Netflix’s Narcos series has never been the same after Wagner Moura’s Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar was killed in the second season. Narcos chronicles the history of America’s bloody war on drugs and drug barons. The DEA’s fight against the Cali cartel in Narcos Season 3 sorely lacked a charismatic villain like Escobar.
The companion series Narcos: Mexico was a reset button for the show since the streaming giant clearly wanted to cash in on to the success of the original series. The action shifted to Mexico. Starring Michael Peña and Diego Luna (who returns in the second season as Mexico’s first drug lord Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo), the first season was a compulsive watch due to mainly good writing and acting by the two leads.
Peña, previously known more for comical, clownish characters delivered a welcome, brilliantly grim performance as a DEA agent Kiki Camarena. The season was fresh enough to distinguish it from the original series.
Peña’s Kiki Camarena was tortured to death at the end of season 1 due to him getting under the skin of drug lords. The second season deals primarily with the consequences.
The most compelling thing about the season is it traces the origins of the current situation (read lawlessness, rampant violence and corruption) in the Central American country.
But for the most part, Narcos Mexico: Season 2 ends up being incredibly messy, and that is partly due to the absence of Peña. Certainly, his character’s death is true to actual history, and he was indeed tortured and killed, but in the first season he was a reliable crutch for the audiences to delve into this heady world of Mexican drug trade. The sophomore season has no such replacement character to allow the full immersion into the story.
Scoot McNairy’s Walt Breslin is a singularly uninteresting character, and his passion to avenge Kiki’s death goes unexplained. The finale, however, ends with an enticing promise for season 3, which is perhaps the only saving grace of this season. Well, that and a guest appearance by Wagner Moura in his iconic role.
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