Continuing where it left off last year, the second season of El Chapo is bigger, bolder and more violent than ever before. With a story gravitating around Joaquin’s unrelenting thirst for power and growing his criminal empire, El Chapo’s story features various skirmishes between different drug factions throughout the 12 episodes with plenty of high-octane action, well-shot drama and tense confrontations to bolster out the run time. With the focus stretched between the various action pieces, the second season sacrifices its tightly woven story for action much to the detriment of the series.
The story begins where the first season left off, with El Chapo desperate to escape from prison. After some government manipulation and a lot of money and persuasion, the second season kicks into gear with Joaquín Guzmán (Marco de la O) out of prison and overseeing his growing empire. Proposing a federation with the various other crime bosses, El Chapo turns his attention on those defying his leadership, namely El Cano (Harold Torres) and the bloodthirsty army of Los Emes. As the season progresses and the rivalry between these two factions intensifies, Chente (Paul Choza) steps forward as the focal antagonist for El Chapo with plenty of casualties on both sides as the fighting becomes more and more personal.
With each of the 12 episodes littered with big action set pieces and numerous gun fights, El Chapo’s second season sacrifices some of the intricate storytelling from the first season in favour of a more action-packed, exhausting journey through Joaquín Guzmán’s blood-soaked rise to infamy. In a way there’s almost too much action, desensitising some of the more intricate and shocking moments that crop up in the series.
Contrasting the impressively shot action is the politically charged narrative that acts as the proverbial shield to the public for some of the more shady and underhanded tactics being dealt behind the scenes by the Mexican government. Peppering these moments with a mixture of archival footage and dramatised meetings and phone calls, El Chapo maintains its consistent approach that made the first season so endearing when it comes to the politically charged ideals. Ignoring the questionably written homosexual love angle, these scenes don’t quite match the same intensity seen in the first season and the added addition of more episodes make this much more slower-paced than the series ought to be.
The second season of El Chapo is a strange concoction of impressively shot action, questionable plot choices and a profound lack of charactersation. While El Chapo succeeds in delivering a highly entertaining crime thriller series, it achieves this at the expense of the tightly woven story rife with tension that the first had in spades. Still, there’s enough here to make for an enjoyable ride nonetheless and with a third season on the horizon, the final episode leaves on a tantalising note, leaving numerous questions over just where the series may end up going forward.