I like the way this season of Narcos began. The show has changed from its previous setting in the South American country of Colombia with the Medellin and the Cali Cartels as its subjects, Narcos: Mexico tells the story of a new adventure that began with one man’s vision for a more profitable trade. Narcos: Mexico begins as a dark narrative with the introduction being “I’m going to tell you a story, but it doesn’t have a happy ending. In fact, it doesn’t have an ending at all.” And it only gets darker from there.
Unlike the Colombian iterations of the series, this season of Narcos does not carry the traction and the level of intensity that a drug cartel story should. Instead, the storyline and the way the story is told seems quite weak in comparison to the stories that were told about Escobar or the Gentlemen of Cali. In fact, the show is almost singlehandedly carried by Diego Luna, who plays the main bad guy – Miguel Felix Gallardo. Michael Peña (of Fury and American Hustle) also does a good job as the main protagonist of the show (DEA Agent Kiki Camarrena) but is largely underwhelming in comparison to Pedro Pascal (who was DEA Agent Javier Peña in the previous three seasons). Of course, it’s unfair to compare Michael and Pedro’s characters given their differing personalities but I felt like the story didn’t adequately explore the depth of Camarrena as much as they did with Javi Peña. The one time that Michael gets to express the depth of his character is in the final episode during a conversation filled with undertones that he has with Diego Luna’s character. Otherwise he just remains a guy who is easy going on the exterior with a cool, detached, and focused-on-the-job interior.
The show is by and large carried by the actors
The writing this season, as I mentioned earlier, was off compared to the previous years. And this is even shown in how they paint a picture of Miguel Felix Gallardo. He is painted as a guy who thinks of the bigger picture and does not take rash decisions, yet bludgeons a person to death in a fit of rage and makes a deal with the Colombians shipping cocaine before he has everything set up. He is painted as the antithesis to Kiki Camarrena – a classic good guy trying to take down a bad guy. The narrative, on the whole, feels inconsistent and although generally good, does not live up to the high standards of its predecessors.
The show is by and large carried by the actors – including the supporting cast. Special mention must be made to the characters of Don Neto (Joaquín Cosio) and Rafa (Tenoch Huerta). They both thrive on their character arcs with Huerta especially playing the impulsive, emotionally charged person and complimenting Luna very well on-screen. I also like how the show explores the changing dynamic of the relationship between Miguel Felix Gallardo and Isabella Bautista (Teresa Ruiz).
Overall, the show is something that, unlike its predecessors is probably not something that is worth binge watching – I never thought I would say that about Narcos - but it’s definitely a compelling show and worth a watch for the effort that the actors put into it – especially Diego Luna – and the finale which sets up an interesting next season.