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In Ozark Season 4, One Episode Stands Above The Rest

When the credits rolled on the "Ozark" Season 4, Part 1, the vengeful cry from Julia Garner's Ruth Langmore still rattled in our eardrums. That's when Ruth has always been at her best, though. In the cast of Netflix's cold crime drama, the brightest member of the Langmore family is always the wild card looking at the bigger picture. Throughout the entire series, Ruth serves as a loose cannon who talks a big game, something that occasionally gets her in enormous trouble. However, in her visit to the Byrde home following Wyatt's (Charlie Tahan) murder, it quickly becomes clear that Ruth is done playing games. Garner delivers a hair-raising scene, pushing her character to a limit that changes Ruth from someone the Byrdes should have never underestimated to one they should genuinely fear.

It's an impressive feat for the young entrepreneur to reach in a world that hosts the likes of Darlene Snell (Lisa Emery), Javi Elizzondro (Alfonso Herrera), and other criminals guaranteed to make your blood run cold. By taking away everything Ruth holds dear, the series transforms her into a powder keg waiting to explode, and it's in the first episode of the final season's second half that we finally see the true implications of this change. What's left in Ruth is a woman with a death wish, carrying the weight of what isn't just the best episode of the show's final season but also a highlight of the entire series.

The Ruth is on fire

It could be argued that much of "Ozark" is more about Ruth Langmore's story than it ever is about any individual member of the Byrde family. Ruth is a small-time hustler who becomes a worthy contender in the game of drugs, money, and double-crossing, but sadly never quite finds her place in the criminal underworld. Even with a mentor in Marty (Jason Bateman) and a future planner in Wyatt, her goals constantly set her apart from even her closest allies. Now, with one of the only people she could ever trust set to be buried, Season 4, Episode 8 ("The Cousin of Death") makes the bold choice of spending most of its time showing that Ruth is truly alone in this world.

It's territory we've rarely seen her in because the show spends so long making Ruth the loudest person in the room. Whether she is arguing with Marty, telling off Wendy (Laura Linney), or fighting with the law, Ruth regularly portrays a commanding presence. Here though, a significant amount of time is spent quietly fleshing out what Ruth was like before the Byrdes flew into her life, and the person she could be if she ever got away from them. From Ruth's deep dive into music with a cameoing Killer Mike to the season's many flashbacks with Wyatt, Garner masterfully uses a handful of bittersweet moments to show audiences what could have been and, most tragically, what will never be again.

The greatest death in the first episode isn't Javi, it's Ruth's relationship with the Byrdes

The confrontation between Ruth and her former business partners in Episode 8 ("The Cousin of Death") is the total antithesis of their meeting in Episode 7 ("Sanctified"). Whereas "Sanctified" shows Ruth consumed by rage and virtually frothing at the mouth, "The Cousin of Death" portrays a woman simply worn down and immovable in her goal. Wendy (Laura Linney) quickly accepts that she can't be reasoned with, and even Marty's classic negotiation skills fail him. Ruth has heard it all before and doesn't care to hear it again, certifying the irreparable break in the bond between the head of the Byrde house and his surrogate daughter. Ruth is heartbroken, but she acknowledges it all the same. "God, I used to love f****ing hear you talk," she says through tears, finally giving up listening to one of the few people she ever admired.

By this moment in the series, Ruth is deadset on breaking the seemingly never-ending cycle of tragedy following the birds. By murdering Javi, Ruth plans to avenge her cousin's life and attempt to move forward with her own. Ultimately, however, the death of one of the show's most feared characters is given very little attention. Ruth shoots Javi the second she lays eyes on him and doesn't say a word, leaving the Byrdes to clean up the mess. Ultimately, the focus of the scene is not on Javi's death, something that is little more than a formality once Ruth sets her sights on him, but is instead on the tragedy of Ruth's life. Ruth's actions leave her abandoned and alone, rounding off an effective examination of one of the show's greatest characters.