In the first season of “Ozark,” Laura Linney’s Wendy spent a lot of time reacting to an unending stream of shocking events. When her husband, Marty (Jason Bateman) came home, told her to pack her bags, and headed to the Lake of the Ozarks in southern Missouri, Wendy went because there really wasn’t another choice. But in Season 2, Wendy might be taking charge.
“Everything stems from survival,” Linney said during a panel at the Television Critics Association press tour. “[In Season 2], she goes to a very primal place in which to do that. She sees places that are not being filled and realizes she’s gotta fill it and she’s gotta do it fast. But she’s impatient.”
Linney, Bateman, and Julia Garner were very up front about their characters’ flaws in the Netflix drama series.
“She’s a very instinctive person,” Linney said of Wendy. “She’s shrewd and she’s smart, but she’s not the most emotionally assured human being. She’s surprising in that way because she’s effective, but she’s not always mature.”
Garner was asked if her character, Ruth Langmore, would’ve turned out differently if she’d been raised with better moral examples. (Her father is in prison and brothers look to be on their way.)
“Maybe she would be better if she grew up in a different house, but there are certain things you question, like, ‘Wow, she really did that.’ Is it nature? Is it nurture? I don’t know,” Garner said. “I think Ruth wants to be acknowledged and never gets acknowledged. I think that’s why she was drawn to Marty in the first place, to be seen in a way she’s never been seen.”
Bateman admitted Marty is “emotionally repressed, and that’s something his wife gets on him about in the second season,” but he also teased Season 2 in two key ways — both relating to topping the first season’s drama.
“The writers understand the audience deserves an escalation,” Bateman said. “If there’s going to be more episodes, you don’t want redundancies. […]The demand is high to keep bringing it.”
To that end, Bateman said that means “plot escalation, emotional complexity,” and as well as “killing off characters you think will never die.” Bateman dwelled on this point a bit more than the rest, noting how television is finding surprising new ways to kill off characters that you’d never expect. Some make the audience ask, “How could this show keep going with this person?” Bateman said.
What that means for characters in Season 2 won’t be revealed until August 31, but as far as the quality of the series — and how Season 2 will affect its critical perception — segued nicely into a question about one landmark show “Ozark” has already been compared to: “Breaking Bad.”
After being asked about certain people comparing the new Netflix drama to the classic AMC series, Bateman put the Emmy-winner on a pedestal far higher than the new Emmy-nominee.
“As far as comparisons to ‘Breaking Bad’ goes, we’re fortunate to even hear that,” he said. “That show cannot be touched. If we get halfway to their status, we’re lucky.”
He also commented on why the two would be compared, aside from quality, and mentioned both shows are about families “in jeopardy.”
“The Byrde family is trying to end this show,” Bateman said. “All the decisions are made to end this and get healthy again — to get boring again as a family. That’s interesting to read and perform.”
Whether it continues to be compelling television will be unveiled shortly.
“Ozark” Season 2 premieres August 31 on Netflix.