Yes, she died, he shot him, and it all somehow ended on Al Green's love serenades. As the Ozark series finale faded to black, questions about how a show people invested years of their lives into could end the way it did lit up across social media. Some fans questioned the logic behind killing off one of the most beloved characters in the series. Some fans wondered how Season 4 could end the way it did without another season succeeding it. A lot of fans are confused about how the Byrdes could build their illegitimate empire on destroyed lives without anyone from their nuclear family having as much as a scratch on their face by the time the final credits roll.
Series finales are almost inherently divisive, and Ozark's has been no exception. However, after watching the series finale, at least one person had no lingering questions: Ozark showrunner Chris Mundy. To Mundy, who has sole writing credit (and blame?) for the episode, the controversial moments of the series finale all have explanations introduced in the previous 43 episodes. The Byrdes surviving, Ruth dying, and even why one of the sweetest Al Green songs came after a climactic gunshot all have explanations. The final episode of Ozark is entitled "A Hard Way To Go"; Maybe Men's Health's conversation with Mundy can make parting ways with Ozark a little bit easier.
MH: Why did you decide to kill Ruth? Why not let her survive?
Chris Mundy: I think it would've felt false. I agonized over it. I didn't sleep for weeks. I'm not just saying that. I think it would've been really false. It would've been some sort of fairy tale and a strange way to think, karmically, the Byrdes could get away completely scot-free. They’ve been sort of an invasive species on everyone in the Ozarks. It just felt like the most truthful thing. In a lot of ways, in that first episode of these back seven, they more or less lay it out. They're like, look, if you go after Javi, you might get revenge, but then it's going to undo everything for us. And it's going to make you a target.
It’s almost like a prophecy, and Ruth went ahead and killed him anyway. In a strange way, it's like a myth, and there's a prophecy, and it comes true. It would've felt too easy and too tidy to let everybody get away. And obviously, it's incredibly painful, because it's everybody's favorite character on the show.
Are you prepared for the backlash you're going to get for this final scene of the series?
Not entirely. I know it's coming. I'll be curious. The last three or four minutes total of the show are going to be… I think some people are going to love it and some people are going to not be as happy.
Why cut off the last scene and leave it open-ended before we saw who was shot?
I don't think that is so open-ended. I think of it as definitive. I think that shot got fired, and that is that. I'm happy not to see it. For me, there's not a big question mark. I think you can take it literally. I just think your relationship to it would feel different if you actually saw the image.
How long did you know this was going to be the last scene?
Pretty early on in the making of the final season. So, that's about two years ago. Some specifics we knew early in Season 4. Generally, I knew pretty early between Seasons 1 and 2. I had a pretty decent idea.
Why the juxtaposition between such a gruesome scene and a beautiful Al Green song, "Love and Happiness"?
In some ways, the family had been pulled back together. The family stayed together because of money laundering, in a strange way, going back to Season 1, if Bruce hadn't got killed. Then Marty and Wendy were getting divorced, and this family was being torn apart. In some strange way, crime held them together.
Then they kind of had broken apart a bit over the course of the last season and, in a strange way, just a bit of violence brought them back together. I'm not saying that's a good thing. I'm just saying that's what happens. So, in one way, this is their family. This is the karma they're dragging around. I wanted it to be the positive of the family staying together, and then also play the song against the darkness of what actually happened and have them stick together.
Final seasons usually call back to the episodes from the series as a whole. Any other easter eggs or callbacks fans should be aware of?
I mean, Jonah shooting Mel at the end is a callback to the finale of Season 1, where he's got this assault rifle that he doesn't know Buddy's unloaded. And then Buddy comes in and saves the day, and they hit the road, and Buddy shoots the guy. But that was a direct call back to almost the same situation. And this time, it happens, and he goes through with it. I think for those of us who made the show, getting the Langmores who passed together— Russ, Boyd, Cade, and Wyatt–in the scene where Ruth sees them all in the compound, was really important to all of us. It was a nice foreshadowing, in a weird way, that Ruth was not going to make it, but she was going to be with them.
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