Photo courtesy of Netflix.com
WARNING: this article contains massive spoilers.
The third season of Netflix’s original series Narcos came out on Friday to critical acclaim. There had been questions surrounding the show and if it would maintain its quality after the death of Pablo Escobar in season two’s finale or if it would come off as a lazy extension of a series that passed its natural conclusion.
The show now centers on DEA agent Javier Peña (Pedro Pascal) who took a backseat to his partner Steve Murphy (Boyd Holbrook) in the first two seasons. Peña is seen as a hero in America after the takedown of Pablo Escobar’s Medellin Cartel. He heads back to Colombia as a leader of the DEA in charge of taking down the Cali Cartel, which became the largest producer of cocaine in the world after Escobar’s fall.
The main conflict is “The Gentlemen of Cali” hanging up their cleats. Gilberto makes a deal with the Colombian government to cease all of Cali’s operations which the cartel dedicates to making as many ill-gotten gains as possible before departing. This creates a timetable for the DEA to work within. However, the CIA wants the DEA to step back and let the cartel’s plan go through. The Colombian CIA station chief, Bill Stechner (Eric Lange), says there will be “no more swallowing the spider to catch the fly.” Peña does nothing until a mistake by Miguel’s son David (Arturo Castro) costs innocent lives. The former sends Chris Feistl and Daniel Van-Ness (Michael Stahl-David and Matt Whelan) into Cali.
Feistl and Van-Ness discover that they are working against the the cartel, the corrupt Cali police force and the CIA. To counter this, they work in secret and find the hideout of Gilberto Rodriguez, who has been praised for his intelligence and his ability to keep Cali out of public scrutiny. He’d bribed and blackmailed every policeman and politician in Cali, giving the cartel relative impunity. The DEA arrests Gilberto in episode four, aptly named “Checkmate.”
This causes the slow-paced show to spiral into breakneck pandemonium. In Gilberto’s absence, Miguels becomes the leader of the cartel. The Northern Valley, a subsidiary of the Cali Cartel, starts a war in an attempt to make itself the chief cocaine exporter of Colombia. Miguel responds to this by mailing the leader a fridge full of his dismembered men. Head of Security Jorge Salcedo (Matias Varela) decides to help the DEA in exchange for safe passage into the U.S. In what eventually leads to the arrest of Miguel, Salcedo becomes the main focus of the show as he lives under constant pressure to hide his true intentions from the cartel, at the risk of his and his family’s lives.
Narcos’ biggest failure is giving too much time to Peña. Instead of letting the show’s new characters take control of the series, large portions of screen time goes towards Peña locating a money launderer and getting him to talk. While these events end up being vital to keeping the Cali godfathers in jail, they are dragged out to prevent the show’s only returning character from taking a backseat. This was annoying when the finale hinted at Peña being the main character of season four, which will take place in Mexico.
Even with its flaws, Narcos’ third season is an enthralling race against time. Its bloody events leave you wondering which side was right. Whether you’re a fan of the show or you’re someone looking for a new addictive series, make sure Narcos’ captivating world of drugs, money and murder is next on your watchlist.
By: Webb McNamee ~Guest Writer~