Netflix Narcos Review (Ep 4-6): Brave Men & Bold Druglords
“In America the mafia makes a witness disappear, so they can’t testify. In Colombia Pablo Escobar makes the whole court disappear,” explains Steve Murpy. Narcos episode four, A Place in Flames, begins with Colombia passing a law for extradition. This means that in Colombia if you are found guilty for drug trafficking then you will be sentenced to serve your sentence in the American prison system. “Now Pablo had someone to fear…us,” explains Steve Murphy. The only problem is that while America declares their victory they proceed to set their sights on a new enemy, communism. Murphy and Peña find themselves forced to take a step back from their present investigation on Pablo Escobar. Then through the use of real life footage Murphy explains just how absurdly true this story is, “Colombian cocaine coming through a communist country and into America. I couldn’t make that up…it’s too good.” Just like that, Murphy and Peña make the connection that will allow them to continue their investigation on the Medellín cartel. America may have won a battle when the law for extradition passed in Colombia, but for Pablo Escobar it only started a war.
“It’s been said that nothing gives the fearful more courage than another’s fear,” states Murphy. This war on drugs is primarily fought in the Colombian political arena. During the fifth episode’s opening scene, we see Luis Carlos Galán continue to run for president on a pro-extradition campaign platform. Galán never did become a Colombian president, as Pablo Escobar ordered a hit against him. In a well-crafted montage sequence we see just how devastating the assassination of Luis Carlos Galán was to the Colombian public. In his wake, the tragedy sparked the brave turn of Galán’s own speechwriter, César Gaviria, to pick up his predecessor’s fallen torch against the Medellín cartel. In a single episode we see a brilliant character arc. During the opening scene Gaviria is shown as the nervous man behind the curtain; in the end, he is the brave man standing at the podium; the new brave face of Pablo Escobar’s political opposition.
“At the time, the only thing more dangerous than being a Colombian cop was baing a Colombian presidential candidate.” Explosivos, episode 6, contains three significant story threads: Colonel Horatio Carrillo’s (Maurice Compte) and Javier Peña’s (Pedro Pascal) manhunt for Pablo Escobar’s affiliate, José Rodriguez “Gacha” (Luis Guzmán); Steve and Connie Murphy’s mission to smuggle former M-19 solider, Elisa out of the country and Pablo Escobar’s assassination attempt on pro-extradition presidential candidate César Gaviria. The manhunt storyline illustrates that there are not only American officials waging war against Pablo Escobar, but local officials too. Murphy’s Colombian allies are shown to be merciless as they gun Gacha down in cold blood. The Murphy mission thread reinforces the idea that Steve Murphy comes from the wrong side of the border. Only, in Colombia would he find himself smuggling a communist out of the country, an American act of treason. Meanwhile, the Pablo Escobar storyline subtly illustrates an all too familiar image of the past reflecting the future. In the final moments a young man aboard an airplane picks up his brief case, while the other passengers casually relax during tallegiancehe flight. He nervously opens up the case to reveal a cassette recorder, Pablo had instructed him to record the conversations of his fellow passengers. Then the young boy hits the record button and the screen dissolves to white, as an explosion cries out. Narcos chronicles the Colombian war on drugs, yet during episode six’s closing sequence it parallels America’s present war on terrorism. Narcos episodes four, five, and six showcases the tension found in a country on the brink of civil war. Country s are tested, presidential candidates are sacrificed, and courts are up in flames, but remember, “I couldn’t make that up…it’s too good.”