A delivery man whistles as he weaves his way through a crowded Mexican marketplace. He enters a small shop pushing a trundler laden with two big cardboard boxes. He walks past the aisle of shoes and children's dress-up outfits and up to the counter with a smile on his face and a clipboard in his outstretched arm. The shopkeeper takes the clipboard, rests it on the counter and signs for the delivery. Without warning the delivery man slams his head down on the counter before slitting his throat with a machete that would be comically oversized if it hadn't just been used so violently.
This is the first attention-grabbing, stomach churning minute of the first episode of Ozark's third season. Ever since season's two's chilling finale which flipped the audience's expectation that Jason Bateman's character was gonna break bad I've been hanging out to see what happened. And now that it was happening in terrible graphic detail I had no idea what was happening.
I didn't know who just got murdered, why he got murdered, or why the murderer then walked into the shop's backroom to kill the two people in there by tying them up and detonating a bomb that was in one of his two boxes.
I mean, drugs obviously. The two out the back clearly weren't harmless stock boys, seeing as they were feeding fat stacks of loose cash into money counters before being fatally interrupted. It's awful, graphic stuff. But what happened next was worse.
Before detonating the bomb, the delivery guy/hit man, exits through a side door and into the crowd of people milling about. Without pause he furtively places the second box in the middle of the bustling square before disappearing into the sea of shoppers.
The first bomb explodes and all that loose cash starts falling from the sky like pesos from heaven. As the money rains down people start scrambling all around to grab as much as they can. And then the second bomb goes off.
Cripes. Talk about starting with a bang. Or more accurately bangs.
After that explosive beginning Ozark returns to the familiar. We see Marty and Wendy Byrde, champagne glasses in hand, hamming their way through an infomercial style ad for their now launched, drug cartel funded, Riverboat Casino.
They look happy. Behind the television smiles they're not. The cartel's just given the ever cautious Marty the hard word, forcing him to kickstart his money laundering operation despite his concern that there's an FBI informant hidden amongst all the new hires at the casino.
Having forced them to walk down this criminal path at the end of the last season Wendy is getting increasingly frustrated by her husband's conservative nature. She's identified an opportunity for expansion in the form of a failing casino they could take over that, if successful, would make them major players in the area. Problem is Marty has no desire to take on any more stress and even less to get more indebted to the cartel.
They're in a stalemate. And they're in couple's therapy. Which isn't working. Mostly because it's rigged. This leads to a resentful Wendy once again taking matters into her own hands and steering them even closer to their murderous crime boss.
This would all be bad enough if Ruth, the young manager at the casino, wasn't such a wild card. With one swift kick to the nether regions she invites the cruel attention of the Kansas mob to the casino, the very night that Marty implements his Ocean's 11 style plan to launder money in and out of the casino under the watchful eyes of the security cameras.
For an episode that's mostly set-up there's an awful lot going on. We gradually learn what that brutal opening was about and we start to fear what's going to happen next.
While Netflix has experimented with weekly releases for some of its high profile shows it's wisely stuck with releasing Ozark as a full season dump. Each episode zips past and is packed with enough questions and, more importantly, answers to keep you hitting 'play next' when the end credits roll.
It's perfectly bingable because you need to know what happens next and there's nothing stopping you from doing so apart from, perhaps, increasingly sleepy eyes and the realisation that's it's nearing midnight and you've got a lot to do tomorrow.
Over the course of its three seasons Ozark has grown from a competently enjoyable Breaking Bad wannabe into its own unique thing that can now rightly stake its claim as one of today's best crime thrillers.
It's always been good but now, just like the Byrde family, I'm all in.