I have to say this that the one extremely rare and almost absent trend in modern television times that a show like Breaking Bad exhibited a few years ago, was getting better with every passing season. With the pressure to live up to audience's expectations and also justifying the content, makers end up contaminating the content and lose the authenticity. Breaking Bad did not do that, and to an extent of, The Americans also did not.
You can now add Narcos: Mexico to the list too. The fourth season of the drug war drama went live recently, and upon watching more than a couple of episodes, here's what I thought.
Set in Guadalajara, Mexico, the cat and mouse chase idea of the series doesn't change much. Except, we have a new cat and a new mouse. Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo (Diego Luna), unlike Pablo Escobar, doesn't appear to be a dangerous villain right away, but that's the beauty of the character. He is dangerous in his own sense, where he just wants to grow as a 'businessman', only in the weed business. Nevertheless, in a mere few episodes, you are psychologically played with by Miguel Felix as he coaxes one drug boss after the other to become a part of his 'plan.'
The cop in the cop-bad guy chase here is Agent Kiki Camarena (Michael Pena). By the looks of it, he isn't an attractive or a player with flamboyance like that of Javier Pena (Pedro Pascal). In fact, he is a dedicated family man with a pregnant wife and two kids who moved to Mexico after feeling betrayed on the ladder of promotion at his earlier workplace. Upon arriving, he immediately understands how the things work here and how he has not 'cross his limit' in terms of catching a bad guy. As he listens, he tries to work solo and gradually understands the chain better.
Thus begins the quintessential cop-drugpin drama, but with its own set of twists and turns.
The one thing that Narcos: Mexico maintains from its previous seasons is addictive television viewing. The design and execution of the show is so impressive that there is a constant adrenaline for the watcher and if you move or look away, you may miss something.
Evolution is necessary for everyone. Especially for modern television. Post fan-favorite's Wagner Moura's Pablo Escobar, the series evolved with a better third season as the Cali Cartel came into play. With this season, the show has completely evolved and refurbished to a new cast and a new place as the title itself suggests. The makers decided not to let the authenticity of the show go away with Agent Pena not being a part of this season and not showing his role more than he was actually a part of. In an ode to living up to fan love, they could have sucked up to the idea of him still being there and thus getting the 'true events' factor going away; but that did not happen, as this season became a parallel spin-off of sorts. Narcos evolved and hence, got better.
The one absolutely obvious miss for me here is the brotherhood bonding of sorts that we absolutely loved in the first two seasons and partly in the third one. Here, Kiki is almost all alone with minor comic reliefs provided by his fellow policemen, but at times, the frames where he is secretly and quietly noting down things get a tad too stretched which may have been better with a co-policeman.
Unlike Pablo, Luna's Miguel Felix takes a whole lot of time to make a true impact as a drugpin. With no discredit to the actor, the time that the character takes seems a little longer than else. But, this is just being nitpicky.
With season 4 or should I say a parallel spin-off, Narcos: Mexico gets better in so many ways than the previous three seasons weren't. Of course, there are some obvious loopholes, but it remains the adrenaline, authenticity and addiction of television watching that the previous seasons did too. Even if you're missing Pablo or Agent Pena, this excels in several ways thus following the rare trend of getting better with every season.