'Ozark' Series Finale: My (Dark) Ending Scene Theory, Explained

Ozark Skylar Gaertner Jonah Byrde Sofia Hublitz Charlotte Byrde Laura Linney Wendy Byrde Jason Bateman Martin Marty Byrde Netflix

If you are still reeling from the series finale of “Ozark,” you are not alone. The ending scene left a lot to sift through, even though the fate of the Byrdes and Ruth seemed pretty straightforward. Well, think again because I have a (super) dark theory about the ending scene of “Ozark.” So, prepare for it to get explained with full-on spoilers below.

Caution: Spoilers for the series finale of “Ozark,” including the ending scene, will get discussed beyond this point. 

In the series finale of “Ozark,” the Byrdes safely “fly” home after striking a deal to replace Navarro. The plan, engineered by Wendy and blessed by the FBI, assassinates Navarro, replacing him with his even-worse sister, Camila, as head of the cartel. Before all of the pieces fall into place, Camila learns that Ruth is the one who killed Javi.

The Ending - Explained

Camila threatens the Byrde children to get Marty and Wendy to acquiesce to her plan. Marty goes along with it quite easily, while Wendy appears torn as she tries to formulate a counter maneuver. Nevertheless, with Marty’s urging, the Byrdes wait at the party as Camila goes to Ruth’s to kill her. In an outrageous and heartbreaking end to Ruth’s “Ozark” story, Camila murders Ruth, who remains defiant in the face of certain death.

The young woman whose life held so much promise is accordingly snuffed out. At the Byrdes’ house, the family has returned after pressing the flesh and sealing Wendy’s dream of becoming the next incarnation of the Kennedys. To Wendy and Marty’s surprise, they soon discover their glass back door is broken. As the power couple looks outside, they find ole’ Mel outside holding the cookie jar containing Ben’s ashes.

The Ending Scene – Explained

In the ending scene of “Ozark,” Mel makes it clear that he is not done with the Byrdes yet. He has not found his newly restored police career satisfying, and Mel knows that Ben’s ashes are inside the cookie jar he now possesses. Mel vividly explains that they cannot bribe him to stay quiet. He wants Wendy and Marty to face the music.

We then hear the ominous action of someone pumping a shotgun. Jonah is shown holding his prized rifle with Charlotte standing beside him. As the camera zooms in on Jonah, he points the gun at a resolved Mel. Jonah’s face softens into regret as Mel puts his free hand up, still holding the cookie jar. “Ozark” cuts to black as a shot rings out before the credits roll.

My Ending Scene Theory – Explained

Who did Jonah shoot in the “Ozark” finale? That is in question because the show cuts to black, leaving it a mystery. Let me cut to the chase. I do not think Jonah shot Mel. It does not fit for many reasons, including the cookie jar not shattering. If Mel had gotten hit, it would have dropped and made a crashing sound. 

That said, Mel standing on grass could have created a cushion for the sound. So, if Jonah did not shoot Mel, who did he shoot? “Ozark” Season 4 sets that up throughout every episode. Jonah goes from being his mom’s number one fan to her greatest detractor. He blames her for Ben’s murder and fails to reconnect with her at any point before the “Ozark” ending.

Jonah Shot Wendy – Here’s Why

Jonah does not even know that his parents went along with Ruth getting killed or that Ruth is dead when the “Ozark” ending scene happens. If he did, that, on top of Ben’s murder, would push Jonah over the edge with Wendy again. It makes sense Jonah could have learned about Ruth’s passing somehow. But let’s imagine he did not know.

Throughout the ending season of “Ozark,” Jonah makes it clear that he blames Wendy for the evil depths the Byrde family has sunk. Jonah never warms up to his mother again. Even when Wendy physically reaches out to him after the family’s car accident, Jonah remains quite cold to his mother. In the series’ final scene, I think he shot her to (in his mind) end the cycle she continued to perpetuate. 

Final Thoughts

Jonah’s journey is one of the largest arcs on “Ozark.” Viewers follow the boy-genius as he develops from a sweet and gentle kid to a sullen and resentful teenager. Jonah is unwilling to fall in line with his mother after she crosses the mortal boundary of arranging Ben’s death. It is the death nail in the coffin of their relationship, and he never pulls it free.

The only thing that could end the beginning of the Byrdes’ terrible legacy as a crime family is one of their own taking action. In the lead-up to the series finale, Jonah and Charlotte desperately try to convince Marty to change course and stand up to Wendy. Marty will not do it. Could Marty’s choice have been a harbinger of Jonah making a tragic final choice? This “Ozark” viewer thinks so.


You can be the judge. The entirety of “Ozark” -- Seasons 1 through 4 -- are now available to stream on Netflix, alongside many other interesting options.