'Narcos' Binge-Watching Guide: The Best Way to Consume Season 2

Narcos -  Wagner Moura - Still 1 - H - 2016
Juan Pablo Gutierrez/Netflix

The hunt for Pablo Escobar is on.

The second season of Narcos released all 10 episodes on Netflix Friday, setting up a marathon-viewing Labor Day Weekend for many followers of the Colombian kingpin saga.

While the first season spanned more than a decade of Escobar's life, the second season of the cartel drama narrows its focus to the action-packed nearly 16 months between his escape from La Catedral in the finale to his death. (For a refresher on season one, head here.)

With history as their spoiler — Escobar was gunned down in 1993 — showrunner Eric Newman said Narcos' plan was always to tell Escobar's story in two seasons. Both he and Wagner Moura, the actor who plays Escobar, announced the end would be coming well ahead of season two's release.

"We want people to join in mourning him right away, because it's hard to say goodbye to him," Newman explained to The Hollywood Reporter in a lengthy interview about the decision. But knowing the ending, Newman promised, won't make the journey any less enjoyable. "One thing I love is that there are going to be just as many people rooting for his death as there are for him rooting to get away. I think they’re going to be pretty conflicted."

Using the real buddy DEA agents portrayed on the show — Steve Murphy (played by Boyd Holbrook) and Javier Pena (played by Pedro Pascal) — as series consultants, Narcos, which Newman says is 50 percent real and 50 percent fiction, will also be revealing never-before-told details about the infamous Escobar manhunt, as well as his death.

THR has seen all of the new season and — without giving away any spoilers — recommends the best way to heed Newman's advice. Here's an episode guide on how to best soak in the madness of Moura's Escobar while plowing through the action-packed, enlightening and riveting fall of the legendary villain. 

Episodes 1-4

The premiere picks up right where the finale left off, with Escobar all but walking out of his custom-made prison after taking President Cesar Gaviria's right-hand man, vice minister of justice Eduardo Sandoval, hostage. The ensuing military assault on La Catedral provides Escobar with the opportunity to escape through his network of underground tunnels. No longer caged, Escobar is back to doing what he does best: Avoiding capture and staying 10 steps ahead of the Search Bloc and Colombian special forces trying to bring him down.

Coast through these first four episodes as they chronicle the first phase of the manhunt and introduce many new players. Episode three sees a welcome character return, and episode four delivers a game-changing event that closes the chapter on this part of the story, providing a perfect spot to hit the pause button and digest what just happened.

Episodes 5, 6

With their backs against the wall as the manhunt continues, some of your Narcos favorites will continue to blur that line between the good guys and the bad ones. As Newman teased ahead of its release, much of season two focuses around the alliance of the bad guys who merged together to take Escobar down. These middle episodes spend time with those bad guys, with the infamous Los Pepes reaching their full potential by episode six. Episode seven sees a major shift in power and though tensions remain high, Narcos also narrows its lens on the personal lives of the main characters viewers thought they knew well from season one. 

Episodes 7, 8

The network of players involved in taking Escobar down goes far beyond the DEA, Los Pepes and even the borders of Colombia. As these forces begin to close in on el patron, episodes seven and eight chronicle Escobar's end of days with a humanizing lens. But just as Newman promised, the moment you begin to feel empathy, Narcos reminds you that you are sympathizing with a murderous narco-terrorist.

Episode 9

The ninth episode plays like a mini-movie within the fast-paced and nonstop season. Enjoy this one as standalone viewing.

Episode 10

Narcos was renewed for a third and fourth season on Sept. 6, and the final episode delivers on the promise that Newman has been making since confirming Escobar's death: "There's a reason why we call this show Narcos and not Pablo Escobar."

Without spoiling which episode Escobar's death will arrive, Narcos will accurately depict who fired the fatal shot to his head, something that has been the subject of conspiracy theories. "I was there," the real Murphy told THR. "I'm the only American who was there that saw Pablo Escobar's body." 

With Escobar out of the picture, his successor, the Cali cartel, rises. And the finale makes the dangers ahead all too clear.

All 10 episodes of season two are now streaming on Netflix. Keep up with all of THR's Narcos coverage here.