Ozark showrunner discusses Breaking Bad comparisons
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As the third season of Ozark on Netflix drew to a close, Helen Pierce (played by Janet McTeer) was on the warpath to rid the Navarro Cartel of Wendy (Laura Linney) and Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) once and for all. And it was clear she’d stop at nothing to get what she wanted, orchestrating the murder of Wendy’s brother Ben (Tom Pelphrey) and forging an FBI confession from Marty.
Ultimately, however, Helen’s actions were to no avail as cartel boss Omar Navarro (Felix Solis) saw right through Helen’s plans.
After witnessing her try to backstab the Byrdes, Navarro decided to stay loyal to the husband and wife duo, having Nelson (Nelson Bonilla) kill Helen instead.
However, she almost faced death at the hands of Jonah Byrde (Skylar Gaertner) before boarding the plane to Mexico where she eventually met her demise.
Jonah was devastated to learn the part Helen played in his uncle Ben’s death and confronted her armed with a rifle.
But in typical Helen fashion, she managed to talk her way out of the situation, convincing Jonah his mother was the one to blame.
Jonah decided to cool off and let Helen live, heading home filled with rage and taking it out on the Byrde home instead.
However, Helen has killed a lot more people for a lot less than what Jonah had just done to her – holding her at gunpoint and threatening to shoot her.
And now actor McTeer has explained just why she feels Helen didn’t exact deadly revenge against Jonah for his outburst.
The revelation came as McTeer was speaking during a Q&A panel hosted by Deadline earlier this month and discussed her character’s development in season three, especially following the introduction of teenage daughter Erin (Madison Thompson).
She began: “I think what was fun about doing season three was that in season two, you only really saw her professional side.
“You saw how she compartmentalises what she does. This is what I do, this is what I do for a living, you had vague splashes of knowing about her husband who was behaving badly and her kids, so you have little sort of flickers of her as a human being.
“And then in season three, the big challenge was to still fulfil your function in the piece which is to be the big scary bad guy as it were, and yet to also be – to place a role that is possibly perceived to be one of the safest roles that you can imagine in humanity, which is to be a mother.”
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McTeer delved further: “So to see her really love and care for her daughter, and at the same time, be able to be as ruthless as she is, was – I guess I just imagined her as a bit like the segments of an orange in there and every now and then they overlapped.
“When she was business, if it meant killing people, so be it. When it was about going to school, get your homework done, and no, you’re not having chocolate until you eat your broccoli, she would do that – it was just that they all existed separately.
“And when she was faced with the overlapping of all of these different sorts of segments, that was when it got fun, that’s when it gets really fun.’
McTeer then spoke specifically about how putting these many different parts to the test during the key scene with Jonah.
“I think with Jonah, I think she felt, you know, I think it was that he really was just a very troubled kid at this moment,” McTeer said.
“And there’s no reason to kill a troubled kid or her to dump a troubled kid.
“Because why would you? There’s no reason it’s just mean. And she’s not mean, she’s just efficient.”
So while this “efficiency” was the reason behind sparing Jonah, Helen may have been left ruing her decision given the Byrdes were chosen by Navarro over her.
Ozark is available to stream on Netflix now.
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