While I miss Don Neto, the fall of Felix Gallardo and the last days of Pablo Acosta made for excellent television.
Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo continues his consolidation of the Mexican plazas into one central empire: “The Federation”. This season centers on his attempts to keep his organization together as he juggles politicians, Colombians, and threats from within. All while the DEA works behind the scenes to take him down and get justice for the murder of Kiki Camarena.
Deigo Luna finishes his work as a series regular on Narcos, freeing him up for the Cassian Andor series on Disney+. The man is a fantastic actor with some of the most expressive eyes I’ve ever seen. This season is essentially Gallardo’s swan song. As he grow more desperate to grow his empire, he also spends considerable time reflecting on his life. When he visits Don Juan at the Gulf, he sees the image of the old school boss. His town loves him. He is surrounded by family and people devoted to him. Felix has none of this. Luna plays this perfectly.
Scoot NcNairy, what a name, is Walt Breslin, our DEA agent this season. I think he is continuing on next year as well. This is a broken man, dealing with tremendous guilt over the death of his addict brother. This leads Breslin to travel to Mexico and run a semi off the books DEA operating. They play fast and loose with the rules and it gets his team killed. It is only the machinations of the US and Mexican governments to attain a trade deal that leads to the arrest of Gallardo and the victory of Breslin.
Alfonso Dosal is Benjamin Arellano Felix, Gallardo’s nephew, is one of the brothers in charge of the Tijuana cartel. His beef with Sinaloa provides a lot of the action this year, as a turf war breaks out between his family and Palma and Chapo. All of it seems a bit muddled though. His character spent most of the season on the phone with Felix asking for more money. He played his scenes well, but I would have liked to see more development on this story.
Alejandro Edda is Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. Chapo: well known to audiences as one of the strongest drug lords in history. Edda does a good job bringing out this character as we see him begin to rise in the Cartel. We begin to see Chapo’s genius for the drug trade as he builds the first of his infamous tunnels to the US border. As Chapo is the best know of these characters, I expect Edda will be carrying the show going forward… or will he?
Isabella Bautista and Enedina Felix (Teresa Ruiz and Mayra Hermosillo) bring the woman power this season. This season is set in the late 80’s, so a quick Wikipedia search will tell us what happens to these people. Isabella is fictional character, so anything can happen with her. Enedina, however, is still alive in 2020. In fact, of all the main characters on this series, she is the only one still functioning in the Cartels as of 2020. I imagine that Chapo is going to get a lot of focus going forward, but this might end up being her show. The last woman standing. Isabella is one of my favorite characters on the show. The season ends with her being arrested and pushed out of the trade. Not sure if this is the end for her character.
As I mentioned at the start of this post, the loss of Joaquin Cosio as series regular “Don Neto” took a lot away from this season. His character was well written and marvelously portrayed. This season saw Pablo Acosta, played by Gerardo Taracena, fulfill this role for me. Pablo is a man that essentially feels lost. He does not recognize the new Mexico that Felix is building. While a criminal, he is also a man of honor and a lover. We see this honor play out in a feud with his mentor and his love for his white girlfriend Mimi. This crisis of identity and dream of a better life drives him to try to get out of the business. He finds himself at odds with the cartel, and the law, culminating in a shootout. In the end, he had to be true to himself and would not live on the run. Best character of season 2.
Jesus Ochoa plays the leader of the Gulf Cartel, Juan Guerra. This was another interesting character. He is old, wise, and has no intention of going down. He comes into odds against Felix and tries to steal the Columbia business for himself. As I mentioned above, Guerra is something of a symbol for what Gallardo cannot attain – love and respect. While Guerra’s family supports him, Felix’s leaves him and his partners betray him. Wiki tells me that this character never goes to jail and dies an old man. It will be interesting to see it play out.
The end of this season saw Jose Maria Yazpik’s Amado Fuentes step forward as the next mover and shaker of the series. We see him develop his fleet of cargo planes to ferry cocaine out of Colombia as he outwits the DEA. By the end of the season, he has orchestrated the downfall of Gallardo and is a powerful member of the cartel. I expect him to be a big part, if not the central character of series 3. Series 4…not so much. lol. avoid Wikipedia if you don’t want to know.
Alberto Ammann returns as Pacho Herrera, everyone’s favorite character from season 3 of Narcos. The gay member of the Cali Cartel is the primary face of the Colombians this season. The season sees the gentlemen from Cali go from strength to weakness as a large shipment is seized by the US police. The downfall of Cali is coming and with it the rise of the Mexicans.
There are many other great actors and performances on this show, but I am stopping here. These seem to be the most central to the plot and I’d otherwise be covered 35 actors. lol.
Going forward, this series is going to tell the tale of the next 20-30 years of drug war in Mexico. Knowing the leaders of the various cartels is important to that end. I can’t help but feel that the writers muddled the narrative a bit when it came to the secondary characters. I would have liked more time with the Sinaloa and Tijuana cartels. Felix was written and play beautifully by Luna. In fact, all of the actors here were in top form. As always, the production values were also fantastic. This is one of Netflix’s crown jewels (aside from The Crown).
Looking ahead, we’ve got some excellent drama in store for us. After a little period of peace, the cartels begin to jockey for power, as Felix predicts in the final scene. This is the real life Mexican Drug war that we’ve been seeing in the news for the last 30 years. It is a horrible, terrible, thing, with lots of horrific violence and pain. I wonder if we are too close to the carnage to be able to truly reflect on it, but I have confidence in this production team.