Sunday, September 3, 2017

REVIEW: 'Narcos' - Miguel and David Use Fear and Intimidation to Get People's Cooperation in 'MRO'

Netflix's Narcos - Episode 3.05 "MRO"

Paranoid about leaks, Miguel cracks down on his security. Pacho makes a decision about his new offer. Peña works on cultivating a witness.

Gilberto Rodriguez's arrest has been a huge deal for the season. It's the one action that is now affecting every single storyline on the show. Everyone is trying to figure out how to adjust following this huge bombshell. It proved that the Cali Cartel was vulnerable. The season opened with a lot of talk about how smart they were. They ran this operation like a business. They set up shop all over the world. They have operations going on in Mexico and New York. It's not just Colombia anymore. They have the best of the best running their security and their money laundering. They've bought off the local police as well as the phone companies. They know every single action that any person could possibly take in a given moment. They are smart. And yet, they still lost their leader to the Americans. The DEA somehow outsmarted them. They got lucky. But the political climate is now keeping Gilberto in jail. It has forced some significant changes to the deal to surrender. The terms are changing but the deal is still on the table. Peña is given more responsibility to actually make a case against the cartel. He messed up the original deal that would have made everyone happy. He's taken down Gilberto and created this complicated situation. So now, the pressure is on for him to make it all worth it.

"MRO" is essentially about how the DEA is planning on making the charges stick against Gilberto while also finding the other leaders of the Cali cartel. The newly appointed Minister of Defense talks with Peña about needing to find a witness in order to ensure that Gilberto stays behind bars for good. He needs to come up with a strategy fast. Peña is making all of these promises to his superiors. And now, he actually has to deliver on them. And so, he actually approaches Christina about becoming an informant and getting out of this lifestyle for good. He's been tapping her phone illegally in order to try to find her husband, Franklin. He knows the significant role that Franklin plays in the Cali operation. He's the man who runs the money. He has the business smarts to make these transactions perfectly legal all around the world. He's hard to pin down. But at the heart of this story is still the tale of an American girl getting swept off her feet by a very attractive man and has been thrown into an increasingly perilous situation. She understands the business that her husband is in. She knows how dangerous it can be. He could be killed by his bosses. Or he could be captured by law enforcement. The two just want to enjoy a lifetime of happiness with each other. That's the feeling that Peña is hoping to exploit.

This is Peña's only viable lead at the moment as well. He still has Feistl and Van Ness running in Cali. They are the ones who brought him Gilberto. But now, they are stuck in a city where the police aren't being helpful with them anymore. They are allowed their freedom but don't have any promising leads yet. So, it's all ultimately up to Peña. This is a story the show has been following for a few episodes now. The audience has been aware of the wire tap and Peña trying to break the cartel by pursuing the money. It's a smart strategy. He's made his approach and is hopeful that Christina will be able to convince her husband to go along with the plan. She even calls him and agrees to it. Franklin hasn't said that he'll turn on his bosses but she believes she can convince him. Of course, that happens at the exact same time that Peña is flying to Curaçao in order to arrest Franklin. The wire tap has also been providing clues as to where in the world Franklin is at the moment. By discovering his location, Peña may not need to use Christina at all. She's just a source to keep developing at the moment. But his priorities are now elsewhere because he has the potential to take down another crucial element of the cartel without needing to make any compromising deals. It may not ultimately work. Kerry Bishé is a series regular this season. So, Christina will still be important in the story no matter what happens next.

The more surprising story of the episode may be what's currently happening with Jorge. He and Cordova are trying to figure out where the leak came from that revealed Gilberto's location to the DEA. Miguel truly believes that someone had to have tipped off the Americans to where his brother was staying. That's the only way the security could have been compromised. He doesn't want to listen to theories that the Americans have better surveillance equipment or found a hole in their security. It's just impossible to believe that they were that lucky. Of course, it's a daunting realization when Cordova learns that he led the DEA agents straight to Gilberto. He was the one transporting Pallomari there in order to discuss the accounting. He didn't know he has being followed. He just didn't see it. But it's the only explanation that makes sense. Cordova and Jorge have been like brothers this season. They count on each other. When it's time to report back to Miguel, they conveniently leave out Cordova's involvement in Gilberto's arrest. Of course, Miguel and David ultimately come to the same conclusion later on. They see Cordova making a run to the airport with his wife as all the evidence they need to blame him for what happened. They have no idea that he drove the DEA towards Gilberto's house. They just have the perception of guilt based on what he did in the aftermath. They don't suspect Jorge because he didn't try to run. They just make him watch as they brutally kill Cordova and his wife. They also kill Calderón because he hasn't been an effective source of information lately either. Miguel and David are cracking down on this operation. They are asking Jorge to take on more responsibilities. But they are also threatening him to make sure that something like this never happens again. It's fear and intimidation. Those are their tactics to get Jorge to do what they want.

And yet, all of this seems to have the opposite effect of what Miguel and David intended. They wanted to scare Jorge into cooperating. But instead, he is choosing to protect his family but reaching out to Feistl and Van Ness. It's a completely unexpected moment. This hour is all about the new leads the DEA are pursing following Gilberto's arrest. For Peña, it's an obvious lead built on hard work he has been doing for a little while. For Feistl and Van Ness, it comes completely out of the blue. The only lead they were working on was continuing to follow Pallomari. He already led them to Gilberto. So now, they want to keep watching. They just don't know if he's ever going to show up at the same apartment again to do his work. They don't even know that they are being watched by the cartel. They spring into action as soon as Jorge calls and says that they are being watched. To them, it's an ominous message that means they need to escape their safe house as soon as possible without any further detection. And yet, that's not Jorge's intention. The show plays it very cryptically when Jorge travels to that abandoned building and is putting a contraption together. The scoring would suggest that something big and monumental is about to happen. It's ultimately just a phone call. He's putting in the work to ensure no one learns what he is up to. He knows what the cartel does and doesn't know through their surveillance. He's the man in charge of it. And now, he is reaching out to the DEA in the hopes of a better deal than the bleak future Miguel and David are now promising him. He is just now realizing that he is doomed to stay in this life until it kills him. He doesn't want that. He's clueless when he walks into that meeting with David. He emerges from it a different man. A man who worries his family with his actions. And a man who desperately needs to get out. He can do a lot of damage if he's forthcoming with information to Feistl and Van Ness. But it will also come at great personal risk to him moving forward.

Some more thoughts:
  • "MRO" was written by Ashley Lyle & Bart Nickerson and directed by Josef Wladyka.
  • Gilberto may be stuck in jail for the moment but he's definitely receiving preferential treatment. He gets a full-cooked breakfast as well as a personal phone to make his calls and conduct business with his brother. Plus, all of the other inmates know who he is and get out of his way when he is walking by.
  • Gilberto has kept insisting that Nicolás not get involved with anyone that may compromise his future at all. And yet, Nicolás keeps inserting himself into this business because he wants to free his father. He's a lawyer so he knows how precarious this situation really is. He's the one who can get a meeting with the lawyer who was negotiating with the government. It's there where he learns about the changing deals of the surrender.
  • When discussing the surrender, Gilberto also said that there may be some prison time for the people at the top of the cartel. But now, the deal has completely changed with the government wanting at least three years from all of the leaders of the Cali cartel. That's a significant change that is directly because Gilberto is already in jail.
  • Of course, the actual case against Gilberto right now is very thin. The government is insisting on putting him on trial for his crimes. But the defense minister tells Peña that without a witness coming forward then Gilberto will walk free. So, it's one thing to catch theses narcos. It's a different thing entirely to convict them of their crimes.
  • Pacho was presented with an offer by Amado to come work with him and the Mexican cartel. Amado doesn't think this is the right time for Pacho to be getting out of this business. And yet, Pacho has made his decision to stay loyal to Gilberto and Miguel until the very end. He is incredibly loyal. Plus, he's grateful that they have given him this opportunity to shine despite his sexuality.
  • People are very much noticing that Miguel is currently staying in Maria's apartment. They notice her and her son running around and interrupting meetings. But it's more important that the other business associates notice fear in Miguel's actions. That's enough to make them all worried about what the future might bring.

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