'Narcos' Season 3 Review: Not Exactly What We're Used To, But That's Ok

Ok, so, let's just go ahead and discuss the big elephant in the room. Season three of Narcos, which

premiered September 1, 2017, is not exactly like seasons prior, and you know what, that's ok. As we

all know, season two of Narcos ended with the killing of Pablo Escobar and the promise that the new

focus of the DEA would now be shifted on to the Cali cartel, one of Pablo's biggest competitors in the

drug trafficking game.

Now, I must say that initially I was pretty apprehensive about watching this new season. We all knew,

even if we may not have wanted to say it or were even conscious of it, that the character and story of

Pablo Escobar, along with the man that helped bring that all to life on the screen were the best part of

the show. So, with him now no longer being a part of said show I was hesitant and also scared that I

wouldn't enjoy this season as much as previous ones, so much so, to the point where I even

contemplated not watching it altogether. I just couldn't fathom caring and even rooting for another

deeply flawed character, in this case, a group of characters, in the same way that I had for Pablo, and

when I first started the season it seemed like my worries were coming to fruition.

I loved the savagery that was Pablo Escobar, as well as, the duality to his character that allowed for

him to be this ruthless drug trafficker that wasn't going to let anyone, even the government get in his

way, while also being a deeply loving, loyal, and caring family man, as well as, man of the

community. Sadly, all of that was lost (or so I thought) with the introduction of these once. supporting

characters and their own stories.

The Cali cartel was the complete opposite from Pablo in just about every way imagined. With Pablo,

if you weren't with him, you were the enemy. That's not the case with the Cali cartel. They were more

so considered to be and were actually a part of the elite, where as Pablo was more for the common

people. The Cali cartel posed no immediate threat, they preferred to stay in the shadows, and didn't

resort to violence as their first and only option. Because of that, the sense of urgency and already built

up and continuously increasing tension that was felt in seasons one and two just wasn't there for this

newest season, at least, initially. The whole premise of this new season was built around the

Rodriguez brothers, Gilberto and Miguel, the heads of the Cali cartel, and a deal that they had with

the Colombian government that allotted them six months to continue their drug operations in

exchange for, at the end of the six months, them turning turning themselves in, serving SOME jail '

time, and them relinquishing all of their illegal assets; a pretty sweet deal that seemed too good to be

true and on the verge of success. Because of this, the beginning of this season felt more like a

subdued, legal drama that you would see on ABC, rather than this criminal, heist-like, faster, action

packed thriller. However, by the end of episode three all of that changed.

I realize that now at this point apart from the mention of the Rodriguez brothers, I haven't really

discussed in depth about the Cali cartel, members of the group, and the story at hand, so, allow for me

to do that now. Like I've already mentioned, the cartel is ran by Gilberto and Miguel Rodriguez, two

brothers with very different character traits and viewpoints in regards to a lot of things. Gilberto, the

older of the two, is the CEO of the cartel. He's more level-headed than his brother and is able to

thrive because of the control that he is able to exert, not only over everyone in the group and who

works for the group, as he is the one at the head of and also tirelessly pushing for this deal to go

through, but, also, in his own personal life where he has three wives and is more focused on making

friends rather than enemies. But, this is all put to the test when in episode four, Gilberto gets arrested.

Even in what are probably the worst days of his life that he has experienced in a long time, Gilberto,

remains strong in his control over the situation and in faith that things will run smoothly, eventually

leading to his release and the carrying out of the deal. However, on the outside, his brother, Miguel,

has and eventually develops other intentions.

Miguel's role in the group is to watch over the money. He is also a man of his word. We also get to

see that he actually has a heart as he decides to help the wife of one of his slain enemies, a job that he

orchestrated, successfully escape from under the surveillance and control of his family. But where,

Gilberto, wants to do everything that he can to ensure a peaceful surrender, Miguel, doesn't really see

things in the same way. Due to the arresting of his brother, the intuition and knowledge that a leak

exists within the group, vengeful retaliations against him and the cartel, failed attempts at his arrest,

greed, and his male ego, by the story's end a peaceful surrender is nowhere near Miguel's peripheral.

Then there's Chepe, who grew up with the brothers and is in charge of U.S. operations, NY

specifically, and Pacho, who is head of distribution and security. Chepe comes off as more of a cool,

clever, and smart ass kind of guy, one that you do not want to cross or  be on the bad side of, seeing

as he is not above killing you in front whomever just so happens to be around. Much of his storyline

revolves around his title of making sure that U.S. operations are in fact running smoothly. Pacho, on

the other hand, though he exhibits much of the same character traits as Chepe, save for Pacho's more

innate suaveness, with his storyline he has to deal with the temptation of possibly turning on the

brothers and teaming up with  another cartel, so as to ensure the future of his own life and role in the

drug game. Together, the four of these men, helped to build, now, the largest (due to Pablo's death)

cocaine trafficking cartel in the world.

Though DEA Agent Murphy is not in the season (I'm not sure if they even gave us a reason as to why

this is, if they did, then shame on me for not paying attention), but DEA Agent Peña is, and is now at

the head of DEA operations. From the get go, Peña is the biggest opposer to the deal that the Cali

government had with the Rodriguez brothers. This, therefore, sets up a huge conflict for his character

throughout the season of either going along with his morals and actually investigating the cartel and

doing whatever he can to being them to justice or essentially turning a blind eye to the criminal

activities and injustices that are happening around him. Spoiler alert (but not really), he chooses the

former, and, so, with the help of new DEA agents, Van Ness and Fesitl, we see how his character

deals with the consequences of that choice.

Then there's Jorge, who I'm sure will capture everyone's heart if they do decide to watch this new

season. Jorge, in the beginning of the season starts as second in charge of security for the brothers,

but, then, due to circumstances both in his control and out, eventually becomes the head of

security for Miguel. Now, I say that Jorge will more than likely be the character that captures

everyone's heart because of the conflict that arises for him. We empathize at the fact that though he

serves these men, he's not as evil as the rest of them. In fact, he wants to get out of the game, one in

which he stayed in until "Pablo stopped being a threat," and open up his own security firm. Those

plans are unfortunately put on the back burner because with these last six months, as said by Miguel,

"[they'll] need him more than ever." Because of this, we feel for Jorge and the horrible predicament

that although, he chose to be a part of, he now finds himself more deeply in where he knows that a

screw up can cost him his life but by staying in the game, can cost him his family.

Though, Pablo not being a part of this season in my mind would be the biggest flaw, though I don't

really know how much of a flaw it really is seeing as though it was inevitable, I'm sure that it still

may, if anything, be a turn off for some people. However, dismissing that fact, the show runners have

been able to successfully re-capture the magic of the show; with a great and compelling story, great

acting; the guy that plays David, Miguel's son was, I would have to say, is the most convincing of

them all, great writing that reminded us that with this game, "it's a way of life [that only] retires you

when IT'S done", and amazing character development, this show truly shines even if you don't think

that it will. So please be patient with this show and give it the time and attention that it truly deserves.

You can stream Narcos season 3 and all other previous seasons on Netflix right now.

Rating: 5 out of 5