‘Ozark’ Season 3 Episode 2 Recap: “Civil Union”

Ozark Season 3 Episode 2
Jason Bateman, Janet McTeer, and Laura Linney in ‘Ozark’ season 3 episode 2 (Photo by Steve Dietl / Netflix)

Season three episode two of Netflix’s critically acclaimed drama Ozark opens with a man teaching a class. Suddenly cellphones start to go off, disrupting the class. One of the students is visibly upset at what she received on her phone and shows the teacher. He begins to lecture the students but loses his cool, yelling and cursing at them. He takes their phones outside and puts them in a woodchipper. When the man operating the machine questions the teacher, he begins to beat up the worker.

Marty (Jason Bateman) and Ruth (Julia Garner) pay a visit to Frank Cosgrove (John Bedford Lloyd). Frank warns him that they have issues because of what Ruth did to “his boy.” Marty offers him an extra 10%, but Frank wants her fired. Marty informs Frank his son threatened to rat them out. Frank Jr. (Joseph Sikora) claims they’re lying. Frank Sr. wants 15% instead. Marty agrees but warns Ruth is untouchable.

Wendy (Laura Linney) is back at the office looking for lakefront property when Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz) hands her information on the casino she wants to take over. She begins to question her mom, asking why if this other casino was their idea Marty didn’t go to Chicago with her? Wendy uses the excuse that it takes Marty some time to get used to new ideas.

Marty walks in and sees paperwork concerning a house and a casino. He asks Wendy, “What’s this? You bought a new house and a new casino without me?” She informs him it’s a rental property for Helen; it appears she’s moving to the Ozarks. Marty’s not in the least bit happy with this news. He thinks it’s a bad idea and they should have just kept their heads down. Wendy begs to differ; she believes it’s a good thing Helen is moving there.

Marty is sure they can get still out of this. Deals go bad all the time. Wendy says they’re not getting out of it. “You’re saying that because you don’t want to. I want you to admit something. Admit this is all about you and has nothing to do with what is best for the family,” says Marty. Wendy begins raising her voice, insisting this is her finding their only real way out of it.

Marty tells Wendy she’s starting to sound like Helen.

After their argument, Marty and Wendy visit the couple who own the casino Wendy wants to purchase. Wendy’s doing all the talking as they go over their financials. They are at a 35% drop. Carl (Adam LeFerve) doesn’t seem interested. Wendy looks to Marty for help. He jumps in talking numbers. The wife seems interesting and by the looks of it wears the pants in the relationship.

Shortly after the meeting, Wendy and Anita (Marceline Hugot) take a walk through the casino. Anita believes she can get Carl to change his mind.

Marty’s with Carl looking at the casino that opened across the river and Carls says the new casino’s going to have a big firework show for Memorial Day weekend. Marty cuts him off and begins working on Carl, but not in the way Wendy would want him to. He asks Carl, “Why don’t you hold onto this?” Carl questions if this is some kind of reverse psychology. Marty replies, “This is just one man telling another man not to give up on his dreams.” Carl thinks his wife would never go for it. Marty clearly picked up on the fact Anita runs the show in their relationship and believes Carl’s desires have been in the backseat long enough.

Helen’s driving to the Ozarks with her children while her teenage daughter’s having a meltdown over leaving boots in Chicago. Somehow that’s Helen’s fault. Her daughter’s even dropping the F-bomb and it’s directed at her mother. (It seems big bad cartel lawyer Helen doesn’t have a backbone when it comes to her spoiled kids.) Helen’s trying to calm her daughter down when their phones go off from an Amber Alert. Her son informs her the Amber Alert is about them. Apparently, her ex-husband had it put out.

Pulling over, Helen calls her ex-husband demanding to know why he put out an alert. He claims she took the kids two days earlier than she was allowed to. He’ll drop the alert if she just returns their son because he has sports.

Marty and Wendy are driving home when Carl calls and informs them they’re not ready to sell. Wendy doesn’t seem to understand. She begins to talk about the numbers but Carl cuts her off stating it was nice meeting them and hanging up. Wendy immediately questions Marty wanting to know what they talked about. Marty tells her they talked about marriage and being in business with their wives.

Next, Wendy and Helen are looking at properties with Helen and the conversation changes from why the deal with the new casino fell through to Helen going off about her ex-husband. She admits she doesn’t want him dead, so her children will still have a father, but she dreams about him getting his ass kicked every now and then.

Helen thinks maybe her ex could sense she was keeping things from him. She wonders if they would still be together if she told him everything. Wendy thinks that just trades one set of problems for another. She nonchalantly says, “Ask our therapist.” Maybe Wendy shouldn’t have let that slip because right away she assures Helen that she and Marty are very careful.

In Michoacán, Mexico a speeding vehicle stops in front of a gated house dropping off two headless men with cash shoved down their necks.

The man we saw having a meltdown at the beginning of the episode shows up at the casino. Ruth spots him just sitting at a slot machine not playing and confronts him. She accuses him of being a cheater and asks who’s helping him. He insists he’s not a cheat and is just enjoying his cup of coffee. She calls security over to kick him out but the man quickly informs Ruth that he’s good friends with the owners. Ruth thinks he’s full of it and doesn’t hold back while telling him so. She calls his bluff and begins to call the Byrdes. Beginning to stammer, he tells her he’s Wendy Byrde’s brother, Ben (Tom Pelphrey), and he’d rather wait until morning to tell her he’s in town.

Marty’s not happy about her brother being there but lets him stay anyway. As Wendy’s getting him settled in, she questions why he’s there. He insists he’s fine and wanted to see her. She asks if he lost the teaching job and he claims the job ended with a mutual understanding.

Wendy seems to be keeping secrets from Marty so he installed software on her phone just to listen to her conversations. He’s listening in when Helen calls to let Wendy know her client has more money to offer the owners of the casino. Wendy asks Helen to go with her instead of Marty. Of course, Helen questions if there’s a problem she should know about. Wendy quickly tells her no.

Marty goes to see Frank Cosgrove while Wendy and Helen are offering Carl and Anita 20% over market value. The scene jumps back and forth between Marty’s meeting and Wendy’s. Marty fills Frank in on their casino, explaining the problem is there’s a brand-new casino across the river that’s a rival. Frank wants to know what Marty’s getting at. He reveals they need the other casino shut down for a while. Frank tells Marty that’s a big ask so Marty assures him he’ll get the new trucking contract at the new casino.

Carl’s not happy when Helen plays the “bad guy” and claims they were trying to help him but now they can just wait and buy the casino from the bank once they take it over. Breaking down, Carl agrees to sign the papers.

Wendy gets a call in the middle of the night and it’s Navarro. He wants to know what’s going on with his casino and begins to tell her an odd story about his maid falling. He asks Wendy if that’s a bad omen. Marty’s listening to their conversation and hears Wendy says she thinks it was just an accident. Returning to bed, Marty asks who was on the phone. Wendy lies and says it was Helen.

Wendy and Jonah are shopping when they run into Darlene (Lisa Emery) and Zeke in the parking lot. Wendy tries to cover the baby from the sun and crazy Darlene uncovers him, comparing children to cornstalk in that they both need sun. After she walks away, Jonah (Skylar Gaertner) is clearly upset Darlene has baby Zeke. Wendy tries to assure him it’s only temporary.

Helen gives her daughter, Erin (Madison Thompson), new boots and apologizes for all kinds of things. Erin responds with a smartass reply, saying she’s really starting to like the Ozarks. When Helen questions if that’s true, she tells her mom no.

Darlene’s in her kitchen talking to herself when Wyatt (Charlie Tahan) comes in. She continues to talk to herself and when Wyatt asks what she’s talking about, she explains she was talking to her dead husband. She asks Wyatt if he talks to anyone and he opens up about talking to his dad. She’s sorry about all the loss he’s experienced in his life and he confesses it’s okay because it’s the Langmore curse. She tells him that’s bullsh*t. His daddy might have been useless, and his daddy’s daddy might have been garbage, but before that the Langmores were a prominent family.

Changing the subject, she asks where he’s currently living. He admits he’s been sleeping in his car and Darlene offers to let him stay in a cabin that’s located on her property.

The Byrdes are having a BBQ and invite Helen and her daughter to join them. Wendy takes Erin inside to introduce her to Charlotte and Jonah.

Frank Jr. and another man head over to the rival casino and start sneaking around.

Jonah’s flying his drone around when he notices Erin and Charlotte talking. His Uncle Ben gives him the idea to spy on them. (He seems to like Erin.)

Speaking of Erin, she’s asking Charlotte to take her to party cove.

Back to Frank Jr. and his friend, they’re pouring something into the fireworks display. Shortly after the fireworks go off, the casino boat catches fire.

Wendy gets a call from Anita informing her the deal is off because the other casino has gone up flames. Anita’s attitude toward Wendy has changed because she claims she and that lesbian lawyer (apparently she thinks Helen is a lesbian) humiliated her husband. Wendy gets angry but it’s Anita who hangs up.

As Wendy and Helen are trying to figure out what to do next, Marty asks if anyone was hurt in the fire. Helen says, “Who knows and who cares?” Wendy is instantly suspicious of Marty for asking that question.

Ruth’s testing some kind of cheating system on the slot machine when she realizes it works. This seems to excite her.

Ozark Season 3 Episode 2
Tom Pelphrey in ‘Ozark’ season 3 episode 2 (Photo by Steve Dietl / Netflix)

Marty has a talk with Ben and thinks it’s a good idea for him to leave because Wendy hasn’t been herself lately. Ben thinks he’s wrong and reveals this is the first time he’s seen her be herself in years. Ben confesses the truth about why he’s there – he skipped a bench warrant in North Carolina.

Ruth finds Wendy in the office and asks what the slots look like at the other casino. Ruth believes what she found out can help with the other casino. Wendy tells Ruth she can let her know all about it in the car.

Marty’s at the casino and is surprised when he spots Helen. She gets right to the point, asking what he thinks happened to the other casino. She wants to know why Wendy looked like she thought Marty had something to do with the fire and he plays dumb. She drops a bombshell, revealing he should be glad Wendy and Ruth got them back on track. That clearly rattles him, judging by the look on his face. Helen can tell he’s shaken up and says, “Oh, you didn’t know?” He lies and says of course he does, he was just surprised she knew so soon.

Ruth and Wendy enlist the help of Sam and the strippers, and all the slot machines start going off. Concerned, Marty calls Ruth and questions her about what’s going on. He’s angry and yells at her, but she yells right back. She reminds him it’s not her problem his house isn’t in order and suggests he work on that. Until then, he can f*ck off.

Carl and Anita come to check out what all the commotion’s about. Wendy lets her evil side show, telling them if they don’t sign she’ll continue to do this to their slot machines every single day.

Wendy and Helen celebrate their win and when Wendy excuses herself to get more champagne, Helen takes that opportunity to call her ex-husband. While they’re on the phone he gets jumped. She clearly set that up.

Marty’s in the casino office when a much-too-happy Agent Evans (McKinley Belcher III) shows up and hands Marty a warrant. Marty questions what it is and Evans, still smiling, explains, “A warrant signed by a federal judge that was triggered the minute you purchased a second casino.”

Sitting down and making himself comfortable, Agent Evans informs Marty it’s an audit of their whole operational system. A team of forensic accountants will supervise every casino transaction as it happens.

Wendy and Helen’s little celebration is short-lived when Marty comes home to inform them they have new partners in the casino. He hands Wendy the warrant and she reads it, suddenly worried. Marty’s staring at her with that “I told you so” look as the episode ends.