Of the little ones strokes sounds punctuate the first seconds of the pilot episode of Ozark. This effect is similar to the tolling of a pendulum clock which marks the flow of our existence. The background is black. Then, a slight fade opens up to the image of a lake of colour blu dark, on which a wooden boat is anchored. In the background, the chirping of crickets which contribute to the cadence of the narrative sequence. We are in the middle of the evening. The dark colors and swampy setting create an atmosphere that is not at all relaxed. This is enough to make us feel tremendously anxious already. After that, we are captivated by the words and deeds of Marty Byrde, The protagonist. Almost irritating, at first, having to merge the visual plane with the auditory one. In a succession of sudden and frenetic actions, we perceive the anguish of the consequences resulting from a choice. Disturbing, since we still don’t know the cause. Intriguing, if to soften the backlash is Marty’s narrative voice who, word after word, feeds us to let us savor his vision of the world, as if it were a justification for his behavior. A materialistic and cynical vision that immerses us totally in the story. To explain, in conclusion, that the money – central theme of Ozark – is not synonymous with inner peace or happiness, but it is “in its essence, the measure of every man’s choices“.
This is the beginning of Sugarwood, the first installment of the series broadcast by Netflix. A begins which is stuffed with the American dream and professional ethics. A reductionist version of money, similar to a measuring tool. An engine on which human choices depend, in fact. Marty Byrde introduces himself to the viewer through a monologue about two minutes to reveal his obsession with the dollar. A condition that catapults him into a fatal vortex of choices and compromises. Thus, thebegins becomes, itself, the consequence of the beginning of the story of Ozark. In which everything is now irreversible and inevitable. A full chest bullet that immediately creates a sense of unease and tension. And Introduces the dramatic tone and raw of the series, immediately tracing the coordinates. but thebegins it’s just a small piece of a well-built scaffolding. Because what strikes us is, in fact, the episode in its entirety.
The first episode of Ozark is functional not only because it keeps the tension high throughout its duration, but also because it follows a very precise narrative structure.
And it is precisely the writing that makes it explosive. There division into acts it is flawless. The direction, in the same way, fits perfectly with the pressing rhythms of the narration. After two and a half minutes we finally breathe a sigh: the moment we see Marty conducting a consultancy in his Chicago office.
The instant that marks the beginning of Ozark history
The first act suddenly projects us into the character’s life, almost without realizing it. Many nuances to be grasped in fourteen minutes, the duration necessary to introduce the drama of the character. Marty is first and foremost a skilled financial advisor, with a good dialectic and commercial spirit. He is also a husband and father of two children. An apparently ordinary life that develops among the skyscrapers and streets of a Chicago that still offers the illusion of the American dream. But his married life does not seem to be the best. A sudden email, the content of which is unexpectedly an amateur porn video, catches his attention, while he is drawing up an investment plan for two clients. Until his colleague Bruce arrives at the office, he is ready to restore the negotiation between the parties. Friend and partner, Bruce invites Marty to question his marital situation after noticing the video and gives it to him a brochure of the lake of Ozark – a tourist area suitable for family relaxation, but also a fertile ground for investment. The marital crisis takes shape when we viewers discover that the woman in the video is Wendy, his wife. A betrayal that makes its way through the squabbles and family silences. But Marty’s unsettling indifference shows us the apathy and flatness of a man who seems to have lost control of his life and the hope of being recognized as a husband and father of a family.
An unexpected phone call from Bruce awakens the protagonist from his existential torpor
And the primo plot point which marks the transition from the first to the second act and drags the protagonist into a whirlwind of complications. Yes, because Del Rio has arrived in town. Yes, because Marty and Bruce actually launder money for a Mexican drug cartel. Yes, because Del Rio is eight million dollars missing from the shipment and is violently looking for it. A tension already experienced inbegins, to which is now added a feeling of danger that takes your breath away. Like Marty, we viewers are also unaware of the theft. There is Del’s gun pointed at his temples, however, which blows up any claim of innocence. Bruce and the owners of the transport company finally confess that they are really responsible. Thus, their heads are also blown. Because death in Ozark it is not a threat or a promise, but it happens and is lightning fast. The protagonist is on his knees waiting his turn. The compliance can be seen in his eyes, but a flash of genius awakens his skills as a salesman: from his trouser pocket, he fishes the lake brochure Ozark and show it to Del. This is an object to which we gave little importance in the first act, but here it re-emerges with all its symbolic value. A pay off that rekindles lost hope and sets history back in motion. A functional element to the story that connects the first and second acts. Marty overcomes the conflict and stays alive thanks to the brochure: salvation is the escape to the Ozarkssouth of Missouri, a junction free and far from the control of the police e FBIwhere to continue the recycling business for the cartel.
Move and return the stolen money in two days, clean up five hundred million in four years
This is the agreement made with Del. A goal to be achieved, which gives rise to the third act and which coincides with the second plot point. We are at the point of no return so it is impossible to re-establish the initial dynamics. The rhythms are not relaxing yet, because the race against time has now begun – time lock – for our protagonist, and everything travels at a frenetic pace. There is a new balance to restore, but first we need to find eight million liquids to give to Del. Marty Byrde, after having touched the darkness with his hand, regains light and is reborn. He returns to actively exploiting his witty, schematic, managerial mind to face the obstacle: he involves Wendy, puts the car and the house up for sale, and negotiates with the banks to withdraw the money. There is something that seems to put the protagonist in crisis – the apparent defeat: a hesitation by Wendy who confides what has happened to her lover, and the bank’s complications in finding immediate liquidity. Two obstacles that are dissolved, in the frenzy and tension, between the third and fourth acts. Del Rio throws Wendy’s lover from a skyscraper, having learned of her misdeeds, while Marty threatens the bank to tarnish her reputation, immediately obtaining the cash required.
In the fourth act, which unties the knots and projects us to the final act, we experience a phase of relaxation. The pace slows down, the character is aware that it is impossible to go back. There is only one solution: move to the Ozarks, start a new life, recreate conjugal and family complicity, invest and clean up money, accepting the cartel’s rules. In fact, Marty will have to immediately launder those eight million as proof of his honesty and ability, as soon as he sets foot in the new state.
The Byrde family are driving towards the lake of Ozark.
A some point in our lives there comes a darkness – There’s a spaceship blocking the sky and nowhere to hide – you cover yourself and plug your ears – but it’s the loudest sound you’ve ever heard – and we people trapped in rags – we are unable to resist
Decks Dark – Radiohead
The notes of the song of the Radiohead they emerge in the background and open up to the finale. Marty gets out of the car, walks towards the Missouri woods for a physiological need, leaving Wendy and the children in the car. He collapses to the ground, feeling the effects of the tension he experienced, he seems exhausted. He asks forgiveness, perhaps to himself or indirectly to his family. In despair, he closes with the past. He agrees to look ahead, beyond himself, ready for a new challenge, aware that something has happened and it is impossible to resist him. He gets up, continues straight towards the cliff. He suddenly he sees the lake Ozarkthat lake of color blu dark of the opening scenes. He gets sucked into it. We too feel immersed in that colour. Meanwhile, the family is also approaching, to observe the blue from above.
A drone takes off from the cliff and soars. For the first time, we see the entire Byrde family in one shot. This time it’s united. For a new beginning. For a leap towards the dark and deep waters of the lake Ozark.
The post The Ozark pilot is a bomb and should be taught in film classes appeared first on Hall of Series.
Leave a Reply