You would think someone who has written “the book” on cliches and misconceptions about the FBI in books, TV, and movies would absolutely hate OZARK. The over-the-top murder and mayhem, and the inability of the FBI to discover and disrupt the family-run multi-million dollar money laundering operation should turnoff such a person, especially if that person worked economic crime cases during her FBI career. But guess what? I love OZARK! Yes, the body count is off the chart. Yes, the money flow is so simple you can follow it blindfolded. But the characters, Marty (Jason Bateman) and Wendy (Laura Linney) Byrde, who work for a violent Colombian drug cartel, and their two teenagers, are so devious and so likeable, I couldn’t help but tune into all three seasons of OZARK. Crime stories that also incorporate a family drama are what I like to watch, read, and write.
I have to admit that the FBI agent featured in Season 1 was an unflattering and despicable character who violated every procedure and policy in the FBI manual. I watched anyway. In Season 3, the FBI character is more “by-the-book.” Special Agent Maya Miller is a Black female who’s nine-months pregnant. She’s assigned to audit the casino for possible money laundering irregularities. The FBI doesn’t do that. To open an investigation, the FBI must establish predication, which means have a factual basis—reasonable grounds that a crime has been committed or is being committed. To have an agent on-duty in a casino, to look for criminal violations without a search warrant, is a violation. In real life, the state gaming and casino commission, not SA Miller, would conduct such an audit. If there are irregularities, the commission or control board would refer the matter to the FBI based on the evidence uncovered by the gaming control investigators.
As I always say, for a writer the most important thing is the story. So don’t let the technical stuff stop you from checking out OZARK. That’s why I’m here. To tell you how things really work. Watch the Season 3 trailer here, then I highly recommend that you go to Netflix and binge all 30 episodes. Warning! The Season 3 finale is intense.