Senor de Los Cielos 5: The Finale

Note: No one has the time or the interest to read a post this long about a TV show in a foreign language. I've written it more for posterity than for reading enjoyment. Janis Joplin once joked that "Mercedes Benz" was a song with "great social and political import." Joking aside, that's how I feel about well-done narco-dramas, and Senor de los Cielos in particular. Yes, it's a fictionalized account of the life of a real life trafficker, Amado Carrillo Fuentes, and his family and loves, with exaggerated characters and events. But, unlike a Mercedes Benz, there are glimpses of political and social realities in the stories that I think give them a greater meaning. Also, I think many of the actors' performances, which take months to film, and the high production quality, deserve greater attention.

So don't feel like you have to read the whole thing, or any of it. It's enough that someone somewhere, googling for information about the show or its actors, will eventually come across it.

Update (recap and spoiler alert): By now anyone who is interested in Senor de los Cielos 5 has seen the finale or read what happens. It was good, and the best part is, there is going to be a Season 6. Here are 31 photos with captions from Telemundo, showing what happens in the finale. [More...]

They really did pack a lot into an hour, resolving most of threads, but not all. The best news is there will in fact be a Season 6. The bad news is there aren't many present characters left to play a role, and worse, it seems they are going back to Season 1 or 2 with a glamorous undercover cop (the paralyzed woman I mentioned in my original post below who has had her surgery and can now run through the forest at the speed of light) feigning love for Aurelio to try to take him out. The minute they slant this show in favor of the cops, I'm out. I have no intention of watching another Narc show.

As for my predictions, I was close on one and way off on the others. I was hoping Monica and Felina would be spared. They weren't. In a surprise twist, El Cabo returned from after an absence of 2 or 3 seasons and killed them both. He will reprise his role in Season 6 as the Colombian supplier (Aurelio seems to have killed off all the others, and their enabling Venezuelan generals, as well as the Colombian guerrillas, and most of his Mexican competitors except the odious Leandro and El Chema, who is in hiding.)

At least, both evil Mabel and more evil Tony Pastrana were killed. Monica and Felina shot Mabel at the same time, right before El Cabo killed the two of them (declaring it two for the price of one day) and Monica's loyal bodyguard.

Pastrana was killed by Aurelio with assistance from Skinny (the MS 13 guy), made him run through the forest for his life and then hunting for him and shooting him with a bow and arrow (as Aurelio has done with other enemies this season). Skinny got a shot into Pastrana and then Aurelio ordered him tied to a tree and killed by having his right hand man Vitaminas screw a gruesome medieval looking device that was a metal collar with a big screw at the back that Vitaminas slowly turned making the screw go through Pastrana's neck from behind (I couldn't watch that scene.) I think it was worse than when he chopped off his consigliere's hand or pulled out a reporter's fingernails in earlier seasons. (I fast forwarded through those scenes too.)

Onto lighter fare: Monica was able to get Toro (El Chema's right hand man) to take Leonardo (El Chemito, the son of Mabel and El Chema that Chema doesn't know exists, but he's a such a physical clone it's impossible to question) to Chema. He was grateful, not knowing Monica was doing this because she was about to kill his mother (for taking Monica and Aurelio's son out of her arms and turning him over to Aurelio -- and so Monica could take over Mabel's drug business in the U.S.)

The part I predicted correctly was that in order to tie up all the sub-plots in one hour, someone would have to narrate back from the future and tell what happened to everyone else. And that's just what they did in the last five to ten minutes.

Aurelio was the narrator. As he's flying off somewhere in his plane with his and Monica's young son playing co-pilot at make-believe controls, Aurelio says he never heard from Monica, Felina or Mabel again after that night. He says Rutila made a bad decision to return to Colombia with her new boyfriend and former Colombian guerilla SuperJavi. We see them in a plane, about to take off, with Rutila, who has balked about being dragged into the drug business for three seasons, tell Javi it's pointless to keep fighting it, and they should ask Aurelio to take over his West Coast business. Then we see someone attaching a bomb to their plane. We don't see what happens (but as of now, I don't think either is scheduled to return next season.) Aurelio says neither were heard from again (at least to whatever point he's doing this narration.)

Aurelio then narrates Ismael (illegitmate son #2 who has taken over the role of consigliere and peace-maker but has no interest in being in the drug business and only kills when defending the family) and Carmen (the widow of illegitimate son #1 who was a meat butcher and not involved with drugs at all when he was gunned down by Tony Pastrana as revenge against Aurelio) are now together and very happy and having kids of their own. But then we see them going somewhere in one of their big SUVs and they get attacked with gunfire by a lot of masked guys. It looks like at least Carmen gets shot (I don't think she is returning next season.)

As for President Omar Teran, he decides to make Jamie, the trust-funded playboy he extorted to poison the First Lady, his successor. Jamie will run the country like Omar did, beholden to Aurelio Cassillas. From Aurelio's narration, it seems he succeeds and Aurelio is still running Mexico.

It looks like Aurelio's mother may be back for part or all of next season. Sickened by the violence a few seasons ago, she left and joined a convent. But the convent gets attacked and she has to call Aurelio to rescue her and the nuns whom MS-13 members threaten to rape and kill. Of course, he does. After the rescue, she plays Grandma to Rutila and Monica's sons (her favorite role.) But when nephew Victor gets gunned down by Tony Pastrana, nothwithstanding his ring of MS-13 protection including Skinny and his cousin Baby Girl, and it is clear another war was on the horizon, she high-tailed it to a mountain cabin to live in peace. Aurelio insisted she let his guards protect her. During the narration at the end of the finale, we see someone kill her guards and her race for her shotgun when she hears it, and then there's a camera shot of her through the window looking worried but prepared to off whoever tries to enter. (Another "cliff-hanger.)

Meanwhile, Esperanza's father sits with her and her mother's ashes as he ponders how to apologize for getting them killed by Aurelio. Esperanza is the beautiful Venezuelan heiress, bi-sexual money launderer and former Aurelio main squeeze, who turned protected witness for the DEA in the U.S. and is on Aurelio's hit list for moving $80 billion of his money to DEA accounts. They moved her to Boulder, CO of all places, where she falls in love with a female dispensary owner, who of course gets killed by Aurelio's men as they are chasing Esperanza. In the second to last episode, Aurelio finally kills Esperanza who had teamed up with Monica and Tony Pastrana, and injects some drug supposed to be heroin Pastrana gave her to defend herself with, but he doesn't die or suffer any effect, so it must not have really been heroin. The DEA then moves in and Esperanza's mother gets killed in the cross-fire. So as Esperanza's father sits alone with her and her mother's ashes, and having been talked out of personally seeking vengeance by the former CIA agent, now a DEA agent, who convinces him it won't bring closure, he sends a check for $5 million, no strings attached, to the agent, hoping he'll continue to legally hunt down Aurelio. Of course the ex-CIA, now DEA agent uses the check to pay for the newly available spinal surgery for his younger co-worker who was paralyzed during a shooting in his last CIA adventure gone wrong, for which he feels responsible. The surgery is a big success and as the female agent walks out of the rehab center, she tells her former boss that she has gone over his head to his DEA bosses and been approved for undercover work to take down Aurelio.

Aurelio narrates that once again, he gets set up by a beautiful woman and didn't see it coming. The female agent, Corrine, now gorgeous and sexily clad (undoubtedly having studied photos of now deceased Monica, Esperanza, Mabel and Emiliana) arranges to meet him at a nightclub where he falls for her hook line and sinker. Three days after meeting her, he narrates, he takes her to the ranch for lunch or dinner to meet the family. The camera shows everyone hugging Corinne, as she hugs the children, and they all laugh and appear to be one big happy family. Then Aurelio takes her hunting in the now infamous forest by his ranch.(He has his bow and arrow and she has a rifle). They are running through the forest and she catches up with him. He moves into position to shoot a deer and she points and a shot whizzes by, directly at Aurelio. The screen then says, "To be Continued."

Was this the most far-fetched ending of the series yet? Yes, but I think its because of the one hour time constraint. With two or three hours, the final story would have make more sense and been more credible. Also, I've only recapped the finale, there are many more story arcs and characters this season I haven't recapped in this post.

I really hope the new female cop Corinne doesn't stick around long. She is grating in the way of Emiliana and Mabel, both of whom overstayed their welcome. In five seasons of this show, the only three women who had an affair with Aurelio I didn't enjoy watching were them and one named Victoria. I think Emiliana was poorly cast, Mabel was one-dimensional and didn't transition well from El Chema to this series, and Victoria was just one of those story lines that made no sense.

The show has a lot of stories about cops, military officials and politicians, a few of whom are crusaders and most of whom are corrupt. I don't care for any of them.

The MS-13 characters Skinny and Baby Girl were among the best actors in the show. Praise is also due the make up artist who spent two hours a day drawing Skinny's tattoos on him. Unfortunately, Baby Girl got killed several episodes ago. Skinny was so distraught, it was touching to see these violent thugs and cousins protect each other the way they did. And warped as it sounds, Baby Girl jumped through every gender stereotype to be more capable and ruthless at killing than her male counterparts, fiercely loyal, respected by all the sicarios and the Colombian, Mexican and Venezuelan drug lords.

Two others who got killed I wish had not: Felina's right hand man Suta. He was as loyal as his predecessor, whose tongue Felina had cut out when he negligently said something he shouldn't have and continued to loyally guard her until he was killed in a shootout.

Loose ends not wrapped up that I wonder about: What happens to Skinny? To Grenas, the computer hacker and surveillance whiz whose can find anyone, including inside or out of the Mexican police and military?

There have been over 100 recurring characters in this series. It's impossible to recap five seasons of them in one article, nor have I seen anyone try. The amazing thing to me is that it has retained the original plot and while adding and killing off characters, hasn't morphed into something unrecognizable.

Far from glamorizing drug-traffickers, as I've written numerous times, these shows should be more of a deterrent. All of the traffickers, while rich, die, become hunted and alienate their spouses and children. They are all miserable, and the series show that. A few survive, but none walk away a winner. There's nothing to emulate here. The real story is not the traffickers themselves, who begin life quite poor and uneducated, with few opportunities to to advance in life by legitimate endeavors, but the corrupt police, politicians and military in Mexico, Central and South America that claim to fight trafficking on the one hand while taking money to be on the trafficker's payroll and acting as hitmen when needed, the failed U.S. Kingpin strategy of targeting and over-funding efforts to take down suppliers instead of concentrating on Americans' insatiable demand for drugs, and casting the DEA in the role of global holy warriors. Original Post

Tonight is the season finale of Senor de los Cielos V. Last year's finale was three hours long -- tonight's is only one hour. What a hole in my nightly TV viewing it will make (it's been on 5 nights a week since June.)

From the preview, it seems "El Cabo", a favorite of past seasons, will return for a scene or two tonight. I'm no longer convinced Monica will die....I think there is a chance she may outwit them all and escape with her son. Monica and Felina are the two characters I care most about living through the finale (and Aurelio, of course.) Watching Aurelio last night take out five or so of his worst enemies was great, as was Felina finally putting a bullet through her conniving ex-husband's brain. I'm sure I wasn't the only one cheering.

I also hope they don't kill off Rutila, Aurelio's daughter who has a son with Chema Venegas tonight. If I were the writers, I'd have her grab her kid and run off to safety with Monica and Monica's kid. Monica and Aurelio's kid is adorable.

I can't imagine the writers would kill Monica, Rutila and Super Javi in one night. Especially if they let the evil Mabel live. (Mabel also has a kid with El Chema that he does not know about is not in this season.) I don't see how Aurelio could forgive Mabel for murdering his most recent squeeze Pilar by shooting her up with bad heroin in Paris and claiming she overdosed.

There are several very loose strands I can't see them tying up in one hour: Omar Teran's Mexican presidency and the reporter determined to take him and Aurelio down; The DEA/former CIA agent's paralyzed partner who needs beaucoup bucks for a spinal surgery procedure; Tata who is dying from MS but just went to a tribal healer last night; Ismael and Carmen, and of course the evil Tony Pastrana.

All we know from the previews of tonight's finale is there will be another massive shootout.

Who will be the one to kill Pastrana? Aurelio? Monica? Rutila?

El Chema's right hand man Toro (Bull) made a fifteen second appearance last night and I'm sure I wasn't the only one cheering. He was picking up "El Chemito" -- Chema's son he doesn't know he has -- to meet him. Since El Chemito is all grown up and clearly wants in the business, maybe we'll get a "El Chema Segundo Temporada" after all.

I think the only way they can tie all this up is if the last five minutes are a recap told five years in the future with a narrator telling us what happened to everyone.

There are several media reports that the show will return for season 6, but I'm not convinced. There were 95 episodes this season compared with past seasons which numbered around 71 to 75. I'm afraid they combined season 5 and 6, and tonight will be the end of the show forever. What a loss. (Added: There will be a season 6 in 2018.)

Even if you've never seen the show and don't speak Spanish, you can view tonight's episode on Telemundo at 9 pm MT (not sure of the other time zones) on broadcast or cable TV.

Update: I have seen all 438 episodes of this show, most more than once. I have never seen a show with this many characters in recurring roles. The set designers, makeup artists and costume designers deserve a lot of praise. The sets and especially the ranches and mansions are beautiful and authentic looking, from the couches, objects on the coffee table, crystal shot glasses and dinner place settings, breakfasts and more. I read an interview with one of the set designers in season two that said everything is real in the houses and the only thing they didn't do was have the water turned on in the faucets.

Is this my favorite Narco-Series? It's certainly one I've looked forward to watching five nights a week for five seasons, but I can't pick a favorite. La Reina del Sur, El Cartel Season I and II (El Cartel de los Sapos), El Capo (Seasons 1 and 2, Season 3 not so much) and Pablo Escobar: Patron de Mal may be better. From a production standpoint, I'd say this and La Reina del Sur are the most fun to watch. I'll leave the final word to the inimitable Fernanda Castilla, aka Monica Robles, who posted this letter on her Instagram account after the finale aired and her character was killed. (This is the Google translated version so it's reads a bit awkward):

Five years ago I did casting for a character that changed my career and my life: #MonicaRobles and tonight I say goodbye to her with all the love and gratitude that exists in my soul. Having to say ADIOS has been one of the saddest processes I have ever experienced, but today I decide to stay alone with all the wonderful things that she gave me. I leave full of gratitude and lessons.

Thanks @telemundo @argostv @joshuamintztva @ marthagodoy2000 for giving me the opportunity to interpret this character. To my directors and photographers of 5 seasons and especially to you Danny Gavidia for believing and trusting in my work always. To the production team, direction, staff, makeup, props, lighting, stunts, costumes, catering and my dear cameramen: Thanks for teaming and teaching me so much! Thanks to the comrades actors and actresses who let me create and share with them the set and among which I take FRIENDS for real and forever!

To my adored ones #Cantaloas @carmenaub @seara_sabrina @galamontes for living together the most difficult and the most incredible moments of this trip. To my boy @gabrielbonillaaguila for being the most spectacular son I could have! Thank you @josejuanmeraz for playing #Ramon, the most loyal of men for Monica, but above all for being the huge friend you are to me. I could not have done it without you, ever! Thanks @rafaelamayanunez for the moments of complicity, for these 5 years of #MonicayAurelio, for what we created together with # LosDueñosdelTiempo

And on all the people, Thanks to the Public !!!!! to those who have followed this project for 5 seasons, those who have loved and hated "La Robles", the women and men who have enjoyed my work, those who have made memes or videos with the phrases of #cabronacomoMonicaRobles. To all those who this character made question, empower or simply excited: Thank you! Are you who my delivery of all these years was worth it and who have made me learn the most important lesson: Respect, love and the place you earn with work, DO NOT REMOVE ANYONE. Now that "WHAT KILLS YOU, MAKES YOU STRONGER". Thanks and Goodbye Monica Robles 1 DAY AGO

R.I.P. Monica Robles.

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