Why Darlene Never Killed [SPOILER] But They Died Anyway

Why Darlene Never Killed [SPOILER] But They Died Anyway

Julia Garner’s Ruth Langmore betrayed Darlene. But Camila Elizondro, not Darlene, takes Ruth’s life at the end of Ozark season 4. We explore why.

One of Ozark’s most unpredictable killers, Darlene Snell, was responsible for a hefty amount of Ozark character deaths throughout the series, but never killed Ruth — even after Ruth betrayed her. In a shocking turn, Ozark season 4, part 1 ended with Darlene’s death at the hand of the Navarro Cartel’s newest leader, Javi, along with Darlene’s new husband, Ruth’s cousin, Wyatt (Charlie Tahan). Ozark’s Darlene and Ruth have always had a strange and tense relationship. Even after Ruth gets killed by Camila Elizondro as revenge for Javi’s death, it’s still a mystery as to why Darlene spared Ruth in the first place.


Ozark follows the Byrde family after they relocate to the Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri in a plot to build a laundering empire for the Navarro Cartel. Once there, Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) takes Ruth Langmore under his wing and the pair strike up an unlikely kinship grown from Ruth’s cleverness and business acumen. Marty comes to trust Ruth implicitly, with both cartel business and issues with the local criminals, heroin dealers Jacob and Darlene Snell. However, the Ozark season 3 ending sees Ruth break from the Byrdes after they fail to avenge her following her brutal beating by Frank Jr. of the Kansas City Mob. When Darlene (Lisa Emery) shoots Frank Jr. in retribution for Ruth, Ruth becomes a partner in Darlene’s heroine business alongside her cousin, Wyatt, who is also Darlene’s boyfriend.

Related: Ozark: What Three’s Season 4 Return Means For Ruth’s Story In Part 2

As is Ruth’s style, she takes her role as a partner seriously, purchasing a local hotel as a laundering channel and making large heroin deals to grow the business, often despite Darlene’s disapproval. When Ruth facilitates the sale of all of Darlene’s heroin to Shaw Pharmaceuticals via the Byrdes, Darlene sees this as an ultimate act of betrayal and cuts ties with Ruth (played by Waco actress Julia Garner) — but, oddly, doesn’t kill her. While Darlene’s mercy seems out of character, it stems from her love for Wyatt, Ruth’s honesty, and Darlene’s narcissism. Darlene’s relationship with Wyatt was strangely authentic throughout Ozark seasons 3 and 4, and it is likely that part of the reason Darlene spared Ruth was as a result of her love for him. However, it is also through Darlene and Wyatt’s relationship that Darlene’s “one rule,” or moral code, is revealed. In Ozark season 4, part 1, Darlene tells Wyatt that her one rule is never to lie to her, and, though Darlene disapproves of Ruth’s business deals, Ruth never lies to Darlene.

Darlene Didn’t Kill Ruth Out Of Mutual Respect (But Also Narcissism)


This honesty leads to mutual respect between Darlene and Ruth’s characters in Ozark season 4, possibly explaining why Darlene didn’t kill Ruth, but Darlene’s narcissism also plays a large role. Ruth may not do what Darlene wants her to, but she tells Darlene exactly what she is going to do, and does it, despite the possible repercussions. Darlene recognizes herself in Ruth’s cleverness, fearlessness, and honesty, drawing on Darlene’s narcissism. It stands to reason that Darlene not killing Ruth in Ozark season 4 is likely more about Darlene’s respect for herself than it is evidence of any underlying mercifulness.

Why Ruth Died Anyway


Ozark’s Ruth Langmore has morphed into one of the series’ most beloved characters throughout the show, and the series illustrates its powerful point of denying popular characters their desired outcomes through Ruth’s shocking demise. Camila killed Ruth out of revenge for her son’s death in the ending of Ozark season 4, part 2. If Darlene did let Ruth live out of respect, then it is the show’s theme of people meeting prideful ends – the very grounds for this respect from the murderous Darlene – that ended up killing Ruth. Moreover, as the Byrdes’ final fate remains open-ended, Ozark’s Darlene and Ruth dynamic, as well as Ruth’s death, could foreshadow what will happen to the Byrdes in the future. In the end, Ruth’s hubris is what prevented her from having it all – a lesson that every surviving character in Ozark is bound to learn sooner or later.

Next: Where Is Ozark Filmed? Filming Locations Explained

Ozark is streaming now on Netflix.

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Lindsay Kusiak
(136 Articles Published)

Lindsay began as a singer-songwriter in Los Angeles at the age of seventeen. She is the author of two novels. She lives in Los Angeles and is most often found running or hiking with her German Shepherd, working on her books, or eating Indian food.

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