Narcos: Mexico season 3, episode 1 recap – the opening chapter

By Marc Miller
Published: November 5, 2021 (Last updated: February 17, 2024)
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Netflix Narcos: Mexico season 3, episode 1 - 12 Steps


Narcos: Mexico‘s “12 Steps” is an enthralling opening chapter to its final season led by the magnetic Jose Maria Yazpik.

This recap of Netflix’s Narcos: Mexico season 3, episode 1, “12 Steps,” contains spoilers.

Read the review of season 3. 

Narcos: Mexico is back for its final season, and things start with endless memorable shots and scenes that stick in your memory. From a plane taking a nose dive and skidding across the desert sand like a stone over water, to some Federales moonlighting by invading a stash house for some extra cash to make ends meet.

Narcos: Mexico’s final season is going to be one of the series’ best.

Narcos: Mexico season 3, episode 1 recap


We kick things off as Amado (played by Sr. Pig’s Jose Maria Yazpik), the newly minted number two in the Mexican cartel, gets his hands dirty. He unwittingly crashes a plane and cocaine into a Mexican desert. While most of the stash and group survive the landing that has them skip across the desert a couple of dozen times like kids skipping rocks in the pond, they see the military closing in from a distance.

They gun everyone down in a blaze of glory. Amado, now driving a pickup truck full of bricks of the good stuff sent to pick them up, tumbles sideways from large military artillery. As he crawls away, he offers the soldiers and their general $70,000 in cash, but he is arrested and kept in prison for three months — no one attempted to buy his freedom. That’s how it works. Standard, really. And if it’s not done, it’s intentional.

When he is finally released, he finds his home under considerable renovation from a bus underling throwing a party. He gets to know a woman named Marisol calls. He and his ex-wife have a child together named Anna. While he was away on “business,” as he called it, Marisol broke the bad news to him. Anna has died. She had an asthma attack. Amado was in prison when it happened.

You have to admire Amado because when he wants something, he grabs it by the throat and doesn’t let go. He guns down his number one (really his partner), Rafael, with a hot-to-the-touch bullet right through his left eye. This wasn’t all business decisions. It’s a promotion he deserves but also penance for making him miss his daughter’s last breaths. He immediately takes the reigns and hands Carlos the deed to the property he wants. There’s just one catch: As long as they work together.

Welcome to Juarez, he says.


In what is truly one of the very best shots since the original incarnation of Narcos, Victor (Luis Gerardo Mendez) and his brothers in blue invade a stash house full of coke and money. As the camera looks across the street at the front of the house, it slows creeps in, and the masked men generously gun down each individual with bullet after bullet, as one does when they rob the cartel. Not everyone, though, is dead. The first one to fall was playing possum and let off a half dozen shots that take out one of the victor’s men before he blows the man’s chest, cue Tom Perez the great wide open. Victor leaves him bleeding out in this brisk bright air as he hears the sirens closing in.

Being a police officer is a hustle in Mexico. Or, if you look at it another way, maybe they are just cutting out the middle man. Every time Victor pulls over a local or a foreigner for a moving vehicle infraction, he requests money right then and there. Do you see? No need to pay the ticket or fine at the courthouse. Good old Victor does it for you. He also doesn’t bother with a receipt. No worries. It’s all in his head. He makes $150 a week, you see. He needs the money to take care of his family.

However, things get interesting when his wife asks to drop by and talk to a local old biddy. She pays him a little scratch to locate her granddaughter. She went missing some time ago and is afraid she may have fallen into the wrong cartel crowd. He takes the money, not even reluctantly. He will see what he can do.


And then we have Walt (Scoot McNairy). The DEA undercover agent in El Paso, Texas, passes the time by lying during AA meetings (always an exciting tactic) and scoping potential targets. One is Mike (Scott William Winters), his fellow AA member and sponsor. It also so happens Mike is involved in the big rig smuggling trade. He offers Walt a job (well, he knows him as”Chris”) as a trucker who needs the remarkable talent of never being pulled over. When Walt arrives that night, his wife, Dani, asks him if he talked about his brother. His reply? “No. I just made some shit up.”

Operation Nissan is underway. That involves Walt meeting with Mike and his bosses. The signal is to ask for a smoke, and they will drive in with their sirens pushed to their highest capacity. Though, Walt doesn’t indicate getting Mike and his boss on tape going over the plan. He sees two white vans leaving the mechanic shop. He recognizes two hired guns in each passenger seat. His gut tells him this isn’t a product movement operation. This must be where the money is for that kind of big-name supervision.

The ending

Chris is acting weird. Something is off. So Mike gives him a test. He needs to drive a big rig around back for him. Walt, always a quick manipulator thinker, attempts to get out of moving the Kentworth T600 by letting his fake buddy know that he had a slip last night. Mike, while sympathetic to his plight, tells him no worries. Tomorrow is another day (he is going to be a great prison AA sponsor). Though, he has had enough of Chris’s behavior. Walt pulls the plug, tells his colleagues who are in his ear to get ready to move in. Mike panics, but Walter knows how to calm him down.”I have a Glock Nine service weapon. If you don’t call down right now, I’ll pull it out and shoot you in the head right here.” He’s good, right?). How do you like those apples?

The stage is set. They are going to take down the cartel on their turf: El Paso.

What did you think of Narcos: Mexico season 3, episode 1? Let us know in the comments below!

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