Narcos is coming back! But what do you do if you've forgotten what Pablo Escobar got up to last time? Simple: read our full season one recap...
Narcos fans rejoice! The next season of Netflix’ gritty gangster series kicks off on 2 September and it’s promising, in the deep drawl of Boyd Holbrook (AKA Steve Murphy), that “one way or another, he pays.” If you’re yet to tune into the hit Colombian drug drama, ‘he’ is Pablo Escobar, and he’s currently on the run from Colombian authorities having just escaped from La Catedral prison in Medellin – a prison that he himself built.
Dangerous in more ways than one, the 2015 launch of Narcos had us binge-watching Netflix and passing it off as Spanish lessons, but will it be plata o plomo for Narcos season two? While we wait to find out, join us on a refresher course of what went down over the past 10 episodes.
WARNING: HUGE SPOILERS FOR NARCOS SEASON 1 BELOW!
ONLY READ IF YOU’RE UP TO SPEED
Narcos: Season 1 recap
The first episode of Narcos is all about the buildup. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent Steve Murphy’s narration transports us through time to the ‘80s, in which we learn how – motivated by the shooting of his partner – Murphy moves his young family from Miami to Colombia to wage a war on cocaine. From there we’re taken back to 1970s Chile where, on the cusp of General Augusto Pinochet’s US-supported rise to power, the cocaine industry is born.
Under Gen Pinochet’s bloody dictation, life is less sweet for the workers in Chilean desert drug labs. But one man, Cockroach, escapes the firing squads to rise victorious, with the means to make coke and the drive to make a fortune.
Enter Pablo Escobar. We first meet Escobar smuggling contraband through a roadblock, where he coolly intimidates Colombian DAS agents with intimate details of their families. And when approached by Cockroach to move cocaine from Chile to Colombia, Escobar has far grander plans. “If it sells for $10 a gram here, imagine how much it will sell for in Miami.” The drug kingpin emerges, and we know Cockroach won’t last.
“The drug business soon booms, but it’s not just the authorities with drug traffickers in their sights.”
The drug business soon booms, but it’s not just the authorities with drug traffickers in their sights. A group of guerilla communists by the name of M-19 kidnap the sister of prominent players the Ochoa brothers. Not to be beaten, Escobar once again flexes his muscle. An M-19 camp is brutalised, the girl is released and the Medellin cartel is formed, dubbing itself ‘death to kidnappers’ with Escobar at the helm. But why stop at a cartel when you could run the whole country?
As Escobar progresses from cocaine king to politician and man of the people, enjoying trysts with a female reporter while his wife waits in the wings, Murphy and the DEA remain hot on his trail. The killing of Murphy’s beloved pet cat further cements the pair’s resolve, but when Escobar takes his seat in Congress, plans for a public shaming fall into place. Justice Minister Lara’s denouncement damns Escobar’s political career and escalates the violence as the cartel turns its attention to new US laws of extradition…
Drugs, violence, sex, communism and politics all interspersed with historical footage and a storyline based in fact – Narcos’ first season definitely had the all the hallmarks of must-see TV. The divide between good and bad is blurred at best and, after traversing over a decade of drug trade, the finale’s focus on the La Catedral raid gets an A for cinematics – with cliffhangers at every turn.
But what’s next? Has Murphy had it with DEA partner Pena? Will the Vice Minister of Justice remain loyal to President Gaviria? What’s next for Pablo Escobar? All we know is we’ll be watching – for the sake of our Spanish lessons, if nothing else.
Missed something? You can check out all the previous Narcos episodes here. See you back for season two.