its bitter (almost) end. – Saloni Gajjar, AV Club

The stakes are higher than ever, the Byrde family continues to get themselves in deeper, and the action picks up in the final few episodes. Linney and Garner, once again, steal the show. – Austin Burke, Austin Burke/Flick Fan Nation

The first half of the series’ victory lap does a fine job straddling the line between introducing newer elements (Herrera is near flawless and terrifying) while also looking towards the future and bringing the entire franchise full circle. The stakes have never been higher and when part two releases this summer, all bets are off. – Nate Adams, The Only Critic

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