A part of the DNA of any spinoff series is finding a way to incorporate the most beloved aspects of the original show. In that respect, Netflix’s Narcos: Mexico is no different, though faces a greater challenge.
Though the season focuses on completely different characters than those we’ve seen before — with Michael Peña and Diego Luna starring as DEA agent Kiki Camarena and cartel boss Félix Gallardo, respectively — it’s not too long before Narcos finds a way back into the original seasons. If you want to stay spoiler-free as you watch Narcos: Mexico, read no further.
If you’ve already watched the season (or you don’t care about being spoiled), let’s break down that moment.
[Ed. note: the following contains spoilers for Narcos: Mexico and Narcos]
The timeline that Narcos: Mexico is working with overlaps with that of the first couple of seasons of Narcos, and, in what will likely come as a surprise even if you’re familiar with the history of Camarena’s case, that leaves room for a major cameo.
Pablo Escobar (Wagner Moura) is back.
In the fifth episode of the season, “The Colombian Connection,” Gallardo begins breaking into the cocaine business in earnest, which means appealing to the men in charge to cut him into the game. Given the choice between negotiating with the Cali cartel and the Medellin cartel, Gallardo goes with Cali, having been told that Escobar is a little volatile. But news travels fast, and Gallardo is unceremoniously spirited away — well, kidnapped — to meet with Escobar himself.
The scene between them (which was filmed in one night) is easily one of the season’s best. Though, like all cameo appearances, it feels a little bit shoehorned, it helps to know that Gallardo and Escobar really did work together for a period of time, even if their first meeting may not have gone exactly as Narcos: Mexico suggests.
In the series, Escobar speaks with Gallardo by a hippo pond on his estate, not-so-subtly threatening to let the hippos eat him if he’s not happy with the way things turn out. When asked if Escobar really did kidnap Gallardo in order to get his way, Luna kept his answer vague.
“You’re gonna have to investigate yourself,” he said in an interview with Vulture, pointing out that that series begins with a disclaimer noting that the series, while based in reality, takes some liberties into fiction. “If I tell you it did happen, then the next thing is, it didn’t exactly happen that way. So basically, there is an intention of the writers to use real information.”
By the time the first season of Narcos: Mexico wraps up, Gallardo seems to be set to take the Guadalajara cartel to new heights. Given that it’s still the mid-’80s when the credits roll, in the event that Narcos: Mexico gets a second season, we may still see more of Escobar yet.