Narcos: Mexico is a companion series to Netflix’s crime drama series Narcos. The streaming giant insists it is not a sequel, and indeed this one goes back in time. The geography is also different. The action shifts to Mexico from Columbia. Just like the original Narcos, Narcos: Mexico also deals with the illegal drug trade. After Medellín and Cali cartels, it is now the turn of the Guadalajara Cartel.
The structure and even the presentation remain the same as the original. This is a good thing. Narcos: Mexico is as gripping as the rise and fall of Columbian drug baron Pablo Escobar, thanks in so small part to compelling writing, performances and the intercutting and documentary-style asides that give historical context to the whole thing. It makes you feel this is not just a regular drama that you are watching, that all this stuff actually happened (albeit in a different way).
Michael Peña (Ant-Man) and Diego Luna (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) lead the cast as the DEA agent Kiki Camarena and Guadalajara Cartel leader Félix Gallardo. The series charts the rise of Gallardo from a relatively minor member of the Sinaloa Cartel to a kingpin who united disparate drug traffickers into an empire.
Félix is a calm, controlled antagonist in contrast to Pablo, who was prone to outbursts. Even as he is setting the stage to establish the Guadalajara cartel, Camarena gets himself transferred to the city. The face-off is in the offing. Félix’s decision to move to Guadalajara was because of Mexican army raids in Sinaloa. Guadalajara was a big city. Important people lived there. The army would not dare act in such a way. Meanwhile, Camarena realises things are different in Mexico. He moves against the new cartel at his own risk, making a deadly enemy in Félix.
A few episodes in, Narcos: Mexico seems like compulsive viewing, especially if you liked the original series. None of the characters, so far, has the charisma that Wagner Moura brought to Pablo Escobar, but the unique presentation and narration style never gets old. Just like the original, Narcos: Mexico is educative and entertaining at the same time.