After a somewhat lazy and slower second season, Netflix’s Ozark surprisingly doubled up on its Primetime Emmy Awards nominations earlier this year with a win for star, director and producer Jason Bateman and co-star Julia Garner. This not only caused the streaming platform’s crime drama to get some extra well deserved new attention, but also for the writers and crew to turn it up to another level. Season three is unprecedented and promises a new layer in the underworld of money laundering and drug cartels.

When bombs go off in a mall at the center of the Navarro Cartel’s Territory in Mexico, dozens of people are killed and it becomes very clear the war on drugs is bigger than ever and crosses the borders from Mexico to the United States. Missouri Belle Casino is open and Marty (Bateman) has everything under control and just wants everything to come to an end without anymore casualties. Wendy (Laura Linney) on the other hand is ready to take risks, which leads the couple to discuss their frustrations in therapy. While the stars of the show sit down, cartel lawyer Helen (Janet McTeer) gets put under a huge amount of pressure and gets set an ultimatum by her client, who pushes her into moving to the Ozarks with her daughter, to keep a close eye on the Byrde-family.

In a physically and mentally heavy arc for Ruth (Garner) we get to see her running things at the casino, but she also struggles to keep her family together after the death of her father. A distraction arrives in the form of Wendy’s troubled brother Ben (Tom Pelphrey). Nothing is what it seems, lies dig deeper and deeper and no one is safe. When the FBI infiltrates the casino business to take a look at the books, new alliances get made and old relationships cause more trouble than ever before. Revenge has a price, and everyone should be worried.

What becomes clear very early on is that the cinematography and use of colour is much brighter and warmer than the previous seasons. This does shift throughout the season to the well known blue filter, which clearly shows this tone of colour stands for very stressful and tense situations. The intensity has been taken up a notch throughout the entirety of the season, which causes for you to rethink your favourite characters on the show. For sure, Marty is back in full force, after being somewhat absent from the second season, but it’s Linney who is this season’s MVP. Not only does she get to showcase how bad ass and ambitious Wendy truly is, but it’s the well known range of her acting that really leaves a mark on you. Emotions are put to the test when her on screen brother Ben, in a breakout performance from Pelphrey, flips things upside down and becomes a real problem in successfully completing this entire operation, and surviving it too.

Netflix has clearly invested in even better directors and writers, and brought back the ones who’ve been doing a phenomenal job since the start of the show. It’s shot in such a stunning way, and the use of drones is being incorporated in the story but gives us a breathtaking view at some day-to-day activities. The production design and expansion of sets has been lifted to another level which becomes very clear when we spend more time in the Byrde’s new casino. Don’t worry if you don’t see your old favourites pop up straight away, there’s plenty of surprises throughout the season and a few of our beloved family members make impressive mistakes that cause a domino-effect to affect everyone all through this dangerous new chapter of their lives. The entire cast is on a roll and never miss an opportunity to shine. An absolute stunner of a season, and probably the best of the series so far. If you’ve loved the previous seasons, you’ll definitely obsess over this one too.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Netflix Review – ‘Ozark’ Season 3

Reviewed on Netflix, March 26, 2020. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 10 x 60 min. episodes.

PRODUCTION: A Netflix release of a Zero Gravity Management, Media Rights Capital production. Producers: Matthew Spiegel, Erin Mitchell, Peter Thorell. Executive producer: Jason Bateman.

CREW: Directors: Jason Bateman, Alik Sakharov, Amanda Marsalis, Benjamin Semanoff, Cherien Dabis. Writers: Paul Kolsby, Martin Zimmerman, Ning Zhou, Chris Mundy. Camera (color, widescreen): Armando Salas, Manuel Billeter. Editors: Cindy Mollo, Vikash Patel.

WITH: Jason Bateman, Laura Linney, Sofia Hublitz, Skylar Gaertner, Julia Garner, Charlie Tahan, Lisa Emery, Carson Holmes, Janet McTeer, Kevin L. Johnson, McKinley Belcher III, Robert C. Treveiler, Nelson Bonilla, Tom Pelphrey, Jessica Frances Dukes.

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