Ozark ending explained: Part 2 fan theories revealed and your questions answered
3 May 2022, 13:19 | Updated: 4 May 2022, 09:40
The Ozark finale has aired and not everyone is thrilled about the fate of some of its biggest characters. We explore Ozark Season 4 Part 2 here.
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Ozark was hailed as one of the best series of its time, rivalling the likes of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.
However, as season 4 Part 2 was made available last week and the show came to its dramatic finale, fans were left divided by its ending.
Series endings are never easy to get right, with the likes of Game of Thrones, Lost and The Sopranos all being criticised for their finales.
As we wave goodbye to Ozark and some of its much-loved characters, we explore the ending of Season 4 Part 2 and just why some of the characters' suffered the fate they did.
Get all your questions surrounding Ozark's series finale here.
***WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SERIOUS OZARK SPOILERS!***
What happens at the end of Ozark?
Ozark ends with Jonah holding up a shotgun in the direction of the private investigator Mel Sattem before we hear a shot and the screen goes black. Ahead of that, most of the series plot points are tied up in a neat bow. Marty blackmail's Ruth to bring back Jonah and Charlotte from their evil grandfather. She manages to achieve this and the kids come back to Wendy and agree to attend the launch of the family's foundation.
Cartel boss Navarro is transferred in the middle of the night only to be shot, making his sister Camilla the new head of the cartel. Camilla goes into business with the Byrdes and Clare, the CEO of the pharmaceutical company, but issues her a stern warning. Camilla tells Clare if she knows anything about the death of her son Javi and hasn't told her, if she finds out she lied she's going to make sure she's slit in half. Clare almost immediately gives up Ruth Langmore's name and seals her fate, leading her to be shot by the new Cartel boss.
The family's event goes off without a hitch, apart from Marty and Wendy knowing that Ruth is likely dead. They return home as united front and the kids disperse. Marty and Wendy find private investigator Mel in their garden holding Ben's ashes. He essentially tells the family that their time is up, they don't get to win like the Kennedys or come off unscathed. However, Jonah and Charlotte have now appeared in the garden and Jonah is holding a shotgun, which we hear go off as the screen goes black.
Why did Ruth have to die in Ozark?
Ruth's death is probably one of the most discussed scenes in the series. Though she was one of the show's most-loved characters, Julia Garner, who plays her, makes a very valid point about her in the bonus show A Farewell To Ozark. She suggests that Ruth is a tragic hero who is almost destined to die. If we look back carefully at Part 2 of season 4, there are clues everywhere that Ruth isn't going to make it.
Firstly, Ruth is a Langmore - who we learn from the outset of the show are cursed. Cursed at first by poverty, then criminality and then eventually death. Apart from Three, Ruth has lost almost all of her family in some way or another and yet when she chooses to clear her record, she does it just to build a mansion on the place she perviously lived. What's that parable about a man who built his house on sand? Added to that, when Marty suggests she change her name and just leave Ozark entirely, she tells him that she likes her name... The name which is eventually given up and leads to her murder.
Yes, Ruth is Ozark, but deciding to stay there and attempt to build a life, especially after her misguided killing of Javi, was only going to end one way. Added to that, by returning back to take her shares in the casino and run it as a business, she puts herself directly in the sights of Javi's mother Camilla, even coming face to face with her during her meeting with the FBI.
Her meeting with the rapper Killer Mike in Chicago and her listening to Nas were also heavily foreboding about her situation. Her looking out from her trailer van at the Ozarks and not wanting to escape her fate.
By the time the series nears its end, Ruth is seeing her entire family at home as if they are alive. Whether they are ghosts or hallucinations, it's a familiar trope in Greek Tragedy that the hero sees apparitions of those who have had died before they themselves meet their fate.
Lastly, Ruth attending the party dressed in all white after her criminal record was cleared was the perfect way to tell us she wasn't going to make it. While cleansed from her sins, she also becomes the sacrificial lamb in the story. Her death enables Camilla to finally get the vengeance she needed for the death of her son and enables her to go back to Mexico and continue ruling the Cartel.
Despite Ruth being one of the most enterprising and redeemable characters in the show, her inability to move on from her family history, the death of Ben and Wyatt and the place she lived caused her to make some very un-wise decisions and inevitably led to her death.
Who does Jonah shoot at the end of Ozark?
Ozark ends with Jonah holding up a shotgun in the direction of the private investigator Mel Sattem before we hear a shot and the screen goes black. It's very much left up to the audience's interpretation what happens next and there are several fan theories about who or what Jonah shoots. It is most commonly assumed that Jonah shoots Mel in the finale, which seems like the most likely conclusion. Others have discussed the possibility that he shoots at the cookie jar which contains Ben's ashes or even his mother Wendy.
Jonah shooting Mel makes the most sense for his story arc and provides a mirror to the last time he held up a gun in his home against an assailant, but was unable to hurt him. Earlier on in that episode, Jonah also jokes at the event that he will stick to doing something legal now his parents have succeeded in becoming legit, which is also a nice bit of foreshadowing to this moment.
It could be possible that Jonah shoots the cookie jar which contains his uncle Ben's ashes, thus dispersing the evidence of his death. However, it doesn't quite deal with the issue of Mel being in their garden or the fact that he'll continue to hunt the family down in an attempt to serve justice.
While Jonah could kill a family member, such as his estranged mother Wendy, this certainly makes the least sense and doesn't tie with the fact Jonah and Charlotte returned to Wendy and Marty willingly by the end of the series.
Is Ozark a happy ending?
Well, it depends how you look at it. Ahead of the finale being released, Jason Bateman teased it was kinda a "happy ending" but the Byrde family come out of it "limping". Quite literally, at the series' denouement, the family escape a car accident with barely a few bruises on their heads, but fundamentally they manage to pull off crossing Navarro, instating his sister Camilla as the head of the cartel, they continue to clean money from the casino AND appear to go legit as they launch their foundation. Corruption, wealth and power - which the Byrde family comes to represent - clearly wins in the end and the family are united.
Added to that, the word byrde in old english describes someone who is strong, well-born, noble or rich. If the Byrdes are indeed a symbol for wealth, status and privilege, the decision to keep them alive and relatively unscathed tells us that the rich and powerful always come out on top.
However, not everyone gets out alive. We lose Ruth, who is arguably one of the series' most popular characters, and the Private Investigator Mel believes he's finally caught the Byrdes with Ben's ashes. However, if the ending is to be interpreted with Jonah shooting Mel, clearly the family will have to continue clearing up their mess and committing illegal and heinous acts in order to do it.
In bonus episode, A Farewell To Ozark, showrunners describe Byrdes as a parasite that come into the town and wipe out its indigenous species. This certainly makes sense when you consider how many natives are left in the show.
Who is the rapper Ruth meets in Ozark?
When Ruth is in Chicago, she bumps into real-life rapper Killer Mike, who is one half of Run The Jewels (the outfit's Ooh La La song is featured directly after the murder of cartel lawyer Helen Pierce in season 3). Ruth tells him that she's a big fan and a conversation ensues. Ruth is a big fan of rap in general and she's listening to Nas on her ear pods when she bumps into Mike in the diner.
She says of Nas' NY state of mind, where the rapper talks about his time growing up in Queens: "It always feels to me like he hates it and misses it all at once. I mean, he was only f***ing 20."
Mike responds: "You know, when I listen to that record, there’s projects in Queens where you can kind of see Manhattan".
He adds: “I always thought it was so hopeful and f***ing cruel at the same time.”
The rapper's line could be taken as a foreboding of Ruth's own cruel demise. She's hopeful and yet ends up being killed in the very spot she used to look out at the world from. When she inherits all of Wyatt and Darlene's money and clears her criminal record, we are led to believe she's got a chance of making it out. However, unlike Nas, she never does. Both hopeful and cruel all at once.
Are Jonah and Charlotte related in real life?
Sofia Hublitz and Skylar Gaertner are very well cast as Charlotte and Jonah Byrde, but they aren't related in real life.