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The Worst Thing Wendy Byrde From Ozark Has Done

As any fan of Netflix's austere crime drama Ozark can tell you, the act of watching the series can often feel like one of absolute attrition. The show continues to test the mettle of even its most devoted fans, boasting a narrative as bracing, bleak, and bloody as any to hit the small screen in recent years and teasing unseen levels of carnage in its upcoming fourth (and final) season. The show's intensity is the direct result of its creatives conjuring a veritable rogue's gallery of personas to populate their narrative.

While nary a single character in the current Ozark landscape has managed to keep their hands completely clean since Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) moved to town, there are obviously those whose hands are a bit dirtier than others. And even as Marty continues to shovel deeper into the Ozark darkness alongside the likes of Darlene Snell (Lisa Emery), most viewers would be quick to point out that Marty's ambitious wife Wendy (Laura Linney) is undoubtedly carrying the biggest shovel on the show these days.

The matriarch of the Byrde clan has indeed been busy, busy, busy digging herself and her family into a hole that may prove too deep to escape since she discovered the truth behind Marty's shady dealings as the Navarro Cartel's master money launderer. But things took a genuinely shocking turn for Wendy in season 3 when her mentally unstable brother Ben (Tom Pelphrey) turned up and promptly turned the Byrdes' lives and operations upside down. The chaos Ben wrought on the Byrdes' already tenuous existence understandably required action, but even Ozark die-hards were shocked by Wendy's seemingly heartless response, which remains the worst thing she's ever done on the show.

Wendy's shocking betrayal was one of Ozark's most heartbreaking dramatic twists

That last statement may ultimately require a "yet" as Wendy Byrde is certainly not done making bold moves in the name of the Byrdes' interests. But yeah, it'll be hard to top abandoning her own brother and handing him over to cartel killers. That jaw-droppingly unexpected move already led the fiery Ruth Langmore (Julia Garner) to part ways with the Byrdes and throw in with Darlene, but the ramifications of Ben's departure have not yet fully been felt, with young Jonah Byrde (Skylar Gaertner) reeling from the news that his mom is actually to blame for his beloved uncle's absence (and likely murder).

But even as Ozark's creative team is clearly looking to wring further drama from the Ben narrative, viewers generally agree the Wendy-Ben storyline already provided the series with some of its most electrifying and heart-wrenching drama yet. Many would likely rank the episode in which the siblings so unimaginably parted ways among the series finest to date. That fateful parting came in the ninth episode of season 3, which was focused almost entirely on Wendy's desperate scramble to find an out for Ben and Ben completely failing to understand not only that his actions cannot be righted but also that they have dire consequences.

Titled "Fire Pink," that episode also found Pelphrey and Linney in career-best mode throughout, respectively humanizing the anguish of mental illness and the utter agony of an unfathomable betrayal in visceral, emotionally raw fashion. For Pelphrey, the episode triumphantly capped a fairly up-and-down run on Ozark, ensuring Ben's impact on the narrative will indeed be a lasting one. As for Linney, well, such powerful work has sort of become the standard for her over the years, and we cannot wait to see the energy she brings to Ozark moving forward.