The latest season of Narcos gives us four new and powerful drug lords of Colombia. In the first two seasons of the Netflix series we were introduced to Pablo Escobar (Wagner Moura) and his rise and fall to the top of criminal world. With the help of DEA agent Javier Peña (Pedro Pascal) at the end of season 2, agent Peña returns for the third season to take down the bigger and badder Cali Cartel.
The Cartel consists of four members: Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela (Damián Alcázar), Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela (Francisco Denis), José “Chepe” Santacruz-Londoño (Pêpê Rapazote) and Hélmer “Pacho” Herrera (Alberto Ammann). As agent Peña narrates throughout the series, the Cali Cartel are different from their biggest (now deceased) rival Escobar. They are more like businessmen, whereas Escobar was more like a king. While Escobar enjoyed the limelight with the people of Colombia, the members of the cartel kept away from the media. However, they are as ruthless and even more dangerous than Escobar.
Many of the audience was confused as to how a TV series would continue when its main character was killed at the end of season 2. A lot of people doubted that the series would be able to pull it off but Narcos surprised everyone, as they delivered a surprising story. Unlike Escobar, we don’t follow the cartel from nothing-to-kings. We join them at their highest and when they reveal their plan to retire to their business partners. It is revealed that they will be giving up their crime ridden ways to the Colombian authorities and serve a small sentence in return, while being allowed to keep all their fortune and money. It’s no surprise when the people working with the cartel don’t take the news too well and start making their own plans. Their leader Gilberto, however, will do absolutely anything to keep the deal made with the government. While dealing with their own people, the cartel also had to deal with agent Peña, who spends the beginning of the series doing nothing as to not ruin the deal, but then decides he can’t let the Cali Cartel get away with minimum sentences and decides to bring them down, one by one.
This big difference in the story telling worked extremely well. We are given an unpredictable and entertaining season. The only drawback is the number of episodes: ten. With only 10 episodes, some parts feel unnecessarily dragged and others extremely rushed. The fate of the Cali Cartel is sealed in one season. One of the best parts about the series is the use of real footage, especially when we least expect it. Footages of dead bodies and arrests show the effort the series put into the make-up and costume and its dedication to keeping everything authentic and as realistic as possible. Another thing Narcos gets right, is the portrayal of Cartel member Pacho, who in real life was openly gay. The series reveals this to us with a steamy kissing scene (which of course turns ugly, very quickly) and never uses his sexuality as a joke or a negativity. It shows us his confidence but also the condemnations of other people. We hear his dad’s treatment of him because of his sexuality and his desire to prove him wrong. The series acknowledges Pacho’s sexuality and leaves it there, only referring back when needed, like it does with the other characters.
Joined by a list of spectacular actors including Matias Varela, Javier Cámara, Eric Lange, Arturo Castro, Miguel Ángel Silvestre and Edward James Olmos, Narcos season 3 continues its legacy, leaving the audience already craving for the next season.
Author: Busra Mutlu
Editor: Juwairiyah Khan
Keshav Kant, aka Mx. KantEven, is a neuroscience nerd turned Creative Consultant and Executive Director of Off Colour!
You’ve probably seen her on TikTok or caught her work on Off Colour's many channels. From consulting on films & shows, manuscript review, conducting interviews, or hosting podcasts & panels, if there is some way to bring sensitivity and authenticity to diversity, inclusion and equity conversations, Keshav will be there.