With Poison evading the roadblock, the DEA needs to find another way to get to Escobar. When it’s clear that he’ll win the election—or rather, that another man will win and immediately resign so that Escobar can take his place—the DEA, along with the U.S. Ambassador, decide that the best course of action is to let Escobar win and then humiliate him on a larger, more public scale.
To do that, they need to find something on Escobar. The only thing incriminating available to the DEA agents? That mugshot that Murphy noted in the season premiere. It shows that Escobar is indeed a criminal, even if it’s hard to prove his connection to drug trafficking.
Murphy and Pena set about tracking down the mugshot, trying to gather information from anyone related to the case, but the cartel is murdering everyone who was involved. That leads the agents to the one man who can help them: the photographer who took the picture. They kidnap him (in a friendly way, in order to keep him safe from the cartel) and get the photo negative, their plan quickly falling into place.
When Escobar is elected and prepared for his first day in Congress, Narcos delivers one of its more stunning visuals. The camera cuts between Escobar walking into Congress and walking in the fields of Colombia, while the voice-over points out his journey from poor to powerful. The voice-over is on the nose, but the image is still evocative.
Plus, it serves to accentuate the humiliation Escobar then suffers. When Escobar takes his seat in Congress, the Justice Minister Lara, who had previously taken money from Escobar and supported his run, denounces the man, having worked with Pena and Murphy to shame the drug kingpin.
Lara makes a speech about cleaning up government, about getting rid of bribes and dirty money, saying that while he’s been culpable in the past, Colombia needs to do better. It’s a rousing speech, and Escobar quietly leaves, staring Lara down in silent rage.
Lara’s speech and the acts of the DEA have a ripple effect. They expose a ton of corruption throughout Colombia, showing just how much drug money is flowing through the country. Lara has done a good deed, but clearly he’s in danger, so it’s arranged for him to be transferred to Czechoslovakia, where he’ll be safe from the cartel. Murphy asks him to wear a bulletproof vest for the two weeks until he leaves, knowing that the threat is still imminent.
Lara declines the vest, but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. The cartel catches up with him—a hitman shoots Lara through the window of his car. A good man has been killed, as Murphy says, and it’s another body in the ever-rising count produced by the War on Drugs.