I have to admit that I was in two minds about continuing on with Narcos post season two. The first seasons were focused almost exclusively on Pablo Escobar and with him out of the picture, what was the point really? But we soldiered on to find out what happened with the Cali Cartel that filled the gap left by Pablo.
The four leaders of the Cali Cartel are very different from Escobar. Pablo focused very much on violently and publicly decimating anyone who got in his way while cultivating a powerful public presence. The “gentlemen” of Cali are much more business focused, running their empire like a fortune 500 company and staying out of the limelight.
Well until Cali head honcho Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela (Damián Alcázar) decides to surrender. He gives his brother, Miguel (Francisco Denis) and their partners 6 months to make as much money as possible with the intention that they will retire gracefully rather than “dying on a roof”.
Unfortunately the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Agent Peña (Pedro Pascal) is back on the scene, hell bent on getting the Orejuela brothers behind bars and not all of their partners are so keen to give up their lives. At the same time Miguel decides that letting their security chief, Jorge Salcedo (Matias Varela) retire is a bad idea. Soon there is a perfect storm of chaos and cat and mouse games that will push both sides of the War on Drugs to their limits.
Initially I wasn’t that bothered about the Cali Cartel but the tension that is built in this series is something very special. Salcedo is such an interesting character. He is essentially a good man who has gotten into the wrong crowd and ended up torn between two worlds. As his fate becomes ever more precarious, you end up glued to the screen wondering whether one wrong move is going to signal the end.
I also really enjoyed the way Peña’s two new young deputies used financial records to trace Cali was very exciting to watch and showed the progression in technology from the Escobar days. They made up for Murphy no longer being around.
When it all comes down to it, I think this was actually my favourite of the three seasons. While the first two seasons was all about Escobar this season allowed for way more development of other characters. It became less about one stellar performance and more about storytelling.
Next up we’ll be checking out Narcos: Mexico, which is a whole new kettle of fish…