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Ozark - Blue Cat - Review: "Don't hide money under the bed"

As they arrive to the Lake of the Ozarks, Wendy and Marty start building their news lives while their children try to make sense of the new reality they live in.

Following the Byrdes' arrival to Missouri, the family find temporary shelter in a crappy motel. While him and his wife get to work immeditely, Marty instructs his kids to stay put and keep an eye on the room, forbidding anyone who isn't named Byrde to enter it. Little do Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz) and Jonah (Skylar Gaertner) know that their father is hiding eight million dollars under the bed. Marty and Wendy set off to find house and work. They episode pretty much starts with an explosive argument between what is left of the couple, Wendy getting emotional while Marty, stone-faced, declares that they are not husband and wife anymore, only "business partner." He sends her to find them a house while he goes off on a quest to find a business for his money laundry scheme.

Quickly, the Ozarks reveal themselves to not be the money laundry paradise that Marty imagined but much more of a struggling place, where no one seems to be open to do business with the outsider from Chicago, and where finding a decent house comes with a price (when Wendy does find a house she likes, she learns that it comes with the current owner, who will remain there on his death bed until he passes away).

Meanwhile, the kids are not thrilled by their new situation, and both end up disobeying their dad's instruction not to leave the motel. As Charlotte and Jonah go on separate adventures, the room is robbed and Marty goes home to find part of the eight million missing. Perfectly aware of the consequences if the cartel finds out some of the money is gone, Marty goes after the robbers. It turns out that the cleaning lady of the motel is involved. Ruth Langmore (Julia Garner) reveals herself to be part of a shady "redneck" family whom Marty ends up confronting. In a very salesman manner, he explains to them that they do not want to be stealing from a Mexican cartel. Once again, Marty gets his way, but not without making some obvious new enemies. At the end of the episode, he finally finds a place, the Blue Cat Lodge, where he can start his money laundry business. Meanwhile in Chicago, the FBI finds the remains of Bruce and Co. and one agent, Roy Petty (Jason Butler Harner) decides to go after Marty, convinced that he has something to hide.

The episodes focuses on struggles: the struggle of building a new life in a unwelcoming environment when you don't even want to be there in the first place, the struggles of having your parents redefine your way of leaving without an explanation or having a say in the matter. "Blue Cat" also explores the struggles of a dying marriage and takes a closer look at what Wendy and Marty are willing to do for each other. Towards the end of the episode, Marty considers killing himself, therefore allowing his family to be free and to collect his life insurance money. When he discusses his plan with Wendy, she tries to convince him to do otherwise, as if despite everything, she is still attached to this flawed man. In the end, Marty realizes his plan is not going to work out the way he would like, and goes back to Wendy and the kids.

If the episode explores some interesting ideas, it is not always as subtle as it could be. Marty is conflicted in a very obvious manner, he is literally standing over the edge of a cliff. However, Ozark is keeping up with the tension it introduced in its pilot and does a good job keeping things going at a decent pace. Some will binge the entire season in a matter of days, but I'll try to keep in slow, giving it time to sink in a little bit. Stay tuned for the upcoming review of episode 3...