Warning: This contains spoilers. Not seen Narcos Season 3? Read our spoiler-free review of the opening episode.
With Gilberto imprisoned, things should be looking up for the ‘good guys’ of Narcos. When Episode 5 opens with another political warning about placating the Cartel, rather than fighting them, Pena looks unimpressed, but just this once, the warnings might’ve been right.
Jorge continues being the most gripping character in the show. Mathias Valera’s diligent but conflicted security expert ends up circumventing his own system to contact the DEA. Constantly in deeper than he expected, Jorge’s quick-thinking is endlessly watchable in a show as tense as Narcos. In addition to his dual loyalties, Jorge is often paired with David throughout these episodes. Arturo Castro (Broad City) steps into the spotlight, as Miguel’s caring, but unpredictable son. Ready for violence at a moment’s notice, David is a dangerous character to have around, especially when you’re feeding information to the DEA.
Splitting time between the extremes of scheming and violence, Narcos produces some of its best work during this mid-season period. Between an abandoned house raid in Episode 7 and the all-out war of Episode 6’s nightclub shootout – when not placing the DEA and Cali Cartel face-to-face, Netflix’s immersive drama shows them peacefully plotting in safe-houses and often partying, without ever dropping the tension level. With bullet-casings and kilos of cocaine littering the establishing shots, the suspense hits a high-point during Jorge’s first call to the DEA. It’s a scene that perfectly captures the endless paranoia that unites both sides, without a weapon or threat being wielded.
With Chris and Daniel sticking tightly with Jorge as their best option, Pena himself spends most of Episodes 6 and 7 hoping to turn Franklin the money launderer against his clients. After an exciting game of cat-and-mouse regarding Franklin’s wife, it’s not long before the Cartel react strategically to their freedom being threatened. While it seems to show how easily the Cartel can strike fear into anyone, it’s also a chance to see Pedro Pascal’s DEA hero doing some old-fashioned DEA work, as opposed to sighing at politicians and schemers (which is, of course, equally enjoyable).
These three episodes represent some of the highlights of Season 3 so far, especially in the high levels of action present. While the Cartel remains on top, the DEA have certainly hammered some cracks into their exterior. But with the Rodriguez brothers in hiding or in jail, the Cartel is now being guided by some far more trigger-happy (and chainsaw-happy) Gentlemen of Cali.
Having barely escaped the DEA and now having started a war with the North Valley Cartel, things are only going to get bloodier.
Narcos Season 1 to 3 are available on Netflix UK, as part of a £7.49 monthly subscription.