The Ozark Season 3 Theory That Has Fans Talking

The third season of a drama doesn't seem like the ideal time to add new characters, but that's exactly what Netflix's rural drug drama, Ozark, did. Season 3 found Jason Bateman's stammering money launderer, Marty Byrde, dealing with new-to-us faces like his down-on-his-luck brother-in-law, Ben Davis (Tom Pelphrey). 

The writers managed, however, to clear out Davis' story from the blue-tinged brambles of Ozark's increasingly knotty storyline before the season ended. Ben was killed by hitmen representing the Navarro cartel after he embarrassed cartel lawyer Helen Pierce (Janet McTeer) by showing that his lips were a little too loose about the millions of dollars in drug money filtering through the Byrdes' Ozark operation. Pierce demands that he be killed, but a series of poignant, but inconsistent character decisions on the show, and the lack of an on-screen death for Davis, has fans speculating that Ben is alive, if not exactly well. 

There are several convincing cases for Ben being among the living, with most hinging on Omar Navarro's (Felix Solis) decision to kill the aforementioned lawyer and work more closely with the Byrdes. If Navarro was planning to kill Pierce, something we see carried out at the end of season 3, why would he take her advice on disposing of Ben? Why would he kill Wendy's (Laura Linney) brother if he wanted to stay in her good graces?  Let's take a good look at both arguments.

Theory 1: Ben Davis from Ozark is dead

This is the case that the show, itself, makes. To understand why they would choose to kill off a fast fan-favorite, it helps to know a bit more about who Ben Davis was

Wendy Byrde's brother moved in with his criminally-connected family at the beginning of Season 3, after losing his job as a substitute teacher. He quickly ingratiated himself to fans and the fictional townspeople, starting up a relationship with cunning Byrde underboss Ruth Langmore (Julia Garner). Davis was on medication to treat his bipolar disorder, something that interfered with his budding relationship when he couldn't perform in the bedroom. Ben made the ultimately fatal decision to go off his medication, becoming more and more unstable as the series progressed. 

He blew up at Helen Pierce, revealing to her teenage daughter that she works for a murderous drug cartel, and this was what got him killed. Helen told Omar Navarro that Davis should be dealt with and, after Wendy and Ruth both attempted to hide him, Wendy made the gut-wrenching decision to give her brother up to cartel hitman Nelson (Nelson Bonilla).

Given the grave consequences the show doles out to people who run afoul of cartel business, Davis' death makes sense. Beyond that, having Davis be alive in a secretly orchestrated plot by the Byrdes would rob Wendy's decision of its emotional weight. It appears that Davis is well and truly dead.  

Theory 2: Ben Davis from Ozark is alive

Or, is he? It's hard to trust any fictional character's death without a body. While we may have seen Nelson approach Ben, and Marty loading a corpse into the incinerator, Davis' unavoidable offing is left implied. That's allowed some fan theories to spring up from the ever-shifting soil of this backwoods buskin.

 One Reddit user believes the whole production was cooked up by Marty and Omar Navarro, pointing to Marty's willingness to get on a plane to Mexico after an FBI agent warned Byrde that he had been set up by false information sent to the Navarro cartel. If Marty truly believed that death was waiting for him, would he have walked into it?  They add that Ben's "death" could be an intentional ploy to push Ruth into the operation of their biggest rivals, turning her back to the Byrde side of things, complete with insider information, once it's revealed that Ben is actually alive. 

Unfortunately, fans will have to wait quite a while to see if their suspicions are correct. Blasting through the third season makes the wait for an as-yet-unconfirmed season 4 all the longer, especially with the gap between each season so far having been over a year.  The added uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic halting Hollywood production comes with the possibility of an even longer wait. All your questions will likely be answered ... some time in early 2021 or 2022.