Narcos has been one of Netflix’s marquee series for the past seven years, delivering a dramatic retelling of the history of the global drug trade from the perspectives of the men who revolutionized drug trafficking and the U.S government’s perpetual war against them.
Narcos: Mexico saw the series transition into Mexico’s trafficking history, shifting from the power brokers audiences grew familiar with during the original series like Pablo Escobar, to the people who were on the front lines of events that would change the war on drugs into what we see persist to this day. The series should be considered one of the great crime shows of its generation through its stable of terrific actors, genuinely great filmmaking, and enough contemplativeness to go along with the violence.
In its final season, Narcos: Mexico addresses the void of power in Mexico’s drug economy after Felix Miguel Angel, played by Diego Luna, the architect, and leader of a union between all the different drug organizations in Mexico, is betrayed and captured by law enforcement. The series has always had a central figure that is the focal point of the story. First, Pablo Escobar, played by Wagner Moura, carried the first two seasons with a phenomenal performance that really captured the initial wave of hype and interest for the series.
With Diego Luna’s Miguel Angel off the board, the final season was without the central charismatic figure that fans are used to, but it succeeds by promoting characters on the periphery like Amado Carillo Fuentes (José María Yazpik) to the center of the story using the real-world history and dramatizing it as the series does best. Amado has always been the cool guy with slicked-back hair, always in all black, but pushing him forward works.
As the series finale, the third season of Narcos: Mexico delivers what has always been the show’s thesis — outside of its surface-level delights — the futility of the war on drugs. The series has explored the geopolitical implications of drug trafficking, how the global economy runs hand in hand with it, and how government cooperation and corruption keep the wheel turning. There are no good guys in this war, and the final season doubles down on this conceit, and it’s mostly effective.
Beyond the violence and intrigue carried out by real-life people, Narcos has always addressed the fallout and the cost of the war on drugs and how it affects everyday people. The gravity of what takes place and the focus on Mexico and the people that suffer most as a whole are effective and lead to sobering moments after adrenaline-pumping sequences. The recounting of the political corruption that goes hand in hand with the cartel’s rise to power and how powerful people on both sides of the border played a part in some of the carnage has been one of Narcos: Mexico’s high-points. Even when plot lines don’t entirely work as in this current season that has a cop in Juarez investigating the abduction of Mexican women. The show is still effective and worth indulging in because of the wider issues it is explores.
Made with the meticulous accuracy and quality of a high-caliber period piece, as a crime/gangster series Narcos offered what fans of the genre want, leaning into all the tropes while making them uniquely Narcos. The series being mainly in Spanish may be a deterrent for English-only speakers, but hasn't hurt it worldwide where it has been a mega-hit for Netflix.
We might not see another show like Narcos for some time on a streamer, and its existence on Netflix will continue to hold a special place among its biggest series. The final season sees the groundwork, world-building, and character development pay off in a gloomy, morally grey ending to a show about a problem that it proves time and time again will never end.