It’s convoluted, it’s over-crowded, and it reeks of surface tension that is THIS close to exploding.
In short, it is a reflection of the current state of Mexico with its fractious, and ultra-violent cartel war.
Ep starts with picking up pieces left from last season’s Narcos: Mexico, with Felix Gallardo (a terrific Diego Luna) re-consolidating his hold on the Cartel reins, back as El Jefe de Jefes, asotherterritories are kowtowing to his everywhim.
Hounding him is the doggedly persistent (bad pun intended) Walt Breslin (a gloriously tight perf from Scoot McNairy), a gun-toting brother-in-arms of the ill-fated Kiki Camarena, a determinator sworn to bring down the men who ordered the death sentence against one of their own.
The premiere episode (Salva el Tigre) opens with a pulse-racing action scene: the abduction by DEA agents of Dr. Delgado, that unsavory ‘stard who injected adrenaline on poor Kiki to keep him awake long enough to (hopefully) divulge information while holes were being drilled on various parts of his body.
He gives up one name: Verdin, who just happens to be head of the federal police and member of the Mexican KGB, the DFS (an org probably more corrupt than our Congress).
Story then moves to Gallardo’s storyline (and here, my attention strays a bit – there are just too many characters, and too many schemes, from Tijuana to Juarez to Sinaloa – and that friggin’ tiger) as he celebrates his 40th birthday.
And who would show up but Pacho Herrera (Albert Amman), and friction starts between the two godfathers as the matter of the $200 million that the Colombians owe was brought up.
Ep ends with a very violent shootout as Breslin’s team abducts Verdin, killing everyone else except that one civilian who may or may not rat on them later.
All in all, episode relies heavily on the acting of its primary actors (McNairy, notches higher than Boyd Holbrook, and a better narrator, too), and Diego Luna (he’s no Wagner Moura – who is? — but still quite good).
It also craftily lays down the groundwork for the start of a still-ongoing drug way in Mexico triggered by Operation Leyenda’s Breslin and his Band of (trigger-happy) Brothers.
Entertaining, but with some rough patches.
Stray Thoughts while Watching
When Pacho asks: “Is that big for you?” referring to the $200 million, I thought, “Damn. I barely have P200 in my bank account.” Tempted to up and form a Cartel. (For any member of the DEA reading this, Sirs, I am just joking.)
El Chapo dancing to Eye of the Tiger is the highlight of my evening.