Episode 1 of Narcos: Mexico Season 3 begins with Amado flying his plane but running into serious problems. The engine blows, black smoke coughs out the back, and they crash-land in the middle of the desert.
With the plane a bust, Manny and Amado start loading up the cars. But there’s a problem. Cars begin zeroing in on their location, and as gunshots spray in both directions, Amado’s car tips, drugs spew across the desert and he finds himself at the mercy of the military. Amado is put under military arrest but of course, that doesn’t stop the flow of drugs between El Paso and Tijuana. With the global economy changing and evolving, narration confirms that there are bigger changes afoot.
We then cut forward three months later to El Paso, Texas. Walt makes some moves, managing to bag himself a meeting with big players in the trade, courtesy of fellow AA member Mike.
The plan here is divide and conquer, with Walt intending to take out all the different players in this trade one by one. There’s been radio silence on Amado though, which piques Walt’s interest, but as we see him released from prison, it seems like he’s not going to stay hidden for long.
Elsewhere, a man named Victor and his men break into a house, stealing money and drugs. With gunshots sounding, one of their own (Luis) is killed but with police sirens incoming, they’re forced to leave him behind on the porch. That’s obviously less than ideal but they chalk it up to an occupational hazard, racing back toward Juarez.
Victor is a crooked cop and takes bribes to pay his way. However, when his wife encourages him to see a local resident at her place, something about her story strikes a chord. Her daughter Teresa has gone missing and hands over some cash to sweeten the deal. Victor easily makes $150 a month through bribes; officers in Mexico commit crimes – they don’t solve them.
But is Victor an exception to the rule? He heads to the morgue and remains intent on trying to find Teresa. He hands over the picture to the coroner and tells him to call if the girl shows up.
Amado also makes his way back to Juarez where Rafael greets him warmly. Business is great, moving two or three loads to El Paso a week. Amado’s partner is pretty naïve though and Amado knows this. He reinforces that they need to stretch their operation thinly to avoid suspicion, and using the same route and towns to pedal drugs paints a bullseye on their backs.
Between his house being a mess and his daughter dying from an asthmatic reaction, Amado has a lot on his plate. Heading out with Rafael, they meet El Profesor, Carlos Gonzalez. This man is a big player and he quickly rose the ranks of politics, serving as the puppet-master and guiding all the different presidents in the PRI.
The Hank Group is expanding into Juarez though and that spells more pressure on them to make sure their operation runs smoothly. Carlos also wants to buy out their land too, and tells them to come up with a price for it.
Meanwhile, on the El Paso/Juarez border, Operation Nissan gets underway. Walt, wired up, heads in to meet Mike at 3pm. Asking for a smoke is the call sign to bust these guys, but for now it’s down to business talk.
With two white vans heading south, Walt holds his nerve and tells the officers to chase after them. Unfortunately, that leaves Walt with having to prove is worth by driving this big rig…which he most certainly can’t. He breaks the news to Mike that he’s a DEA agent, and forces him to play along – until he’s arrested of course.
Given we know the route these guys use is between El Paso and Juarez, Walt deduces that if they sit tight on this route, bust the vans and the money, using that as bait, they’ll catch their man. Walt is confident that Amado will come sniffing around for answers, and as he crosses into El Paso, they’ll arrest him. With the FBI possibly jumping onboard too, it seems like things are on the up for our officers.
As the episode closes out, Amado guns down Rafael for not telling him about his daughter’s illness, and meets up with Carlos. He hands over the deeds in person, free of charge… but not really. Amado wants to team up, and with Rafael out the picture, Amado’s knowledge of Juarez could be invaluable for El Profesor.
The Episode Review
Narcos: Mexico is back and the first episode wastes absolutely no time, moving all the chess pieces around and setting up this cat and mouse game again. With Amado making his move and killing Rafael outright, it’s clear that this operation is about to get a whole lot bigger than we initially thought.
That’s bad news for Walt, who has set up Operation Nissan to bust Amado on this El Paso/Juarez route. But yet, with the power of El Profesor by his side, it could well be Amado moves faster and overlooks this completely. We shall see.
The introduction of Victor and his gang is a good one, and the one-shot motion of him and his buddies breaking into a house to grab the money and coke is really well shot. In fact, the whole show has been beautifully shot, with some of the sunsets and vistas of Juarez and El Paso working well to help this one stand out.
Either way, Narcos: Mexico leaves things wide open for the rest of the season and it’ll be interesting to see what direction this one takes next.