Times of Oman
Times Digital Download: Narcos returns with the thrilling Season 3
September 10, 2017 | 7:14 PM
by Gautam Viswanathan
Cali’s criminals may have been doing evil, but they had to look good doing it, and they certainly took efforts in that direction.
 
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September is here, and with it, comes another slew of TV shows – some new, some returning – to fill that Game of Thrones-shaped hole in our lives. Admit it, we’ve all got that Westerosi vacuum in us at the moment. Many will look high and low, as they fervently scan Amazon Prime and Netflix for something to scratch that itch, others will dig through what lies in their hard drives. To each his own, yes, but I managed to find succour in the form of the latest series of Narcos.

The overwhelmingly popular Netflix special is back, as we return to Colombia for yet another hair-raising, madcap set of (mis)adventures that only the cartels of the tiny South American nation can pull off. After the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) shot Pablo Escobar as he attempted to scamper to safety across the shantytowns of Medellin, resulting in the collapse of his cartel, they then turned their attention to the other head of Colombia’s criminal hydra.

The only thing the Medellin and Cali cartels had in common was their illegitimate criminal activities. That aside, they were as extreme as chalk and cheese. While Escobar had a flair for the loud, Don Gilberto Rodriguez and his brother Miguel preferred to be discreet.

While Escobar set himself up as an anti-government Latino Robin Hood, the Cali cartel quietly enmeshed themselves within the highest echelons of the authorities, ensuring they had access to intelligence data, phone records, and even election results, all bought off at the cost of billions of dollars, but worth it, to ensure their global criminal activities continued to flourish.

That’s right – global.The United States and Mexico were the Cali cartel’s number one source of business, but that didn’t stop them from setting up equally lucrative, spurious trade routes across Western Europe and Asia. This was the 1980s, remember, and yuppie culture — a wave of young, upwardly mobile professionals — was just taking to the cities.

To partake in the dark arts of the seedy underbelly of your city’s nightlife was considered to be a rite of passage among many of these newly affluent yuppies, and with such a high demand for their product, how could the Cali cartel let such opportunities, whether in Los Angeles or London, Hamburg or Hong Kong, Milan or Macao, pass them by? Not only did the Cali cartel strike gold across the world, they also made sure others couldn’t. While Escobar would simply plant a bomb in his adversary’s car, making sure everyone – both those who could do something about it and those who couldn’t – knew who exactly was boss, the ‘Gentlemen of Cali’ eschewed such barbaric acts. What would people think of them if they’d gotten their hands bloody?

Cali’s criminals may have been doing evil, but they had to look good doing it, and they certainly took efforts in that direction: Savile Row suits, elegant boardrooms, private country estates and high-end automobiles were the norm of the Cali cartel, the façade put on to disarm the watching public so that they could continue their despicable activities uninterrupted.

They decided to take care of their dirty business in private: With the Rodriguez brothers, it was less more important to be unseen, and even more so to be unheard. Those who could not be bought off with a wad of cash up front would soon find themselves quietly disposed of when they had their backs turned. With high-rise offices of glass and steel, control over a plethora of banks through which they could launder their ill-gotten gains, and a clutch of phoney companies set up to funnel the cash, the Cali cartel ran their criminal empire like a Fortune 500 organisation. The less evidence there is for people to catch on to, the less likely it is for the baddies to see the inside of a jail cell.

Even the smallest smidgen of evidence, though, is enough for organisations such as the DEA and CIA, who’ve been keeping tabs on Gilberto and Miguel Rodriguez, as well as Pacho Herrera, the third head of the Cali cartel, and Jose Santacruz Londono, who oversees all American operations from his base in New York City.

Flush from his victory in eliminating Escobar, Javier Pena, one of two DEA agents who stopped the man, is given a promotion, and tasked with taking down the Cali cartel. Pedro Pascal (I’m sure you all remember Oberyn Martell?) once again takes to the role as effortlessly as a fish to water, and his world-weary but dogged demeanour is just one of many aspects of Narcos that is sure to endear this gritty, no-holds-barred show to people all over again.

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The Short and Skinny

Name: Narcos

Produced for: Netflix

Genre: Thriller/Drama/Crime

What it’s about: Pablo Escobar may have fallen, but that’s only allowed other criminal cartels in Colombia the chance to thrive. Javier Pena and the United States government are at it again, as they continue to wage the war on drugs both at home and abroad.

Starring: Pedro Pascal, Damian Alcazar, Alberto Ammann, Francisco Denis, Pepe Rapazote, Matias Varela, Javier Camara, Eric Lange, Kerry Bishe, Michael Stahl-David, Matt Whelan, Arturo Castro, Miguel Anger Silvestre, Wagner Moura

Runtime: 49 minutes

IMDB Rating: 8.9/10

Where to Watch: Netflix


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