STARRING: Wagner Moura, Boyd Holbrook, Pedro Pascal, Joanna Christie, Maurice Compte, Diego Cataño, Paulina Gaitán, Stephanie Sigman, Raúl Méndez, Bruno Bichir, Florencia Lozano, Eric Lange, Brett Cullen, Martina García, Paulina García, Alejandro Buitrago, Julián Díaz, Jorge Monterrosa, Cristina Umaña, Damián Alcázar, Jon Ecker, Francisco Denis, Leynar Gomez and Mauricio Cujar
A chronicled look at the criminal exploits of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.
Season 2 kicks off with a countywide manhunt in Medellín as Pablo Escobar escapes from La Cathedral. Murphy and Peña get a new boss, along with a shady CIA rep named Bill arriving and a new Search Bloc commander, making things more crowded within the task force as they hunt Escobar. They aren’t the only ones as Pablo’s enemies begin to join forces, leading to violence hitting the streets of Columbia.
Released last weekend on Netflix, the second season of Narcos pickups up where Season 1 ended, with Pablo Escobar escaping from prison and looking to rebuild his empire, leading to a chaotic manhunt for the authorities to catch and for his enemies looking to kill him.
The series overall has a darker tone to it as the line between good and bad becomes blurred as civilians, normally children, are caught in the crossfires moreso than actual soldiers of the drug war, while those hunting Escobar within the police force/Columbian Government may take brutal actions in an attempt to catch him. While the second season is more of a slow burn in portraying Pablo Escobar’s fall, the season definitely picks up when Maurice Compte’s Horacio Carrillo returns to Medellín to take down Pablo Escobar and his methods, one of his methods of warning young kids that work as spotters for Pablo will result in death, which he demonstrates by shooting one through the head. It makes the hunt for Pablo even more intense, as certain enemies begin to forge their own cartel in order to wipe out Pablo Escobar from the equation and claim his money, labs for their own benefit. Once again Wagner Moura is terrific as Pablo Escobar, to the point that anytime he’s off screen the show feels stalled somewhat until he resurfaces. It focuses a lot on Pablo with his family as they move from safe house to safe house, humanising the character during his monstrous actions and they built up the character over the course of two seasons that when the time comes for Pablo Escobar’s chapter to be closed, his presence will be sorely missed on the show. Paulina García gives a great performance playing Pablo’s wife Tata, who isn’t thrilled with the life they now lead with Pablo on the run from the law and his enemies but there’s an undeniable quality in her loyalty to her husband even when the odds mount against him. While Boyd Holbrook’s Steve Murphy takes a backseat in terms of story arc this season, Pedro Pascal gets to shine in his meaty arc as Javier Peña allies himself with a vigilante group that consists of Pablo Escobar’s enemies which he believes he can overlook and control to make sure no civilians get caught in the crossfire of the cartel war. In another well rounded story arc is that of Leynar Gomez’s Limon and Martina García’s Maritza. Limon is a cab driver who gets recruited to drive Pablo around Medellín, while using his childhood friend Maritza as a plant during these trips, which ends up eventually putting her life in danger as she is accused (wrongly) of betraying Pablo Escobar. Gomez is really good as Limon, someone who gets himself deeper into Escobar’s ranks the more dangerous things become and Martina García brings an authenticity to the role of Martiza as Limon’s last connection of normality that he begins to corrupt the deeper down the rabbit hole he gets siding with Pablo, I thought she was terrific. The cinematography this season is great, as is the camerawork and it attempts wide shots during foot chases through the streets, to a one shot shootout that is brimming with tension.
While Boyd Holbrook’s takes a back seat in terms of action/arc this season compared to last, his narration continues on and mainly the negative to come from it is that his character acknowledges certain things before the character comes to learn it until an episode or two later, meaning that the end game of this must be we see Steve Murphy writing about these moments in a memoir or telling them to someone otherwise it’s just a writing error that stands out. There’s a few scenes that stand out from a sore thumb as a few of Escobar’s men surprise death by blind luck or escape from the police by last minute dodges that will seem rather repetitive to some viewers. Then there’s the humanisation of Pablo Escobar that this season attempts that might still rub viewers off the wrong way, though this brings more emotional depth to the show with Pablo’s family whereas Murphy’s becomes non-existent in comparison to last season and Peña has an arc with a prostitute as he can’t open up to anyone emotionally – basically the crime family are the emotional bridge for us. Probably the biggest negative for the season however comes in its aftermath leading into seasons 3 and 4 which were just confirmed yesterday. Pablo Escobar has, obviously, been a huge figure and antagonist for the show over the course of two seasons, that the seeds planted for his inevitable demise and who the antagonists can be in the seasons come lead to one particular become – they are not Pablo Escobar. There will be a massive void without Wagner Moura playing the character but the show must go on, for better or worse we will find out next summer when Season 3 is out.
Darker in tone, slower burn than season 1 (in my opinion) and definitely well executed overall in terms of filmmaking and acting performances, with Wagner Moura being spellbinding as Pablo Escobar. Pedro Pascal gets to shine more this season as Peña though unfortunately Boyd Holbrook’s Murphy takes more of a backseat. As great as this season is, I can’t help but feel that Moura’s portrayal of Escobar will leave a void that can’t be filled in future seasons. Time will tell. 8/10