I watched season one of Narcos while bedridden due to an upper respiratory infection. Thirty minutes into the first episode of season two, I realized that I wouldn’t mind a fresh bout of sickness in order to binge watch the new season. There have been several telenovelas (many of which also available on Netflix) which cover the life of Pablo Escobar. Not having watched those, I can’t honestly state whether Narcos is better than its predecessors. I can state that Narcos is without exaggeration one of the best shows that Netflix has produced thus far. In its first season, Narcos told the story of Escobar’s rise from obscurity to become one of the most significant criminal figures of the 20th century. Unfortunately for viewers, season two charts the fall and demise of Escobar.
I say unfortunately because Wagner Moura’s performance as Pablo Escobar should be considered one of the best performances in a drama anyone will see for a long time. It’s not false praise or exaggeration when I say that Moura’s portrayal of Pablo Escobar rivals Iris Elba’s performance in the Wire as Springer Bell and Vincent D’Onofrio in Netflix’s Daredevil. Moura’s Escobar defies easy explanation or categorization. He’s capable of acts of absolute barbarity, such as in episode one of season two where he interrupts a rival’s telephone conversation (where the rival is elaborating on Escobar’s weakness), taking the cell phone to explain to his rival’s brother that he is about to kill him, and returning the phone so his victim can beg for aid before being murdered. He orders the murder of every woman in a brothel because he believes that one of them may have alerted police to his hideout. His manipulations of the Colombian media and politicians, including the President and the Attorney General, show that he is more than a violent criminal – he is a tactician and mastermind. Moura’s Escobar is also a devoted son to his mother, a loving (but unfaithful) husband to his wife, and a father who takes the time to stare into the sky with his children and point out imaginary animals in the clouds. Merging the conflicting and competing aspects of Escobar must be an exceeding difficult task, but one that Moura appears to make effortless.
While Moura’s performance as Escobar is an outstanding one, the cast in their respective performances show themselves to be just as capable. Pedro Pascal (Javier Peña) and Boyd Holbrook (Steve Murphy) turn in masterful performances as the DEA agents assigned to work with the CIA and the Colombian National Police to capture Escobar. Season two finds both characters struggling to deal with the mental and emotional consequences of their attempts to apprehend Escobar, and the extrajudicial actions that the Search Bloc has to take to bring him to justice. Paulina Gaitán’s portrayal of Tata Escobar is brilliant. Gaitán’s Tata is more perceptive than her husband, and can see that the forces of the Colombian state, the Americans, and fellow narcotics traffickers have aligned against Pablo and time is running out.
It’s not a spoiler for me to say that things are not going to end well for Escobar in season two (hint: a season three teaser trailer has already been released). Its hard for me to believe that the best is yet to come with Moura leaving the show. Regardless, Narcos is genuinely must-see television. Personally, I look forward to a nice two day cold so I can finish this season’s episodes.
*cough, cough, sneeze*