In Season 1, Netflix’s Narcos introduced viewers to the seedy and dangerous world of drug trafficking by following the rise and activities of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. Even from the start, Narcos showed Escobar in a conflicting light, creating a divide among its growing fanbase between those looking forward to his fall and those hoping to see Pablo stay on top. Now, as the biographical crime drama is set to premiere Season 2, Narcos showrunner Eric Newman is excited to tease that conflict among fans, suggesting that the duality in Escobar’s character will only cause to further divide loyal followers of the series.
Narcos Executive Producer Eric Newman Teases An Emotional Ride
Normally, reveals of this nature would be preceded by warnings of spoilers, but, as The Hollywood Reporter brings to light, history has already told this story once and the death of Pablo Escobar is no secret. Still, it does seem to be a bit of a shock that Narcos would choose to kill off its villain (or anti-hero, depending on one’s viewpoint) so early in the series run. Mr. Newman, responding to questions about this move, makes a point to say that Pablo Escobar was never intended to be the main focus of the series. Instead, Narcos is more about the cocaine industry, rather than about any one individual.
“Narcos is about cocaine and cocaine continues beyond Escobar. The Osama bin Laden thing certainly inspired us, because here’s this guy we went to great lengths to kill and by the time we did, he was living in the Anaheim of Pakistan, actually having little to do with terrorism,” Eric explains. “And now we’re dealing with the guys that took over for him. That’s how we look at Escobar.”
Newman adds that he has always believed in what he calls “the Titanic argument,” meaning that people will still watch a historical drama in which the ending is already known, if it’s presented as a compelling story. To do that in the case of Pablo Escobar, Newman says it was important for Narcos to explore the human side of the drug kingpin. Admittedly, Escobar was a bad guy and some argue he was just as evil as Adolf Hitler, but the Narcos boss points out that no one is totally lacking of positive traits. For that reason, Eric thinks his audiences will be divided.
“When people watch our show and they get to Escobar’s death, I think they’re going to be pretty conflicted. 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.”
Narcos Tells The Story Of A Real Hero, Javier Pena
While Eric Newman admits Narcos is a blend of fact and fiction, the true story of the hunt for Pablo Escobar began and ended with D.E.A. head Javier Pena and the real man behind the Narcos character recently opened up to Komo News. Pena says fans of Narcos question him about what they see on the series and the retired law enforcement official always confirms that the series is spot on, when it comes to the facts of the case.
“It was 1988. I had done four years in Austin, Texas. So as soon as I land in Bogota, my boss says, ‘Javier, you’re going to be responsible for the investigation of the Medellin Cartel led by Pablo Escobar,'” remembers Pena. “I had never heard of Pablo Escobar.”
In the beginning, the name of Pablo Escobar may have been unfamiliar to Pena, but that changed as he started his assignment. Confirming that the true events were as bloody as Narcos presents them, Pena estimates that Escobar was responsible for upwards of 15,000 deaths. Javier says Pablo’s time in Columbia resulted in a very barbaric period and, in telling Eric Newman his stories, he insisted that the Narcos creator not glorify the drug crime lord.
“That Pablo Escobar would not be glamourized,” said Pena. “And they guaranteed that they were not going to portray him as a hero.”
This promise, wrestled from Newman, was important to Pena for very personal reasons. He says he watched Escobar kill too many people, many of them fellow law enforcement officers and close friends.
As for Newman’s promise that Narcos wouldn’t end with the death of Pablo Escobar, Javier Pena wholeheartedly agrees that the story isn’t about the people, but about the drugs. He believes the answer lies with education and awareness and not with legalization of controlled substances. Pena says it’s important to talk to young kids and keep them from experimenting with narcotics.
“As long as there’s a demand, there’s going to be a supply.”
Season 2 of Narcos debuts on Netflix on September 2.
[Image by Netflix]