Narcos season two streams in its entirety only on Netflix September 2nd. If you thought cocaine was addictive, wait ‘til you get a load of this show.
For those of you who haven’t seen season one, Narcos is a dramatic crime television series about the notorious drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. The first episode of season one posits the literary tradition of magical realism — wherein magical or unbelievable things can happen in a relatively mundane environment — was born in Colombia. The same birth place of the man who claimed he didn’t want to die until 3047. The fabulisms of one human who put cocaine into millions of noses whilst simultaneously putting bullets into the brains of thousands has Escobar living eternally through his legacy and the still-felt effects of his violent narcotic reign.
Narcos takes this history and converges the stranger than fiction realities of Escobar’s life and crimes with some good ol’ fashioned dramatic liberties. There’s a delightful mix of real life photos, video footage, and actual news reels that folds the look and feel of the time into the dramatized action. By all accounts, the show is pretty true to life in terms of the actual events that took place, but the show adds the flesh of human stories and narratives that makes Narcos so satisfying to bite into.
Does it have a couple problems? Sure. For one, I’ve never been totally sold on the narrator of the show, DEA agent Steve Murphy (Boyd Holbrook), giving us the 411 on why the American forces were trying to catch a crook on the streets of Medellín. His husky voice with that American drawl does serve the purpose of catching us up on the expositional need-to-know info, so I understand why he’s there, he’s just probably the least interesting character. Also he occasionally says things like, “We found ourselves exactly where we started… Nowhere.” Like… just… I just… fuck off, man.
It’s also a very violent show. It was a very violent time. Narcos doesn’t shy away from bloody re-enactments: from street shoot-outs to pool cue stick bludgeonings, there’s not a whole lot of blood offstage in this one. Many of the action sequences are filmed dynamically and create heart-pounding suspense. There’s also a lot of fucking, as it turns out people had sex in the ’80s too. As for most shows I’m thouroghly disappointed that, YET AGAIN, there isn’t the equal opportunity nudity that men and women everywhere deserve. Sometimes you get some boy-butt; however, is it too much to ask that if you are going to introduce a dark and handsome bilingual DEA agent with a conflicting moral compass and a soft spot for falling in love with ladies of the night that we at least get a good look what Javier, oh I just got chills, Javier Pena (Pedro Pascal) has under those skin tight jeans? Perhaps you’ve gleaned this so far, but I’m not one to be faint of heart, so I can live with the gore and the erotic elements.
I don’t know what Pablo Escobar was like in real life but holy fuck does Wagner Moura play the shit out this role. It’d be hard to imagine being in the presence of someone who committed so many atrocities and wonder why no one stood up to him, but Moura puts that question to bed with a positively tangible presence of power and prestige. Not only that, but there are heartfelt moments when he interacts with his family. From heartbreak to callous murder, the construction of this character is solid.
Whether it’s rosé or rocks of crystal meth, intoxicating substances affect the social, criminal, legal, and economic powers that be. Cocaine in Columbia circa the 1980s was an unstoppable force. Narcos is an entertaining portrayal of a time we can look back on and put a black and white filter on—but it complicates that worldview by showing us how good guys can be bad, bad women can do good, and at the very core there were real life people behind these world events.
All ten episodes of season two come to a screen streaming near you, just use caution with this volatile binge-worthy material.