First look Netflix UK TV review: Narcos Season 3 (spoiler-free)
Piles of money on fire9
Cocaine moved by forklift9
Horrific body disposal9
Chris Bryant | On 01, Sep 2017
Can Narcos continue without the charisma and legendary name of Pablo Escobar? This was the question after the announcement of Narcos’ Pablo-less third season. Episode 1 proves that not only can the show go on, but that Escobar’s death – and the subsequent power vacuum – triggered some even more astounding, terrifying, and thrilling events.
Episode 1 is almost confrontational in its differentiation from previous seasons. With the forlorn, gritty voiceover work handed from Boyd Holbrook to Pedro Pascal, it is made quite clear that Escobar’s death changed things on both sides, and the new bosses play by very different rules.
Refocusing the show on Pascal’s newly promoted Pena, and on the Cali Cartel, Narcos’ third season begins by putting the fear of God into the viewers. It swiftly establishes that the fallout from Pablo’s death, newly appointed President Clinton, and the almost unchecked Cali Cartel all produce a much tougher beast this time around. Following a simple surveillance operation, with newly added cast member Shea Whigham, it is obvious that the Cali Cartel’s operation is huge – global, in fact – and when their mole is caught, he is set free and told to run. But the moment it seems the operation is poorly managed as merciful, the Cartel prove otherwise. Montages depict phenomenal surveillance networks, the best in private security and a ‘better safe than sorry’ attitude to brutally murdering anyone who even speaks ill of the Cartel members. If you’d forgotten how serious Narcos was in its portrayal of the antagonists, this serves as a grave reminder.
The episode also warns the audience that the Cali Cartel were much more strategic than Pablo – paying over a billion dollars in a year in bribes to public officials and staying anonymous in all of their endeavours, to the point where all four bosses meeting at once is a miraculous event. (It’s stated firmly that while Cali might not have the magnetic appeal of Escobar’s smooth-talking kingpin, they make up for it in sheer formidability.)
Despite the change of scenery, this does not stop Netflix’s grittiest drama feeling familiar. Pascal’s depressed agent, as well as the real news footage and props, dim lighting, and ever-recognisable Spanish threats ensure that Narcos still feels like the bloodiest, most stylish documentary available.
Narcos Season 1 to 3 are available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.