Season three of Narcos will premiere on Netflix on 1st September, which means it’s time to have a quick look back at the action from season two, including that dramatic finale.
If season two is still on your watchlist, you will definitely want to skip reading this until you’re all caught up.
Season one saw Pablo Escobar reach the heights of his power as a billionaire drug lord, through a campaign of bribery, terror and violence. Pursued by the DEA and the Colombian police unit, the Search Bloc, Escobar bribed police, assassinated politicians and blew up an aeroplane, and at the end of season one, Pablo was in prison for his crimes. Escobar being Escobar though, it wasn’t any ordinary prison. Instead, he was detained inside La Catedral, a prison of his own construction, where Pablo and his men drank booze, played pool and continued to run their drug empire.
To nobody’s surprise, as season two opens, Escobar, played by Wagner Moura, has escaped from his own prison and is back on the run from the Search Bloc and the DEA, while he continues supplying the USA drug trade with cocaine. Things are slightly more difficult for Escobar this time though, as he is now not only battling the DEA and the Search Bloc, but also a vigilante death squad called Los Pepes and the combined power of his drug rivals, as the Cali cartel form an alliance with the Castaño brothers, Don Berna and Kiko Moncada’s widow, Judy, who wants revenge for Pablo’s men beating her husband to death.
The show’s producers claim that Narcos is 50% real and 50% fiction, but even so, there is an inevitability to where the season is headed, as anyone who knows anything about Pablo Escobar’s story will know. Nevertheless, it’s extremely entertaining to watch the action unfold, as Escobar comes up against rivals who match him in terms of their ruthlessness and violence.
DEA agents Murphy (Boyd Holbrook) and Peña (Pedro Pascal) are still the ones tasked with shutting down Escobar’s operation, and it’s beginning to take its toll on both of them. Always a little bit on the morally ambiguous side, Peña strays further into dangerous territory with what he is prepared to do to catch Escobar, and collaborates with the vigilante Los Pepes group. Things get markedly more tense between Murphy and his wife, Connie, because of the danger involved for both of them while they remain in Colombia, and you get the sense that Murphy’s already got one foot on a plane back to the USA.
The noose tightens on Escobar, who has by now ditched the awful polyester shirts in favour of some exceedingly nineties-looking knitwear, and he slowly unravels over the course of the series, as the danger for his family increases and his situation looks ever more precarious. Gone is the extravagant lifestyle, as Escobar is no longer able to live in his mansion and must move from safe house to safe house in order to stay one step ahead of the police, the DEA and his business rivals.
He even attempts to send his family to Germany for their own safety, a plan which is thwarted by Murphy, who follows them and gets them deported back to Colombia. You get the feeling by this point that the DEA just enjoy doing whatever they can to whizz on Escobar’s cornflakes.
The season climaxes with the final showdown between Escobar and the DEA, and Escobar’s rather undignified death on a rooftop, barefoot and pot-bellied, which is recreated with an accuracy that is somewhat unnerving.
Talking of Narcos’ real-life origins, trivia fans will want to look out for a cameo from the actual Murphy and Peña in the final bar scene after Escobar’s death.
But Narcos isn’t done yet, having already been confirmed for a fourth season after number three premieres next month. Just like the mythological hydra, if you cut off one head, another will grow in its place, and the DEA know they still have work to do in Colombia, only this time their focus will be on the Cali cartel, one of the most powerful crime syndicates in global history, who once bankrupted a local municipality with their criminal activities because of the sheer number of autopsies they were having to perform. Escobar may be gone, but strap yourselves in for season three, because the Cali cartel definitely means business.