Ozark showrunner Chris Mundy explains Wendy’s hospital stay, saying it was both genuine and a manipulation tactic to get her children back.
Ozark showrunner Chris Mundy explains why Wendy Byrd checked herself into a mental institution in the show’s penultimate episode. Ozark released its final batch of episodes on Netflix on April 29, concluding its four-season story. The final episodes continued the show’s positive critical reception for its performances, direction, tone, and plot twists.
Ozark follows the Byrd family, with Marty (Jason Bateman) and Wendy (Laura Linney) laundering money for a large drug cartel to provide a future for their kids, Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz) and Jonah (Skylar Gaertner.) The last few episodes see the reemergence of Wendy’s father (Richard Thomas), who successfully sues for custody of Charlotte and Jonah to take them away from Marty and Wendy. As a result, Wendy checks herself into a psychiatric facility in the next episode, the same one her brother Ben (Tom Pelphrey) was placed in Ozark season 3.
When asked by TVLine, Mundy says Wendy’s decision was simultaneously genuine and a way to manipulate her children into staying in the Ozarks. He admits the show has always played with her mental state, implying she shares some of Ben’s disease. He goes on to say that Wendy would have stayed in the hospital if Charlotte and Jonah hadn’t come to visit her in the last episode, convincing her to come home. Read his quote below:
It was both a manipulation of her children and, also, completely real. We played with her sanity through the whole [series]. I don’t think she would’ve left if [Jonah and Charlotte] hadn’t visited.
It also helped that, as soon as they left the facility, the family got into the serious car wreck teased at the beginning of season 4, as a way of reaffirming their familial bond. As a result, the family is reestablished, which leads to Jonah’s actions in Ozark’s final scene, presumably shooting Mel Sattem (Adam Rothenberg) to protect Marty and Wendy from having their part in Ben’s death exposed. This final scene reinforces the show’s thesis that family comes above all else, slimly justifying violence.
Though Ozark’s finale was polarizing to fans, it has a clear line of cause-and-effect logic from the writers, the basis of all good storytelling. Wendy’s actions in the final episodes are entirely in character, having always been someone of emotional turmoil crossed with cold logic. No matter what her motivation, her plans worked and she was able to keep her family together, which was her ultimate goal for the entire series. In the end, there might not be any more Ozark, but the show’s consistency with characters like Wendy is just one of the many reasons it’s one of TV’s best crime dramas.
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