La Gran Mentira is the eighth episode of the first season of Narcos.
A tragic mistake forces the government to change tactics in the fight against Pablo. But Pablo faces bigger threats from inside his empire.
With Gaviria still chasing Escobar, despite his spoken intentions to also negotiate with him, Pablo and Gustavo are on the run. At the beginning of “La Gran Mentira,” they’re half-naked and running through the mountains, all in the middle of the night as gunfire echoes behind them. There’s been another raid, but of course, Escobar once again gets away. For a moment the Search Bloc thinks they have him, as the CIA tracks his satellite phone, but they come to find it attached to a donkey.
After escaping the Search Bloc once again, Escobar returns to where he has the hostages hidden away, including Ms. Turbay. He has another chat with her, insisting that she once again make a video. He now realizes that Gaviria is negotiating with him and trying to catch him at the same time, and he’s had enough. He agrees to let two hostages go in exchange for Ms. Turbay making another video asking the government to transparently negotiate with Escobar.
The plea is heard and seen, with former president Turbay once again insisting that Gaviria meet the demands. “Do you know what his demands are?” he asks Turbay before he lists them in all their ridiculousness. Escobar wants a referendum on extradition, plus he’ll agree to admit to a single charge of drug trafficking, but only if he’s allowed to build his own prison, hire his own guards, and demand that the Colombian police stay three kilometers away from the jail.
Such demands are ludicrous, and only serve to further benefit Escobar, who would get to hide away in his own “castle,” as he termed it in “You Will Cry Tears of Blood.” He may have Turbay for leverage, but that doesn’t matter to Gaviria. The demands are too high, and he can’t be seen as cooperating with such a violent criminal.
Shortly thereafter though, Gaviria has his decision made for him. When the Search Bloc executes a raid on the residence where the hostages are being held, they manage to kill a few of Escobar’s men, but Ms. Turbay, who’s hiding in a closet, is killed by a stray bullet. Escobar’s leverage piece may be dead, but more importantly, Ms. Turbay’s death strikes a chord in Colombia. The citizens want an end to the senseless violence, essentially forcing Gaviria’s hand.
Sandoval suggests bringing in the U.S. military to help capture Escobar, but Gaviria refuses. He needs to end the violence now, so he tells his head of security to give Escobar what he wants. Fernando, the go-between for Escobar and Gaviria, brings the good news (for the cartel) to Escobar. He’s ecstatic, but he wants more from Fernando. Now that the terms have been agreed upon, he wants him to work on lessening the drug trafficking sentence. Escobar is nothing if not an opportunist.
Now that all of Escobar’s plans are falling into place, he needs to build the jail as soon as possible. The sooner he builds it, the sooner he’s safe inside. That’s important during this time, as there are many within his ranks that want to see him taken out. From inside his own personal jail, he can be free from harm and also continue to run his operation.
While Escobar is excited about getting inside his own personal prison, there’s worry amongst the cartel that some will see it as weakness, as a chance to get at Escobar and derail his operation. Of course, that means the Ochoas, even if no one is completely sure they’re the ones looking to dissent.
Shortly after such a warning from Gustavo, a car bomb explodes outside of the house where Escobar and his family are staying in Monaco. It’s a stunning sequence: the bomb going off in a moment of tender silence, the entire frame changing from subtly lit and still to dusty and chaotic, as Escobar finds his children in the house and sends them to their mother.
Gustavo thinks the attempted assassination might be the result of a new player in town, perhaps one of the Cali drug dealers. Narcos suggests that it might be Valeria though, the reporter who now needs to distance herself from Escobar ever since he decided to plead guilty to drug trafficking charges.
Either way, it’s enough to keep Escobar on his toes and try to find out who ratted him out. Valeria comes to him with some information: she’s heard, from a reliable source, that the Ochoas have been in Cali. In truth, they’ve negotiated a deal with the Search Bloc where if they give up Gustavo they’ll do a short stint in prison on charges of illegal importation of bulls.
The deal is secured and Carrillo sets out with his men to capture Escobar’s cousin. When Gustavo heads out of town to meet Marina Ochoa for a naked rendezvous, the Search Bloc ambushes him and takes him into custody. They’re not bringing him to the police station though. Rather, they bring him to an abandoned warehouse and torture him.
Carrillo gives him the chance to avoid torture and to live; all he has to do is give up Escobar. “We’re bandits, not snitches,” he says, openly defying Carrillo. That leads Carrillo to have some of his men, all of whom had members of their families killed by the cartel, beat him. Gustavo doesn’t crack though, so they beat him to death.
Carrillo puts a few bullets in Gustavo after he’s dead and tells one of his soldiers to dump the body on the side of the road and report his death as the result of a shoot-out with police.
The news of Gustavo’s death shakes Pablo. He tears up and contemplates his past—his friendship with his cousin as they rode bikes through the mountains as young boys. Escobar wants revenge, not only on Pena, Murphy, and the Search Bloc, but also on the Ochoas and Pacho, who are responsible for revealing Gustavo’s location.
The episode ends with a quick montage and a flash forward. We see that Colombia votes to repeal extradition, and a helicopter is sent to take Escobar away. We see him making plans for an elaborate prison, one with a home for his family, and a bar and Jacuzzi for his men. Then we see the first scene of the season premiere, with Poison being killed by the Search Bloc and Murphy comforting Natalie’s baby. It’s a fitting end to the third-to-last episode, one that signals a shift in morality. Murphy, having seen Escobar once again slip away and win, is ready to do anything to catch him, no matter the cost.