3. The First Four Deaths
That the first death in “Ozark” was offscreen is a bit of a head-fake. Shot through a door, Bruce’s girlfriend and the company’s real estate agent, Liz (Molly Leland), isn’t kept behind a flimsy shield for long. Right before the next three bodies drop, we see her body brought out in a tarp and lowered into a vat of chemicals to decompose.
The next deaths come in rapid-fire, as Bruce’s dad, business partner, and Bruce (Josh Randall) himself face their comeuppance for skimming off of Del’s dirty money. The quick nature of their offing raises the stakes for Marty, who’s innocence in this won’t save him. Liz likely knew, but didn’t control it, after all.
It’s Marty’s blind business pitch that keeps him alive, but the onslaught of murders set a dark tone for a series that’s only going to get darker. The nature of Marty’s work won’t be shielded from him, his family, or the audience any longer. We’re going to see it all.
2. Marty and Wendy’s Fight
Unsurprisingly in a heartbreaking story, the two most stunning scenes came down to the series’ romantic core. But what brought added tension to Marty and Wendy’s knock-down drag-out fight in Episode 7 was a third character: their daughter, Charlotte.
After considering running away, Charlotte returned home with her mother and immediately excused herself to go for a swim. That was fine with Marty and Wendy, who knew they needed to get a few things off their chests. But as they bickered about repressed emotions and expressive actions, Charlotte was sinking like a stone to the bottom of a lake in the Ozarks.
Did she want to die? Was Charlotte suicidal, even for an instant? Did she simply find her second wind? Was it a cry for attention? Marty and Wendy have far fewer answers than the audience, as they remained obvious to their daughter’s crisis in favor of attending to their own. The dueling tragedies left a mark, though, on all parties.
1. Marty and Wendy’s Sex Scene
Here’s where “Ozark” gets tricky.
After obsessing over his wife’s sex tape — seriously, Marty, you gotta stop watching that video — the cuckold found a shot at reconciliation. Marty and Wendy got close, physically and emotionally, for the first time all season, and it seemed like a direction as wanted it was needed.
That is, until Marty’s memories got in the way. As the two became intimate, the husband couldn’t stop himself from acting like Wendy’s old lover, whom he’d been watching in their video. He slapped her ass, evoking an immediate reaction from Wendy, but one she couldn’t confirm until much later (when she knew Marty had been watching the tape).
What made the scene so difficult were the conflicting desires of the subjects. What started as a loving union turned into what could be called one-sided hate sex. Marty clearly was doing more than reconnecting with his wife. He was taking out some of his anger with her. Wendy, meanwhile, was left confused, at first, and ultimately betrayed. Just as Marty thought he was in a loving marriage before he found out about his wife’s affair, Wendy believed she was getting close to her husband again — all she ever wanted from their marriage — until the moment he struck her from behind.
Adding to the complexity of the scene was the decision to show Marty go through with it. If the scene had not been revisited after it ended, an argument for seeing what happened in the room would be easier to make. But because the couple discusses it repeatedly, a little added mystery would have elevated the tension in those scenes. Think about it: If you suspected what Marty did but didn’t know, and then learned slowly how far south things went for the couple in that moment, the act itself may have carried even more resonance. Viewers may have believed Marty and Wendy were on the road to recovery when they were only veering closer to calamity.
That said, their debate about this very scene during the fight described above helped clarify things. Viewers are a neutral party watching, and that means we can judge for ourselves what was going through Marty’s mind when he did what he did. Maybe that’s more important than thrills. Maybe that’s more important than playing it safe. Maybe the shock was what viewers were meant to confront.
“Ozark” Season 1 is streaming now on Netflix.