Sunday, November 25, 2018

REVIEW: 'Narcos: Mexico' - The DEA Learns What They Are Up Against Thanks to a Wedding in 'El Padrino'

Netflix's Narcos: Mexico - Episode 4.03 "El Padrino"

Kiki flies solo on a risky undercover operation. Félix turns to his mentor for advice as conflict between the cops and the traffickers escalates.

In 2018, it makes no sense to provide full-length reviews of each individual episode for shows released all at once on the streaming services. Sure, there are some shows out there that value the power of the episode. They do make a point in differentiating each episode to ensure it's not just one big slog to the finish. However, the ability to watch the entire season at one's own viewing pace has largely changed the way we consume and discuss these shows. So, some brief summary thoughts are really all that's actually necessary with these seasons. As such, here are my latest thoughts on the next episode of Netflix's Narcos: Mexico.

"El Padrino" was written by Ashley Lyle & Bart Nickerson and directed by Andrés Baiz

Rafa walking into the wedding dressed as Al Pacino from Scarface is the greatest moment in this episode. It's probably the best moment of the new season so far. In fact, Rafa has proven to be quite an entertaining supporting character this season. Sure, he's reckless and also trapped in an awkward romance story now. But he can also have some amusing reactions that show just how playful this show is capable of being. That's a vastly needed quality because of just how drab and agonizing the rest of this episode is. There is absolutely no reason why it needs to be 67 minutes long. Some tightening of the various plots wouldn't have made this a profoundly compelling episode. However, it would have made it more palatable. At its current running time, it's simply daunting with no real sense that it's all coming together in a meaningful way. There's just a bunch of plot points that need to be addressed in order to build to that climatic moment where the DEA realizes that Félix is the man who has unified the narco trade in Mexico. The DEA is learning information that the audience has already known for a few episodes already. As such, it's easy to be impatient with their responses to all of this. Jaime, Sears and Knapp don't really exist as characters so far. However, they now all stand behind Kiki in knowing that they have to do something to address this major drug threat that has emerged in Guadalajara. They didn't want to believe that the Mexicans were capable of coming together as one entity. Kiki had that radical idea. However, he is too often saddled with sanctimonious dialogue that makes him feel superior to everyone else. Félix is a radical thinker as well who is able to see an approach to doing business that no one else did. However, he's not an annoying character. Sure, he doesn't realize the exact extent to which that he has to pay off the various systems of this world in order to keep everything about his business operational. But he does have that fundamental understanding and isn't too shocked when his father figure actually wants to be a part of the business with the payoffs as well. He looked to the governor for advice. He got it. He solved his problems quickly because of it too. And now, he is ready for even more success in the region because everyone is working for him. He has exerted his control. He has earned their respect. They will follow his orders even though they are bound to have more power clashes this season. All of that was to be expected. It's just not all that entertaining. At least it is fast-moving. Félix already has a ton of success even though everyone is telling him that he is still the poor boy from Sinaloa underneath the nice clothes. Meanwhile, Kiki spends the day undercover at the weed farm. He tries to understand what is happening out there in the desert. It's a way for him to get his agency to support him. However, it's also a story with a lot of false drama that could show how all of this can quickly go awry for him. There is a brief moment where it seems like Azul recognizes Kiki amongst the workers. But then, he thinks nothing of it because he can't pick him out once the workers have the bags over their heads. That's crazy. He was following him onto a specific bus because he had more context clues than just a glimpse at his face. He doesn't even try to find him after confronted with a bunch of faceless individuals doing the hard work. That's just a lame way to build tension. Then, Kiki immediately gets distracted with the news that Mika has gone into labor. Even though he has gone rogue and risked his own safety, he is still rewarded by making it to the delivery room on time. Moreover, he has another son just like he wanted. As such, this seems like a story that actively wants the audience to be on Kiki's side no matter what even though he is coming across as more destructive than any of the previous representatives from the DEA.