Ozark explained: Why did Helen Pierce torture Ruth Langmore in season 2?

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Netflix dropped Ozark season three earlier this year with the show proving a hit with viewers across the world. Ozark first debuted on Netflix back in 2017 and followed the Byrde family, who were forced to flee to deepest, darkest Missouri after landing themselves in trouble with a Mexican drug cartel. The series has snowballed in success with many viewers eagerly following each step the Byrde family has taken into the criminal underworld.

Why did Helen Pierce torture Ruth Langmore in season 2?

WARNING: This article contains spoilers from all seasons of Ozark

Season two saw Marty (played by Jason Bateman) and Wendy Byrde (Laura Linney) committing to a life of crime after they launched the riverboat casino instead of fleeing to the Gold Coast of Australia.

The second outing also introduced cartel attorney Helen Pierce (Janet McTeer), who was pulling the strings on behalf of her client.

Helen was a sinister figure who seemed to be dishing out the orders with Marty and Wendy forced to comply.

The lawyer was also suspicious of the Byrdes’ associates, including Ruth Langmore (Julia Garner) who had been working for the couple since season one.


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In one of the most shocking moments of Ozark, Ruth was taken into a trailer and tortured by Helen and members of the cartel.

Ruth was held down and waterboarded by a group of cartel henchmen in episode five called Game Day.

The teenager was tortured after Helen tried to figure out whether Ruth had passed on information to FBI Agent Roy Petty (Jason Butler Harner) and if she’d stolen from the cartel.

Ruth fell under suspicion after Marty hesitated when he was questioned by the cartel with the Chicago financier failing to come to her aid at the critical moment.

To make matters worse for Ruth, Petty suggested she was being watched by the cartel, which made her even more paranoid.

Following her torture ordeal, it seemed Ruth had passed the test and Helen simply said she had “done very well” in persuading her of her innocence.

Ruth was left traumatised by the torture and later broke down as she was having a shower.

Apparently, waterboarding seems to be the cartel’s torture method of choice with season three featuring another scene.

The third run opened with Helen being waterboarded in a twisted mirroring of Ruth’s own ordeal.

Helen’s shocking torture scene was foreshadowing for her demise later in the series when she was murdered by the cartel.

Speaking to Gold Derby about filming the season three torture scene, McTeer joked: “It’s not something I do on a daily basis.”

The acclaimed British actress continued: “It was kind of challenging to shoot it.


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“It’s not fun to be tortured but it was incredibly well-handled.

“And those scenes are challenging, which makes them fun to do.”

She added: “I was a bit tired and wet by the end of it.”

Season four could be on the cards with fans eager for Netflix to renew the Jason Bateman and Laura Linney crime series for another outing.

Helen’s death is going to have huge implications of the Byrdes and their dealings with the cartel going forward.

Ozark seasons 1 to 3 are streaming on Netflix now

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