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Rules Marty Byrde Has To Follow In Every Ozark Episode

Like Breaking Bad's Walter White and the women of Good Girls, Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) of the Netflix crime drama Ozark is an everyman who gets wrapped up in a life of crime. In Marty's case, he uses his accounting skills to help a drug cartel launder money. A hiccup at work is what caused him to have to uproot his family from Chicago and move to the eponymous Ozark region of Missouri, and he's basically been trying to keep his head above water ever since.

The demands of the Navarro cartel are ever-evolving and escalating. Furthermore, it's the type of job where getting a reprimand from the boss is often accompanied by a bullet to the head. So, Marty has to stay on top of things at all times. Although his role with the cartel and his businesses in the Ozarks have changed quite a bit over the course of the three seasons, there are a few things that will always stay the same for poor Marty.

These are the rules that Marty Byrde has to follow in every episode of Ozark.

Marty Byrde has to be looking for a shell business to take over

Money laundering is Marty's business, and while Ozark focuses a bit more on the personal lives of its characters than your typical straight crime thriller, the show does do a relatively accurate job of depicting Marty's criminal enterprise. The key to successfully laundering money is having a legitimate shell business to run the operation through. That's why, on paper, Marty looks like your average small business owner.

However, one business can only have so much money passing through before transactions start getting flagged. If you're running your drug money through a crummy motel, for instance, it's going to raise a lot of eyebrows if your run-down establishment is suddenly turning a seven-figure profit. That's an issue for Marty, as he often has quite a bit of money he needs to wash in a relatively short period of time. As a result, he's always on the hunt for a new venture. Whether it's the Blue Cat Lodge, the Lickety Splitz strip club, or a riverboat casino, Marty has to constantly be keeping an eye out for a useful business to take over.

Unfortunately for Marty, this isn't always as easy as walking down to the bank for a loan. It seems that nothing in the Ozarks quite happens the way he needs it to, and because of that, there's another rule he has to live by.

Marty Byrde must always be cleaning up a mess

Being a father and husband is a lot of work, as is running one small business, let alone several of them. When you combine that with the fact that Marty's sham jobs are a cover for his actual job as a high-up administrative member of a massive drug cartel, well, that's a lot for one man to juggle. But juggle it Marty does. If you were to break down the core conflict of basically any episode of Ozark, it would be: "Marty has to clean up a mess."

Some of the messes Marty takes care of stem from the normal operations of his many businesses. Often, though, he's dealing with extremely high-stakes problems relating to the Navarro cartel. Trying to talk the Snells out of doing something that will get them killed or fending off the prying eyes of cartel lawyer Helen Pierce (Janet McTeer) would be hard enough without the fact that failure might end with his death. Because of this, Marty spends a good portion of every episode running from one problem area to the next.

In the earlier seasons, Marty could sometimes rely on his associate, the spirited Ruth Langmore (Julia Garner), to take care of those problems for him. But more often than not, managing Ruth turned into a mess in and of itself.

Marty Byrde has to go toe-to-toe with Ruth

It doesn't matter if they are on good terms or actively at odds with each other: Not an episode of Ozark goes by without Marty having some kind of spat with Ruth. He's a man who appreciates order and punctuality, while she makes her way through life flying by the seat of her pants. Ruth's tough upbringing also means that she's not afraid to hurl a string of expletives at anybody, including her boss.

We shouldn't lay all the blame on Ruth, though. When it comes to the intricacies of dealing with the interpersonal politics of the Ozarks, Ruth is the expert. However, Marty doesn't always want to hear it. For all the times Ruth is impertinent, there are just as many that Marty is stubborn. They may end up meeting somewhere in the middle when everything is said and done, but it's almost always a battle to get there. And now that they're working on opposite sides of the brewing Snell v. Navarro drug war, those battles are likely to get even more intense.

Ruth and Marty may bicker like a married couple, but her straight-shooting attitude is a breeze to deal with when compared to his actual wife.

Marty Byrde needs to keep one eye on Wendy

Ruth may drive Marty crazy, but she's limited in the ways she can hurt him. The same isn't true of Marty's literal partner in crime, his wife Wendy (Laura Linney). Despite their marital hiccups, Marty and Wendy have managed to work together to keep their heads above water while navigating the precarious position they've found themselves in. However, Wendy is far from a passive player in the criminal goings-on, and she's proven on more than one occasion that Marty has good reason to keep an eye on her.

Wendy's penchant for going behind Marty's back has been a feature of their relationship since we met the couple in episode 1 of the show. Back then, she was having an affair and was on the brink of leaving Marty altogether. To be fair to her, Marty was in the process of putting his entire family in mortal danger by getting in deep with the cartel. But still, throughout the run of the series, we've seen many examples that have pointed to the fact that the person Wendy is looking out for above all else is Wendy. Her behavior has even led some fans to speculate that in Ozark's fourth and final season, she might prove to be the ultimate villain of the series.

Sadly for Marty, the next chance he has to sit back and relax will likely be when he's dead. Until then, he'll have to keep following the rules.