[Warning: The following contains spoilers for Season 2 of Narcos: Mexico. Read at your own risk!]
Narcos: Mexico Season 2 concluded with the end of Félix Gallardo's (Diego Luna) reign as the preeminent drug lord of Mexico. The federation of cartels he painstakingly put together in Season 1 turned against him in favor of striking out on their own after he made one too many power moves. With no one left to protect him, and no leverage left against the government, Gallardo was taken into custody for the murder of DEA agent Kiki Camarena (Michael Peña).
Gallardo's arrest did not lead to the end of the war on drugs as many bigwigs in Washington thought it might. Instead, it splintered the cartels and created a million more problems for Mexico, the United States, and the world as the cartels inevitably turned on each other and fought for control of the pathways to distribute cocaine in the U.S. To simplify, law enforcement went from trying to tackle one organization to trying to take down at least half a dozen.
That means there's a lot more story to tell when it comes to explaining how the war on drugs helped exacerbate a worldwide drug problem. TV Guide spoke to Narcos: Mexico executive producer Eric Newman about ending the Gallardo chapter of the story and where the show will go next if it is renewed for Season 3. Spoiler alert: You've already met the new kingpin.
What do you want to say to people who might have some sympathy for Felix at the end of the season? I felt bad for him, and then I felt terrible about myself for feeling bad for him.
Eric Newman: I think people should have sympathy for everybody. Monsters are not — they don't spring forth from the womb; they're created by circumstances. I think that if you were to compare Felix Gallardo to some of the guys we've got today... Felix is really not the problem. Felix's ambition, his hubris, and his lack of a moral compass certainly got him into trouble, but really what sealed his fate was getting into business with the government. Judge him based on the world that he's in, and the people that are in it. Truthfully, there is no greater sin, in my opinion, than the betrayal of public trust. Drug dealers are drug dealers. They don't pretend to be good people. They don't pretend to be looking out for the citizens of their country, but politicians and cops do. I think that it's OK to feel sympathy for Felix Gallardo because he's ... far from the worst person in the Narcos universe.
You could have ended the season with Felix's arrest and made it feel like a satisfying conclusion. Instead, there's a scene with him in prison in which he tells Walt (Scoot McNairy) that taking Felix out just let the animals out of the cage. Why didn't you want the end of this season to feel like a win for the DEA?
Newman: You can take out Pablo Escobar, or the Cali cartel, or Felix Gallardo and feel some sense of victory, but in reality, all you've done is swallow the spider to catch the fly. We all know how that ends; it just continues to accelerate into the chaos, which is very much the theme of this season. And so, to end with a moment where you realize we've accomplished nothing except for unleashing these animals, for the most part, [allows us to] begin the next chapter in the drug war, over which we'll have less control than we had previously.
You make some pretty important points during the season about women and their role in this business. We're left with Enedina taking on a leadership role in the Tijuana cartel. Why was that important?
Newman: Unlike Colombia where, with very few exceptions, there were not a lot of high profile women in the business... Mexico is a little different. [Women] had a stronger presence. It's a little bit of an answer to some of our critics, and hopefully proof that we're paying attention. We really wanted women in this season to be more than just wives.
If you get renewed for Season 3, who is going to take center stage? We saw El Chapo start to rise up with the Sinaloas in this season.
Newman: I think that if you look chronologically at the next powerhouse, post-Felix Gallardo, it would be Amado Carrillo Fuentes. He was the Lord of the Skies and the head of the Juarez cartel. It's a very rich world and Chapo's heyday is still about 20 years away, maybe a little less than that in our story. Yes, Chapo could be a factor, but I also think that another very likely suspect is, you know, is Amado Carrillo Fuentes. We also have met the Gulf Cartel, Juan Abrego, who was also a pretty enormous player in the '90s and into the early 2000s.
Narcos: Mexico Season 2 is now streaming on Netflix.