Boots on the Ground
Episode 5 of Narcos: Mexico Season 3 begins with Mexico angry and desperate for change. Protestors out in the streets following the cardinal’s death leave President Salinas no choice but to declare war on the cartel. The mob is angry, and something needs to be done to stifle the flow of blood pouring through Mexico.
Narcos violence can no longer be ignored, and this very-public spotlight puts the two gangs on the backfoot. With cash rewards to boot, both the Sinaloa and the Tijuana cartels are wanted men.
The leader, ready to march Mexican authorities into war against the cartels, is one General Jesus Rebollo, who promises big results. Andrea is still working her case too though, leading over to the airport and speaking to the staff about the men involved in the shooting.
It turns out the plane was bound for Tijuana at the time of this shootout, and with tapes missing from the CCTV footage, Andrea realizes this big drug-shaped arrow is pointing at her next target.
Andrea heads over and speaks to Carlos, bringing up the plane and how the casino is linked to all of this as well. When he throws shade at Lo Voz, Andrea keeps up the pressure… until the figurehead silently walks away. In doing so, he gets his lawyers involved to put pressure on the paper, promising to take them to court if they even think about bringing the family into the news story.
Now, given Andrea never mentioned anything about money laundering, but that’s mentioned in the papers by the lawyers, it actually works in their favour a little, admitting indirectly that they’re guilty.
With things heating up with the cartel, the Narcojuniors are now tasked with moving the gear on runs. Of course, this is a play to make them the scapegoats if they’re caught, but the boys don’t see it that way. Instead, Kitty and the others believe this is just their way of moving up in the world. Naïve doesn’t even begin to cut it.
Meanwhile, Walt learns he’s part of the DEA taskforce being sent down to Tijuana. Walt actually asked to be part of this force but for Dani, that’s one step too far. She believes it’s a front to get out of moving to Chicago with her. She refuses to talk further on the matter though, shutting the door in his face.
For Walt though, this desire to stop the drugs runs a lot deeper than a simple operation, determined to get a win and put Amado behind bars once and for all.
So down he goes to Mexico, teaming up with the General to front his shiny, new taskforce. Two of the members of the Logan Heights gang have admitted to killing the Cardinals. These are fall guys of course, but for now Walt is at the center of bringing these men in for questioning.
At the Mexico/Guatemala border, Chapo is stopped by the Colonel and his men. Despite striking up a deal with them, the officers wait for them to leave before double-crossing him. They put out the word that a “dangerous Mexican fugitive” has just crossed the border.
In the wake of all this, Benjamin walks right into a trap as a beautifully shot scene ensues with the Mexican authorities, alongside Walt, show up along a stretch of road with Benjamin and Ramon in the firing line.
There’s a really nice segment here, following a woman and her child as they cower for their lives. Gunshots rain down along this stretch of road. Unfortunately, in the wake of all this devastation, the cartel members manage to get away. On the General’s orders, they’re told to stand down as they’ve moved outside the secure zone.
Walt is not happy but the General doesn’t want to push it. He wants the people on his side, determined to catch every single drug trafficker in Mexico no matter what. His end-goal is actually similar to Walt’s, although the pair have very different ways of going about their objectives. However, hearing the General’s impassioned pitch, Walt agrees to do everything he can to help him.
As the barriers of distrust are broken, Rebollo breaks the news that El Chapo has been caught at the border. He’s turned over to the Mexican authorities and put away for 20 years. With Sinaloa falling apart and Chapo rising to prominence following this arrest, the attention now turns back to the dark, grimy underbelly of Mexico.
At the center of this is Victor, who’s very much our boots-on-the-ground guy. He runs into Mrs. Barragan out in the street. Speaking to her, he learns Teresa was working at the auto-parts factory. Heading own there at night, he notices a whole group of girls getting on a bus heading for parts unknown.
The Episode Review
With El Chapo arrested and the authorities starting to close in on the men responsible for causing the death of the cardinal, there’s a definite shift in the balance of power. Amado’s noticeable absence this chapter paves way for Chapo and his men to be captured (there’s no honour among thieves of course) and Benjamin just narrowly avoiding capture.
This whole sequence along the stretch of road was beautifully shot, with some excellent camera work to really drive home the message of how brutal this shooting can be on the streets.
This works nicely to add an extra dimension to Narcos: Mexico, and the juxtaposition between Walt and General Rebollo when they meet is great to see – especially as they’re both on the same side of this conflict.
The ending does hint that there’s a dynamic shift, with Enedina now stepping up, but we’ll have to wait and see how that plays out. For now, Narcos: Mexico has been an enthralling watch and everything is left wide open for the next episode.