BINGE-WATCHING: NARCOS S1 & S2

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Narcos tells the true-to-life story of the growth and spread of cocaine drug cartels across the globe and attendant efforts of law enforcement to meet them head on in brutal, bloody conflict. Set and filmed in Colombia, the crime web television series centers around the notorious Colombian cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar


A mugshot of Pablo Escobar taken in 1977 by the Medellín Control Agency.

and Steve Murphy, a DEA agent sent to Colombia on a U.S. mission to capture and ultimately kill him.


A young Steve Murphy, 1970s, via GQ Australia.


Members of Search Bloc celebrate over Escobar’s body on December 2, 1993. His death ended a 15-month search effort, costing hundreds of millions of dollars.

Narcos was created and produced by Chris Brancato, Carlo Bernard, and Doug Miro. Season 1, comprising 10 episodes, originally aired on August 28, 2015, as a Netflix exclusive. The series was renewed for a second season, which premiered on September 2, 2016 with 10 episodes. On September 6, 2016, Netflix renewed the series for a third and fourth season.



The series stars: Wagner Moura as Pablo Escobar — a Colombian drug lord and the leader of the Medellín Cartel (Season 1-2)



Boyd Holbrook as Steve Murphy — a DEA agent tasked with bringing down Escobar (Season 1-2)



Pedro Pascal as Javier Peña — a DEA agent tasked with bringing down Escobar



Joanna Christie as Connie Murphy — Steve’s wife, a nurse who works in the local hospital



Juan Pablo Raba as Gustavo Gaviria — Escobar’s cousin and one of the founding members of the Medellín Cartel (main Season 1; guest Season 2)



Maurice Compte as Horacio Carrillo — a Colombian police chief, based on Colonel Hugo Martinez (main Season 1, recurring Season 2)



Diego Cataño as Juan Diego La Quica Diaz — an assassin routinely hired by the Medellín, based on Dandeny Muñoz Mosquera

Jorge A. Jimenez as Roberto Poison Ramos — a hitman hired by the Medellín Cartel, who often argues with Quica about personal death counts (Season 1)

Paulina Gaitán as Tata Escobar — Escobar’s wife, based on Maria Henao



Paulina García as Hermilda Gaviria — Escobar’s mother, a former Colombian schoolteacher

Stephanie Sigman as Valeria Vélez — a Colombian journalist who also serves as Pablo Escobar’s mistress, based on Virginia Vallejo (main Season 1, recurring Season 2)



Bruno Bichir as Fernando Duque — a Colombian lawyer who represents Pablo Escobar, acting as his liaison with the Colombian government

Raúl Méndez as César Gaviria — a Colombian economist and politician and the 28th President of Colombia

Manolo Cardona as Eduardo Sandoval — the Vice Minister of Justice in President Gaviria’s administration

Cristina Umana as Judy Moncada — a former leader in the Medellín Cartel who, after Escobar murdered her husband Kiko, led a breakaway cartel and allied with the Cali Cartel and Los Pepes; she is based on the real-life Dolly Moncada (main Season 2, recurring Season 1)



Alberto Ammann as Helmer Pacho Herrera — a Colombian drug lord and high-ranking member of the Cali Cartel (main Season 2, recurring Season 1)

Damian Alcazar as Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela — the Leader of the Cali Cartel and one of Pablo Escobar’s primary rivals (Season 2)



Eric Lange as Bill Stechner — the CIA Station Chief in Colombia (Season 2)

Ana de la Reguera as Elisa Alvarez — the co-leader of guerrilla faction 19th of April Movement (M-19) (Season 1)



Season 1

Season 1 chronicles the life of Pablo Escobar from the late 1970s, when he first began manufacturing cocaine, to July 1992. The show chronicles the main events that happened in Colombia during this period and Escobar’s relationship to them. It is told through the perspective of Steve Murphy, an American DEA agent working in Colombia. The series show how Escobar first became involved in the cocaine trade in Colombia. He was an established black marketeer in Medellín, moving trucks worth of illegal goods (alcohol, cigarettes, and household appliances) into Colombia during a time when this was strictly forbidden, when introduced to Mateo Cockroach Moreno, a Chilean exile and underground chemist, who pitched the idea that they go into business together, with Moreno producing and Escobar distributing a new, profitable drug — cocaine. They expand beyond Moreno’s small cocaine processing lab by building additional, larger labs in the rainforest and, using the expertise of Carlos Lehder, transport their product in bulk to Miami, where it gains notoriety amongst the rich and famous. Soon enough, Pablo develops larger labs and more extensive distribution routes into the US to supply growing demand. With cocaine’s growth into a drug of importance in the American market, one that accounts for a large flow of US dollars to Colombia and escalating drug-related violence in the US, the Americans send a task force from the DEA to Colombia to address the issue. Murphy is partnered with Javier Peña. The role of Murphy’s task force is to work with the Colombian authorities to put an end to the flow of cocaine into the United States. It ends when Escobar escaped La Catedral prison.



First season received generally favorable reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes a review aggregator surveyed 45 reviews and judged 78% to be positive. The site reads, “Narcos lacks sympathetic characters, but pulls in the viewer with solid acting and a story that’s fast-paced enough to distract from its familiar outline.” On Metacritic, Season 1 holds a score of 77 out of 100, based on 19 critics, indicating “Generally favorable reviews”. IGN gave the first season a 7.8 out of 10 score saying it “Good” and reads “It’s a true-to-life account, sometimes to a fault, of the rise of Pablo Escobar and the hunt that brought him down laced with stellar performances and tension-filled stand-offs. Its blend of archival footage reminds us that the horrors depicted really happened, but also manage to present an Escobar that is indefensible but frighteningly sympathetic.”

Writing for Philadelphia Inquirer, Tirdad Derakhshani reviewed the season positively calling it, “Intense, enlightening, brilliant, unnerving, and addictive, Narcos is high-concept drama at its finest.” Television critic, Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter also reviewed the series positively saying, “The series begins to find its pacing not long after, and we see the strength of Moura’s acting, which to his credit never races, in the early going, toward over-the-top menace or the drug-lord cliches we’re all used to at this point. Credit also the fact that Padilha brings a documentary feel to Narcos.” Nancy deWolf Smith of Wall Street Journal wrote, “The omniscient-narrator device works very well for a complex story spanning many years and varied sets of players.” Critic Neil Genzlinger of New York Times said, “It’s built on sharp writing and equally sharp acting, as any good series needs to be.” However, chief television critic Mary McNamara of Los Angeles Times wrote, “It’s a grand if inconsistent experiment that, from the moment it opens with a definition of magic realism, wears its considerable ambitions on its sleeve.” Writing for IndieWire, Liz Shannon Miller said, “An unlikeable character, no matter the circumstances, remains unlikeable, but an unlikeable character trumps a bland blonde man whose position of authority appears to be his only really interesting character trait, no matter how much voice-over he utters.”

Season 2

Season 2 is a continuation of where Season 1 ended. Some soldiers find Escobar and his entourage right outside the perimeter of La Catedral, but are too petrified by Escobar to make an arrest. At the embassy the US sends a new ambassador who brings the CIA into play. In the beginning, there is little change for Escobar, as he still has the loyalty of his cartel. However, this starts to slip as Escobar needs to use lot of time and resources to hide from the government. Among the tricks he uses to avoid being seen are hiring a cab driver, who in turn hires a young woman to sit in the backseat as a decoy, while Escobar is hiding in the trunk; and having young look-outs reporting about Search Bloc attempts to find him.

At the beginning Escobar easily adapts to his new life, giving money to the community while ruthlessly killing those who tried to grab his empire. The Colombian police and Escobar engage in massive battles, resulting in high tension and unrest in Colombia. The Cali cartel forms an unlikely alliance with Judy Moncada and Don Berna, and decide to bring in the Castanos. Agent Peña starts working with Los Pepes, who kill Valeria and Fernando Duque. After La Quica and Blackie are caught, Escobar goes on the run with Limon. Pablo and Limon hide in a safehouse where he celebrates his 44th birthday. When Pablo tries to make contact with his family, the DEA and military track him down via radio triangulation and corner Pablo on the rooftops. Pablo is hit twice in the ensuing shootout, and though he might survive his injuries, Trujillo executes him with a shot to the head. Tata goes to the Cali Cartel for their help in leaving the country. Peña returns to the U.S. and is asked to provide intel against the Cali Cartel.



Second Season generates greater reviews as compared to previous season. Rotten Tomatoes a review aggregator surveyed 20 reviews and judged 90% to be positive. The site reads, “Narcos’ sophomore season manages to elevate the stakes to a gut-wrenching degree in what continues to be a magnificent account of Pablo Escobar’s life.” On Metacritic, Season 2 holds a score of 76 out of 100, based on 13 critics, indicating “generally favorable reviews”. IGN gave the second season a score of 7.4 out of 10 calling it “Good” and reads “It may go overboard with its love of Pablo Escobar, but I can’t truly fault the show for taking advantage of its best performer and character — or for scrambling to find an emotional core on a show that can feel rather clinical.”

Season 2 received generally positive reviews from many media outlets. Joshua Alston of The A.V. Club lauded the performance of Moura’s and said, “While the show never soft-pedals the havoc Escobar created, it makes him surprisingly sympathetic, thanks in part to Moura’s shrewd, affecting performance.” Critic Neil Genzlinger of New York Times said, “Mr. Moura is inscrutably brilliant at the center of it all.” Entertainment Weekly’s Jeff Jensen also reviewed the series positively saying, “Where season 1 spanned 10 years, season 2 captures Escobar’s last days on the loose. Each tightly packed episode moves quickly without sacrificing richness, chronicling the uneasy alliances and gross tactics employed to Snare Escobar.” Television critic, Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter said, “What works in the early going of season two is that the fall is almost always more thrilling, if not engaging, than the buildup. Escobar senses the loss of power and Moura does some of his best work as viewers read the worry and interior thinking on his face.” Source.





Watch Narcos Season 1 & 2 online.

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