When my best friend told me I should watch “Narcos,” I didn’t know what to expect. I’m a squeamish person, and I can’t stand seeing blood on TV. I’m not a big fan of violent TV shows, but I decided to watch the show anyway. There are a few spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t seen either “Narcos” or “Narcos: Mexico,” go watch them. You won’t regret it.
“Narcos” takes the viewer on a trip to Colombia where drug kingpin Pablo Escobar began his cocaine empire. Although the show is violent and there is a lot of blood, I loved watching the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) manhunt to find Escobar. The show is intense, and there is not a boring moment.
When I finished “Narcos,” I began watching “Narcos: Mexico,” which premiered its second season Feb. 13. This spinoff centers around the Guadalajara cartel that ruled Mexico in the 1980s. Season one begins by depicting how the leader of the cartel, Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, began his empire. Gallardo, played by Diego Luna, is a ruthless leader who stops at nothing to expand his cartel.
As the Guadalajara cartel grew, agents from the DEA were sent to Guadalajara to control the cartel’s expansion. The main DEA agent is Enrique “Kiki” Camarena. As the agents got closer to tracking down members of the cartel, some of the members kidnapped Camarena and held him hostage in an opulent house Rubén Zuno Arce, who connected the cartel and the government, owned. The house belonged to Arce before he sold it to Gallardo’s business partner, Rafael Caro Quintero. Camarena was tortured to death before he could do anything to stop Gallardo and his empire.
Even though Camarena died before the cartel was controlled, the second season begins with new DEA agents who travel to Mexico to avenge Camarena’s death. The cartel has not stopped growing since the first season. At the start of season one, Gallardo’s cartel reached all the way to Tijuana, Sinaloa and Juárez. The second season starts off with his three developed cartels and shows how each cartel runs the drug business.
The audience sees internal problems within each cartel. Some of the members don’t get along, others can’t agree on what to do to keep Gallardo content, and the Tijuana and Sinaloa cartels can’t stand working together.
Luna’s portrayal of Gallardo is phenomenal. I felt intimidated watching him through my screen, as he was describing how he wanted to control Mexico and his plans in expanding his power.
Although Luna does an amazing job conveying Gallardo’s arrogance, he also conveys how lonely Gallardo’s life really was. Despite all the power he had, Luna’s acting shows how badly Gallardo craved power in his empire. Gallardo constantly did whatever he could to become more powerful, and this eventually led to his downfall.
The characters in “Narcos: Mexico” speak both Spanish and English, but don’t let the subtitles scare you. This show is completely worth watching. It takes you throughout Mexico and parts of Latin America to experience the inner workings of the Guadalajara cartel.