A vintage, goat-shaped ceramic cookie jar, with a rope hanging around its neck, drops ominously into the world of Ozark this season when Ruth Langmore (Julia Garner) acquires it at an antique market. As the salesperson says, “You don’t really think of goats and cookies together, do you?”
“We started with a search for an existing cookie jar,” says Ozark production designer David Bomba on sourcing the final season’s key prop. “Several options were found, but none fit the script’s description or had a strong enough impact for the role that the jar would play in Season 4.”
When it became clear that there was not a perfect one in the existing herd, Bomba reached out to artist Deborah Donelson to help concept and sketch the cookie jar. “I met Deborah years ago in Baltimore while working on a film in which her artwork was used on set. Since then, I’ve solicited Deborah’s talents for various projects and felt her style would be perfect for our Ozark goat.” From those sketches, prop master Mike Sabo had the cookie jar 3D-modeled before it underwent various rounds of color, shading, and glazing. Once its eyes were perfected, the completed goat was presented to showrunner Chris Mundy in all its glory, and the eerie jar entered the world of Ozark.
After cartel whisperer Wendy Byrde (Laura Linney) commands the death of her own brother, fan-favorite Ben Davis (Tom Pelphrey), at the end of Season 3, her son Jonah (Skylar Gaertner) decides to give his remains to Ben’s girlfriend Ruth, to spite his family. Ruth houses the ashes in the goat-shaped jar, and we see this famously cold and ruthless woman break down as she stares into the goat’s eyes, remembering not only the love she shared with Ben but also the future that could’ve been.
Mel Sattem (Adam Rothenberg), the private eye who follows the Byrde family around like a bad smell, also takes an interest in the unusual jar. When Mel notices the jar at Ruth’s trailer, he attempts to take a cookie from it before getting shooed away and becomes fixated on what exactly Ruth, and by extension the Byrdes, might be hiding.
The goat-shaped cookie jar, a signature piece of art and production design this season, is the Chekhov’s gun of Ozark’s final season, and it isn’t until the long-anticipated, final minutes of the series that it goes off.