Jackson Davis/Netflix
July 21, 2017 at 12:51 PM EDT

Netflix is inviting you on a family trip to the Lake of the Ozark, but this one you may not find very relaxing. In fact, we’d bet a lot of money on it. Maybe, say, $8 million.

Jason Bateman stars in Ozark (available July 21) as a thoughtful financial planner in Chicago who must relocate his wife (Laura Linney) and two kids (Sofia Hublitz, Skylar Gaertner) to the Missouri vacation destination to launder $8 million for drug lord Del (Esai Morales). We should mention that Marty and his business partner, Bruce (Josh Randall), have been working for Del for awhile now, and he suspects that the pair has been skimming off the top. We should also mention that Marty is in wayyyy over his head.

“Things go sideways when he tries to ‘big-city’ some of these local religious zealots or meth-heads or biker gangs,” Bateman told EW. “Marty might underestimate the intelligence or savviness of what he perceives to be a simpler, less complicated breed of person. There’s a physical danger, emotional danger, financial danger. That learning curve is steep for him — and it costs some people some lives.”

Here, Bateman — who also serves an executive producer and director of the series — breaks down a pivotal scene from the first episode that sets the action in malevolent motion. (His numbered annotations can be found below.)


1. WHO’S THE BOSS? “Del [Esai Morales] runs the second-largest drug cartel in Mexico. There’s no new way to play a bad guy; they’ve all been played. What Esai did was play the guy in the real and raw and unforced tone of this show — he’s a serious person that is genuine about what he needs people to do, and if you can’t get that done, then it just doesn’t make sense for you to… be around. That’s what’s terrifying about him. Marty knows that it might make a whole lot of sense to kill him and to kill his family.”

2. BROCHURE ENOUGH? “Marty is about to be killed, but he sees that brochure and decides to vamp and bulls— his way out of being killed. What follows is a big, long lie, where he convinces his boss that he can continue doing this money laundering down in the Ozarks.”

3. THE MIRAGE OF THE LAKE “Marty is describing what he thinks the Lake of the Ozarks is and what the audience might think Ozark is all about, when in fact his challenges are about everything behind this stuff — what happens in the kitchens of the restaurants, behind the liquor store, when somebody who’s perceived to be blue-collar has white-collar cash in their bank account.”

4. DUCT, DUCT, LOOSE “Marty is crying and pleading for his life. There’s no shortcut. You can make yourself laugh, you can sneeze — or at least fake it—but you can’t fake water coming out of your eyelids. This was the most difficult shooting day of the first two episodes.”

5. LAUNDERING SERVICE “He’s got to figure out how to thread what he knows from big-city banking into a local economy and manipulate their financial structure so that he can run this $8 million through there, and it’s a little awkward. But as you see pretty quickly, this doesn’t become a show about crunching numbers.”

Ozark is available for streaming on Netflix now.

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