WARNING: The following contains spoilers for all seasons of Narcos and Narcos: Mexico.
In three seasons of Narcos, Netflix brought the gritty, action-packed story about the Colombian drug cartels of the '80s to life, with Pablo Escobar (Wagner Moura) as its centerpiece. It detailed the stories of his associates and rivals, as well as how the DEA eventually took these South American drug lords down.
With the success of that series, Netflix decided to embark on Narcos: Mexico, initially envisioned to be a fourth season of the original series. But as it unfolds, we see Narcos: Mexico isn't a sequel at all; instead, this spotlight on illegal drug trafficking in Central America is actually part of a shared universe.
The Family's Conundrum
The Mexican chapter focuses on Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo (Diego Luna) rising to become his country's Escobar. He develops a new strain of marijuana with his best friend, Rafa (Tenoch Huerta) and wife (Fernanda Urrejola), and wants to leave their hometown of Sinaloa -- which is constantly under military threat -- to sell in Guadalajara, where he sees opportunity.
And so, he kills off the heads of the Sinaloa and Guadalajara cartels, buys out the cops in Guadalajara, unites all the cartels across the country and forms "La Familia." Eventually, he gets high-level politicians in Mexico City to buy in, along with federal agents, truly creating an empire. However, as they evade the DEA, Miguel realizes there's potential to traffic something rarer and even more lucrative: cocaine. While his business partners approve, Rafa and Maria don't, as they believe they're straying from their initial plan. Nonetheless, a stubborn Miguel makes his move without their consent.
The Cali Cartel
Initially, Miguel had one cardinal rule to follow -- not to deal cocaine. This was laid out to him by the Falcon, who ran Tijuana, but who liked him and allowed him to sell weed there. But the ever-greedy Miguel forgets about that promise and goes to the Cali cartel (the subject of Narcos Season 3) to broker his first cocaine partnership.
In Southern Colombia, he meets with familiar faces from that season -- Pacho (Alberto Ammann), Chepe (Pêpê Rapazote) and Miguel (Francisco Denis) -- to seal the pact. Seeing as the DEA killed them off at the end of Season 3, it's clear now that Mexico is a companion series running alongside the first three seasons of Narcos. Exactly where, though, is made a bit clearer after Miguel convinces his Cali brethren to use his "La Familia" as distributors in new pastures.
The Powerful Pablo Returns
Just as Miguel is boarding his plane back to Mexico, he's intercepted and secreted to a mysterious location. There, we see the man who abducted him is none other than Pablo Escobar himself. Pablo's annoyed by the upstart Mexican version of himself, but being a businessman he quizzes Miguel on the Cali deal, making it known that an extra revenue stream for his rivals isn't something he wants to hear.
But rather than kill him, Pablo seizes a chance to make some extra cash by allowing Miguel to live if he secretly distributes coke for him. It's not a hard deal to accept, given it's literally a life-or-death scenario, and Miguel agrees to this second proposition, albeit under slight duress. It may be a cameo, but seeing as Pablo died at the end of Season 2 and the Cali cartel was looking for extra income in Season 1 (due to Pablo's crew outshining them in the market), it's clear Narcos: Mexico occurs during Narcos' debut season.
What confirms this is the DEA setup in Mexico featuring Michael Peña's Kiki Camarena was seen to be in its nascent stages, which is exactly how the DEA's Colombian arm was in Narcos Season 1, with Pedro Pascal's Javier Peña and Boyd Holbrook's Steve Murphy now getting their movement started.
Seasons 1-3 of Narcos, and the first season of Narcos: Mexico, are all available to stream right now on Netflix.