“Ozark” thoughts, Season One, Episode Five: “Ruling Days”

My favorite thing about Ozark at this point are its little character-developing filigrees — offshoots from the main branch of the narrative in which the supporting players, or even the main ones, are given a chance to show new sides of themselves. Ruth, the show’s perpetual MVP, gets one of the best such mini-arcs in the episode. Given responsibility for the strip club during the Fourth of July holiday weekend by Marty, she immediately turns it into a money-making machine by bringing on new staff. When one of the previous strippers (Marty’s informant, in fact) complains and implies that Ruth was involved in Bobby Dean’s death because “we all know who your daddy is,” Ruth viciously beats her right in the middle of the club, then orders everyone else to get back to work because they’ve got money to make. When Marty sees how well she’s done with the place, he hands the day-to-day operations over to her entirely, and she quite uncharacteristically beams with pride. Yet she still tails him to the storage locker where he’s hiding the cash — but the look on her face indicates another uncharacteristic emotion, that of guilt. In a few short scenes we see the best and worst of this character, some manifestations of which we’ve never seen before at all. It’s deftly done.

I reviewed the fifth episode of the increasingly engaging Ozark for Decider.

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