Wednesday, September 2, 2015

REVIEW: 'Narcos' - Pablo Runs for Office While Murphy and Peña Work to Expose His Criminal Status in 'The Men of Always'

Netflix's Narcos - Episode 1.03 "The Men of Always"

Murphy encounters the depths of government corruption when he and Peña try to derail Escobar's political ambitions by proving he's a narco.

Pablo Escobar has a dream of saving his country from the extreme poverty that effects so many of its citizens. He understands just how bad things really are for the people of Colombia. He has made a vast fortune with the drug trade. People know about his wealth - and some suspect that he is a narcos. And yet, that aspect of his life isn't public knowledge yet. Everyone in Colombia believes that Pablo earned all of his money through his taxi business. Whenever someone decides to question it, he just bribes them to keep quiet. It's a very effective strategy too. He only gave away some of his money to the people because he didn't have a way to safely hold onto all of it. But he enjoys putting on that public persona and being the voice for the people of Colombia. He loves being in the spotlight. He is in control of the situation. He can manipulate events to whatever suits him. It's all because he has money, power and control over Colombia.

Pablo's run for Congress is also a very selfish move. He does it because it's want he wants to do. It is his dream and aspiration to help run the country so the future is drastically better than the past and present. This is something he wants to do. And now, he has the ability to actually make it happen. As the narration points out, a drug dealer should not realistically be able to run for public office. And yet, that's the reality of the situation here. It's rather easy for Pablo to win the support of the citizens as well as allow the party officials to back his campaign. He is able to win too. All of that is relatively easy. Sure, his closest allies are nervous about what this move means for their operation and his wife feels him pulling away during a time of need in order to embrace the press. But Pablo is capable of being a congressman, having a family and keeping his criminal organization running smoothly.

It's not until Pablo walks into the government building that things start falling apart for him. It's the first time in the series where he faces a true opposition that can't be bought or dissuaded. Murphy and Peña weren't able to stop him from getting elected. They couldn't gather enough facts to prove that he really was a narcos without any doubt. Again, Pablo is a very smart man. As soon as they attempt to track down all the specifics from that time he was arrested, Pablo's men appear always one step ahead of them. Fortunately though, they were able to get their hands on the mugshot. That one picture was the start of so many problems for Pablo.

The government official who chose to stand up and not be bullied into ignoring the growing cartel problem in Colombia was a brave man. He proudly stood up to Pablo and called him out during his very first congressional meeting. That always seemed like an environment where Pablo would be out of place. He tries walking into the room without wearing a tie and soon learns that he has to in order to go in. That's a weird rule. But it's also something that distinguishes this place as an environment completely different from what Pablo is used to. He's probably the richest and most influential person in that room. But he also stands in contrast to everyone else in there. And now, he's being called out for the problem must people in this government want to tackle and/or get under control.

Murphy and Peña are very lucky to have the original negative of the mugshot and this government official to call out Pablo for who he truly is. And yet, it still is just accusations. It makes sure Pablo's tenure in government is a short one. But he still got the people of this country talking. Nothing has been definitely proven to the citizens of Colombia. As hard as Murphy and Peña work, they still haven't made any significant progress in making a solid case against the narcos. Murphy is comfortable with everything that he has to do in this episode - continually bribing people, using the cat's murder in order to learn a cartel name, etc. But he's asked to do a lot of it. And that ultimately ends with the death of the politician who killed Pablo's dreams of running the country.

Another challenger to Pablo's kingdom has been executed. These early episodes are doing a great job at showcasing the rise of the cartel as well as Pablo's ability to kill anyone who stands in his way. He may never get to be a politician again after this. That probably re-establishes trust with the fellow members of his organization. But Pablo is still a man with immense power who can't be crossed without one hundred percent certainty of victory. People like to say they can make a move against him but he is a more formidable opponent than anyone else in the history of this business. That's a daunting prospect. And yet, Murphy and Peña are still determined to expose Pablo for who he truly is.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Men of Always" was written by Dana Calvo and directed by Guillermo Navarro.
  • It's still very weird that Connie is living in Colombia along with her husband. He has a right to be afraid for her safety. Two guards stationed outside the hospital where she volunteers is probably not enough if people from the cartel come looking for her. 
  • At least the volunteer hospital seems like it will be getting more importance later on, Murphy's narration makes sure to point out that one of the volunteers was also a member of the M-19 terrorist group in Episode 2 and that the priest isn't as clean as one might assume.
  • Tata gave birth to a baby girl. This really is a time where Pablo's family needs him. He shouldn't be off adding more things to his life. Also, Tata seems to be aware that something is happening between Pablo and Valeria, though she doesn't now the extent of it yet.
  • Some of the narcos note that the people elected to Congress receive immunity for crimes. That seems like an important fact that may come back later.
  • Screw that guy who thought he could give Murphy a new cat to make up for the fact that he took money from and shared information with both the police and the narcos.
  • Did the narration really need to bring up the magical realism story that started the whole series again? It felt completely unnecessary.

As noted in previous reviews from this series, every episodic review was written without having seen any succeeding episodes. Similarly, it would be much appreciated if in the comments section, the conversation would only revolve around the show up to this point in its run.