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Why Jonah's Question To Erin In Ozark Means More Than You Think

"Ozark" is full of moments of foreshadowing that hint at certain events that come to pass later in the series. From the symbols on the title cards at the beginning of each episode to actual events on the show, there are plenty of breadcrumbs for fans to piece together as they try to solve the mysteries the show sets up. The deaths of many characters seem to be foreshadowed, including Darlene (Lisa Emery), Wyatt (Charlie Tahan), Ruth (Julia Garner), Frank Cosgrove (John Bedford Lloyd), and Omar Navarro (Felix Solis). In a Reddit thread, users correctly predicted the deaths of several of these characters in Season 4 based on details from earlier in the show.

In Season 3, Episode 3, Jonah Byrde (Skylar Gaertner) is driving a boat on Lake Ozark with his sister, Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz), and their friend Erin Pierce (Madison Thompson), who is the daughter of the Navarro cartel's lawyer, Helen Pierce (Janet McTeer). Unlike the Byrde children, Erin does not know that her mother works for a cartel, and she is not involved with her mother's criminal activities. In fact, Erin was considered one of the "Ozark" characters most likely to survive Season 4. Jonah and Charlotte have been forbidden from discussing the truth with Erin, but Jonah feels morally conflicted about this.

After asking Erin her middle name, Jonah follows up with the strange question "Would you rather die by a firing squad or drowning?" Although this might seem like a random "would you rather" question that a teenager would ask his friend, it actually has a deeper meaning later on.

What does Jonah's question mean?

In another Reddit thread, u/Detzeb pointed out the significance of Jonah's question. It is not just a random hypothetical, but actually foreshadows what happens to Erin's mother, Helen. The mention of a firing squad represents the actual murder method the cartel ends up using to kill Helen: They shoot her. The mention of drowning represents water torture methods the cartel uses to extract information from Helen. Jonah's question attempts to reveal the danger Erin's mother is in without discussing the topic directly.

Sadly, Jonah's words are lost on Erin at the time. After Jonah asks the question, Charlotte and Erin both screw up their faces in disgust, and Charlotte says, "Jonah, stop acting insane." Just then, some teenagers come to pick up Erin and Charlotte for a party, leaving Jonah alone, and the scene ends.

Jonah's question represents his desire to tell the truth and act morally, which is being inhibited by his parents' rules. He feels conflicted because his value of honesty is currently in opposition to his value of family loyalty (both of which are part of why he's one of the most likable main characters on "Ozark"). Unfortunately, Erin's reaction to Jonah's question represents how she is blinded by her sense of what is normal and is thus unable to see the truth about what is happening right under her nose.