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Narcos is an American TV crime drama set in Colombia, which is also where the series was filmed. The true story of infamous and powerful Colombian drug cartels is told through the life of Pablo Escobar, the drug lord who became a billionaire through cocaine production and distribution. Season one, exclusive to Netflix, was aired in August 2015. It featured Wagner Moura as Escobar, the leader of Medellin Cartel chased by DEA agents Javier Pena (Pedro Pascal) and Steve Murphy (Boyd Holbrook). The cast further included Joanna Christie playing Steve’s wife Connie Murphy, Juan Pablo Raba acting as Escobar’s cousin Gustavo Gaviria, Maurice Compte as the Colombian police chief Horacio Carrillo, Paulina Gaitan and Paulina Garcia as Escobar’s wife and mother.
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The initial season, comprising of 10 episodes, follows Escobar’s life as of late 1970’s and tells the story from the perspective of DEA agent Steve Murphy. Back then Mr. Escobar was a serious black market player willing to supply all kinds of illegal goods such as cigarettes and alcohol, at the time strictly forbidden in Colombia. An introduction to a Chilean exile and chemist, Mateo "Cockroach" Moreno, leads to a partnership in which Moreno is tasked with production and Escobar with distribution of a profitable new drug – cocaine.
The two start a business, expanding the existing Moreno's cocaine lab by building several larger ones in the rainforest. Escobar’s childhood friend, El Leon (the Lion) supplies a contact in the US responsible for smuggling their product into Miami. As the demand among rich and famous grows, Pablo has bigger labs built and additional distribution routes established. Drug-related violence in the US escalates and the Americans form a task force to deal with the issue. DEA agents Murphy and Pena are sent to Colombia with the goal of disrupting cocaine flow and preventing drugs from entering the United States.
Wishing to become the Colombian president, Escobar enters politics and gets himself elected as a congressman. His ambitions are derailed as Murphy and Pena offer proof of his involvement in the drug industry, and Medellin cartel receives a further blow when the Colombian congress passes an extradition plan which allows “narcos” to be sent to the US when caught. Following successive but unsuccessful threats made to the government, Escobar guns down the Minister of Justice active in the prosecution of cartel members.
Murphy and Pena score one more time when they catch Escobar’s accountant and claim a large batch of incriminating evidence which is then stored in the Palace of Justice. What was thought to be a safe storage place gets burned down by Escobar’s associates and the DEA once again has nothing to use against the infamous drug lord. Escobar’s assassins next plan to dispose of a pro-extradition presidential candidate by blowing up his plane. The mission ends up with more than 100 dead passengers but also enrages the Colombian people fed up with violence resulting from cartel operations.
As both his business associates and politicians start turning against him, Escobar strikes back by kidnapping journalist Diana Turbay, the daughter of ex-president Turbay, using her as a negotiation tool against the extradition plans. Yet another attempt to capture Escobar results in an accidental killing of the hostage. While Colombia mourns the dead journalist, President Gaviria is intent on restoring peace and so he accepts Escobar’s terms, suspending the extradition plans and allowing Pablo to be incarcerated in his own prison which would be guarded by his own men. In this privileged environment known as La Catedral, Escobar entertains guests and welcomes both prostitutes and his family members.
The DEA agents follow who comes and goes and notice that two of Pablo’s associates never came out. Suspecting that Escobar killed them, the government tries to move him to a jail in Bogota under the pretence of “fortifying” La Catedral. Pablo doesn’t agree for fear of being prosecuted and sent to the US, but the army surrounds his sanctuary and Eduardo Sandoval, vice-minister of justice, enters the prison. After he’s taken hostage, the president sends special forces to kill Escobar and his team. Though Sandovar is safely rescued, Pablo himself manages to escape.
Season one of Narcos received highly favourable reviews, the second one was rated even better, and the series has continued to evolve in the third. Why not use winter months to check what has made the original show and the following sequels so popular?