As predicted, the third episode of Netflix’s Narcos: Mexico definitely picks up the pace after the previous two episodes. The scene has been set, and now we’re fully into the story of Gallardo’s drug syndicate and Kiki Camarena’s attempts to bring it down.
Speaking of Kiki, he shows his grit and dedication to the cause by going a bit rogue and launching his own undercover operation, sneaking on to the marijuana farm, posing as a worker. This is risky business for a government agent, and even riskier in an environment full of corrupt cops who know who he is. There’s an incredibly tense moment as he spots El Azul on the farm, and El Azul immediately recognises his face. Kiki hotfoots it on to the bus that takes the workers back to the city, and he only gets away from El Azul by quickly donning the hood that all the workers are forced to wear so they don’t know the whereabouts of the farm. And forget about the awful torture he would have suffered if they’d have caught him – it would have been nothing compared to what his wife would have done if he’d missed the birth of their second baby, which he almost did.
Kiki manages to gain some ground with his DEA colleagues after they order some reconnaissance photos, which show an empty desert where Kiki claims the farm should be, only for it later to be revealed that the photos they’ve been given are a year old. The rot clearly goes all the way to the top, and the DEA are suddenly interested in what Kiki has found out so far, helped by a huge chunk of marijuana plant which Kiki smuggles off the farm. The DEA can’t deny what’s right in front of their eyes.
Meanwhile, Rafa is proving to be a bit of a loose cannon. His newfound riches are going to his head a little bit, and he struts his way around a nightclub, only to be knocked back by the object of his affection. Undeterred, he gives himself a makeover inspired by Al Pacino in Scarface, and later wows her with his low cut shirt, white suit and poufy hair. Who could resist?
Gallardo’s other right-hand man, Don Neto, is proving to be the star of the show for me. He seems to be rationed to one phenomenal line per episode, the one from this episode being the pearl of wisdom that, “The No. 2 guy doesn’t solve problems, he just points them out.” More Don Neto, please, I think he’s my favourite.
Gallardo thinks he’s got everything worked out now he’s got all the cartels to agree to work together, but there is already a threat to the precarious tranquility when the DFS make it known that they’re unhappy with their share of the profits, and so they slaughter a whole bunch of cartel men. The message to Gallardo is clear – they’re law enforcement, and they can do what they want. Pretty much everyone who works for the cartel is related in some way or another, so inevitably, there are angry relatives who want revenge for the deaths.
Gallardo manages the situation by giving the Félix brothers a token in the form of one of the DFS agents responsible for the shooting. He’s duly buried alive by the brothers. That leaves Gallardo to balance the other side of the equation – the DFS – which he does by reminding them that without him they wouldn’t be getting any money at all. That placates them for now, but this seems like a dispute which is set to continue.
Gallardo organises the wedding of the governer’s son in his fancy hotel, enjoying playing his role as a gangland godfather, but his newfound status is short-lived when the governer, who is a father figure to Gallardo, reminds him not to forget his roots, and demands a huge cut of the cartel’s profits in order to keep the city’s politician’s on side. Gallardo is enraged by this demonstration that the governer doesn’t see him as a social equal, despite his wealth and power. The governer is probably going to regret pulling this particular stunt.
The flashy wedding also draws the attention of the DEA, and they use it as a handy guide to the workings of Guadalajara’s underworld. Anyone who’s anyone is at the wedding, and they’re all paying their respects to Gallardo. He’s clearly running the show, so Gallardo is now on their radar…