In “The Toll,” season 1, episode 10 of Ozark, Mason faces a crisis of faith, Wendy and the kids leave town, and Marty brokers a deal.
In the aptly named Ozark finale, “The Toll,” Mason is paying the price of resistance. He confronts the Snells, telling them that he can’t continue to move their heroin.
Jacob cryptically points out, “Life is all about choices. And right now, all either of us can do is accept that.” As Mason returns home, we get a blip of conversation between Jacob and Marty, the former of which is saying that he “kept his promise.” In the house, Mason finds his newborn, but no Grace. Freedom comes at a cost.
This sends Marty into action, who tells Wendy and kids to pack and leave town. He goes to Jacob himself, where he proposes to be the Snells’ sole customer and launder their profits.
Back home, the packing isn’t going to plan. The Cartel’s representative, Garcia, is confronting Wendy. Jonah steps in with a gun, but when his weapon fails, it’s Buddy who saves the day, blasting Garcia into a wall. The Byrdes quickly leave. Marty makes it back to the house after they’re gone, and he and Buddy dispose of the body.
Over at the Blue Cat, Roy is asking Rachel some pushy questions about Marty and Russ. This seems to make her more nervous because she starts poking around the walls where Del’s money is hidden. She finds the cash, loads up her own bag full, and starts to head out. As she passes through the bar, Del is waiting there to get details on Marty. Rachel is able to avoid a major conflict, and she leaves with her money and a suitcase, seemingly skipping town.
Del heads out, too, and Roy is just in time to catch his exit. When he’s back with Evans, Roy presents a plan to bust Del without cause. He’ll then use this as a sort of leverage against Marty, forcing him to turn against his employer.
On the road, Wendy and the kids are waiting to meet Marty. He doesn’t show, instead sending his private investigator in his place. The PI hands out new identities for each of them, but it does not go unnoticed that he has only brought three envelopes instead of four.
At the Langmore home, Ruth’s on the phone with her dad, who wants the details on his brothers’ deaths. She gives a weak explanation, which leads him into the real point of his call: “Marty Byrde?” he asks. “How’s his health?”
To be fair to Ruth, Marty’s health is currently iffy at best. He’s back home, being tortured by Del and company for answers about Garcia’s disappearance. He only gets out of this by offering a plan to move more money.
Little do they know the FBI and the sheriff are working out a plan to arrest Del while he’s at the Snell house. The Cartel crowd is indeed at Jacob’s, where Marty has brought Del to introduce him. Here, Marty proposes that the Cartel become the sole buyer and distributor for the Snells, just as he suggested doing himself earlier in the episode. Initially, Del’s not into it: “Helping the less fortunate is not my primary motivation.”
Marty further explains, though, that if the Snells flood three acres of their land, they can manipulate Missouri Law by distributing from a riverboat casino.
Naturally, the Snells don’t respond well to the idea of flooding their land. As anyone who’s watched two seconds of any Snell scene can recall, their family’s defining historical moment was when a local power company flooded their ancestral home, forcing their family to move.
“Symbolism matters,” Jacob’s wife, Darlene, points out.
Marty suggests they use the casino money to gain political influence over the power company. This plan appeals to everyone, and both Del and the Snells finally agree to partner up.
When Del returns from okaying this with his own boss, he teases Marty that he’s the only one who could ever convince him to team up with a bunch of rednecks. “What’d you say?” we hear Darlene ask. He tries to repeat himself and ends up with a face full of lead.
Suddenly, the Snells are finishing off all the Cartel members. Understandably, Marty is freaking out over Darlene’s impulsive move. Jacob stands by his wife. They might not be afraid of Cartel retaliation, but Marty knows better and books it out of there while they start the cleanup. On his way out, he faces the cop blockade. Agent Evans thinks he’s caught Del and is sorely disappointed when it turns out to just be Marty.
Back at the hotel, Evans has to tell Roy they’ve failed to catch Del, and Roy loses his grip. He’s not just shooting TVs anymore, he’s actively destroying their hotel room, his guilt and frustrations boiling over into dangerous territory.
The next day, Marty swings by Mason’s house to check in. The pastor—now widowed and a new father—feels like he’s going crazy. “Why would I keep a baby alive in this world?” he asks Marty. “Because kids are hope,” he answers.
Marty calls Wendy. With the Cartel assuredly coming for him, this will be their final conversation. Marty’s kids may be his hope, his reason for doing all that he’s done, but he cannot bring himself to say goodbye to them.
The kids don’t take this well. They fight with Wendy. They want to stay. As they debate their next move, we cut back to Mason. He is driving to the riverfront with his baby boy. He takes the child to the water, and we hold our breath.
Kids are hope, Mason.
He dunks the baby, holding his tiny form beneath the water. He closes his eyes. Suddenly, though, he brings the baby back up and into his arms. He crosses his forehead: a baptism, complete.
Back at home, Marty lies on his kids’ trampoline. He hears a noise and gets up. His family rounds the corner to meet him. There may be danger, but they have returned. Everyone, including Wendy, is here to stay.
There is such a fine line between death and rebirth. Between a loss of faith and the choice to carry on. Between giving up and choosing fidelity. The Byrdes will face insurmountable odds moving forward. Here’s hoping they’ll keep choosing hope.
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