Article written for Flyer News, published September 21, 2016
September is a big month for Netflix users — Netflix has recently added 111 new TV shows and movies to its streaming service. One of the newest additions is the highly anticipated second season of “Narcos,” a crime drama showcasing the cocaine expedition lead by Pablo Escobar and the Medellín drug cartel.
Set in Colombia, the story is told from the perspective of Drug Enforcement Administration agent Ryan Murphy, who is a member of the U.S. task force specifically made to control the movement of cocaine to the U.S. as well as ultimately destroy Escobar’s reign. With Murphy’s partner Javier Peña by his side, the show uncovers a brutal history by displaying the life-changing moments of violence and power associated with the cocaine business.
The first season of “Narcos” begins in the late 1970s, a time when the demand for cocaine began to rise and Pablo Escobar was considered only a rookie in the business. It profiles Escobar’s advancements of power within both the cocaine business and the public eye. He portrays himself as a “man of the people” but behind the scenes, he produces 10 thousand kilos of coke per week and recruits armies of men to help run his business. The season runs until 1992, ending with Escobar’s escape from a prison he built himself, known as La Catedral.
During the “Narcos” hiatus between seasons, Netflix teased its viewers by releasing promos for the upcoming second season, focusing most of its advertising on Pablo Escobar’s inevitable death. Netflix created the hashtag campaign #WhoKilledPablo, based on the multiple conspiracy theories that still exist surrounding who actually killed Pablo Escobar. Netflix made it perfectly clear that Escobar will die during the second season since that is how history played out, and they intended to make the portrayal of his death as realistic and as historically accurate as possible.
Season two picked up exactly where season one left off: Pablo Escobar’s departure from La Catedral. The rest of the season follows the aftermath of Escobar’s escape, making him an even bigger target. The DEA, the Colombian Search Bloc, and rival Cali Cartel are all hungry to bring Escobar to justice for poisoning Colombia with chaos.
One of his fiercest enemies is Los Pepes, an intense death squad created by the Cali cartel. Los Pepes’ main mission is to bring down Escobar by brutally killing every person who has ever been associated with him. Their mutilated corpses were then publically displayed with grim messages of warning, showing that Escobar is not as powerful as he once was. There is a “survival of the fittest” vibe throughout the season, making each scene even more intense than before.
This season shifts to a perspective focused on character development, especially seeing Pablo Escobar in his most vulnerable state during his final days. Escobar spends most of this season in hiding with his mother, his wife and two children, showcasing how much of a family man he was. The show reenacted multiple intimate moments with his family, leaving the audience conflicted on how to feel about Escobar. Towards the end of the season, he was separated from his family as a result of them trying to seek safety in Germany. After that failed, his family was placed into protective custody in Colombia.
With Escobar’s diminishing army of men and only being able to contact his family via radio, he began to realize his days were numbered. He even reached out to his father, who rejected him due to his extreme disappointment in his monster of a son.
Despite being an evil, power-hungry man who killed hundreds of innocent people, the second season revealed his humanity; sensitive, approval-seeking man that you couldn’t help but feel sympathy for.
The second season concludes with the highly-anticipated death of Pablo Escobar, leaving the audience to wonder: what happens next? A majority of “Narcos” appeal came from the storyline of Escobar’s legacy, so how will they continue to the already renewed third and fourth season?
The promo for the upcoming season hints at the fact that the third season will profile the Cali cartel. With a brilliant cast and entertaining storyline filled with plot twists and suspense, the “Narcos” team has done an excellent job at keeping the audience on the edge of their seats these past two seasons. It will be interesting to see how they completely switch directions while keeping the same “Narcos” authenticity for the upcoming seasons.
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