I’ve never really bought into the opening card about magical realism, but there’s something pretty unbelievable about Pablo’s (Wagner Moura) prison escapades.
Let’s bitch it out…
At the end of the last episode, Pablo Escobar agreed to go to prison. It had the potential to change the course of the series, but ‘La Catedral’ proves that Pablo cannot be swayed by something as simple as the criminal justice system. No, folks, prison is just a permanent party for Colombia’s favourite drug kingpin.
The problem is that isolation – regardless of the gambling and the prostitutes and the all-access birthday parties – only serves to make Pablo antsy and paranoid. I predicted last episode that Gustavo’s murder would have a major impact on the series and ‘La Catedral’ proves that it was Gustavo all along who was keeping Pablo reigned in. The new goons that Pablo’s surrounded himself with at the prison are enablers and they encourage his bad behaviour, which allows him to spin out of control. And when you’re the boss of the largest criminal organization in the country, having no one to help you keep your cool = bodies in the incinerators.
If I had a single complaint about this episode, it is that once again we’re not really familiar with the characters who come to dominate it. Yes, we’ve met Moncada (Christian Tappán) and Galeano (Orlando Valenzuela), the other members of the Medellin cartel, before but their deaths are ultimately immaterial to us (and really, we know they’re going to die the moment that they arrived at the prison to a table of money and a host of accusations). Moncada and Galeano live and die as examples of how paranoid prison has made Pablo, even when he is the one setting all of the rules. Still, even if the outcome is telegraphed from the first moment the men emerge from the back of the truck, it is still fascinating to watch Pablo grasp at faulty logic to connect the money from the farmer’s field to the drug shipment that went missing on their watch. It’s almost impressive until you pause to realize that he’s about to kill his closest remaining friends & business partners.
Whether the deaths of Moncada and Galeano wind up being the blot that darkens Pablo’s reputation once and for all remains to be seen. Pacho (Alberto Ammann) is out for blood now more than ever after Pablo kills ten of his men as a precursor to negotiating a detente; with only Pacho and the Ochoas (presumably still serving their reduced sentence) remaining, Pablo doesn’t have a lot of friends left. Add to this Peña (Pedro Pascal) and Murphy’s (Boyd Holbrook) decision to leak the corruption scandal to the press – just as President César (Raúl Méndez) feared they would – and we’re all set up for a reignited war in the final episode of S1.
- Last episode I questioned if Connie (Joanna Christie) would raise the baby and this episode confirms that she will. It’s a bit of a strange development, but between Murphy’s Colombia-appropriate reactions and this, the Murphys are coming into their own in this new country and they’re setting down roots.
- There’s a visual connection between Murphy’s new gruff attitude (pulling a gun over a fender bender, really?) and the events that claimed Poison in the last /first episode – which he flashes back to here. Murphy has taken the long path to come to the realization of what it takes to get things accomplished in Colombia, but it’s clearly taking a toll on his mental health.
- Carrillo (Maurice Compte) is sent packing during the detente because his team is bad for business during peace time. This makes sense, I guess; you can’t have vendors and balloons around when Carrillo is out cracking heads and spilling blood. He’ll undoubtedly be back for the forthcoming war, though.
- Mama (Paulina García) still confuses me. Surely she understands that her son is a bad man? Tata (Paulina Gaitan) clearly knows the score when she stands up to Judy Moncada (Cristina Umaña), but does Mama? Or is she just lying to herself when she suggests that Judy’s husband left without telling anyone?
Your turn: What are your thoughts about Pablo’s luxurious prison? Did you anticipate Moncada and Galeano’s deaths straight away? Is Pablo becoming increasingly unhinged? Is Murphy? What will happen in the final episode? Sound off below, but please refrain from posting spoilers if you have watched the last episode.
Narcos is available in its entirety on Netflix.