When I finished season 2 of Narcos last year, I said to myself that they should just leave it there. The rise and fall of Pablo Escobar was an excellently told story (if not a little rushed in season 1) and, much like my anxious anticipation with season 2 of West World, I do sometimes feel that they should leave things on a high before they are milked and become poor. How many times have your favourite TV shows fizzled out in later seasons (Heroes, Dexter, 24, etc), where as if they ended them seasons ago, we would regard them as some of the best TV shows in history.
I am VERY pleased to admit that I was wrong. I won’t admit that much, so enjoy it while it lasts. Narcos has to (now) be one of my favourite TV shows that are currently on, and Season 3 is just as perfectly written, well acted, and just as intense as the previous ones, despite loosing the Wagner Moura as Pablo Escobar, and Boyd Holbrook as the gringo DEA agent Steve Murphy. This year the story focuses on the events that where hinted at the very end of season 2; Agent Peña vs the Cali Cartel.
At least one thing is assured, however; we do not have to see any more bastard jumpers. For a drug lord with millions of dollars, even before he was captured or went into hiding, Pablo Escobar was a terrible dresser.
Now I knew a little bit about the history of Pablo Escobar, so it was interesting to see moments played out in the show, where as season 3, I really did not know much about the Cali Cartel. Coming away from it, I really wish that I did! And you can be sure that I will be reading into after I have written this review.
The season tells the story of how the main bosses of the Cali Cartel (who worked at building their empire in the shadows, while Escobar kept everyone’s attention focused on him) and, who are now, the biggest drug cartel in the country (maybe even the world… I’m not sure). The leaders; the Rodríguez Orejuela brothers; Gilberto and Miguel, Pacho and Chepe, are living the high life as the Kingpin of Narcotics, but since Escobar has been dealt with, the focus of the Colombian government and the DEA, in their war against drugs, has changed and now they have their sights on the Cali Cartel.
Gilberto hatches a deal with the government to hand himself and his fellow leaders in, but in six months time, serving minimal (if any) jail time and being allowed to keep all their assets left behind. So this means that the Cartel have 6 months to make as much money as possible and then it is done. What a fantastic story! I loved it.
But of course, things don’t always go as planned, and, without spoilers, the deal changes. This is mainly in part by Pedro Pascal’s Javier Peña.
Now Pedro Pascal is an actor who came into my sights when he was in Game of Thrones, and ever since then I have always taken a second look at someone he is in. Pedro is now the lead and he makes the show that much better. He is an excellent actor who plays the role perfectly.
Anyway, Agent Peña is eager to bring down the Cali Cartel before the surrender, so he and a couple of new DEA agents are hard at work to try and mess up their plans and capture them as soon as possible.
Joining them this year is Jorge Salcedo; the head of the Cali Cartel security (played by Matias Varela). His story is one of the most important aspects of this season, as without him, the DEA would have been staggering around in the dark. He is a good guy who is just in the wrong business. He really wants to get out of it all and being his new life with his family, but the boss is not letting him go (as he is so good at running their security) and so now he is trapped, with his only way out to rat on his bosses to the US, which is most likely going to get him and his family killed.
Jorge’s story is probably the most intense this season, where he gets himself in situations where you know that one wrong move, and he is a dead man. It’s brilliantly acted and well written, especially when a few difficult situations become messy.
There is a story line at the beginning of the season that focuses on Miguel and the wife of some other narco guy, and how he wants her for himself and what not, but it really loses steam early on and never really becomes the focus of anything, making me think why they even put it in there in the first place other than to just fill up the first couple of episodes. That is probably my only qualm with this season, other than that, it has been amazing. I have been on the edge of my seat for most of it, especially towards the end.
I was surprised as it seemed as if everything got cleaned up nicely in episode 9, but somehow the writers managed to make the final episode just as enjoyable as any of the others.
I would just like to take this moment to say that I love the intro to this show. Whenever Netflix says to me “Would you like to skip the intro?” I have to refuse. The song is brilliant and I love this whole CIA tracking/monitoring style that they have going on, with real footage and blacked out documentation. It’s brilliant. It is worth noting that at the end of the intro, we are given a shot of Gilberto Rodríguez, and I must say that they have done a fantastic job of casting him.
That was a little off subject. I really wanted to talk about the intro, just because I love it, so now let’s get back to the show.
A great character this season is Miguel’s son; David. It is the classic tale of the mob bosses son being untouchable and knowing it, so he can pretty much do whatever he wants, and David does just that! He is an absolutely horrible character, but in the best way. The actor is perfectly cast and whenever you see him on screen, you know that he is going to either throw a spanner in the works, or do something horrific to someone. There is a fantastic moment near the end of the season when someone has some information for David and so he arranges to meet with him. The other guy is smug and cocky, giving it the old “You scratch my back…” speech, and the whole time you KNEW that David was going to do something. I could feel myself wanting to turn away in anticipation, the same way I do in a horror film when you get a sense that a jump scare is about to happen. It is really well done.
I did found out, however, that David is not a real character and that Miguel Rodríguez’s son was nothing like that at all, which is a bit disappointing. I felt the same when I discovered that Horacio Carrillo in seasons 1 & 2 was not a real character either, as these characters offer a lot of great moments in the show, but then it is just clearly made up for dramatic purposes. The show does warn you of this from the get-go, I must admit, but it is still sad to think that this aspect of it never actually happened.
Overall the story this season has been brilliant. It did not fumble at the loss of their lead actors, but instead appeared to continue to soar as it has done in the years previous. While it is a self contained story, and I am not sure if it will lead to a season 4, it is worth a watch to see just how good it really is. I am a little gutted that the season is over, and I am left wanting more, which only happens with a few key TV shows. Thankfully Narcos has become one of them. I can honestly recommend this show to anyone and suggest that if you have not ever seen it, then you are in for a treat. But if you were put off from watching it this season because of the lack of Pablo Escobar, then I would suggest that you immediately stop being a pendejo and get watching as soon as possible.
Now, unfortunately, we have to wait around and see if we get a season 4….