Obviously, spoilers for Ozark are contained within.
Netflix’s Ozark has come to a savage and shattering conclusion, and somehow, Marty Byrde (presumably) made it out alive with his family intact as well. Granted, we don’t really know what happened after the screen went black, but the suggestion was that Jonah killed Mel the Private Investigator as he clutched the goat-shaped cookie jar full of Ben’s ashes. (What a sentence.) Yep, unless Jonah went rogue again (doesn’t seem likely), the general consensus is that Marty, Wendy, Charlotte, and Jonah made it back to Chicago without being in coffins. And they even survived that rollover vehicle crash, which make zero sense, but alright. Let’s get onto the real point here, though.
What about Ruth Langmore? She lost the game, all because Javi’s mother, Camila, took revenge on everyone’s favorite spitfire over Javi’s death, which was (in and of itself) also an act of vengeance. So circular! And Marty ended up living in Ruth’s world, but since Wendy saved his ass, and someone major needed to be sacrificed before this show ended, Julia Garner threw herself on that grenade. And I’m not too mad about it, even though part of me wanted Ruth to surface in some Ozark movie one day, similar to Jesse Pinkman in El Camino within the Breaking Bad universe. We won’t get a Zombie Ruth, either, so let’s make the best of things while celebrating the season’s best scene.
I’m not talking about Ruth’s death scene, although that was a fitting end for her, given that she died as she lived: ferocious and stubborn as hell and shouting, “Well, are you gonna f*cking do this sh*t or what?” At this point, I’m convinced that she kind-of wanted to die, given that she’d lost Ben and Wyatt, and she was actually haunted (in a pleasant way) by Wyatt, to the point where it probably made her sad to be alive and beginning to live out their rich-people dreams without him. She’d cleaned up her record and could have built up her legit business, and so on. But that wasn’t in the cards for Ruth, and there’s a major hint that this would be the case in Season 4, Part 2’s premiere episode.
The scene in question is a poetic one in which Run The Jewels’ Killer Mike surfaces (as himself). It’s an understated yet powerful scene, and I love it so very much.
We got to see Ruth step out of Missouri when she headed to Chicago after confronting the Byrdes and learning who killed Wyatt. While she mulled over whether she could kill Javi, Ruth (who has been mainlining Nas’ “N.Y. State Of Mind” while driving and so on) stumbled upon one of her heroes at a diner. And of course, one would expect Ruth to acknowledge this with an “I really love your sh*t.” They then entered into a telling discussion about what Ruth’s listening to at that very moment. She’s thinking about Wyatt and life, and she mentions how Nas’ song is bittersweet and rife with equal parts of nostalgia and hatred.
Killer Mike considered this, admitting, “You know, when I listen to that record, his projects are in Queens, and you can kinda see Manhattan, and I’ve always thought it was so hopeful and f*cking cruel at the same time.” To which Ruth asked, “You ever wonder if he’d trade that record if it meant not having to go through all that sh*t?” And Killer Mike shruggingly responds, “I mean, you gotta ask the question…” From there, Ruth admits that she doesn’t sleep while explaining this omission with a “you know.” She receives an understanding nod from Killer Mike, and Ms. Langmore goes her way.
Although Ruth goes gangster during Ozark‘s final episodes, it’s fair to say that this scene gives us a look inside of her honest-to-god emotions, much more than she’s let anyone ever view before now (other than fury and contempt). It feels right that this episode is titled, “The Cousin Of Death,” which comes from a particular turn in Nas’ lyrics:
It drops deep as it does in my breath
I never sleep, ’cause sleep is the cousin of death
Beyond the walls of intelligence, life is defined
I think of crime when I’m in a New York state of mind
The scene’s a gift. Ruth is holding her own with one of her idols while they acknowledge a shared experience: Nas living in the projects while Ruth grew up in a trailer, observing privileged families visit her community as “vacation,” and although she’s fought her way out of the situation, what she’s experiencing now is, as Killer Mike declared, both “cruel” and “hopeful.” In the end, Ruth chooses chaos, and that chaos finds her amid interspersed scenes of kicking back on top of the trailer with Wyatt while they dream about being rich enough to build a swimming pool next to a lake.
Ever so briefly while Ruth clutched a coffee cup during a celebrity encounter, we got to see her act more alive we’ve seen her be during most of the show. She then essentially engineered her own ending by taking out Javi, but one can’t blame her; he embodied all of the cruelty that stole her hope away. Ruth persisted in beginning to build a dream home that Wyatt would love, but she never would have enjoyed any hopefulness without him. Also, Killer Mike exists in the Ozark universe. Oh, and those cookie jar ashes! Ozark is such a great show.
You can watch the full Killer Mike scene below:
Netflix’s ‘Ozark’ is currently streaming in its entirety.