Oh Narcos. Where have you been all my life?
When True Detective ended it's run mid-2015, I was left longing for a show as captivating, exciting and just plain good as the first season. Something that was thrilling and addictive. A polished piece of work, which was more than just simple drama. Blessed was I in the form of Narcos.
Created by Chris Brancato, Carlo Bernard, and Doug Miro, Narcos is one wonderfully wild ride through the cocaine underworld of Colombia and into the life of infamous drug lord and leader of the Medellin Cartel, Pablo Escobar. In definition, the word 'narcos' translates to"narcotics; illegal drugs," and "drug trafficker or dealer."* This sums the Netflix show up swimmingly. It's core focus is Escobar as he builds his drug empire and rises to wealth and fame. Wagner Moura is exceptional as the polarising protagonist, in what is arguably an Emmy-worthy performance. One moment he is the caring, generous hero of the cities' poor; the next he is a chilling, remorseless murderer. It is this ever-changing binary that keeps us hooked throughout.
What makes Narcos doubly-interesting is that we also see things from the other perspective, in the form of American DEA agents Steve Murphy (Boyd Holbrook) and Javier Peña (Pedro Pascal). Murphy's weary narrative accompanies each episode as the men hunt Escobar in hope of ending the terror in Medellin. As the show progresses, the toll of waging war against Escobar and living in a corrupt city begins to show. Murphy transforms into a not-so-pleasant character, and suddenly we are compromised as viewers. We know the DEA agents are fighting for 'good,' but maybe, just maybe, we like, or at least admire, Escobar more.
Season one of Narcos ends very tensely, leaving viewers bewildered, stressed and irritable (just me?). The announcement of a second season was a very big relief to said anxious fans. Lucky for them, season two is an honourable followup. Picking up right where the show left off (that horrifically horrendous finale), we watch as Escobar’s violence escalates and Murphy and Peña close in. Like the first season, the action and suspense is 10/10, and you’ll be hooked right up to the final episode.
What I love most about Narcos is the historical vibe to it. At times it almost feels as though you are watching a documentary about the real Pablo Escobar, in part helped by the fabulous opening. As Rodrigo Amarante's specifically composed song Tuyo plays, we are shown images of the actual Escobar.** This is the sort of show that makes you spend hours researching the facts behind it (which is a good thing: learning, and all that). On top of this, Narcos hits just the right amount of violence and tension. It's gripping and powerful, without being unbelievable. The supporting cast are great (Paulina Gaitán as Tata Escobar in particular) and the storyline is perfectly executed. This is a tight unit that won’t disappoint. Ironically, the show has an addictive quality not unlike the addictive quality of the drugs its title refers to. Narcos is a kind of drug - but the good kind, that will have you re-watching and re-watching.
*Source: English Oxford Dictionaries