NARCOS Review: Episodes 8-10


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Ok, so…Pablo (Wagner Moura) is dead. And good riddance because he wreaked havoc on Colombia for long enough.

In the last 3 episodes, his evil nature is exposed more and more to the people of Medellin, Colombia. At one time, most of them saw him as a do-gooder. After the bombing of numerous children, the people seem to turn their backs on him. Killing children is not anything that anyone subscribes to. Although Pablo never took credit for it, all signs seem to point at him authorizing such a thing. His supposed intention was to get the attention of President Gaviria (Raul Mendez), but that lit an even hotter flame under Gaviria to catch him and kill him.

President Gaviria replaces Carrillo with a more conventional choice for the Search Bloc; however, he tells him that when they capture Escobar, kill him if he resists, fires shots, spits, talks or even blinks an eye at any officer. Gaviria has had enough!

The Attorney General tries to intervene on Escobar’s behalf, not because he is a puppet, but because he is enforcing the law.  He tries to convince Gaviria to work with other countries to let Escobar’s family enter. There’s something about Gaviria that just wreaks “spineless,” but he sticks to his guns.  Escobar has embarrassed him on many occasions. Gaviria has an image to uphold. He is the president of Colombia, not Escobar. To the rest of the world, it seems like Escobar is getting the best of him, and Gaviria will not allow that to remain the case any longer.

So, Gaviria receives his victory!  Agent Murphy (Boyd Holbrook) is there to witness the capture and execution. He admits that as he is finally standing over the body of the infamous Escobar, he is let down. Escobar is “just a man.” That is true indeed, but that one mortal soul organized a drug ring that rivals the financial success of today’s top fortune 50 companies; killed hundreds of civilians and police officers; and escaped a prison that he negotiated his way into. That is a bad MF.

And because he is a bad MF, he deserved a bad MF-er to capture him, and that does not include Murphy.  I found Murphy to be one-dimensional. He seems like too much of a “good guy” to be a DEA agent. And that really annoyed me. While Pena gets into the dirt of a dirty game, Murphy is back in the office twiddling his thumbs, judging Pena. Murphy has traumatic stress, but I am not sure why.  He isn’t on the streets as much as Pena.  He hasn’t really gotten up close and personal with any of the “bad guys,” so what is his stress about?  And why is this guy narrating?

I figured Escobar was close to dying because Tata (Paulina Gaitan) said the silliest thing: “You can be like Nelson Mandela.” Uhm, excuse me? Apartheid survivor. Uniter of people. Human Rights Activist.  Nobel Peace Prize Winner.  U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient.  That Nelson Mandela?  Pablo Escobar cannot be Nelson Mandela just because they both went to prison.  That’s like saying I can be the next President of the U.S. just because Obama and I are from Chicago.  That loose comparison is stupid, at best.

bearded escobar

Tata has always been a strong and sensible character. I will assume that she said this to give him some hope, something a husband on the run from the Colombian militia and U.S. DEA kinda sorta needs. Hurrah to her because it worked! It gave him the confidence to walk out in broad daylight. And then get captured.  So maybe it didn’t work. What she sold him was delusion, not hope. Spouses, keep this example in mind when you’re trying to cheer up your partner.

Since the season ends with Escobar’s death, Tata should get a more fleshed-out storyline. I am really excited about this. She is the widow of this monster. Her last name will be shunned forever and those of her children. How does she live after all of this? Her husband really screwed his family.  With all of the promises to never leave and to always keep the family safe, he has fallen short on those promises in life and death.

This season was an indictment of Pablo Escobar.  There are no, ifs, ands or buts about him being a monster.  He is no one’s hero.  He is not even the guy you like to hate.  You just hate him.  Everything written about the real Escobar is horrific.  Yes, he gave to the poor, but again, that was not because he was a good person.  He was interested in power over the people.  He was evil incarnate, and to this day, Colombia is tainted with being known as the cocaine capital of the world.

I’d also like to continue seeing strong female characters for season 3. Messina (Florencia Lozano), Tata, and Judy Moncada (Cristina Umana) all held their own as real characters. They were not simply the “wife of” or “girlfriend of” or “no one’s anything.” Messina was Pena’s (Pedro Pascal)  superior. She came in guns a-blazing, trying to do everything in her power to find Escobar.

tata and mom

Tata is Tata. I completely understand why Escobar married her. She is strong, smart, understanding, and savvy.  Escobar trusts her opinion, and that is what married life should be about.

Judy is a bad MF in her own right. I was dubious that she would be able to pull off cornering Escobar.  It had nothing to do with her being a woman.  It had everything to do with Escobar being Escobar.  He was a god when he escaped prison, and at his highest level of invincibility, Judy vowed to avenge her husband’s death. Anyone would have thought she was crazy to go toe-to-toe with him.  But in the end Colombia owes her for his death.  I hope she plays this up.  She can easily fit the shoes of a savior if that’s what she desires.

Characters like Limon (Leynar Gomez), La Quica (Diego Catano) and Maritza (Martina Garcia) are all casualties. Limon, in a rage, kills Maritza in front of her baby son. Since this series is inspired by true events, I can only imagine the other effects the drug cartel had on the children.  Not only were they killed but those who survived were traumatized. I hope the next season explores this as well.  Seeing an evil through a child’s eyes can be quite powerful.

Other people may be disappointed to see this season end with Escobar’s death, but I wasn’t.  You can’t have a character that you despise on all levels to continue living.  No way.  The name of this show is . Plural. Never forget that. It is an opportunity to profile as many drug cartels as desired. That world is a mystery.  Peeking inside the lives of historical drug kingpins is fascinating.  With some creative liberty, these stories will never get old.  Escobar was the bait, and now, I am hooked.

Next up: The Cali Cartel

Agent Pena is asked to participate in what he thinks is an investigation into his involvement with Los Pepes.  He is wrong.  An agent tells him that during Escobar’s disappearing act, U.S. drug smuggling skyrocketed. Yes, this means another cartel is picking up where Escobar left off.  Isn’t it interesting that when a main player of any organization is executed, there is always some other person or group to step right into those vacated shoes? It seems the Cali Cartel is doing just that.

The Cali Cartel is formed by two brothers.  It seems like their tactics are to create a wide network where there is no central figure.  Creating a storyline with many main characters can be done, but it is daunting.  HBO’s Game of Thrones does it well, but there are moments where you forget about someone.  You have to go through your mental rolodex to remember how someone is related to the story again.  However, if the story is good, then I will be delighted to put a few pieces of the puzzle together.  This seems to be the case with Narcos.  The story is fascinating.  The writing is pretty good.  And I like Agent Pena.  I actually have someone to root for now.

cali cartel

My only criticism of the show is that the characters don’t have much depth.  I’d like to know about Pena’s backstory.  How did he become a DEA agent?  Why exactly are the Cali Cartel brothers in the cocaina business?  Why is Agent Murphy so judgmental?  And why is he narrating this story again?

Overall, I really like Narcos.  I am invested, and I can’t wait to see what does with Season 3.

TB-TV-Grade-ASeason 2, Episode 8-10
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Jennifer writes by night and secures insurance for shows by day.
Follow Jennifer on :@reneseford

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