Ozark: Ben Davis’ introduction and tragic death

Ozark’s Ben Davis was the beloved but complex character who was assassinated with his sister’s consent, following the season three finale.

Ozark is the Netflix original crime drama series that has been popular on the paid subscription video-on-demand platform since its premiere in 2017. While the main cast comprises memorable and complex characters, even the seasonal guest appearances have been memorable characters.

One in particular was Ben Davis, who was played by Tom Pelphrey. Ben was Wendy’s brother, and he was assassinated off screen with his sister’s consent following the season three finale in 2020.

This was confirmed at the beginning of season four, part one, shared in January 2022.

What is Ozark about?

Ozark first premiered on Netflix in 2017, and with its complex, crime-drama narrative, filled the gap in original crime drama programming by Netflix following the conclusion of Narcos.

The thrilling and dark drama series was created by Bill Dubuque and Mark Williams, and the premise is, “A financial advisor drags his family from Chicago to the Missouri Ozarks, where he must launder money to appease a drug boss.”

For three and a half seasons so far, we have watched as the title characters Martin “Marty” and Wendy Byrde, who are played by Jason Bateman and Laura Linney respectively, try to free themselves from their affiliation with the Navarro drug cartel.

Ozark: Ben Davis’ introduction and tragic death

Ozark is filled with compelling and complicated main characters, from the fan-favourite Ruth Langmore to the unlikable but nuanced Wendy Byrde.

However, the series has also shared some compelling and beloved guest appearances like season three’s introduction of Wendy’s brother, Ben Davis, played by Tom Pelphrey.

Ben won the hearts of Ozark fans through his commitment to his family. His most honourable action was working with his nephew, Jonah, to protect his family from the Navarro cartel. Jonah and Ben did so by bringing down the Lagunas cartel.

The series then introduced his battle with mental health issues, which marked the beginning of his downward spiral and subsequent assassination as he became a liability by sharing the Byrde family’s secret.

Who killed Ben in Ozark?

Ben was technically killed by the Navarro cartel enforcer, Nelson, but fans of the show regard Ben’s killer to be his own sister.

This is as Wendy gave the go ahead to have her brother assassinated, because she considered him a liability. Specifically, due to the fact that Ben threatened the safety of her family with his ongoing mental health issues, namely, bipolar disorder.

At the time of his assassination, Ben had stopped taking his medication, which made his actions unpredictable and risked him blowing the Byrdes’ cover in the Ozarks.

Why was Ben assassinated on Ozark?

Ben Davis displayed a high level of loyalty and commitment to his family, but following his failed attempt at courting Ruth Langmore, he began to spiral as he stopped taking his bipolar medication.

His biggest mistake was revealing to Erin Pierce that her mother, Helen, is the Navarro cartel’s lawyer. Once this was revealed to the Byrdes and the Navarro cartel, Ben became a liability.

Seemingly to protect her family and possibly her political aspirations, Wendy gave the go ahead to have him killed by Nelson.

The assassination took place off-screen, and viewers waited almost two years for confirmation that Ben was indeed no more.

Will Tom Pelphrey return to Ozark?

Tom Pelphrey, in the role of Ben Davis, was only part of the crime drama series for season three, but he was already a fan-favourite.

As a result, prior to the confirmation of his death with the release of season four, part one in January 2022, fans were hoping that he somehow survived. However, it seems unlikely that Pelphrey will return to resume his role.

The series has continued to use the ambiguity of the assassination to tease the possibility of his return, especially in episode six Sangre Sodo Todo, when Wendy has to identify a body, which was later confirmed to not be Ben.

Final Thoughts

Ozark has fine-tuned its ability to leave viewers on a cliff at the end of a season, or mid-season, since the first season of the series.

Like in season four, part one, with the arrest of Omar Navarro by FBI Agent Maya Miller, which is set to have implications for the trajectory of season four, part two set to premiere on Friday, 29 April 2022.

However, even with the season three finale, fans were left questioning whether Ben Davis died or not. A question which would be eventually answered almost two years later with the release of season four, part one in January 2022.