Narcos-A Netflix Original-Episodes One to Five-some notes and dialogue with a One-off Review at the end. Minor spoilers only. In Spanish and English with English subtitles.

Netflix Descriptions of Narcos:
“First they got the coke.  Then they got the money.  Now the Columbian cartels want the power.  Let the drug wars begin.”

“The true story of Columbia’s infamously violent and powerful drug cartels fuels this gritty new gangster series.”

In the opening credits:
“Narcos is inspired by true events.”
“Names and events have been changed for the purpose of dramatisation.”

Episode One.
“Descenso”
Some notes and dialogue on first watching.

(wind blows)
Then this comes up on screen: (in Capitals)
Magical realism is defined as what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe in.

Then:
Too strange to believe.  is left in red as a sentence.

Voice-over:
“There is a reason magical realism was born in Columbia..”

Narator/ Voice:
“Nowadays if you turn on the computer or a cell phone, you’re fucked..”
“Then, there was nothing, no cellphones, no computers..”
the voice continues:
“But if you were very rich, you had a satellite phone..”
“The Narcos had them, so did the Government..”

Bogota, Columbia 1989 comes up on screen.

So the voice-over is explaining the back ground.  From the Policeman’s side of the story.  Roughly. Well everyone: He is the Drug enforcement Agency/ D.E.A. American Agent living in Bogotá.  We hear him before we see him.  He has a lovely deep Southern accent.

Then-back to or rather forward-to the beginning.
This was the prologue.

Chile 1973.
Steve Murphy is (the name of) the D.E.A Agent.
Steve:
“..and then, being Pinochet, he had then all killed..”.

Steve continues: (the story of Cockroach)
“He wasn’t killed on that day, instead he won the whole damn lottery!”

Steve carries on telling us the story, in great and excellent detail and description.
This method is like in Underbelly (the series)

Steve:
“If you make it to the top, it means you’ve killed your enemies..”
He continues:
“Pablo Escobar, yes, you guessed it.”
“The man who changed my life..”

Pablo gets out of his Jeep.  And names every one of the men there.  He knows everything about them. Too much..

Pablo Escobar explains the rules.  It’a an offer you can’t refuse.

The Spanish (I think) singing is lovely.

The Cockroach to Pablo Escobar:
“It’s a digestive aid, it makes you want to take a shit”!
“People take it and then they want it ten minutes later!”

Steve:
Back then, Miami was a paradise.”
“Back then, I was chasing crooks with flip flops on..”

So lots is going on.

Steve Murphy, the D.E.A Agent, tells the story about how cocaine is made..  How they (the Narcos) figure out the profit.

Steve:
“It was a Mom and Pop operation, but make no mistake, it will change Medellin forever..”

Steve:
“Pablo Escobar loved his young wife, Tata and she loved him”
The one guy that got to him was The Lion..”
“The Lion was one of the first guys to every bring coke into Miami..”

They (the men) do drug hand-overs in broad daylight. OK in underground car parks.

Steve:
“The coke was in the tyres..”

The story continues, descriptively.  So well related by Steve.

Pablo does his deals.

Steve:
“It’s a real milestone in the history of narcotics..”..
he continues:
“Pablo couldn’t hide it from his friends”
 “They were all crazy, violent, filthy rich..”

The (drug cartel) men talk about potatoes when they are outside.

Steve:
“When I started, one kilo of weed was a huge bust”
“Now we were bringing in sixty K/Kilos of coke a day”

Pablo Escobar: 
“We know your policy towards partners”
“Let’s say friendly associates”..

Steve:
“We thought we were making a difference but we were barely making a dent..”
“It didn’t take long for the city to get addicted.”
“Hippies were replaced by Colombians and they weren’t wearing flip-flops..”

Pablo Escobar to Colonel Corillo:
“Give me a name..”

Steve:
“He had twelve hundred keys (kilos) in the load and guess who was driving the van..”
“They say that only a cockroach survives a nuclear holocaust..”

A Young Steve:
“If there’s one thing we learned in the narco world is that things are surreal..”

***

Episode Two.
“The Sword Of Simón Bolivar”
Some notes and dialogue on first watching.

So Steve Murphy is the Drug Enforcement Agency/ D.E.A Agent.  Xavier Pêna is his partner Agent in Columbia.

The long, drawling Southern accented Steve painstakingly relates the story.

So this is sad.  And terrible.
So Xavier and Steve are Policemen on a mission now.

This is serious.
O Mi God.

So Narcos has been getting good for some while now.  The drama has been doing so in leaps and bounds.

Yes, Narcos is getting better and better by the minute.

***

Episode Three
“The Men Of Always”
Some notes and dialogue on first watching.

Steve Murphy:
“So by the nineteen eighties Americans were already getting through a hundred tonnes of coke a year..”

So there’s a lot of dialogue.  As well as explaining by Steve. As we watch the story from the beginning.  That Steve is telling.

Steve:
“A drug dealer running for President!”
“Crazy, I know..”
“Not in Columbia, in the nineteen eighties..”

Pablo Escobar to Valeria (the Reporter)
“Really?”
“I’m not going to be good, I’m going to be great!”

Pablo Escobar to the Liberal Party:
“I am rich, but really a poor man..from the people”

Steve:
“Surprised to see the leader of the communist group at a Comuna?”

There are serious meetings about a cat.

Pablo Escobar to the crowd:
“In me, you have a friend, today, tomorrow and forever!”

So Pablo Escobar just gives out money.

I forgot how many people Pablo  Escobar has murdered or whether he did them directly.  He seems almost sympathetic.  Being nice to women and children, the poor.  Dogs.  Not so much about cats.

Pablo Escobar to his cousin, Gustavo:
“I really do want to help the poor people..”

Steve to his partner Pêna:
“There’s gotta be negatives..”

Steve:
“Imagine you were a poor child living in a poor neighbourhood..”
Then imagine..”
Steve continues:
“But there’s a reason that magical realism is born in Columbia..”
“Where dreams get mixed up with realities..”
“But if you get too close to the sun,”
“Your dreams may melt away..”

Oh no.
So that guy is toast then.

Pablo Escobar:
“The men of always..”

Steve to his partner Pêna:
“He didn’t wear it”.
Pêna:
“It wouldn’t have made any difference”.

***

Episode Four
“The Palace In Flames”
Some notes and dialogue on first watching.

Steve Murphy: (After describing the difference between jails in Columbia and America)
“And now the Colombians had someone to fear..”

Colonel Corillo:
“Escobar will not go lightly..”
“He will make Columbia bleed!”

Pablo Escobar:
“Stay in the fucking tree!”
Gustavo (his cousin) laughs.

Steve:
“I hope, as Pablo Escobar looked down”
“He got our message..”
“You might have eight hundred homes but ain’t one of them going to be home!”


Steve:
“Being a rat is a dangerous business and Escobar’s reach was long..”

Pablo Escobar to a guy:
“For us, to carry on fighting to the end, is a historical obligation..”

So Pêna is called Xavier as well.

Pablo Escobar to the guy:
“You did very well.”
Pablo opens the suitcase full of money. Something tells me he (the guy) ain’t gonna be around to enjoy it!

***

Episode Five.
“There will Be A  Future”
Some notes and dialogue on first watching.

Columbia, Bogota 1989
We hear a man making a political speech..

I forgot what language I was listening to then.  I swear the two politicians, spin-doctors were talking in Italian.

Steve as the voice-over:
“So there it was, the decision that would change Columbia’s future”

Blimey.

Steve:
“For a brief, shining notion..”

Young man: (in the crowd)
“Doctor Caesar Garinia, save Columbia!”

So it’s all quite complicated.

Colonel Carillo is cool.

***

Narcos-Review  of Episodes One-Five.

So I am really enjoying Narcos.  So far.  Narcos is strangely relaxing to watch.  Perhaps this feeling is engendered by the drama’s leisurely pace.  Perhaps it is the singing and the music. I am assuming that the language was Spanish.

Certainly at one point I felt that someone was singing the famous or infamous special song: telling of murderous doings.  These songs I believe were banned at one point in South America.
(Goodness knows where I have learnt this-possibly from Ross Kemp and his excellent series-Extreme Worlds)  But I digress.

I like the leisurely pace of Narcos and the style of storytelling within the drama.  As the story of Pablo Escobar and the ongoing Drug Enforcement Agency investigation into him is told to us by Steve Murphy.  He is the American D.E.A Agent who comes to Columbia with his equally idealistic Theatre Nurse wife.

There in Bogota Steve meets Xavier Pêna and Pêna’s nifty sidekick.  Another Columbian Detective/ Agent.  Like Pêna.  Who are, like Steve, trying to bring down “the narcos” as the agents call them.

The narcos are living it large in Columbia, Bogotá you see.  As far as I can understand, the narcos, headed by Pablo Escobar have given up even trying to hide what they do.  They, and especially Pablo Escobar are flaunting it.  Their wealth and power that is.

With Pablo Escobar, he is more discreet.  Wise and forward thinking-he has some good ideas.  For peace.  Or rather peace as he sees it.  Meaning everybody obeys him. They are in his power.

Indeed Escobar has bought up, bribed and threatened a large percentage of the Police force.  Every kind of official there is really.  That’s not even counting the legal system.

Then there are those that are simply dispatched.  By a phone call.  When Pablo, rather charmingly, as he actually plays football with his son, tells his henchman on the satellite phone to “Score a goal”.

So I may have run away with the story- a little.  However these observations could be made in the first few episodes.  As we see a sort of telescoped or compressed, speeded up: chain of events.

Then the story backtracks and is told more slowly in real time from the beginning.  Both visually and aurally is the story related.  To the viewer.

I particularly like the eloquent and succinct and drawling explanation of events by Steve.

We do seem to see the story seen through the focus of Pablo Escobar.  His life and his family.  All his machinations.  And so on.

We also follow the Columbian Police and the D.E.A Agents’s ongoing investigation of Pablo Escobar.  In their bid to take him down.  By any means available.

It is a battle between the narcos and the narcos hunters. Or whatever they call themselves.   The Police: The American D.E.A, the Columbian Detective Pêna plus Colonel Carillo.

I have learnt enough from watching the Documentaries of Ross Kemp-that when the Police, the forces for good, the organs of the state: start covering their faces- then things are not good. Not good at all.

I liked the way in which sometimes a new character will appear and then will be freeze framed.  Then this character will be identified and explained. By the ever eloquent Steve.  Our storyteller.  This device seems archaic and quaint.  But I like it. They do this in the series Underbelly too.

I forgot that this narration from the Agent, does balance out the seeming focus on Pablo Escobar as described.

But after all this is a story about Pablo Escobar.  One which is told in chronological time and interspersed with newspaper cuttings.  Of the various and multitudinous: awful bloody crimes.

It, the drama, is called Narcos after all.

As for the rest, Narcos is beautifully filmed in shades of beige, brown, cream and sun dappled shadows and light.  There are wet green rain forests and blue hazy mountains in the sun.

Columbia, as we see from the air
(as Pablo Escobar flies over his beloved country) is indeed beautiful.

***

Footnotes.
***
There was a lot of brown and beige in that period.

***
I read somewhere that this voice-over style of narrating with explanation in Narcos is mainly in the beginning of the series: to set the scene.

***
Steve Murphy’s Drug Enforcement Agency  Detective/ Agent partner in Bogota, Columbia is variously referred to as: “Xavier” and ” “Pêna”.  I have assumed that Xavier is his first name.

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