The last Friday night I spent in my childhood home, five bombs exploded throughout the city of Cali. Like too many other Colombians, my parents had recently given up on the country and, after much hesitation, had decided to seek an uncertain future in the U.S. I had invited my high school friends over for a last hurrah, and after an evening of eating pizza by the pool, we were indoors getting ready to go clubbing.
I bring up this story to make clear, from the start, the baggage I bring to the viewing of “Narcos.” When episode 7 of the new season opens with an attack against a Drogas La Rebaja, I know exactly what that sounds like. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, an unbiased reviewer, but that is precisely why people interested in the show should read this article. I wrote about the show’s first season last year, and while my appraisal was not wholly uncritical, I was rather impressed with the show.
Many Colombians had complained about fake accents, unhistorical details, or even the mere idea of returning to the drug wars when a peaceful and prosperous Colombia is finally emerging. By contrast, I found the show surprisingly authentic and saw it as a cathartic opportunity to share with the world my beloved country’s tragedy. But while the new season preserves many of the show’s aesthetic virtues and even gains authenticity by casting more Colombian actors in key roles, in the end it takes “Narcos” in a depressing and disappointing direction.