This is a review of Narcos – Season 2.
The first two seasons of Netflix’s Narcos center around the relatively short but highly colorful and controversial life of Colombian narco-trafficker Pablo Escobar.
Season 1 of Narcos focused on the rise to fame and fortune of Escobar amidst tons of cocaine and as many deaths in its wake. To say that it was a captivating watch would be an understatement, which makes it a tough act to follow for the second season. Yet, Season 2 of Narcos succeeds to be as good, if not better than Season 1.
While the first season covered two decades of Pablo Escobar’s (Wagner Moura) existence, most of which dedicated on how he amassed mind-boggling amounts of money and seemingly hypnotic power over the Colombians, the second season of Narcos is mainly about the denouement. It narrates the events of the last two years leading to the death of Escobar. It sounds predictable, but it does not make the show less riveting. Far from it.
Season 2 of Narcos picks up right after the events of the finale of the first season. 4,000 soldiers surround Escobar’s prison, La Catedral, but thanks to magic realism, Escobar and his cohorts slip right through the clutches of the well-armed Colombian forces.
Now that he is out, he visits his assets to take stock of the situation and the damage done by his imprisonment. However, with the authorities hot in his heels, Escobar cannot just sashay in and out of cocaine laboratories. This is where Escobar finds his new Gustavo Gaviria (Juan Pablo Raba), in the taxi driver named Limón (Leynar Gomez). Escobar hides in the trunk while Limón drives him around Medellín. To avoid suspicions, Limón pays childhood friend Maritza (Martina García) to occupy the backseat of the cab. Theirs is an interesting dynamic that one needs to pay close attention to.
Some of Escobar’s hired men in season 1, like Juan Diego “La Quica” Díaz (Diego Castaño) and Blackie (Julián Díaz) have bigger roles now and join Limón as Escobar’s most trusted. Escobar uses his network of lookouts armed with high-tech communication devices to report the activities of the Search Bloc in order to protect himself and his sicarios from surprise raids as they go about with their drug deals.
Season 1 of Narcos featured Escobar spending a lot of screen time with Gaviria, Gacha the Mexican and the Ochoa brothers, but in Season 2 Escobar the family man takes center stage. Escobar’s wife Tata (Paulina Gaitán) and his mother Hermilda Gaviria (Paulina García) have more screen time as they become part of Escobar’s life on-the-run. They have arguments regarding the family’s future, but there is no question that both women love Escobar who in turn reciprocates the feeling a hundred folds.
Being with his family, especially with his kids, gives Escobar more humanity than he rightly deserves. Joking and laughing with and at his sicarios, putting his kids to sleep, taking care of his daughter’s bunny, and having an emotional conversation with his wife over the radio make it hard to see Escobar dead.
The humanity Narcos lends Escobar is in great contrast to the way he acts against his enemies and the civilians who become collateral damages due to his wrath and vengeance. Bombing a place near the presidential palace and the wedding reception of the daughter of one of his rivals are just some of the highlights of Escobar’s take-no-prisoners level of madness. These do not include the hundreds of sicarios and police and military men who perished for the side they believed in. Actual photos and video footages add to the grimness Escobar’s cruelty and evilness caused.
Narcos is Pablo Escobar in a nutshell and hence, voice of God DEA Agent Steve Murphy (Boyd Holbrook) and golden god DEA Agent Javier Peña (Pedro Pascal) have limited roles. Murphy unnecessarily rambles on about the events that unfold onscreen in his snooze-inducing voice because his life outside his job is inconsequential. Peña finally crosses the line and forms an unholy alliance with members of Los Pepes to take Escobar down. But with a newly-installed boss breathing down their necks, Murphy and Peña become each other’s ally more so than before.
Speaking of Los Pepes, they are the future of Narcos. All characters except Escobar suffer from shortened screen time to fully accommodate the stories of Judy Moncada (Cristina Umana), Don Berna, the Castaños brothers, and the Cali Cartel. Aside from the outspoken Moncada and her garish taste in art, the rest of them are forgettable. Gacha the Mexican’s sombreros have more character than the members of Los Pepes, including that guy with overly loud printed shirts.
Thankfully, there are good things that offset the blandness of Los Pepes. First, Colonel Horacio Carrillo (Maurice Compte) and his tight shirt are back after an exile in Spain. He is the same determined and courageous leader bent on killing Escobar but goes overboard this time. Even I, as his fan, cannot justify his action that also shocked Peña. Second, the appearance of Colonel Martinez (Juan Pablo Shuk), the new leader of the Search Bloc. It is refreshing to watch Shuk as a good guy as I have watched him only as the antagonist in two seasons of El Barco. Believe me when I say that he was great at being bad. His role here is not as remarkable as Carrillo’s but the hope is he returns in Season 3 of Narcos. Last, the appearances of Gaviria as imagined by Escobar. Gaviria’s death in Season 1 was a tad too soon. Like Escobar, I miss him. A lot. 🙁 He was Escobar’s equal and their banters were gold.
Moura as Escobar is the biggest weapon of Narcos. Among the cast of superb actors, Moura remains a standout. His mixture of bored and crazed facial expression is the calm before the storm. He is at his scariest when he is quiet and introspective because that is the time when the evil machinations are whirring in his mind. Moura also pulls off the charming and eloquent speaker who can say the hottest of airs, make them believable and make himself look like a victim of injustice.
Season 2 of Narcos is about the fall of Pablo Escobar, one of the most notorious criminals of all time. It shows the depth of the effects of one man’s actions on ordinary people’s lives and the political landscape of not one but two countries – his native Colombia and the main proponent of the war against drugs, United States of America. In doing so, Narcos does not shy away from exhibiting morbid photos and footages of actual events to further accentuate the reverberations of Escobar’s cruel deeds. However, Narcos almost apologetically demonstrates other facets of Escobar – as a boss, a friend, a lover, a husband, a father, and a son. The ending is written on history books, when the monstrous Escobar fell after the third and fatal shot, on the rooftops of Medellín, a place he loved and loved him so much, fat, shoeless and with unshaven face.
To more review, please read Narcos – Season 1.
- “You look like you ate Che Guevarra.” – Gustavo Gaviria to Pablo Escobar.
- “Son of a bitch, you’re old, Pablo.” – Gustavo Gaviria said when Pablo Escobar told him that the latter turned 44 the day before.
- When Gaviria asked Escobar, “What? You don’t miss me or what?”, I shouted, “I do! I do!”
- I finished watching Narcos Season 2 a month ago. Writing this took a while because life got in the way.