2022 TV Reviews: Ozark / Pachinko / Tokyo Vice

One clear winner here.

Ozark (Season Four, Part Two)

Ozark was never a great show, everything it tackled with upper-middle-class white Americans choosing to get mixed up with crime and eventually being forced to confront their conscience was done infinitely better in Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, and a few others. However, at its best, Ozark was wildly unpredictable and bat-shit crazy outrageous, even if it never fully rose above the level of high-octane camp. Of course, having one of the most impressive ensemble casts on television helped elevate it. Seasoned veterans from Laura Linney to Janet McTeer and compelling sorta-newcomers from Charlie Tahan to series MVP Julia Garner added uncommon depth to familiar character types. That being said, these final seven episodes were some of the weakest I’ve seen since season one. The show had already reached such emotional/chaotic heights that most everything here seemed par for the course. Simply put, it just ran out of steam. I’ve held my breath so many times for these characters that I was left feeling pretty numb and non-plussed by this new slew of insane “plot twists” that have allowed them to survive so long past their realistic expiration date. Also, so many incredible antagonist characters have died on this show and it’s simply not the same without the Bryde family receiving trouble on multiple ends. With this final season, they only have trouble on one end – the cartel – and while it offers an enjoyable ride, with one or two maybe great episodes in the middle – it just feels really old hat, even with consistently phenomenal work by Linney, Bateman, and Garner. Ozark was a good (but never great) show but this final season struggled. Grade: B- (Netflix)


Definitely the slowest burn of the week, but easily the most compelling. Soo Hugh‘s adaptation of Min Jin Lee‘s novel of the same name is a beautifully layered drama about how some wounds and traumas dictate more of our life trajectory than we realize and even cross generations. It follows a Korean woman, Sunja, living in Japan and her family over the course of nearly eight decades. She’s played by three different actresses for each time period the show addresses — Minari‘s Youn Yuh-jung for the 1989 timeline, where she’s a grandma living in Japan, the incredible Kim Min-ha for the 1930s timeline, where she’s a teenager/young adult traveling from Korea to Japan, and Yu-na for the brief 1915 timeline where she’s just a child in Korea. A bunch of tragic stuff happens to her that I refuse to reveal here, other than to say she encounters some wonderfully complex characters inhabited by wildly talented Korean and Japanese actors. In the 1989 timeline, the main supporting character is her grandson, Solomon (Jin Ha) a businessman living in New York who moves back home to Japan to help close a big casino land development deal by kicking an old Korean woman off her property. He’ll get a huge promotion, so fuck her I guess. In the 1930s timeline, the main supporting character is Koh Hansu (an absolutely mesmerizing Lee Min-ho), a ruthless gangster/fish broker connected with the Yakuza, who becomes a romantic interest for Sunja. This is a really hard show to write about because it is so intricate and complex and initially very confusing to track everyone’s relationship with each other. There are some culturally Korean or Japanese aspects that I fully don’t understand and I feel a lot of white-ass viewers like me won’t. However, what you do fully understand are the human elements and dignity of the characters and how oppressed and straight-up physically abused Koreans were by Japanese “colonizers.” It’s seamlessly directed by veteran Korean filmmaker Kogonada and relative directing newcomer Justin Chon, smartly written by creator Soo Hugh and her team, and wonderfully acted by an impressive group of Korean and Japanese actors, most notably Kim Min-ha and Lee Min-ho. It’s a slow burn which means it takes time and patience to really submerge yourself into the world, but when a show is this thematically rich and rewarding, the juice is well worth the squeeze. Grade: A- (AppleTV+)

Tokyo Vice

Currently under fire for some supposed “mistruths” in the real-life account of journalist Jake Adelstein, the new HBOMax series Tokyo Vice feels like a relic of a bygone era. Set in 1999, but feeling more like it was made in 1999, it’s a tired fish-out-of-water story about an American journalist (Ansel Elgort) writing for a big newspaper in Tokyo and attempting to bring down the Yakuza as an outsider. He’s met with an avalanche of racism and skepticism from the management side of the newspaper, who really hinder him from doing his job, but he ends up hooking up (non-sexually) with a local detective dead-set on bringing peace to Tokyo (The Last Samurai and Inception‘s Ken Watanabe). He also gets mixed up with another American living in Tokyo, a love interest, and the female lead of the show, Samantha (Legion‘s Rachel Keller), an escort desperately trying to open up her own brothel in Tokyo. The problem is these two American leads are so uninteresting compared to the supporting Japanese characters in the story. Ansel Elgort‘s Jake Adelstein especially, which looking at the real Jake Adelstein, seems to be a vanity casting, especially in his exceptionally gratuitous sex scenes that seem to only exist to prove that he fucks good. Good for Jake Adelstein, he’s the number #1 fuck guy! However, it’s not entirely Keller or Elgort‘s fault, as much as I historically love blaming shit on Elgort. The writing is weak, it slugs along and stretches out a narrative that can’t justify an 8 episode run, let alone a multiple-season run like they’re planning. The only truly exciting thing about this show is the Japanese supporting cast – Sho Kasamatsu as Sato, a sensitive young gangster morally conflicted with his involvement in the Yakuza, Rinko Kikuchi (Babel and Pacific Rim) as Emi, Jake’s no-bullshit editor seemingly resigned to the fact that she works for chauvinist assholes incapable of appreciating her, Hideaki Ito as Jin, an arrogant vice squad detective who thinks he’s on Miami Vice or some shit, and of course, Watanabe as Jake’s Obi-Wan. As good as they are, I don’t know if their presence justifies tuning into Season 2, especially if the writers don’t take advantage of them. Shit, based on the fact that seemingly no one is talking about this show, there might not even be a Season 2. Grade: C+ (HBOMax)

Also Streaming and in Theaters...


RuPaul’s Drag Race (Season 19)Available for Digital Purchase

Severance (Season 1)AppleTV+

Bad VeganNetflix

The Gilded Age (Season 1)HBOMax

The SopranosHBOMax

Freddy’s Nightmares (Season 1)Screambox

Euphoria (Season 2)HBOMax

The Righteous Gemstones (Season 2)HBOMax

Somebody Somewhere (Season 1)HBOMax

The Tinder Swindler Netflix


The BatmanHBOMax

Everything Everywhere All At Once In Theaters

The NorthmanIn Theaters

The Unbearable Weight of Massive TalentIn Theaters

X $19.99 rental on Amazon

Tall Girl 2Netflix

Texas Chainsaw MassacreNetflix

Jackass ForeverParamount+

West Side Story Disney+ and HBOMax


Emilia Jones appears in CODA by Siân Heder, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.


Scream 5Paramount+

The Worst Person in the World$5.99 rental on Amazon

King RichardHBOMax

Don’t Look UpNetflix

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