Netflix dropped all 10 episodes of the second season of Narcos on September 2. So, much like DEA Agent Steve Murphy treats a bottle of booze, we devoured, binged, and recapped every single episode from the season. There are two recaps per page, so feel free to dig in and read along while you watch.
The supply went dry for a while, but Narcos is finally back and sating all of our drug empire drama needs. On with the recaps!
Episode 1: “Free at Last”
“Okay, here we go again.” That’s how the second season of Narcos begins, with DEA agent Steve Murphy reminding us that Pablo Escobar managed to escape the raid on his luxurious prison compound in last year’s finale. But how did he escape, you might ask? Well, as we see, he just straight up told a few members of the National Army that he would not be arrested, and he walked by them and on to freedom. If last year’s finale was about putting the heat on Escobar, the season 2 premiere does a wonderful job of once again establishing that he’s not going to be easy to take down.
Unlike the messy and laborious plotting of last year’s early episodes, season 2 gets right down to business with clear stakes and character motivations. President Gaviria, dealing with the fallout of letting a notorious and dangerous criminal escape, puts the National Army on every street corner in Medellin to keep an eye out for Pablo, while Murphy and Pena are barely allowed to work the operation, which is run by Colonel Pinzon.
The goal is to stop Pablo from moving around Medellin and bringing his empire back into the game. You see, his empire has been split in his absence. The Medellin Cartel is really just a number of smaller gangs, and those gangs are in flux. For instance, Judy Moncada, the widow of the man who Pabo brutally killed last season after mistakenly believing he was stealing from him, wants him dead. When Pablo, on a tip from the Pricos, hits her operation and kills a number of her men, she’s forced to take more drastic measures. We don’t know exactly what those are yet, but she says she knows a powerful person who also wants Pablo dead.
Clear stakes and conflicts abound in the season premiere, and that makes the episode immediately engaging. We’re able to see how Pablo’s plan to travel around Medellin in the trunk of a cab comes together, only to then put La Quica, and therefore Pablo’s whole operation, in danger. Of course, there’s the personal mixed in there too, as Connie takes Olivia and flies back to Miami. Murphy gets to the airport, but not in time to stop them. His life is falling apart and their chase of Escobar is getting nowhere, so he takes it out on two Wall Street types snorting coke in the bathroom by beating the hell out of them.
Clearly, season 2 will be about the growing need to capture Pablo Escobar. Pablo has Fernando Duque call Gaviria and offer up terms to go back to La Catedral, but what he doesn’t know is that Gaviria has other plans. He goes on national television and delivers an address: It’s time to stop Pablo Escobar’s reign of terror, and a $1.4 million reward will be given to anyone who has information that leads to his capture. Buckle up, season 2 of Narcos is here.
Episode 2: “Cambalache”
So, with President Gaviria making his public announcement in order to put the pressure on Pablo Escobar, you’d have to assume it wouldn’t take him long to strike back. Sure enough, he comes out with his own interview at the top of the second episode, saying he’s willing to go back to prison if his safety can be guaranteed. It’s another PR move, another interview that makes him a hero to many people in Colombia.
With the whole Escobar deal being continually fumbled, the DEA, and President George Bush, decide it’s time to make some changes. Arthur Crosby, an army vet, is established as the new ambassador, and Claudia Messina is hired to head up the DEA. In other words, she’s in charge of Murphy and Pena, and she makes her presence known right away, telling Murphy that if he messes up again like he did with those Wall Street guys he beat up, he’ll be sent packing.
What season 2 is doing so far is not only looking at just how crafty Escobar is at evading the police and the government, but how many different sections of the Colombian population help Escobar remain elusive. So, there’s the Attorney General, who’s openly negotiating with Fernando about a prison term despite Gaviria’s insistence on not negotiating with Escobar and his men. Then there’s the horrible violence of La Quica and his men, who look for the rat in the brothel and end up killing everyone in sight. Only Limon’s friend Maritza is safe, and only because Limon keeps her hidden from La Quica.
Essentially, season 2 is setting up three different but interconnected story lines: There’s Pablo Escobar trying to keep his business running smoothly while dealing with the elusive Judy Moncada and her labs. There’s the growing tension between America and Colombia, as each government understands they need each other’s help and yet feels exploited by it as well.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there’s Murphy, Pena, and now Messina, trying to track down Escobar despite the red tape put up by Colonel Pinzon. He’s running the show, and his in-your-face tactics lead to yet another failed raid, as Escobar once again escapes through a tunnel in his home. Murphy wanted to go in stealth, but Pinzon is all about the show of force, and sure enough, it backfires once again.
This time though, Escobar isn’t just going to accept the slight victory. He’s going to retaliate. Escobar orders a mass retaliation, as his men slaughter police officers all around Medellin. Narcos uses the scene to create a stark contrast in tones. There’s Escobar sharing a tender moment with his wife Tata, dancing, singing, and snuggling as if they don’t have a care in the world, while elsewhere Limon makes his first kill, grenades kill numerous officers, and blood flows through the streets.
NEXT: Episodes 3 and 4