6 December 2010 | TdSmth5
Could Caracol pull off another hit like El Cartel 1? They did, but it's not as outstanding as the first season. Season 1 was an irresistible tour de force, nearly perfect in script, acting, humor, violence. Season 2 shows some weaknesses.
This time around the narrator is Pepe Cadena, although he is not the center of the story, he is being chased by killers in Miami. What we have is a variety of characters, locales, and stories vying to be the main story. Things move fast and furiously in Guerra Total. Tampa, Miami, Mexico, Colombia, Brasil. The background is that Cabo and Don Mario are basically at war with each other, war till death. They are busy trying to get each other's men killed. Cabo is also trying to eliminate some loose ends in the US.
At first it's DEA agent Sam whose story gets plenty of attention. He is working in Tampa to get a Colombian drug dealer. The wife, Zuly, will fall first but is reluctant to give her husband up. Sam and Zuly end up falling in love, a love that can't really flourish. That story will continue until the end of the season as Zuly joins a witness protection program in Colombia.
Initially there are also two stories taking place in Mexico. One involves two Colombian women, aunt and niece, who work packaging drugs. The niece falls for a Colombian guy who is there working for Mexican drug lords. But bosses in Colombia want some of these Mexicans eliminated. There's plenty of action and excitement in that story as Mexican police are on the trail of these drug lords.
All of this is somewhat difficult to follow as it involves mostly new characters whose connections with known characters is unclear. Things finally pick up when one of the best characters of season 1 takes center stage: Cabo. He and Don Mario come to a tense truce. That allows both to relax and dedicate themselves to affairs of the heart. Both fall in love. Don Mario with a reporter. Cabo with a gorgeous model (Carolina Guerra, the real life wife of Diego Cadavid who plays Pepe). Both women will end up getting these guys in serious trouble. A great new character is Primo, played with bravura by Luis Fernando Montoya, who is a distant relative of Cabo. He convinces the madly in love Cabo to move to Venezuela where things are calmer- or are they?
A new character is Antenas, a computer nerd who assists drug lords and is informing to the DEA, but his DEA handlers are corrupt and leave him hanging. This character sticks around till the end, now helping the Colombian police.
There is an obscure substory involving the Paramilitaries who give themselves up to authorities, are "jailed" on one of their own farms, where they do things like mediate between drug lords. But then they are all taken away and moved to a jail on a ship.
A very exciting and action-packed story is centered on a hero cop who hunts drug lords wherever they are. He's been very successful but doesn't count on corrupt military who are on the side of Don Mario.
Another high point of the season is the re-appearance of Anestesia, perhaps the funniest character in Season 1. He is in Miami living the life of a good law-abiding citizen. After telling everything to US authorities he now sees himself basically as a US law enforcement officer. But the life continues to haunt him as he runs into shady characters trying to convince them to leave crime behind and to love the US. He chats with Colombian detainees trying to convince them to work with US authorities.
El Cartel Guerra Total has everything you would expect from a sequel to El Cartel De Los Sapos. What is missing though is a center. Pepe's story isn't all that significant and his character is not as charismatic as Martin from season 1. The summary above is only a part of all the different people and stories taking place. This season is not as riotously funny as the first. Somehow, the issue of drug trade also takes a back seat. Now it's just about saving your skin, eliminating enemies, or attending to romance. Also missing are gorgeous Colombian girls. It's pretty much up to Carolina Guerra to carry the torch, and she is lovely indeed and full of life.
A very interesting idea arises in this season that is not fully explored. And that is the existence of a powerful syndicate who are everywhere, know everything, and control everything that happens in Colombia. Perhaps this will be further developed in a future season. It would have been nearly impossible for a sequel to match or surpass the excellence of Cartel 1 but Guerra Total is a worth successor that should not be missed. Both remain the finest programs produced in Latin America.