After its dramatic finale last year, El Chapo returns for a third and final season, chronicling the eventual downfall of drug kingpin Joaquín Guzmán (Marco de la O). Weaving a blend of political drama and a cat-and-mouse thriller between Joaquín and the international authorities, the third season feels much more coherent and tension-stricken than the second. While the series is not without its flaws, especially during the middle portion of episodes that do feel a tad overlong at times, the third season of El Chapo does a great job showcasing the downfall of one of the world’s most notorious drug kingpins.
The story picks up where it left off last year, with Joaquín securing lucrative trade deals globally to grow his ever-expanding drug empire. As tensions begin to mount internationally and the Mexican government find themselves under increasing pressure to capture El Chapo, tensions rest on a knife edge. The tipping point comes early on as Joaquín makes a foolhardy decision to pursue a drug deal in Malaysia, ignoring the advice of those around him and the crooked government officials working on his side.This sparks the DEA into life, forcing their hand to mobilise forces to capture El Chapo once and for all.
With a manhunt underway, most of the 13 episodes see Joaquín running from these powerful forces, oftentimes escaping by the skin of his teeth in a flurry of gunfire and explosions, before a climactic finale draws this incredible story to an end. While there are loose ends when the credits do eventually roll, there’s enough here to make for a satisfying watch nonetheless.
While the second season over-saturated its run time with an endless barrage of action, the third season is much more restrained this time around and the show is all the stronger for it. That’s not to say the frantic gun fights are lacking, quite the opposite, but the way these are scaled back make their impact so much more powerful when they do crop up through the episodes.
The same can be said for the characters too with the development of Joaquín Guzmán himself much improved this time around. A lot of this is thanks to El Chapo’s wife who does a great job balancing the drug kingpin out and helping him walk a fine line between despicable and empathetic that made the first season so endearing. This balance helps anchor El Chapo to a place where it’s easy to empathise with him, despite some rash and questionable decisions that eventually lead to his downfall. Don Sol (Humberto Busto) is also much improved this year too, with an interesting forced relationship helping flesh his character out a lot more than the contrived homosexual affair he found himself engaged in during the second season.
While the third season of El Chapo is not without its problems, the final season of this crime thriller ends on a high, balancing the action and drama far more effectively than it did last year. With better characterisation and a thrilling climax to this endearing tale, El Chapo is well worth watching and brings a satisfying conclusion to the story of one of the world’s most notorious drug kingpins.
Verdict - 8/10