“Narcos” thoughts, Season Two, Episode One: “Free at Last”

“Okay,” groans DEA agent Steve Murphy as the second season of Narcos begins. “Here we go again.” Friends, that is the sound of a show that took Socrates’s advice to Know Thyself. Stepping into the prestige-gangster void left behind by the departures of Breaking Bad and Boardwalk EmpireNarcos has never taken the stylistic risks of those shows (bilingual scripting aside). It’s not as flashy as either its larger-than-life subject matter, the multibillionaire druglords of cocaine-era Columbia, or its Scorsese-indebted, voiceover-narrated, tapestry-of-criminality format would lead you to believe.

Rather, it takes its cues from its central performance: Wagner Moura as the lethal, laconic legend of the drug trade, Pablo Escobar. Portly, poorly rested, perpetually stoned, yet the most dangerous international criminal (non-government-official edition) this side of Osama Bin Laden, his reign of terror over his country rarely requires him to ruffle his own feathers. He simply stares into the distance, his dark brown eyes glowing beneath thick black eyebrows, then issues an order in a deadpan baritone and gets on with his day. His exploits may be unbelievable, but he takes it all in stride. So does Narcos, the most low-key series about a gigantic manhunt for a mass murderer you’re ever likely to see.

I reviewed the season premiere of Narcos for Decider, where I’ll be covering the Season 2 daily. Woo!

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