Content Warning: The following article contains spoilers for the Netflix series Ozark.
The Netflix series Ozark is remarkable in part because of the wide array of characters that it presents to the audience. Obviously, the central characters are the Byrdes, the family who flees to the Ozarks in order to set up a money-laundering operation for a drug cartel.
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Just as interesting, however, is the character of Roy Petty, the relentless FBI agent who basically makes it his life’s work to bring about the downfall of the Byrdes. As compelling as he is, however, there are still quite a few things about him that, quite frankly, don’t make a lot of sense.
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Updated on April 28th, 2022, by Hannah Saab: Agent Petty’s role in Ozark is still occasionally discussed in the fandom, despite him being gone for two whole seasons. Viewers will never forget how he terrorized the Byrdes and ruined Russ Boyd’s life, but couldn’t get away from the Ozarks at the last minute. As fans eagerly wait for the highly-anticipated finale, some are undoubtedly still thinking about the plot points from the show that still don’t make sense, including details from Roy Petty’s story arc.
What Happened To His Ex?
It turns out that Roy Petty has quite an interesting story arc that involves a chaotic love life, with one of those relationships revolving around his mysterious ex-boyfriend. The viewer sees that they actually had a pretty committed relationship, but things must have gone sour at some point (as it does for so many of the characters), because, by the time the series takes place, there isn’t any sign of him.
Audiences do see his ex in some flashbacks before his mother’s accident that left her ill. There are implications that things between him and his ex were going downhill after that event, but there’s no confirmation of a clear break and the things that took place after that time.
Why Was His Death So Sudden?
Anyone who has seen the show knows that Roy meets a rather gruesome end when he’s bludgeoned to death by Ruth’s ex-con father (gruesome and heartbreaking deaths are a hallmark of Ozark, as it turns 0ut). It’s a brutal send-off for this character, particularly since he’s been there through the first two seasons.
While it’s in keeping with the show’s unflinching depiction of death, it does make one wonder why the writers couldn’t have thought of a more dignified way of closing out his story rather than having him murdered and his body sunk in the river.
Why Is He So Intense?
From the moment that he appears in the show, Roy makes it pretty clear that he’s not exactly the most reserved person. His level of intensity can almost match Ruth’s or Navarro’s.
He is, to put it mildly, one of the most emotionally intense and strangest characters in a show that’s not really known for depicting normal people. There’s still quite a lot about this personality that doesn’t make a lot of sense, since the viewer only gets periodic glimpses into his past and his relationship with his mother.
Why Was He So Obsessed With Marty?
It’s a little bit unclear why Roy takes such a passionate interest in the Byrdes and why he’s so relentless in his pursuit of them. Obviously, as an FBI agent, this is his job, but he seems to be almost obsessive in his desire to see the entire family brought down.
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It would have made more sense if the show had taken some more time to show his background and then connected this to his pursuit of Marty and Wendy. Instead, audiences see him drop other aspects of a huge investigation into cartel activity to focus solely on Marty, even when it’s becoming clear that it’s not exactly the easiest path forward.
What Happened To His Mother?
As the second season neared its conclusion, it became pretty clear that Petty was going to have to say goodbye to the Ozarks in order to go take care of his mother. However, his death headed off whatever other conclusions might have been reached in that regard.
It’s hard not to think that if the show was going to make a point of depicting their relationship, that it would also have given it a more satisfactory conclusion. Instead, fans are left wondering what happened to his ill mother, who was an underrated supporting character in Ozark at best.
Why Doesn’t The FBI Seem More Concerned About His Death?
Once Agent Petty exits the scene, his role is taken up by two other agents (one of whom happens to be another of his exes). However, the third season doesn’t really pay a lot of attention to Petty’s death or the circumstances surrounding it.
While this makes sense in that the series clearly wants to move on to new stories, a lot of viewers are probably a little stumped about why the FBI seems to care so little about what happened to one of their agents. Usually, it’s a big deal when an FBI agent is murdered, as the institution is expected to throw everything they have at the case to solve it.
Why Did He Think Trashing The Hotel Room Was A Good Idea?
At one point, Agent Petty, in a fit of rage, ends up trashing his hotel room. He doesn’t just make a mess, he literally destroys almost everything in sight. While this can, of course, be explained by his emotional distress, it’s hard not to think that it probably wasn’t the best of things to do.
If anyone should have the ability to keep their emotions at least somewhat under control, it should certainly be an FBI agent, but clearly, that’s beyond Petty’s abilities. This begs the question of why he’s even still an agent in the first place – could his bosses feel bad for him about his mother’s situation?
What’s The Story Between Him And Agent Trevor Evans?
Petty seems to have an almost intentional attraction to bad romances, and that includes engaging in a relationship with one of his fellow agents. While it’s made clear that Petty and Evans dated at some point in the past, the series doesn’t really give much explanation as to the details (particularly after Petty’s death).
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It’s one of those narrative dead-ends that leaves some unanswered questions hanging that are frustrating because they could easily have been answered with a few more moments of screen time. Plus, Trevor is a totally wasted character who could have been there until the very end, but is kicked out after Agent Maya’s introduction.
Why Didn’t He Think It Was Possible To Fall In Love With Russ?
One of the most tragic aspects of the first season was the doomed romance between Roy and Russ, the latter of whom is a member of the troublesome Langmore family. Petty is clearly not dim-witted, so it really doesn’t make sense why he thought it was in any way a good idea to get into a sexual relationship with a person that he was going to end up using for his own purposes (particularly since he ended up truly falling in love with Russ).
The tear-jerking conclusion of Roy and Russ’s relationship in Ozark has become one of those tragic aspects of the series that fans have come to dread and expect. Russ’s reaction to Roy’s admission is still one of the saddest scenes on the show.
Why Did He Think It Was A Good Idea To Give Rachel Drugs?
Roy Petty is one of those people who really does think that the ends justify the means, and to that end, he gives drugs to Rachel, one of Marty’s business associates. Clearly, Roy thinks it’s okay to do this because it will lead him to Marty, but even so, one can’t help but wonder why he in any way thought this idea wasn’t going to blow up spectacularly (even aside from the obvious immorality of giving someone drugs).
This once again raises the question of why he is such a dirty FBI agent in the first place. The series really does portray the institution in such a negative light, sometimes to a comical extent like in Roy’s case.
Why Didn’t He Face Legal Consequences For His Unethical Actions?
At any point, Agent Trevor Evans could have decided to report Roy to his supervisors. They’re trained to follow protocol, keep sources and witnesses safe, and more, but all of that seems to go out the window when it comes to Roy.
Considering everything he has gotten away with, it’s strange that no official investigation into his time in the Ozarks was ever opened. From his unethical actions with Rachel to his questionable methods with Russ, it’s almost as if there’s no supervision going on from his higher-ups.
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About The Author
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Thomas J. West III earned a PhD in film and screen studies from Syracuse University in 2018. His writing on film, TV, and popular culture has appeared in Screenology, FanFare, Primetimer, Cinemania, and in a number of scholarly journals and edited collections. He co-hosts the Queens of the B’s podcast with Mark Muster and writes a regular newsletter, Omnivorous, on Substack.
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