Wagner Moura’s portrayal of Pablo Escobar was so brilliant in the first two seasons that most Netflix viewers could never imagine another season of Narcos without the former Medellin Cartel head. But that’s not the case for the creators, who decided to name the show ‘Narcos’ instead of ‘Escobar’ as they moved beyond Escobar’s iron fist, struggles, ghosts, and the damage he caused to his beloved motherland, Colombia linger on far past his death.
Season 3 picks up during the aftermath of Escobar’s death: Medellin in grief, Cali’s first bottle of champagne, and the whole of Colombia, torn in two, pleading to be rebuilt. Agent Murphy, who was heavily involved in the grand manhunt for Escobar, left Colombia while his partner, Javier Pena, flew back to take the DEA’s top job in order to tackle another monster in the Colombia’s historic drug war: the Gentlemen of Cali.
The Gentlemen of Cali – Pacho Herrera, Gilberto Rodriguez, Miguel Rodriguez and Chepe Santacruz were formally introduced in season 2 has the main rivals of Pablo Escobar. But when the Big Man passed, the Cali boys were just one step behind him, waiting to take his spot when it became available. The Cali cartel didn’t have to climb any ladder as the drug market was pretty much theirs with Escobar gone, and to see the Gentlemen handle their own struggles in the wake of that is a treat. Reminiscent The Godfather, each gentleman has their own specific roles and traits: Gilberto the wise, optimistic and a bit careless elder leader, Don Miguel the slightly-cautious but progressive younger brother, Pacho the liberated, and openly-gay druglord and Chepe, the one who handles their business overseas. Aside from Chepe, each character was given enough screentime to showcase their individual stories, making Escobar’s dominance of season 1 & 2 feel like a distant past. Miguel’s fear of getting captured was emphasized with paranoia and anxiety as his usual calm facade was blown out of proportions to the point of making mistakes that he would never do.
The Cali bosses aren’t the only new main attractions. It’s about time the creators push Javier Pena to centerstage, a place where he shines the most. Pena didn’t take his promotion too well – a man not made for the office, itching for a sniff of the battle outside, his own nature goes against the calm needed to run an empire. Thankfully, one of his minions, Chris Feistl, somehow managed to pry him away from the books and back to the field, where Pena caused chaos in the middle of a dishonest agreement between the Colombian government and the Cali Cartel. Pedro Pascal showed that he had what it takes to take the spotlight (and the narrator duties) and his DEA character has transcended the definition of a generic DEA drunkard that we’ve seen on the tele before.
What made Season 3 arguably better than the last two seasons is Jorge Salcedo’s part of the story in the big picture. Played by Matias Varela, Jorge Salcedo is the deputy head of security in the Cali Cartel who was planning to retire before the Cali bosses announced the agreement they had with the government, that obviously required Salcedo’s expertise in security measures. He later then began to have second thoughts about working with the Cali cartel, especially when he ended up in the crosshairs of Don Miguel’s son, David Rodriguez. The inclusion of Salcedo’s character was the prime ingredient in making Season 3 of Narcos one of the freshest shows this year. The character development was so jaw-dropping and intense that it took me long breathers to move from one episode to another, just to digest everything.
Now that we know where the Narcos franchise will end up at in season 4, it’s safe to say that the ship sailed through glorious waters to make it there. Since most of us have finished season 3, now it’s time to look at the wall, and wonder what we’re going to do with our lives until the next season comes, or at least until Stranger Things S2 premieres.