Wendy’s ascent in the Navarro operation didn’t come without a fight, but her chief adversary wasn’t Julia Garner’s Ruth, Lisa Emery’s Darlene Snell or even Janet McTeer’s cartel lawyer Helen Pierce; it was her own husband Marty (Jason Bateman). When Marty preached caution, Wendy pushed for expansion. Where he saw danger, she saw opportunity. Learning that the bloody war between rivals the Navarro and Lagunas cartels was drawing FBI heat, Wendy pitched for Omar Navarro (Felix Solis) to move into legitimate business to provide his kids – and hers – with a safety net should he be killed or the agency seize his illegal assets. She wanted a chain of casinos and hotels in the Navarro operation, while Marty only wanted out. And so began the season of Byrde vs. Byrde.
Wendy vs. Marty
After Wendy’s season one affair and Marty’s secret foray into crime, trust had never been high between the Byrdes, but in season three, it was at an all-time low. When Helen Pierce forced the couple into counselling for the good of the operation, first Marty paid off their therapist Sue to lead Wendy around to his way of thinking, and then Wendy tried to do the same. (The therapist was doomed after she spent the Byrdes’ cash on an attention-drawing car, and became a liability who knew too much. Helen had her murdered and her flashy car pushed into the lake.)
Marty spied on Wendy’s secret phone calls to Omar Navarro, who was relying more and more on her insight, and attempted to sabotage her purchase of a second river boat casino – the Big Muddy – behind her back. He paid Frank Jr, son of the Kansas City mob boss, to burn down a rival casino, thus inflating the profits of the Big Muddy and making the owners reluctant to sell. In the end, Wendy got her way and bought the new casino after she and Ruth bankrupted the business and forced the sale by fixing the Big Muddy slot machines to continually pay out.
Darlene and Wyatt’s affair
Not all of Wendy’s plans came through in season three – she failed to regain custody of baby Zeke (the child of Pastor Mason, cut by Darlene from his mother’s belly after Mason refused to continue the Snell heroin-in-prayer-books operation). In season three, Darlene paid Wyatt Langmore’s bail after he was arrested for staying in empty vacation properties. She took him in, gave him a job and despite their age difference, the two became lovers. Darlene confessed to having poisoned her husband Jacob, and Wyatt told her that Ruth had electrocuted his father and their uncle, which is why he’d left the family home.
Wendy’s feud with Darlene Snell had terrible consequences in season three’s penultimate episode. Ben had fallen in love with Ruth Langmore, and gone off his bipolar medication so that they could have a sexual relationship. This made his behaviour increasingly erratic and he escalated the feud between Ruth and Frank Jr after Frank had Ruth locked in the back of a delivery truck as payment for her throwing him over the edge of the Missouri Belle. When Navarro rivals the Lagunas gunned down Frank Jr’s men during a cash delivery to Ruth (from which she escaped because Ben and his nephew Jonah were tracking it by drone so could warn her), Frank Jr assumed Ruth had ordered the attack, and savagely beat her.
Frank Jr’s attack on Ruth led to Marty severing ties with Frank Sr and the Kansas City mob, and Ben becoming seriously unwell. Having learned of the Byrde family’s money laundering, Ben crashed the launch of Wendy’s charitable foundation and publicly accused Marty of being a criminal. Wendy and Marty then had Ben committed to an institution. Ruth wanted to help Ben, and Darlene Snell wanted to hurt Wendy, so Darlene arranged for Ben to be released from the hospital by blackmailing a local cop. That left Ben on the loose, unpredictable, and with a lot of dangerous knowledge. He went to Helen’s house and told her teenage daughter Erin about her role in the cartel, which Helen denied until Erin got confirmation from Charlotte Byrde, then left to live with her father. Furious, Helen ordered Ben’s murder, but Wendy took him on the run.
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