BACK FROM THE DEAD

No Pablo Es­co­bar? No prob­lem. Nar­cos Sea­son 3 has new co­caine cow­boys to fill the gap

Empire (UK) - - PRE.VIEW - WORDS OLLY RICHARDS NAR­COS SEA­SON 3 LAUNCHES ON NET­FLIX ON 1 SEPTEM­BER

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.

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