“Narcos” thoughts, Season Two, Episode Three: “Our Man in Madrid”

I can’t imagine it’s a coincidence that “Our Man in Madrid,” the third episode of Narcos’ second season, has this running theme of ersatz arts criticism, though there’s no reason to believe it’s anything more than a fun visual leitmotif to return to throughout the hour. However, there’s a deeper resonance to this device than what’s visible at first glance. As I’ve been saying throughout these reviews, the beauty of Narcos is that it doesn’t try to have a Moral Of The Story. How can it? What is the story, after all, but “A crook made billions of dollars and went berserk, so a pair of governments went even more berserk until they finally murdered him”? This is not True Detective Season One–style paean to the bad men who “keep the other bad men from the door,” either. Escobar and his associates are loathsome. The Cali cartel members who play both sides are loathsome. The various military, law-enforcement, and intelligence agencies involved in the hunt for Pablo are loathsome, though at least at times guys like Murphy and Peña are capable of recognizing their own loathsomeness and not bothering justifying it. In a world like this, the self-glorifying self-portraits or image-burnishing fine art you attempt to immortalize yourself with is a bad joke. You’re spiritually pissing on it even when you’re not literally pissing on it.

I reviewed the third episode of Narcos’ increasingly ruthless second season for Decider.

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