Ozark Season 4 Part 1 Ending Explained: Blood, Betrayal, And More Langmore Tragedy

Note! This post contains major spoilers for "Ozark" season 4 part 1.

The first part of "Ozark" season 4 sees the Byrdes edging closer to freedom — or so they hope. The season is spent devising a plan to get Omar Navarro (Felix Solis) in talks with the FBI, so the leader of North America's second largest drug cartel can negotiate his way to immunity. It's a pretty tall order, but Navarro has the right idea when he puts the Byrdes in charge of following through. Wendy (Laura Linney) and Marty (Jason Bateman) are nothing if not relentless, and this certainly wouldn't be the first time they achieved an impossible task. Moving their family to the Ozarks to clean drug money – a whopping $500 million — was once unthinkable. So was the idea of opening a legal, state-approved casino ... but against all odds, those schemes worked out. So what could possibly go wrong this time?

Unfortunately for the Byrdes (and by extension, Navarro) the season is stacked with wild cards, all threatening their path to freedom. The introduction of Navarro's nephew, the impulsively violent Javi (Alfonso Herrera) is easily #1 on their list of problems. Javi has no idea what the Byrdes are plotting with Navarro and given his intentions to take over the cartel, probably wouldn't take kindly to his uncle blowing up the family business. Not to mention, he kinda hates the Byrdes. He believes Helen (Janet McTeer) should've survived the trip to Mexico rather than our money-laundering couple and wastes no time letting them know. 

Then there's the matter of Maya Miller (Jessica Frances Dukes), the FBI agent assigned to their case. Maya doesn't want to see the Byrdes killed, but it's largely because she believes in the work she's doing. She wants to get Navarro off the streets at all costs, which may not be in his best interest. Toss in an overly curious private investigator, the murderous Darlene Snell, budding criminal Jonah Byrde (who's pulling away from the family), plus the force of nature that is Ruth Langmore, and what do we get? Lots of bad news for the Byrdes.

The Dominoes Are Finally Falling

Before things go terribly wrong, everything kind-of works out. The final episode, "Sanctified," sees Navarro pushed into a corner by the FBI, who no longer want to negotiate a deal for him to walk away clean. Instead they propose an alternate plan: Navarro stays on as head of the cartel, provides them with intelligence when called upon and offers more opportunities for cash seizures. Though he's enraged by the change, he has no choice but to accept. While things aren't picture-perfect for Navarro, life is finally looking up for the Byrdes.

But even though they're finally free of their obligation to the cartel, we get a sense that things won't simply click back into place. Resuming regular life after all they've risked and lost is daunting, especially for Wendy. Tragedies aside, the past few years have allowed Wendy to seize control of her life and rise to the greatness she once aspired to. As she once told her brother Ben: "Fighting for your life makes every other thing you ever did before seem extremely dull." In an ominous conversation with Navarro, we're reminded of the special connection they always shared when he asks her not to forget about him. Navarro understands Wendy in a way Marty doesn't — or doesn't want to admit. He knows that resuming a quiet life will never satisfy her. So maybe it's a good thing (for Wendy) that everything immediately falls apart.

Agent Miller isn't thrilled about allowing cartel business to continue for the sake of cash seizures, so she takes some righteous action: Maya gathers fellow agents and arrests Navarro before her can return to Mexico. Above all, Maya Miller wants to do the moral thing; Marty always understood this, and even respected her for it. But he also made the mistake of thinking she could be manipulated. It worked for awhile but ultimately, she refuses to compromise her morals. This may be her undoing.

The Byrdes strike up a new plan: with his uncle's encouragement, they convince Javi to take the same deal as Navarro. Though it works out in the end, it also involves some mild backstabbbing and threatening the lives of Navarro's children: the former cartel leader is told that Javi will be arrested upon coming to the meeting. Instead, Javi agrees to run the cartel for another decade (while working with the FBI) before walking away clean. Navarro is set for release in 48 hours, but first, the Byrdes assure their safety. Because his legitimate dealings are secured by their lives, he can 't have them killed. Plus, they promise not to let Javi know about his betrayal, lest he come after his uncle's children. So while Navarro partially of gets what he wanted, he walks away displeased with the Byrdes — especially Wendy.

The Langmore Curse Returns

Beyond the Byrdes, the finale is stacked with other power plays that promise to have dangerous consequences in Season 4 Part 2. Remember the pesky PI that spent the season peeking into the Bydes' windows and putting together the pieces of Helen's disappearance? It turns out he caught a glimpse of their "family friend" Agent Miller on TV, arresting Omar Navarro, and he may have just connected the dots back to the Byrdes. This is an open question, going forward — what does Mel Sattem (Adam Rothenberg) know and what will he do with it? He ends the season by making a call to Agent Miller, leaving us to wonder.

By far, the most critical (and tragic) development is what goes down on the Snell farm. Never lose track of Javi, "Ozark" seems to warn us in the episodes final moments. Javi spent the season prodding the Byrdes about Darlene Snell, furious that her heroin production was continuing right beside the cartel casino. When they refused to handle it because of her connection to local police, he shot the sheriff. But since that didn't motivate them and Javi now feels untouchable, he takes matters into his own hands.

After Wyatt refuses to leave the Ozarks with Ruth and Three, he resolves to marry Darlene. The odd couple share a pretty sweet moment, and might very well be the only happy people left in this show. And that should've raised a red flag. When they return home, Javi is waiting with a gun. He wastes no time, killing Darlene on the spot. Wyatt is just collateral damage — he has the misfortune of being present, so Javi kills him too. Unbeknownst to him, this will surely set off a disastrous chain of events. Ruth discovers her cousin's body and is set down a path for vengeance. She learns Javi's name from Jonah (continuing his trend of betraying the Byrdes for Ruth) and ignores Marty's attempts to calm her down. Wyatt was the only thing she had left to lose and with him dead, Ruth has no reservations about walking directly into the line of fire. "If you want to stop me," she tells the Byrdes, "you're gonna have to f***ing kill me."

Back To The Beginning

As one half of a two-part finale season, Part 1 makes a promise — the fallout is yet to come. This season is all about stacking the dominos and tipping them right at the very end. Now things are officially in motion — Javi is on the loose, Mel is digging, Jonah is severing ties and Ruth is on a rampage. But funnily enough, the most important thing we learn about the Byrdes' ending comes at the very beginning of the season. The Byrdes seem to make it out of this season unscathed, but that's only if you forget the catastrophic car crash we glimpsed in episode one.

Season 4 boldly opened by jumping further into the future. All four members of the Byrde family were driving down the road in the family minivan, with Sam Cooke's "Bring It On Home To Me" blaring on the radio. We learn a couple of things for context: Wendy is calling a moving company in the morning, some mysterious fate has befallen Jonah and Charlotte's belongings, there's an upcoming event at the Missouri Belle casino, and the Byrde parents have a meeting with the FBI. We also know that things are set to change in two days, as Wendy longingly says, "48 more hours." There's some tension in the car as Jonah ignores his mother, but before they can hash anything out, a semi-truck veers into their lane and swerving out of its way sends them spinning out of control. The car flips, violently crashing, and offers no clarity on their survival.

So here's the question: have we already seen the Byrdes die? The season has yet to catch up to this moment, so we don't know how they get there and if they manage to live through it. Based on where they left off, we have a ways to go before Part 2 brings us back to this moment — for one thing, why would they need to meet with the FBI again? What's the Missouri Belle event that Jonah doesn't want to attend? What's 48 hours away? And then there's the matter of this car crash: tragedies happen every day, of course, but it's not hard to believe that someone on their long list of enemies is out to kill the Byrdes. So is someone we know behind this swerving semi-truck or did they endure all that tragedy just to die an anonymous, unrelated death? Part 1 of "Ozark" season 4 has left us with nothing but questions and lots of reason for concern, but Part 2 is on the way to finally close out this crime-filled saga.