In Ozark, the Byrde family has a knack for getting into overwhelming trouble. Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) has a scheme to launder money for a Mexican drug cartel. After something goes wrong, Marty packs up his wife, Wendy Byrde (Laura Linney), and their kids for an abrupt move to the Ozarks — where he proceeds to set up an even more dangerous money laundering operation.
After four gripping seasons, Ozark, one of the best shows on Netflix, may finally come to an end. Every main character had a heart-wrenching, emotional arc that took fans on a twisted journey, making them see the world through their unique eyes. Like on similar shows, the Byrdes was an average, everyday family that got reluctantly caught up in the criminal underworld they naively thought would be easy to exit.
As they were forced to dive deeper and deeper into the illegal drug trade, they became ruthless, sometimes cruel, players in the game — if for no reason than a necessity to spare their own lives. Financial whiz Marty, played by Jason Bateman, appeared to be the only one desperate to get out. He maintained his moral compass and sense of empathy through to the end. Laura Linney’s Wendy, however, was a different story.
Wendy Byrde Was The Villain?
According to Digital Trends, Wendy was visibly dissatisfied with her life at the on-set. She resented her husband, and to some degree, her children, for keeping her from pursuing her career. This anger was later intensified when she discovered the danger her husband put them in with his illegal extra-curricular activities.
Ozark seemed initially like Breaking Bad meets Narcos, except Marty, the assumed protagonist, became more like the knowledgeable and quick-thinking Saul Goodman, who was called upon to get nefarious wrongdoers out of a jam, and Wendy was the female Walter White who saw an opportunity beyond just doing what they were told.
She quickly embraced her newfound leadership role, relishing in the power she possessed, even if she had to look over her shoulder at every turn. She thrived at making decisions to benefit her interests, regardless of if they hurt anybody else. She convinced herself, and others, that it was just about win-win scenarios. If they have to do this, why not benefit from it in the best possible way, even if it meant hanging around a little longer?
Most troubling is that Wendy did this with a sense of unsettling ease. Whether the decision directly put Marty in harm’s way, threatened Ruth’s life, or stabbed a former partner in the back, she showed little fear with her smug, menacing smile.
Wendy’s reign of terror affected everyone around her, including her children, who grew to deeply dislike their mother. It’s easy to believe that her dramatic theatrics when begging her father not to take them were simply to keep up appearances for the sake of her foundation.
How could she be trusted by the public if she wasn’t a loving wife and mother, after all? Her motives were part self-serving and part fear of her father’s tyrannical influence turning her kids against her.
Fans Also Agree That Wendy Byrde Was The Villain
Quoted from Looper, Reddit user Yotortellini took to r/Ozark to start a discussion titled “Wendy is the main bad guy of the show.” No matter what your views on the subject are, Yotortellini makes some very compelling arguments to back up their assertion. First, they note, “Wendy is a Junkie. Not with drugs but for the feeling of being [in] danger,” before citing the fact that many of the issues the Byrdes have found themselves in lately arose from Wendy’s decisions.
Marty and Wendy’s new fealty to the Navarro Cartel is a prime example: “She has chosen the cartel over everyone else in the world including her brother.” Yotortellini goes on to make the case that Marty’s role in their crimes is as an enabler to Wendy (Laura Linney), rather than as the driving force behind them. They posit, “Marty’s problem is that he still loves her and is blinded by the fact that she is destroying their relationships with everyone.”
So how will this dynamic be resolved? Yotortellini offers their thoughts: “It has been made abundantly clear that Wendy will not walk away from this life of crime … Marty will start to realize Wendy’s true colors when it comes to dealing with Ruth and Wyatt and how she has no intention of leaving the cartel, then he will finally realize what he has to do.”
Some People Disagree That Wendy Byrde Was The Villain
Slash Film stated that Wendy’s terrible actions come from her desperation to keep her family safe — she loves her children so ferociously she won’t hesitate to kill for them – but that isn’t the only reason Wendy acts. She also enjoys power. Marty has made it clear many times that he’d be content to run off to the Gold Coast, give into witness protection or even do some jail time for the sake of survival.
On the other hand, Wendy doesn’t just want to survive — she wants the Byrdes to stay together and thrive. As Linney said, Wendy doesn’t thwart Marty for the sake of taking him down. She certainly diverges from his plans and tends to pull the rug out from under him, but ultimately it’s because she wants the Byrdes to succeed. If this is their story, then how can the family’s greatest champion be their villain?