BACK FROM THE DEAD
No Pablo Escobar? No problem. Narcos Season 3 has new cocaine cowboys to fill the gap
THE TITLE NARCOS was chosen for a reason. The Netflix series, which drops its third season next month, was always intended to be about the rise of cocaine in Colombia and the kingpins — or ‘narcos’ — who controlled it. It was never meant to be about one person. That was proven at the end of Season 2 when drug baron Pablo Escobar (Wagner Moura), the show’s central character, was killed off in a bloody execution. It shouldn’t have come as a huge surprise to anyone who knew anything about the real-life Escobar, but it leaves the show with a big, baddie-shaped hole.
“When I conceived the show, years ago now,” says executive producer Eric Newman, “I modelled it slightly like The Wire. You’d have characters die or just recede from the series, but the story of Baltimore would go on.” Now that Escobar has permanently receded, new villains must come forth to take his place. To fill the Escobar void we’ll get four. Three of them we’ve already met; one will be introduced very soon.
“The focus of this season is the rise of the Cali Cartel,” says Newman. We’ve seen three of its leaders, Rodriguez brothers Miguel (Francisco Denis) and Gilberto (Damián Alcázar), and ‘Pacho’ Herrera (Alberto Ammann) in the last season. Soon, we’ll see the fourth member Chepe Santacruz (Pepe Rapazote), who Newman simply describes as “amazing”.
“The Cali Cartel were instrumental in bringing down Escobar,” says Newman. “I like to think of it as on the evolutionary scale, [with] Escobar as a single-cell organism. These guys are a more evolved organism.” Where Escobar had what Newman calls “a Trumpian craving for approval” that drove him to reckless acts, the Cali Cartel were cool businessmen who “sought to be part of the establishment because they thought it could protect them”.
Newman won’t be drawn on whether the Cali Cartel story will carry on into the confirmed fourth season, but he says there are plenty of stories left to tell. “Drugs don’t stop,” he says. “It’s got worse [in Mexico]… The seasons covering Escobar told only maybe a tenth of the story.” Settle in for another 18 seasons, then.
Above: Foot soldiers count out the money. Here: Damián Alcázar’s cartel boss. Bottom: Game Of Thrones’ Pedro Pascal.