The Sopranos

Ozark’s Finale Avoided The Sopranos Mistake (But Just Barely)

The series finale of Ozark nearly ends the same as The Sopranos, with a subtle difference saving the Netflix show from making the same mistake.

Ozark’s long-anticipated finale resolves many of the show’s biggest conflicts, though it nearly made the same mistake as the often-criticized final episode of The Sopranos. The Netflix crime series first aired in the summer of 2017, following the Byrde family’s rise to power after developing a money laundering business in the Lake of the Ozarks. For four seasons, Ozark has raised the stakes and increased the number of threats against the Byrde family. Along with the criminal activity, the show’s focus on the family dynamic between the Byrdes is similar to the approach taken in The Sopranos.

Comparisons between The Sopranos and Breaking Bad have often been made, but Ozark may have even more in common with the HBO series after the finale. The Sopranos ran for six successful seasons before ending in 2007, though its influence on the television industry is still apparent. The show follows New Jersey Italian-American mobster Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) as he leads a criminal organization. Like Ozark, the illegal activities in The Sopranos have a direct impact on the family at the center of the show.

The Sopranos frustrated audiences by cutting to black in the last moments of the series finale instead of offering concrete resolutions for the characters. Although The Sopranos creator later confirmed Tony’s death following this moment, the decision to cut to black instead of showing viewers this outcome resulted in an ambiguous ending. In the final moments of the last episode of Ozark, the scene similarly cuts to black during a tense interaction. The resolution of Ozark might have been as unclear as The Sopranos, if not for the sound of a shotgun blast heard over the black screen.

In the last season of Ozark, the Byrdes were looking for a way out of the life of crime that set them up in a position of power. As Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) worked to stabilize the Navarro cartel they have been laundering money for, Wendy (Laura Linney) established the Byrde Family Foundation for the family’s transition into the lucrative world of politics. Ozark’s season 4 ending sees the Byrdes making great sacrifices to achieve these goals, only to be met with one last obstacle. The family returns home to find private investigator Mel Sattem (Adam Rothenberg) waiting for them with evidence of their criminal activity. Sattem threatens to take down Marty and Wendy before their son Jonah (Skylar Gaertner) emerges from the home with a shotgun. Although the private investigator is still alive in the final moments of the show, the sound of a shotgun blast when the screen cuts to black suggests his death.

The ending for Ozark is somewhat open-ended, even if the shotgun sound heard at the end implies a resolution for the family’s story. Although Ozark’s season finale has been divisive, it is less ambiguous than the final moments of The Sopranos, which was also met with mixed reactions. The scene cuts to black abruptly in The Sopranos, while Tony sits at a diner with his family. What happens next is left for the audience to decide, whereas Ozark cut to black at a moment of inevitable violence. Although we don’t see the shotgun blast, hearing it is enough to understand that Jonah has killed Sattem. There is little ambiguity in the finale of Ozark, primarily because of the shotgun sound following the cut to black.

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