The production team of the latest most successful NETFLIX show, NARCOS, in production its second season in Colombia.
Last week I found pictures of the starry night sky of Bogota posted on Instagram by one of the producers of NARCOS. At the same time Wagner Moura hold an AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) session on Reddit. There has been a few teasers released by the network announcing that the second season of the show would be released sometime in 2016. Seeing the great success of the show and for those who have watched the first season and/or know the story of Pablo Escobar, you can’t just leave unfinished such a well done show about one of the most dangerous men who has ever lived.
Technically if you visit Wikipedia or watch a documentary about the life (and death) of Pablo Escobar, you will guess what the last episode of the second season will be about. After watching shows like “Hatfields & McCoys” and “Peaky Blinders” both with 2 seasons so far, although a third season of this last one has been announced for 2016, it seems that the executives of the network have found a popular and effective transition between the long format of TV series and feature film.
Let’s look at the events that surround Pablo Escobar and the Medellin Cartel at the end of season 1. Pablo and his most loyal men have committed crimes within the walls of the prison they designed to protect themselves mainly from extradition to the US by the Colombian Government. This action has caused the president of the Republic of Colombia, Cesar Gaviria to not give in any longer to Escobar’s demands and start a manhunt breaking the agreement he had with the drug lord. The show is mainly about Pablo, so it makes sense that it ends with his death on the rooftops of Medellin after a long phone conversation with his son . We will most probably watch the aftermath of the end of his organization and the triumph of the Colombian Government and the victory of the DEA over the biggest criminal Colombia has ever known. So we have a point A, Pablo escaping “La Catedral” and a point B, “Pablo dead on the rooftops“. These are the elements we expect on this upcoming second season:
Born to Kill: The Search Bloc
Tired of Pablo´s eccentric and ridiculous demands, President Gaviria orders to form a special military squad, trained with the solely goal to take down Escobar. After Deputy Justice Minister Eduardo Mendoza and the chief of the national prison system, Lieut. Col. Hernando Navas, entered the special prison, they were hold hostages by Escobar´s men. Riots started inside the corridors of the resort-like prison. Escobar and his closest men escaped in the middle of the confusion of the gun fire, triggering the biggest fears among world leaders. This was the incident which changed the course of Colombian Government´s modus operandi. From this point on they would fight Escobar with his own cruel weapons. Assassinations were order by the Government to every man and woman related to the Medellin Cartel. They fought fire with fire. It was indeed a massacre. The show will definitely touch upon this topic. Rumors say that the members of the Search Bloc were trained by the American special operations team ‘Delta Force’. With no rules to follow from any of the sides, the display of cruelty will be double.
Decline of an Empire
As far as story and style of the show goes, Narcos is a character driven story. This may sound obvious but there are many threads that could be covered due to the complexity of the historical events. The first season has been mainly following two threads: The DEA agents investigation and Pablo´s moves regarding his business, enemies and family. Season two follows the decline of an empire built with blood. It will be taken down with blood and it will end with blood. But how to weaken a titan that sits on the top of a pyramid built on human resources that operate out of respect and fear in most cases? The answer is: burning the building from the ground up. The Search Bloc was formed to take down the Medellin Cartel. This group was allowed to to anything in their hands to erase the evil empire once and for all. The method they used were the same ones Escobar was using against them which cost the lives of hundreds of innocent people. They attacked three fronts: his men, his labs and his properties. Men hired by Pablo to extort, kidnap, torture and kill, were now being assassinated by the Colombian Authorities. Not only them but their families and anyone who had a link to the cartel. The streets of Medellin were a complete bloodbath. With more and more fallen sicarios every day, panic raises among Escobar´s organization and many men lost their motivation and no longer worshiped the drug lord. Those who were not killed by the Search Bloc were hunted by Pablo himself for treachery.
The business was also in the scope of the Search Bloc. No more cocaine labs would mean no drugs going out, no money coming in and eventually the loss of all his power. The Cartel´s labs were spread across the dense and abrupt jungle of Colombia. The complications of fighting Pablo´s private army in their own terrain increased the number of soldiers fallen in combat. They endured at their attacks but as the Colombian Military grew on experience fighting Pablo´s army plus the rumors of the decline of his empire weakened the organizational structures. One by one, labs were burnt to the ground and luxurious mansions were expropriated together with a fleet of expensive sports cars, helicopters and all sort of rare objects which would include exotic animals, pieces of art and weapons.
Maria Victoria and Juan Pablo, wife and son of Pablo Escobar have their own via crucis. They lost physical contact with Pablo since he entered La Catedral. Pablo Escobar was a family guy and despite the nature of his work, he would be completely dedicated to his wife and son. So far the Medellin Cartel has gotten away with everything. However, during season 2, they are on the run and wounded. Pablo will start showing vulnerabilities and the DAS (Colombian equivalent to CIA) use that to defeat him. Pablo had a number of hideaway apartments and basements spread among the narrow streets of Medellin. The same way, his wife and son would go from residence to residence trying to avoid the authorities. At this time the Government was playing as hard as Pablo and they would blow up an apartment building property of Escobar at the suspicion he could be inside. In one occasion they bombed an apartment where Pablo had left a few minutes before the detonation. One by one all Esocbar´s safe refuges were being taken down. At some point, Maria Victoria and Juan Pablo attempted to leave the country and made it to Frankfurt, Germany. President Gaviria begged the international community to deny the entry of the spouse and son of the Narco. The biggest fear was that Pablo would order to start a new series of bombings. They could not afford the risk so once they landed in German territory, they were sent back to Colombia after a few hours of extreme international tension. This conflict was on the edge of an international crisis. While being away from his family, Pablo would make several mistakes by getting in touch with them, specially his son. Both the Colombian Authorities and the DEA tracked Pablo´s phone calls and triangulate his position. They came up with a smart way to measure the strength of the radio signal. They would drive around the streets of Medellin listening to Pablo´s phone calls reading the intensity of the signal. This way they knew if they were getting closer or nearer from him. This would only be effective as long as the phone call was active. Pablo ignored this fact at first. He would spend prolonged periods of time speaking to his son on the phone. When his men were being killed and he had to escape to new hideaway spots more and more often, he knew that he was being monitored. Pablo´s last phone call with his son was longer than usual. Despite the efforts of Juan Pablo to convince his father to hang up the phone, Pablo refused. Here is where the different theories differ about how somebody with such power could commit such a mistake. He knew the end was near and that could be it. This last conversation lasted 21 min, time enough for the Colombian Authorities to find the exact location. One officer said he was driving by the house where Pablo was hiding and saw him by the window talking on the phone. As an adult, Juan Pablo has spoken several times about his father telling him how he would die putting a bullet in his own brain. Pablo wouldn´t let them have the satisfaction of being the ones who captured the biggest Narco the world has ever known. Regardless of this affirmation, Pablo walked out of the window and over the rooftop of the first floor building. That´s where Pablo was shot down to death.
Alone in the dark
Despite being one of the riches man in the world, making it to the top 100 of Forbes magazine, Escobar lives on the run from hide out to hide out. He owns more than 180 villas across Colombia. He has a fleet of luxurious cars, helicopters and jets. He even has his own private zoo, which by the way is the biggest most exotic animal reserve in Colombia. But both the DEA and the Colombian Government have already found out the location of many of these remote mansions and most of them have been shut down. Pablo Escobar, a man with an incredible fortune, is unable to use it. He hides in cold basements and abandoned apartments. Most, if not all, of these places have no electricity and no water. He can’t even go out to buy a loath of bread. For this reason we are expecting to see a Pablo in disguise. As seen in pictures after his death, Pablo no longer has his recognizable mustache but a full grown uneven beard. We expect to see a physical transformation of Wagner Moura that may once again bring controversy.
As Pablo Escobar’s empire vanishes, so is the trust of his less loyal hitmen. Pablo will be betrayed again and again by his own men as he loses power and respect. New characters close to Escobar will be introduced. Some loyal, who will be portrayed as disloyal, and some disloyal, who will end up with “plomo“. That is the reason why I wrote this scene about Jhon Jairo Velasquez a.k.a. ‘Popeye’, Pablo’s most loyal and lethal hitman, who is also one of the only survivors of that carnage. Popeye spent 23 years in prison paying for his crimes. He has written two novels about his years working with Pablo. He has been recently promoting his latest title “Surviving Pablo Escobar”.
Pablo, despite being the head of a mass murder organization, was a very loving father and husband. However, as we’ve seen in season 1, one of the perks of building your own prison (fortress for them) was to have all sort of distractions. Prostitutes would come in and out of “La Catedral”. The ranks would always be respected. Some girls were only enjoyed by the higher ranks such as Escobar’s partners. Some girls would only be enjoyed by the top hitmen and the rest of the girls would be enjoyed by everyone. Except Pablo’s girlfriends. One of the rules of the Italian mafia is not to mess with a friends woman. Pablo Escobar was well known for respecting the rules within the chaotic “industry” he was in. At least he would follow his own rules and he wouldn’t make concessions to anyone. In an interview to the Colombian Television, Popeye reveals that was one of the secrets of Pablo’s success. His extremely strict discipline which he would impose to all of his men. Popeye, despite being Pablo’s favorite hitman, was no exception.
Wendy Chavarriaga was one of Pablo’s ex girlfriends. She was a woman of extreme beauty. Popeye tells in his book that Wendy was Colombia’s representative to Miss Universe 1981. Apart from a beauty queen, she was the kind of woman who would differentiate herself from the rest for her ambition and high standards. She would only approach the drug lords, the heads of the cartel. Her power as a lure was really strong over powerful men. She would not settle for a sicario (Spanish for hitman). When Pablo discovers that Wendy has been sleeping with Popeye. He analyzes the situation further from a mere dispute about breaking the already mentioned rules of the mafia. Escobar knows that Wendy wouldn’t sleep with a hitman unless she has an ulterior motive. For this reason Pablo orders to intercept Wendy’s phone calls. One of these calls is between commander Colonel Hugo Martinez of the Search Bloc and Wendy. Wendy has betrayed Pablo and is now working in collaboration to capture him. Popeye has been just a tool to her, however Popeye’s loyalty to his “Patrón” is much bigger than the love to who he considers his girlfriend. Popeye, having put the entire organization in danger receives a call to meet Pablo. He explained in an interview how he never feared anything, not even death, and how he was himself much of a joker, but not in Escobar´s presence. He tells that, when he got to that meeting, his best friend Pinina was next to Pablo. “When your life was at stake, Pablo would bring your best friend to the meeting, who could be ordered to execute you any time” said Popeye. That´s why he did not lose his cool in front of his boss and told him the straight out truth about Wendy. Pablo had the life of his most effective killer in his hands, in a very much Roman Emperor manner. Popeye didn´t even give Pablo the chance to think. He left that meeting knowing what he had to do.
For the first time Popeye was feeling betrayed. This feeling came from the woman he loved. He was also devastated for being too weak to realize that her only interest was to capture who he thought as God. One night Popeye met Wendy at a restaurant and set up a strategy to get her executed. Even though Popeye admits to have killed over 250 people himself, he was deeply hurt and he didn´t have the courage to do it. The same way he did with over other 3000 people, he ordered the assassination of Wendy Chavarriaga. He instructed his men to make a phone call to the restaurant where Popeye and her where having dinner. The waiter approached the couple in the middle of their date, requesting her to receive a phone call at the bar. Popeye heard the drumming of Wendy´s hills resonate across the room as she marched to her death. At some point the tapping on the floor got mixed with the sound of dozens of gun shots followed by the noise of Wendy´s body hitting the floor. When Popeye saw the body covered in blood he felt relief.
Loyalty was everything to Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria. Respecting the rules was the key to success or for some a life extension card in that wicked game.