The real story of Griselda Blanco had a cinematic ending. After being sentenced to three 20-year concurrent life sentences, Blanco was granted a compassionate release from prison and was deported from the U.S. to Medellín, Colombia. Eight years after her release, she was assassinated while exiting a butcher shop with her pregnant daughter-in-law. Her own death mimicked the drive-by shootings she was notorious for orchestrating.
It’s exactly the sort of finale viewers have come to expect from the team behind “Narcos” and “Narcos: Mexico.” But that’s not how “Griselda” ends.
Instead, the Netflix limited series ends with Griselda Blanco (Sofía Vergara) alone on a beach. Still in her prison attire, she forlornly stares out at the ocean as she contemplates the horrifying news she learned just hours earlier. Three of her sons — Dixon, Ozzy and Uber — were murdered days before her release.
Executive producer Eric Newman called this final moment “the greatest tragedy of all,” and what makes this particular crime drama “unique.”
“When you see a male trafficker, as they always are with the exception of Griselda Blanco, they die in a blaze of glory or maybe they go to jail. Along the way, maybe they lose a son,” Newman told TheWrap. “It’s not the same for a mother, who sets out at the beginning of our story with the most relatable motive of all — which is to protect her children, provide for her children — and in doing so, she loses them.”
“She had good intentions,” series star Sofía Vergara told TheWrap, pointing to her character’s desire to protect her children and care for her family and friends.
“At the end, I felt like she lost all of that. It was all about herself and competing with these men in this horrible business, and she needed to be punished. You cannot give a character like that a really happy ending,” Vergara said. “It’s very much a tragedy.”
“We all know how the story ends with Griselda, but there’s always something different with Andy [Baiz],” Alberto Guerra, who plays Griselda’s third husband Darío, told TheWrap. “He’s always trying to find a different way to tell the story.”
For his part, director and executive producer Andrés Baiz believed that ending Blanco’s story with an assassination would have been “commonplace” and “cliché.”
“I found that this finale was much more tragic. She’s now alone in prison, but emotionally, she’s devastated. Her sons are not there anymore,” Baiz said. “We thought that was much more tragic and that we could design something that was much more, I would say, poetic or different.”
According to Juliana Aidén Martinez, the actress behind Miami-Dade P.D. officer June Hawkins, “a lot of thought” was put into Griselda’s final conversation with her character, during which she learned the fate of her sons. To prepare for the role, Martinez researched the real Hawkins and met with the former officer, who was instrumental in ending the reign of several narcos.
“It was two women seeing each other, really for the first time outside of their main social identities,” Martinez said of the scene. “One of the things that’s very special about this series is that you have these two women experiencing somewhat parallel journeys.”
Martinez explained that while June chooses the side of justice and “following her gut,” Griselda chooses a life of crime and starts to listen to and utilize the tactics of the men around her. “That ascension is her downfall,” she said.
“Griselda” is now streaming on Netflix.