'Narcos': Everything to Know Before Season 2

10:12 AM 8/31/2016

by Jackie Strause

Here, a refresher of the Pablo Escobar saga and an 11-minute sneak peek of 'Narcos' season 2, which dropped on Netflix Friday.

Narcos Still 5 - Publicity - H 2016
Daniel Daza/Netflix

Narcos Still 5 - Publicity - H 2016

Pablo Escobar is on the run.

In the finale of Narcos' first season, the famed Colombian drug dealer and face of the Medellin cartel escaped his self-designed prison, fleeing the resort-like La Catedral and launching the ensuing — and infamous — Escobar manhunt.

While the Netflix series is a dramatization, history serves as a spoiler for the ending of the Escobar story. The freshman season of the cartel drama spanned more than a decade of Escobar's life, but the cocaine trafficker's escape brings viewers up to July 23, 1992 — nearly a year and a half before his eventual death, on Dec. 2 of 1993.

The series became a critical success following its end-of-summer debut in 2015. After detailing the rise and reign of Escobar, season two will narrow its focus on the hunt and eventual death of the narco. Wagner Moura, the actor who plays Escobar, and showrunner Eric Newman confirmed that the character's death will, in fact, arrive in season two.

"The decision to be able to actually invest time spent with Pablo Escobar knowing that the end is near will allow people to experience it in a different way," Newman told The Hollywood Reporter. "We love Pablo. We don't love the man, but we love our character we've built and who Wagner has played so well. We want people to join in mourning him right away, because it's hard to say goodbye to him."

Conspiracy theories over who fired the fatal shot to Escobar's head abound to this day, which is something Newman and the real DEA agents who are portrayed on the show, series consultants Steve Murphy and Javier Pena, say they will set straight. Before launching into guesses over how the series will handle the death, The Hollywood Reporter has rounded up everything you need to remember to be ready to consume season two.

All 10 episodes bowed on Netflix Sept. 2. Head here for THR's episode-by-episode binge-watching guide and check out an 11-minute sneak peek of the premiere below.

  • Pablo's Escape from La Catedral

    Even from prison, Pablo Escobar has remained 10 steps ahead of his enemies, and that includes Colombian President Cesar Gaviria. When pushed by public outcry over Escobar's criminal behavior while at La Catedral, President Gaviria (Raul Mendez) concocts a plan to nail Escobar by staging a prison transfer. Escobar, however, uses the situation to his advantage by taking Gaviria's right-hand man, Eduardo Sandoval, hostage. The vice minister's (Manolo Cardona) capture forces Gaviria to approve an all-out military assault on the prison, which provides Escobar with another opportunity: this time, to escape. Escobar's men resist the takeover to protect their boss and as many of them die in the resulting shootout with Colombian special forces, Escobar flees captivity through a network of underground tunnels.

    Sandoval survives the hostage situation, but he — along with Gaviria — won't be walking away unscathed. "If the government hadn’t come after me, I would be where you are now, the vice minister of justice," Escobar had told Sandoval before letting him go. Hungry for power and revenge, sick with delusion and no longer trapped, Escobar's war on Colombia has just begun.

  • The Good Guys

    Two people who missed out on the raid-gone-wrong are starring DEA agents Steve Murphy (Boyd Holbrook) and Javier Pena (Pedro Pascal). Taking matters into their own hands, they leaked photos of Escobar's luxurious La Catedral living conditions and information that two men were murdered inside the prison (more on that below) to the press, in hopes that the media firestorm would force Gaviria to investigate. Their plan worked, by spurring Gaviria to finally take action, but the agents were suspended over the leak.

    As the raid was underway, the partners experienced their own seismic shift. Desperate to convince Murphy to join forces with the Cali cartel to help take down Escobar, Pena orchestrated Murphy's kidnapping by Pacho Herrera (Alberto Ammann), who showed Murphy photos and a recording of the agent's involvement in the murder of Escobar sicario Poison, as well as an innocent woman. Murphy didn't bite on the blackmail when he figured out Pena's involvement and returned home to his wife more hardened than ever. When Connie begs Murphy to leave the dangers of Colombia behind, he shrugs off her concerns and proves where his loyalty lies in three little words: "This is home." 

    The agents will be called back in from the sidelines with the news of Escobar's escape and while the one thing to reunite them is the task of catching Pablo, the ground they now walk on has been shaken.

  • Pablo Escobar Is Still Loved by Medellin

    At the time of his escape, Escobar is still a hero in the eyes of many in his hometown of Medellin. Season one chronicled his Robin Hood-esque appeal to his people after showing his meager roots and upbringing. The self-made, multi-billionaire family man prided himself in giving back to the poor, something he publicly used to his benefit as he would often contrast his generosity with that of the Colombian government. Even after his failed run at Congress and imprisonment, he had an unflinching belief that he could, and should, be president of Colombia one day. Though his political aspirations ended before they began, and even as his violent acts continued to soar, a loyal network still awaited Escobar on the other side of his La Catedral tunnels. The tide in Medellin hasn't changed just yet.

  • Strength of the Medellin Cartel

    Thanks to Murphy's factual narrations, Narcos viewers are reminded that Escobar, at this point, is the world's seventh richest man and is responsible for 80 percent of the cocaine smuggled into the United States. Though he lost many men in the La Catedral raid, his core sicarios — many who are based on the titular figures they portray — survived the attack and continue to run the Medellin cartel, now side-by-side with their boss on the outside. La Quica, Blackie, Velasco and Escobar's driver Limon (who will be introduced) are the key players as the Medellin cartel attempts to reclaim their territory and fend off the rising external forces of season two.

  • Judy Moncada

    One such external force is Judy Moncada, the wife of Kiko Moncado, one of the two men Escobar killed at La Catedral

    Escobar had been taxing his henchman $1 million per month while they ran his business on the outside, and Judy (Cristina Umana) didn't like that. After Judy made a snide comment about the war tax while visiting Escobar in prison, and then $3 million was found buried on the pair's property, Escobar convinced himself that Kiko and Fernando were thieves. In a battle of egos and a scene that showed his paranoia and fraying edges, Escobar then beat Kiko and Fernando Galeano to death with pool cues.

    Though Judy is a fictional character, she symbolizes a formidable challenge to the Medellin cartel when business turns personal: Hell hath no fury like a narco seeking revenge for her murdered husband.

  • The Cali Cartel

    Though Escobar maintained his status as reigning drug trafficker while in La Catedral, the power of the Cali cartel was rising. Pacho has been the main player of Cali so far on Narcos, but season two will usher in more of the rival Colombian cartel as it documents their journey to breakaway from Escobar's grasp and takeover the cocaine trafficking business. Historically, the Cali cartel steps in when Medellin dismantles after Escobar's death, ultimately becoming responsible for 90 percent of the world's cocaine market at the height of its reign and being know as one of the largest crime organizations in history. Again, it's not a spoiler to say that the post-Escobar story begins with Cali, a surefire starting point for a pending season three (Narcos has yet to be officially renewed for a third season by Netflix).

    "We plan on stopping when cocaine stops," Newman has said about where Narcos can go after the Escobar story concludes. "I think there's a reason why we call this show Narcos and not Pablo Escobar. It's very much about the trade. There are other drug dealers and there are alliances formed against Pablo, so there are a multitude of stories we could tackle."

  • The Search Bloc

    The Search Bloc, the Colombian police force organized by President Gaviria to takedown Escobar, will shift back into capture, and then kill mode after his escape. For Murphy and Pena, however, the Search Bloc fails to live up to the success it saw under the command of Colonel Horatio Carrillo (Maurice Compte). The no-holds-barred leader, before he was dismissed by President Gaviria, went toe-to-toe with Escobar and his men, and was responsible for the brutal death of Escobar's beloved cousin Gustavo.

  • Watch the First 11 Minutes of Season 2

    Now that you're all caught up, check out the 11-minute sneak peek of season two that was released on Narcos' Facebook page.

    The video opens with Murphy and Pena "stumbling" upon Escobar's videotapes. "What do we have here, motherfer," Pena (Pascal) says to the camera. When the real episode begins, it's Murphy's (Holbrook) welcome voice who catches viewers up on the saga and the premiere picks up right where the finale left off: Escobar escaping into the nearby woods of La Catedral.

    "Four thousand soldiers. A 250-man team of Colombia's elite forces," Murphy says. "Tens of thousands of rounds fired. Seven dogs and four f—ing helicopters. Pablo Escobar was surrounded in the middle of f—ing nowhere. There was no way he was getting out of this one, right?"

    Watch below and then head here for an episode-by-episode binge-watching guide for season two.

    [Update: Netflix renewed Narcos for a third and fourth season on Sept. 6.]


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