It’s no bed of roses and it’s no pleasure cruise, by which I mean that this episode sees both Kiki and Gallardo taken down a peg or two. But, naturally, they’re not going to stay down for long — and at least Gallardo is going to be climbing over some corpses to get there.
Nava has been such a pain in the ass from the start that I am honestly stunned every time he makes it out of a scene alive. DFS association be damned, his number is way, way overdue and I cannot wait for him to be out of the picture! To be fair, it seems like the people around Gallardo are starting to feel the same way, and for good reason.
Rafa and his girlfriend carry out a kidnapping hoax so they can gallivant around together, but what they fail to take into account is the fact that her father is the Minister of Education and therefore very well-connected. The political machine — so slow to seek any kind of justice when it really counts — revs into action in order to get her back, and to get Rafa’s head on a plate. Against his better judgment, Gallardo negotiates for Rafa’s safety, which is where Nava comes in.
For the DFS to intervene and smooth things over, Gallardo has to do the favor he turned down in the last episode — and he has to oversee it himself. With Amado flying the plane, Gallardo ends up taking a shipment of guns out to Nicaragua. Taking care of the transfer is — surprise, surprise — Stechner (Eric Lange), who you may remember from previous seasons of Narcos, but he disappears as soon as the plane lands, leaving Amado and Gallardo to get black-bagged and tortured by the group of soldiers who come out to meet the cargo. None of them make any indication that they know who Nava is, meaning that the two of them are stuck without a paddle.
Or, rather, it means that Nava is teaching them a lesson for being too big for their britches. Right as the torture is about to get dire, Stechner steps in, and sends them on their way back to Guadalajara. Before they go, however, Gallardo gets a peek at mountains of cocaine sitting untouched, and immediately puts two and two together as to the fact that there’s a lucrative income stream that’s going untapped. So much for his pledge to stay out of cocaine territory. (He gets knocked down, but he gets back up again!)
Nava is, of course, waiting for him when he gets back to Guadalajara, and gloats that it was a reminder for Gallardo to remember his place. He is so brazen — particularly after showing up at Gallardo’s house when he wasn’t home earlier, which I feel is the kind of move that tends to seal men’s death warrants — that I could practically see the timer running out for him. He’s gotta kick the bucket within the next two episodes, right? Or is that just wishful thinking?
Meanwhile, Kiki is dealing with the same bureaucratic walls that have been impeding him from the start. For a stretch, it looks like he might finally be able to move on the gangsters who’ve been doing their business with relative impunity this whole time. Rafa’s mistake, which has the government on his tail, means that Kiki is finally free to be as aggressive as he’s wanted to be.
He also gets teamed up with Guillermo González Calderoni (Julio César Cedillo), known as “the Eliot Ness of Mexico,” to get the job done. Unfortunately, their respective methods for working a case immediately begin to clash, as Kiki is thorough whereas Calderoni is a bull in a china shop. He beats Kiki’s informant black and blue — meaning Kiki will never be able to press him again — and immediately applies the pressure on Kiki’s neighbor, who works at a phone company, after Kiki notes that they might be able to use him to get to phone records that would give up Rafa’s location.
Though it all works — they find the compound and end up literally feet away from Rafa — the bust is called off at the last minute by their bosses. The agreement that Gallardo and Nava came to has saved Rafa in the nick of time. Kiki is understandably furious, and is still so preoccupied by the time he gets home that his wife leaves him stewing in the dark, alone except for the twinkling lights on his Christmas tree.
As weird as it is to say, Don Neto is the only one who has a relatively chill time in this episode. Though he blows his assignment of babysitting Rafa by getting them both extremely high on cocaine and essentially reenacting the shirts scene from The Great Gatsby except with record sleeves (as they extol the virtues of CDs), he ends the episode in a position of net gain. While on a beer run, he’s apprehended by a cop after he falls asleep at the wheel and crashes his car (gently) into a wall. When the cop, Sammy (Guillermo Villegas), realizes exactly who he’s apprehended, he drives Don Neto home — and is rewarded with a job as Neto’s new driver. Godspeed, Sammy!
Seeds and Stems
• Rafa isn’t dumb, but he’s a little dumb. As with his Scarface obsession, his relationship with Sofia (Tessa Ia) has a movie peg — Bonnie & Clyde. There’s a cute subversion in that she’s Clyde and he’s Bonnie, but, again, we all know how that movie ends.
• Rafa and Don Neto gleefully chanting, “Doesn’t skip! Doesn’t skip! Doesn’t skip!” about CDs is still one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.
• Another Don Neto bon mot: “You hit me. I should kill you, but it’s Christmas.”