Netflix drama Ozark has been frequently compared to Breaking Bad (because people desperately want another Breaking Bad) but in reality, the only similarity between the two shows is the drugs. While Breaking Bad has an antihero who is keen on getting deeper and deeper into the drug-dealing businesses, Ozark has an antihero who is keen on running away from it.
Jason Bateman plays Marty Byrde, a financial advisor who is forced to launder money for a Mexican cartel in order to save his life. Like Brian Cranston (Walter White), Bateman acquired his fame as a comedy actor before transitioning into roles that don't consider laughter to be the best medicine. Surprisingly, funny actors tend to do very well in serious roles. Maybe Neil Patrick Haris should consider joining the cast of True Detective.
In Ozark, Bateman's character Marty Byrde tends to alternate between being a genius and being completely dumb. Sometimes you feel like giving him a high five and sometimes you just feel like yelling at him. Here are the moments when he was both smart and not-so-smart.
10 Genius: Recruiting Ruth Langmore
In season one, Marty moves his family from Chicago to Missouri Ozarks in order to launder money for the drug cartel that would have otherwise had him dead. He considers Missouri to be a safer and less competitive place. So he purchases a strip club to help him achieve this goal. Unfortunately, his presence gets him in trouble with the family that runs crime in the area - the Langmores
Marty ends up hiring the ambitious 19-year-old Ruth Langmore (Julia Garner) to help him with running the strip club. Since Ruth is on his side, the Langmores refrain from killing him. Good move Marty.
9 Dumb: Asking The Snells And The Cartel To Work Together
Trusting two rival criminal elements to work together? He should have known it wouldn't go well. However, Marty's ambition tends to cloud his judgment sometimes. He was so keen on making sure things were running smoothly that he forgot there's no honor among thieves.
In season one, Marty proposes a working relationship between the cartel and the Snells. As part of the deal, the cartel will be distributing heroin for the Snells. However, during the meeting, Darlene Snell (Lisa Emery) shoots the cartel representative after he refers to them as a “bunch of rednecks.”
8 Genius: Convincing The Cartel To Let Him Launder Their Money
Bad business partners are guaranteed to mess you up and that's the situation Marty finds himself in at the beginning of season one. His partner makes the grave mistake of skimming cartel money. Didn't that guy ever watch cartel movies? Everyone knows how ruthless drug dealers are.
Of course, they are mad so they want both Marty and his partner dead. Bryde convinces them that he can launder $500 million for them if they spare his life. This works as both Bryde is spared. However, his partner isn't so lucky. It's hard to feel pity for him.
7 Dumb: Marty Contemplating Running
At the beginning of the second season, the cartel threatens Marty's family so he contemplates running. This is definitely not a bright idea since if he does that, they'll catch up with him eventually. They always do.
It's his wife Wendy who eventually makes the wiser decision. She decides that they're going to stay in Missouri and figure things out because obviously, it would be riskier to hit the road and be on the run forever. Wendy also seems to have ambitions of her own so that helps. She isn't just going to play to her husband's tune.
6 Genius: Not Leaving Wendy
Marty and Wendy's marriage isn't perfect. She had an affair and recorded a sex tape. Marty is obsessed with watching the tape. He even tries to emulate Wendy's lover while making love to her. Creepy guy. Stop the madness, Marty.
However, he doesn't let his marriage troubles get in the way of the bigger things at stake. He knows that during these trying times, they are stronger together. She also knows that her decisions usually prove vital at times. So like a smart man, he decides to stay with her though he makes it clear that they are no longer lovers but business partners living together.
5 Dumb: Telling The Kids What's Going On
This was a classic example of bad parenting. Somebody call the Child Protection Service. Anyway, Marty and Wendy open up to their children about the nightmare they are currently facing and as a result, their son Jonah ends up living in total fear.
When a hitman from the cartel breaks into the family home, little Jonah grabs a gun and tries to shoot him. Luckily, he is saved from the potential trauma of killing a man when the trigger malfunctions. Seeing a kid ready to protect his family is commendable. Just thinking of how his parents put him in this position makes you sad.
4 Genius: Setting Up The Casino
Five hundred million dollars is a lot of money to launder. A strip club and a funeral home in a rural area can't manage to clean it all up. A bigger business is needed so Marty goes ahead and opens one.
As season two was drawing to a close, Marty works overtime to make sure that his dream of setting up a riverboat casino becomes a reality. Even though he faces plenty of political wrangling and bureaucracy, he manages to get it up and running. In the season finale, the casino is finally launched. Obviously, this new business will bring plenty of fresh drama in season three.
3 Dumb: Hiding Money In a Resort
A financial advisor who doesn't know how to hide money? That's Marty for you. No wonder it took him so long to find out about his business partner's shady financial dealings. It almost feels like Marty's brain is a super-computer which also has a shutdown button. When it's on, it works magnificently but when it's off, the man is the Lord of Dummies.
One of the show's most ridiculous moments happens when he stuffs $50 million inside an easily removable wall in a lake resort. As expected, the money doesn't remain hidden for long. This puts him in danger of getting into the cartel's bad books. Jesus Marty!
2 Genius: Cutting The Mob Out Of The Deal
Marty has to ask himself the question: Who is the greater enemy? The mob or the cartel? He has witnessed the horrors that the cartel is capable of creating, so the mob can go to hell.
While trying to set up the Lake Of The Ozarks casino, Marty finds himself at crossroads with the Kansas City mob. They want a stake in the casino but the Missouri Gaming Committee doesn’t want any members of organized crime to be involved in the gambling business. Since he'd rather be enemies with the mob than the cartel, Marty cuts mob leader Frank Cosgrove out of the deal. Marty's office gets blown but this seems like is a small price to pay.
1 Dumb: Failing To Keep His Promise To Pastor Mason Young
Because Pastor Mason Young doesn't have a church, he holds his sermons on boats in the lake. It turns out that these are the same boats that the drug dealers are using to sell their products. Pastor Young starts preaching against the cartels. Bad move.
To avoid the looming disaster, Marty promises to build him a church but later on, he backs out of the deal. This puts the pastor in conflict with the drug dealers. They kill his pregnant wife and cut the baby out of her stomach as warming. Unfortunately, he goes crazy. He kidnaps Wendy and the confrontation ends with him losing his life at the hands of Marty.