Review: Narcos Season 3 Episode 1 “The Kingpin Strategy”

Illusions have always played an important role within ‘Narcos’, from Escobar attempting to promote himself as someone worthy of a meaningful legacy, to the CIA and DEA creating an image of justified actions in Columbia. The illusion central to this episode, and likely to the season, is that surrounding the Cali Cartel. The writers go to great lengths to explore the Cartel’s leaders, going beyond generic assumptions or clichéd rehashes of what such a group would represent. Their humour, complexity, group dynamics and love are beautifully displayed, and in one episode, they are already intriguing players, each with their own intentions. This illusion is paramount to the ending, where the audience is shocked by their barbarity, recognising they have been under the same spell as many Columbians are. Sure, we knew these guys were bad, but we wanted to see the more personal, sympathetic notes, which are still there, but balanced with deeper, gruesome layers. Unfortunately that focus on the Cali mean Pena is not given a lot to do here, other than showcase the abrupt return to Columbia from America. It’s an expected re-entry to the world in that regard, but one that will certainly begin to heat up. 8.8/10

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