La Catedral is the ninth episode of the first season of Narcos.
Pablo Escobar is finally in prison, but it’s not exactly the type of confinement that the DEA was looking for. His prison might look shoddy from the outside, but on the inside it’s a thriving spa/nightclub/casino. It has everything, from pool tables and roulette wheels to a soccer field and alcohol. Escobar’s living the good life, surrounded by men in his employ while the police are legally bound to keep at least two miles away from the fortress.
With Escobar essentially still controlling his operation, Murphy is losing his grip. He’s more unhinged these days. He and Connie are working on adopting Natalie’s child, but he’s still worked up about the failure to truly capture Escobar. When he rear ends a cab and the driver gets out and shouts at him, Murphy pulls out his gun, points it at the man, and then shoots out his tire. He’s got a lot of pent up rage right now.
His anger only increases when he and Pena meet with Carrillo, whose Search Bloc has been disbanded as part of Escobar’s deal with the government. Carrillo shows the DEA agents overhead photos of Escobar’s “prison,” pointing out the soccer field and how well he’s living right now.
For Murphy and Pena, this is unacceptable. A lot of people have died during this operation, and to see Escobar living it up is too much. They need to find some sort of evidence to bring Escobar down, to show that he’s still running his operation from inside his prison.
That starts with Murphy figuring out that Escobar and his men are no longer using satellite phones. They’ve gone old school, using pigeons to carry messages to everyone in the cartel. Murphy and Pena station themselves outside the prison, waiting for a pigeon to leave. When Pena can’t hit his target, Murphy takes his gun and shoots down one of the carrier pigeons. Attached is a message about a tunnel and a delivery.
That leads to the DEA agents looking for a tunnel using aerial photos illegally obtained by the CIA, but they can’t find anything. That’s when Connie points out that there’s a truck in every single photo.
That truck is bringing goods in and out of the prison, so Murphy and Pena need to monitor it. They pull the truck over and coerce the driver into putting a camera in the back. The driver cooperates, taking photos of every single trip and showing the DEA that Escobar is having lobster, TVs, politicians, and soccer players transported to his prison. He’s living like a king.
Murphy and Pena take the photos to Gaviria, hoping that this revelation will lead him to take action to get Escobar into a real prison. Gaviria has no interest though. He believes that even though Escobar is living like a king, it’s better than having him out in the world, running all of Colombia and terrorizing the country. With Gaviria refusing to do anything about Escobar, Murphy and Pena have to find another way to truly bring the drug kingpin to justice.
While Pena and Murphy are looking for another way to get Escobar in a real prison, there are more personal threats to the kingpin’s empire all around him. Specifically, he’s in tense negotiations with the Cali cartel, working to solve their Los Angeles problem and get his due.
For Escobar, negotiating means killing a bunch of Pancho’s men and then sending Moncada and Galeano to strong-arm the Cali cartel into paying them a ton of money. Still, the negotiations go down, with Moncada and Galeano securing a deal that would see Pancho pay $10 million to end their feud. Considering Pablo set the asking price at $12 million, it’s not a bad deal.
Or at least Moncada and Galeano didn’t think it was a bad deal until they deliver the news to Pablo in his prison. Escobar seems to think the deal is okay, but he doesn’t trust his two men anymore. He thinks they may be dissenting, especially after Galeano’s wife visited Pablo on his birthday and essentially told him that Galeano had been complaining about the war tax, which Pablo had just increased to $1 million a month.
It doesn’t help that $3 million was recently found by a farmer who’s renting property from Moncada and Galeano. They insist that it’s some of the money that Gustavo buried and that Blackbeard was meant to keep track of. Escobar and his men aren’t so sure though. They know that Moncada and Galeano reported a seized shipment, and the profits from it would have been about $3 million. The implication is that they’re stealing from Escobar.
Moncada and Galeano plead with Escobar, telling him that he’s being paranoid and not thinking clearly. They briefly convince him, but as they go to leave the prison, Escobar snaps and beats Moncada to death with a pool cue, Galeano perhaps dead too, or at least detained inside the prison.
The news of Moncada’s death gets back to Murphy and Pena through Navagente, the Cali cartel member who’s also working with Pena. Escobar’s operation may be more profitable than ever, but it’s clear there’s dissension within the ranks. Plus, Escobar may be living well in his prison, but he’s still vulnerable.
After meeting with Navagente, Murphy and Pena decide they need to make a push for Escobar. If Gaviria isn’t going to do anything about Escobar, perhaps they’ll create a little chaos and force his hand. They bring the truck photos, which show everything Escobar is having imported to the prison, to the press. If those photos get out there will surely be public outcry. That’s exactly what Pena and Murphy want. If they can destabilize the bureaucracy that’s keeping them down, and keeping Escobar safe, then maybe they can find a way to really bring Pablo down.
- La Catedral is also the name of the private prison that Pablo Escobar lives in.