Narcos Season 2: The Fall of Don Pablo
by: Josh Outred
I recently finished season 2 of the hit Netflix Crime Drama, Narcos. The documentary-thriller which tells the story of Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria, Colombia’s most famous drug lord and leader of the once renowned Medellin Cartel.
Season 1 of Narcos, which debuted last September, catalogued the rise of Pablo Escobar (Wagner Moura) from small-time illegal contraband activities to Colombian drug lord and the world’s seventh richest man. His story through season 1 was one of incredible violence, ruthlessness and lust to sit on the throne of Colombia. We got to see how Escobar gained the name of El Padrino (The Godfather), through acts of terror this man who came from nothing would go on to be the most wanted man in Colombia’s history.
Now, it’s no secret as to how Pablo Escobar’s story ends, on December 2nd 1993 to be precise, the question was, who would fire that fatal shot? It is still unknown to the general public as to who actually killed Escobar; the Colombian police say they pulled the trigger; however his son Sebastian Marroquin as he’s now known claims his father committed suicide on that rooftop, firing the final shot through his ear.
By all accounts, Narcos has been fairly faithful to the real-life tale of Escobar’s rise and fall; the show clearly states however that certain character names and scenarios have been altered for dramatic purposes. Narcos season 2 perfectly executes its key scenes and adds a cinematic value that wasn’t there in the first season. For example, during the second episode Cambalache we see homage paid to the famous baptism scene from The Godfather, the montage scene in which Michael Corleone’s son is baptised is dramatically recreated as Escobar dances to the opera with his wife, Tata (Paulina Gaitan), we cut back and forth as Colombian police are executed throughout Medellin on Pablo’s orders.
Along with perfectly executed scenes like this comes a performance from Wagner Moura that’ll go down as one of his best, captivating and absolutely unmissable. There have been plenty of renditions of Escobar over the years and Moura’s is by far the standout of them all. In season 1 we saw him as a man who had what seemed to be unlimited resources and power coming from every angle, an unpredictable younger man who was not afraid to put himself in the limelight and do what was necessary to keep his cocaine empire intact. This season however, we see Wagner Moura as Escobar in a completely different shade. As the cracks begin to get wider and Pablo’s iron fist starts to melt, we see a man under pressure, as the Cali Cartel and former associates move against the man on the run, taking over his cocaine production laboratories and capitalising on Escobar’s now illusive figure.
Moura, who gained 40 pounds for the latter half of season 2, gives a Shakespearean-esque performance, a very sombre yet edgy look into the final months of this once untouchable Tsar of cocaine. The show’s creators Carlo Bernard, Chris Brancato and Doug Miro have crafted this season’s Pablo Escobar as the villain you hate to love, and who, for 90% of this season you actually sympathise for more than DEA agents Steve Murphy (Boyd Holbrook) and Javier Pena (Pedro Pascal).
One scene in particular where Wagner Moura portrays Escobar in a way none of us saw coming appears in the final episode, Al Fin Cayo. In this scene Pablo sees and converses with an apparition of his late cousin and business partner, Gustavo (Juan Pablo Raba). During these few moments both actors give such an emotionally weighty performance without all the tears and blubbering so often sprinkled all over, Pablo admits to Gustavo that it all fell apart the day he left, and that he misses him every single day of his life, it’ll break you, trust me!
With all that said, let’s go to the death scene we were all waiting for, and boy was it done to perfection. As Pablo has one final conversation with his wife and children via radio (the only way they could communicate for months), Search Bloc (the force set up to hunt and find Escobar) are doing their rounds, listening to static and hoping for any lead. Finally, Colonel Martinez’ son has a breakthrough, he tracks Escobar’s final conversation (this is the one time he stays on the line too long), when they finally reach the location he sees Pablo, stood up in the window for all to see, possibly becoming a little sloppy in his final days. What ensues is some of the greatest climatic moments of the small screen that surpass even the best of Breaking Bad, that’s right, better than Walt’s final moments! The combination of Wagner Moura’s desperation and almost heroic gun slinging, Limon’s (Leynar Gomez) loyalty, and Search bloc’s final stand and Steve Murphy finally getting the man he’d been after for years amount to a truly epic shootout on a suburb rooftop in Medellin – the actual rooftop of Pablo Escobar’s death.
All in all I truly can’t say a bad word about the second season of Narcos; it had me gripped from the get-go. With cinematic references, and an award-worthy performance from Wagner Moura, Narcos season 2 hit all the right buttons. Suspenseful, nail-biting and gripping combined with the illuminating documentary style; Narcos truly is the best of its kind. I wonder how season 3 and 4 will work without its key player, the character who ultimately drove the show from start to finish. I guess we’ll find out in 2017.
For the love of Narcos, give Wagner Moura an Emmy!