If by the end of your life you’ve managed to amass a formidable selection of nicknames including The Godfather, The Lord, The Magician or the rather catchy Tsar of Cocaine, chances are you’ve lived a life worthy of a Netflix dramatization and you’re either Lindsay Lohan or Pablo Escobar. Fortunately for us, Netflix decided to go for the latter in Narcos, bringing Pablo, the DEA, and the battle over the incredibly lucrative supply of cocaine to the US to our screens in all its gripping, grizzly glory.
Having watched Pablo flood the US with so much cocaine that he ranked in Forbes magazine’s world billionaires list while murdering hundreds with one hand and supporting Colombia’s poor with the other, Season 1 took us on a wild ride through his many distribution networks, and the DEA’s relentless quest to shut them down. However, by traversing a rather large chunk of time jumping from the late ‘70s to the early ‘90s, it was difficult to guess just how Season 2 was going to play out given the rather narrow historical plot-end to the series' central mustachioed character.
Now that Season 2 is finally available, all of these queries have finally been laid to rest (so to speak) and we’ve been treated to that rare and remarkable phenomena that sees the second season outdoing the first. Not only do we get to delve much deeper into the character of Pablo, we also get a lot less of Boyd Holbrook’s somewhat insufferable voiceover, making for a much more thought-out, intelligent and narrator-free season. With so many reviews, fan theories and Season 3 rumors flying about, we’ve compiled the ultimate list of Narcos Season 2 trivia to further whet your (powder-free) appetite.
1. Wagner Moura had to exorcise Pablo Escobar out of his system with veganism
Playing Pablo Escobar took its toll on Brazilian actor Wagner Moura. Not only did he have to gain a huge 40 pounds to play the role, he also had to leave his family behind for a year when he relocated to Bogota to learn Spanish. After two years of getting into character, Moura had to go to extreme lengths to exorcise Escobar's ghost from his system. Talking to NPR, Moura stated:
"Doing the vegan diet wasn’t only about losing weight, but getting rid of that character, you know, getting rid of that energy that I was having to live with for two years.”
Consequently, in Season 2, Moura requested that they use prosthetics and fake stomachs to replace his real human love-handles.
2. Pablo Escobar’s brother, Roberto, wanted to view Season 2 before it aired. He also cured AIDS with horses.
In addition to being Pablo’s brother, Roberto is also known for writing a book, Escobar - Drugs. Guns. Money. Power that, amongst other things, describes how he discovered a cure for AIDS while spending a lot of time working closely with horses. Naturally.
Aside from his pioneering medical discoveries, Roberto also found time to follow the show, submitting the following statement to the upper echelons of the Netflix powers that be, asking to see Season 2 before it premiered:
I am submitting a formal, friendly request to review this material solely on an informational basis. It is depicting me, my life, my family, and my brother. I think nobody else in the world is alive to determine the validity of the materials, but me.
Just quite how "friendly" this request was, remains to be seen. No horse heads on pillows reported as of yet however.
3. World renowned Swedish DJ Eric Prydz felt that the screenwriters were directly influenced by his music
It’s always an honor when your show is supported by influential people in the industry, but I’m sure the creators of Narcos weren’t quite ready to receive an accolade quite as astounding as the one that followed. Shortly after Season 2 premiered, DJ and producer Eric Prydz ("Call On Me"/"Woz Not Woz") clocked on quickly that due to his profound catalogue of lyrics, the Narcos screenwriters worked hard to incorporate the lyrics to his track "You" (which he also hashtagged in his tweet) into the script:
4. The cast and crew can’t decide who the real star of the show is
Speaking to EFE, Pedro Pascal who plays Javier Peña in Narcos, as well as the sexy squishy-eyed Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones, stated that the story of Escobar is like a Shakespearean drama or a greek tragedy with a king who falls from a great height very quickly. However, the true star of the show for him was not Pablo at all, instead concluding that:
"What I like most about the series is how it visually captures the feeling of being in Colombia, in Bogota and Medellin and on the coast...It's a world with a personality reflected in the land, in the people, that is unique, something special and very beautiful. I think Colombia is the star of the series.”
José Padilha, the executive producer, likewise told the journalists at the Television Critics Association that Escobar is not the true star, instead stating:
"Pablo Escobar happens to be the man who created a mass business of cocaine trade. For lack of a better word, he's the founding father of this business. But the show is about cocaine."
Given the inevitable ending of Season 2, however, I can only concede that removing Escobar as the true crux of the Narcos series may be more strategic than genuine, but time, and an excellent set of Season 3 screenwriters, will tell.
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5. Since acting in the show, Wagner Moura believes drugs should be legalized
Given his arguably expert understanding of the war on drugs, Moura told The Daily Beast that after living in a country that produces and exports drugs, it’s clear to see that the war has been a "big flop." Believing that more people are being killed by the "war" than from actual overdoses, he believes that addiction should be treated as primarily a health problem, not as a police problem, going on to say:
"I always thought drugs should be legalized and now, just by doing [Narcos], it reinforced that….Killing and sending drug dealers to prison is not solely the problem, this is not the point. After you incarcerate the drug lord, of course it represents a defeat to the drug cartels, but it’s not gonna end them.”
6. The real Pablo Escobar’s life was even crazier than what is depicted on the show
As all bio-epics go, there are limits to just how realistically you can portray every aspect of a person's life, and Pablo had quite the life. Racking up a colossal $2,500 bill each month just to afford enough rubber bands to wrap up his huge wads of cash, while losing 10 percent of his entire fortune to rats each year, which amounts to an annual $1 billion loss, it’s safe to say the value of money was truly lost on him.
And that’s not all. While the family was in hiding, his daughter got sick, so in order to keep her warm Pablo did what came naturally and burned $2 million to keep a fire going. His lavish lifestyle has also resulted in an unusual lasting legacy. His old home, the Hacienda Naples, which was built on 5,000 acres included, among many other things, a zoo. Since his untimely death, the whole property has fallen into ruins, but all is not lost, some of his beloved zoo-animals have managed to survive and the estate is now occupied by 20 hippos.
7. The executive producer regrets not making Escobar’s story last longer
Given that when they wrapped the first season, Netflix hadn’t confirmed they’d be signing on for a second, the pressure to tell as much of Escobar’s story as possible was quite clearly prevalent. However, given that they did get signed on for another season and the timeline was already set pretty close to the date of Pablo’s demise, it was impossible to stretch his story beyond the second season.
On reflection, this might not have been the best idea. Speaking to E! News, Eric Newman the executive producer of the show said:
"We'd always intended to kill Escobar at the end of Season 2, but I will be honest — I've really regretted not building it into four seasons or five seasons, and not just because Wagner is so good as Pablo Escobar. And he is brilliant, it's also because I just love the guy and I really enjoy going to work with him every day for the last two-odd years.”
8. Escobar’s real-life son, Sebastian Marroquin, hates the show
Born Juan Pablo Escobar, Sebastian has been very open about his opinion of the show, claiming that the series insults Colombia and the victims of drug trafficking. He also believes that the narrative of the series bends to the United States’ political interests, ignoring how the American Drug Enforcement Agency actually made things easier for his father to send cocaine to the US via Miami International Airport once they’d charged Pablo special "taxes." Speaking to The New Daily, Marroquin reflected on his father's legacy:
“Drug trafficking destroyed my family; it gave us the world and then it took it away.”
9. There is still controversy over how Escobar died
As the historical story goes, Pablo was killed in the crossfire from Colombian police, but it was a fatal bullet that was lodged just above his ear that sealed his fate. This was the exact place that Escobar told his brother he would shoot if he ever thought he was going to be killed by someone other than himself. Unfortunately, we’ll never know for sure who fired that fatal bullet.
10. To be as true to life as possible, they filmed Pablo’s death in the same place where he really died
Trying to run from the Colombian National Police, Pablo was caught in the crossfire as he tried to escape by running across a series of rooftops of adjoining houses in an attempt to reach a back street. Filming in this exact location proved pretty emotional both for Moura and the entire crew who had been following this character for such a long time before reaching this point. Moura said of the experience in a TCA interview:
"That was a very emotional scene for me. In that scene, we tried to be — because there was so much footage about it, so in terms of aesthetics — we tried to be as accurate as we could. But the scenes that precede that scene, that come before that scene — scenes that I don’t want to spoil — are scenes that prepared me for what was going to happen to him.”
11. The Series shows Pablo supporting the wrong football team
According the Escobar's son, one of the most glaring errors that the Series makes is that it shows Pablo supporting Atlético Nacional fan, but in reality, he was a huge Deportivo Independiente Medellín supporter. Sebastian went on to add insult to injury by going on the record to state:
Do you think Season 2 lived up to the hype and did justice to such a larger than life character?