The following story contains very light spoilers for Ozarks.
The second half of Ozarks‘s final season has some pretty major tasks on its shoulders. It needs to not only bring the story of our main characters—the Byrde family and Ruth Langmore—to close, but also make sure that the story of the entire show feels complete. That means calling back things from the beginning, and, in some cases, bringing back people from the very beginning.
So when Ruth needs help to make a play at taking over the Byrdes’s riverboat casino in Season 4, Episode 11 “Pound of Flesh and Still Kickin’,” she tracks someone she knows who happens to be someone we know too—we just may have forgotten about her. This person she goes to visit, now working in sunny Miami, is Rachel Garrison. Rachel was a key character in the first two seasons of Ozarks, but hasn’t been seen or mentioned in the years since. Still, in seeking her out of her and bringing her back from her, Ruth makes her a key player in how things wind up playing out at the end of the series.
The reason you may not remember this woman Ruth went to visit—named, again, Rachel— is because she hasn’t been seen on Ozarks since the end of Season 2. Due to various delays (both Covid-related and not), that was all the way back in 2018, nearly four years ago. So if you don’t entirely remember a character who hasn’t been seen in nearly four full trips around the sun, on a show designed to be binged in short order (it is a Netflix original, after all), we’re not going to fault you too much. We’re also going to help refresh your memory.
So, uh, who exactly is Rachel on Ozarks again?
Back at the very beginning of Ozarks—when Marty, Wendy, and the family first arrived and were living in the house with terminally ill old man Buddy (bet you forgot about him too!)—Rachel was a key figure in Marty setting up shop in the Ozarks.
When Marty first got to town, he went around looking for businesses to “invest in,” really looking for businesses to fix up and invest cartel money in as part of the laundering scheme he was both extremely good at and doing to keep his family and himself alive. Eventually, I found the Blue Cat Lodge, a run down motel and bar that was owned by Rachel. After some convincing, Marty convinced Rachel to allow him to invest in the Blue Cat Lodge, and he made some changes to spruce business up (including hiring Ruth as a dishwasher). He eventually got the business booming…but then Rachel found out that Marty was cooking the books, tactfully lying about the money going in and coming out—again, all as part of the money laundering that he was so very good at.
Rachel took Marty to task on this, but he had no choice but to continue—stopping would mean his and his family’s death at the hands of the cartel. Rachel eventually covered a $100,000 that Marty had stashed away off-site, and at first left it—but at the end of the season, she took it and ran after a threatening cartel member came looking for Marty. That was a good signal to get the hell out of there, and she took it.
Rachel returned to Ozarks in Season 2, and with an even darker and more upsetting storyline. Rachel had the $100,000 in cash that she had taken, but she had fallen into a spiral of alcohol abuse. Early in the season she was caught drunk driving, and FBI Agent Petty (a true corrupt asshole) blackmailed her; return to the Ozarks to snoop on Marty, or go to jail for life.
Rachel returned to town, but just at the same time as Marty’s businesses were being squeezed and investigated by the FBI. Wendy was suspicious when Rachel returned at this exact moment, and she had every right to be—as Petty had Rachel wearing a wire when she was interacting with Marty.
Throughout this, Marty and Rachel were getting closer and closer, and while the feelings between them were real, Petty was also encouraging her to get close to him (while wearing a wire) to get him to say something incriminating on tape. Petty also got Rachel addicted to Oxycontin, and there was a whole mess here, where she wound up getting heroin that originated from the Snell farm that Darlene had laced with Fentanyl, and Rachel wound up overdosing. Honestly, it was a whole mess.
Anyway, Rachel eventually told Marty that she was wearing a wire, and Marty eventually maneuvered Rachel out of Petty’s clutches (and Petty later got murdered by Ruth’s piece of shit father, Cade). The two obviously had feelings for one another, but it wasn’t safe or healthy to do what they were doing. Marty had Rachel flown down to Miami, where he would pay for rehab treatment and make sure the money from the Blue Cat was in her account. At that point, they probably thought they’d never see each other again.
But that Ruth Langmore tends to enjoy throwing wrenches into things like that.
Rachel is played by actress Jordana Spiro.
The role on Ozarks is the biggest actress that Jordana Spiro has had yet, but she’s also had leading roles on a couple other shows. From 2000 to 2001, she was one of the leads on The Huntress, a show about a bounty hunter (tangentially related to the real-life inspiration of the Steve McQueen movie TheHunter). She was also the lead for four seasons of the TBS comedy myboys, which was kind of like a before-its-time hybrid of new-girl and Everybody Loves Raymond; in the show she played a sportswriter who’s friend group and biggest influences were all male.
Spiro has also made a mark in some small but notable films in recent years. In 2021, she appeared (alongside Jon Bernthal and Shea Whigham) in Small Engine Repair, along with all three Fear Street movies that debuted on Netflix. In 2018, she made her directorial debut with a movie called Night Comes On.
Next up, she’s set to star in vegashigh, from director Gillian Robespierre. Robespierre has done a bunch of good TV in recent years (including a few episodes of Only Murders in the Building last year), but her first two feature films, Obvious Child and Landline, both starred Jenny Slate and both were both very good.
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