“Narcos” thoughts, Season Two, Episode Four: “The Good, The Bad, and The Dead”


It’s long been my contention that the single greatest act of cinematic revenge belongs to Robert De Niro’s bank-robber character in Michael Mann’s crime epic Heat. (Spoilers ahead, though really this is just a signal that you should go watch Heat immediately.) Discovering the location of an associate who betrayed him, he risks everything to infiltrate the hotel where the man is being kept under guard, distract his protective detail, break into his hotel room, and kill him. But does he just shoot him in the back of the head, like so many mobsters from The Godfather to GoodFellas have been content to do? Hell no. “Look at me,” he demands, then shoots the guy in the gut, then in the head. If the point were simply to kill him, none of this would be necessary. But the point is to make sure he knows he’s about to be killed — knows he’s in the process of dying, in fact — and knows why. Otherwise, what’s the point?

This is a lesson Pablo Escobar has clearly internalized. In “The Good, The Bad, and The Dead,” the cornily titled fourth episode of Narcos’ second season, Pablo quite shockingly gets the drop on Colonel Horacio Carrillo, the ruthless Colombian police officer who’s been his nemesis from the jump. Though he and his men are peppered with bullets, Pablo insists on delivering the killing blow himself. “Look at me,” he says. “Look at me,” he says again, repeating himself just as De Niro’s character did. He then fires the bullet Carrillo sent to him as a warning into the man’s leg before finally delivering the coup de grace to his head. Pablo understands that there’s no point in simply defeating your enemy. He has to know he’s being defeated, he has to know he has no hope of not being defeated, and he has to know who has defeated him. Death isn’t enough. Agony is paramount.

I reviewed the fourth episode of Narcos Season 2 for Decider.

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