In the aftermath of the plane bombing, the hunt intensifies for Pablo (Wagner Moura).
Let’s bitch it out…
‘You Will Cry Tears Of Blood’ is a bit of a strange episode of Narcos. Last review, I commented on how the series seems content to employ a multi-faceted narrative approach that sees different plots advance in fits and starts. 1×07 tries to streamline that a little bit by focusing on the dual pronged war that Pablo is fighting: one against the DEA and one against his competitors. The latter war refers to both the Ochoas and new character Pacho Herrera (Alberto Ammann). To suggest that the episode is interested in Pablo’s rivalry with his business competitors is a bit disingenuous, though; in reality the latter story line is introduced, but never really advances beyond a tense conversation and a brief hint that Pacho is partnering with the disgruntled Ochoas. Beyond this, it’s all speculation and anticipation that there’s more to this story before season’s end.
That means that ‘You Will Cry Tears Of Blood’ is really about Pablo’s escalating conflict with the DEA. After turning himself into the most wanted man in the country by downing a plane with over 100 victims, Pablo abandons his family and goes into hiding. That doesn’t mean that he goes radio silent, though; instead he begins an aggressive bombing campaign (once again the archival footage of the real damage tells the most compelling story because it reminds us that this is not just a fictional story we’re watching). When the bombings land him in trouble with both his partners and the people of Colombia, Gustavo (Juan Pablo Raba) sits Pablo down and tries to reason with him. Their relationship continues to be one of the most engaging aspects of the series to me, if only because Pablo is such an unreasonable narcissist that it’s fascinating to watch him interact with the only person who is frank with him. Everyone else is so busy placating him or living in fear of how he’ll react. It’s refreshing when Gustavo calls him an asshole.
The conversation doesn’t result in a detente, but rather an alternative line of intimidation. With César Gaviria (Raúl Méndez) officially sworn in as President, Pablo needs a new form of intimidation to make himself heard. Cue the kidnapping of family members of influential Colombians.
It’s here that the episode takes an unusual approach and not one that I’m convinced works. Out of the blue, a new character is introduced – reporter Diana Turbay (Gabriela de la Garza). She is promptly given a huge amount of screen time and emotional investment, despite the fact that the audience has zero emotional investment in her. We first see her when her father, a respected doctor, offers César advice at a party. Later we learn that many of her friends are the victims of Pablo’s kidnapping campaign. Then, after striking the wrong chord with rival Valeria (Stephanie Sigman), Diana herself is kidnapped and used politically to exert pressure on César to negotiate with Pablo.
It’s not an illogical development, but the fact that we have never met Diana before means that neither her plight, nor her parents’ grief, carry any weight. There’s also no clear indication why she carries so much influence. We’re briefly told that she is very popular (Valeria whines that Diana’s ratings are better than hers) and we know that she has a wealthy, prominent parent who can make life difficult for the new President, but these are said, not shown. It would have been better if we had met Diana earlier so that we were invested in her, rather than promoting some randomly introduced character to a position of prominence in what turns out to be a crucial development. After all, it is because of Diana that César negotiates with Pablo and simultaneously agrees to allow the Americans greater access in Colombia, two huge narrative developments that have the potential to shape the remaining episodes. As it stands, the story line works, but only if we just sit back and accept it.
- While it would have been nice to see a bit more of Valeria’s rivalry with Diana, I appreciate that the jealous reporter finally finds a way to use her dalliance with Pablo to her advantage.
- The episode’s big chase scene involves La Quica (Diego Cataño) and Poison (Jorge A. Jimenez) on the run after Murphy (Boyd Holbrook) and Peña (Pedro Pascal) discover them executing Natalie, the bomber’s girlfriend. The way the chase is shot, with alternating on the ground steadicam shots and crane / bird’s eye shots, helps us to keep track of where everyone is and creates a sense of urgency. The sudden appearance of a child brandishing a gun is also a nice-call back to 1×05 when Pablo recruited and armed loca neighbour boys.
- Still no movement on the slow-burning Marina Ochoa (Laura Perico) subplot. At this point it seems a safe bet to assume that her affair with Gustavo will end with at least one – probably both – of them being executed when they’re discovered.
- Soooo Connie (Joanna Christie) is just going to raise that baby now?
- Finally, it’s not clear how the negotiation between César and the narcos works. Are they going to jail immediately (for a reduced time) or will Pablo have time to build his castle in the hills?
- Pablo (when Valeria asks about their relationship): “I don’t have time for that pussy shit right now.”
Your turn: did Diana’s awkward introduction affect your enjoyment of the kidnapping plot? Did you like the way the big chase scene was filmed? Is César being smart or is he being manipulated? Sound off below, but please refrain from posting spoilers if you have watched ahead.
Narcos is available in its entirety on Netflix. Check in Thursday for our review of episode eight.