'Narcos: Mexico': Teresa Ruiz on Where the Story Could Go in Season 3 (Exclusive)
By Jennifer Drysdale
As one kingpin falls, another will rise.
The season two finale of Narcos: Mexico saw the arrest of Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo (Diego Luna) as the DEA's Operation Leyenda, led by Walt Breslin (Scoot McNairy), came to a close. In his final scene, Gallardo warned Breslin that his arrest would lead to factions in his empire, with new cartels emerging and new drug lords -- like Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán (Alejandro Edda) and Amado Carrillo Fuentes (José María Yazpik) -- rising up.
Netflix has yet to renew the series for a third season, but Teresa Ruiz, whose character, Isabella Bautista, lost her Tijuana connection but kept her life, sees a future for Narcos: Mexico.
"Narcos moves so fast, and the war on drugs is just so vast, and there are so many things you can focus on," she told ET, noting that with the original series, three seasons seemed to appropriately conclude the story in Colombia, but they've only just hit the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the story of Mexico.
"It feels like it could go on and on and on for so many seasons, and you wouldn't finish telling this story. There's so much that has happened, that's still happening. Every day there's something in the papers that it just changes everything," Ruiz noted. "It's just so much."
Exploring El Chapo and Carrillo's storylines seems like a natural fit for Narcos: Mexico, while Isabella, a composite character, could go in several different directions. Whatever comes next for her, Ruiz said her character is "not going to stop."
"I think she's just going to continue to be difficult until things get easier," she shared, referencing Isabella's biting line to Enedina Arellano Félix (Mayra Hermosillo), after she cuts off her partnership with the Tijuana Cartel: "I've been difficult my whole life."
"She's been difficult her whole life because she's fighting for principle. She's not fighting for money. A lot of women are fighting for security of their family or to have more drugs or whatever. [Isabella] is fighting for principle," Ruiz said.
"That scene really, really has it. Especially when they give her the check, because in this partnership that she creates with Enedina, she puts her heart and her belief and puts herself out there, and then she ends up being betrayed because the other woman is not in the same position as her. The other woman has a family. She has much more of a privilege than Isabella does. She's not as vulnerable in the world," the actress explained. "I feel like because of that same struggle, when she gives her the money, and Isabella says, 'You know we didn't do this for this. You know you didn't do it for money,' I think that line is the core line of what Isabella is and what she stands for, and why people root for her."
The fact that viewers root for her character is an interesting concept to Ruiz, who knows Isabella is hardly the moral compass of the show.
"Everybody is kind of like, 'I shouldn't be liking this girl, but I like her.' And I think in the case of Isabella, it's because her struggle is so universal to the female struggle," she posited. "If we take it out of the context of the business she is in, what she's trying to do ... there's a power imbalance between men and women, especially in that world, and we see it everywhere. We see it in every kind of profession. And one way that many women can feel like they're more protected is to be successful on their own, to be financially and socially independent, and that way they're not going to be relying on the will of men."
"So, for Isabella, and for a lot of women, if you're your own boss, and you're not scared that you're going to be underestimated or sexually harassed -- and that's the struggle I feel everybody relates to -- that's why they root for her," Ruiz added.
Playing Isabella over the last two seasons has been an "incredible" experience for the actress. "She has a very feminine mind in the way her intelligence works and how she handles herself around men and a world that has a system that is designed for men to thrive. How she jumps over those hoops with such an intelligence and such a strategy, it's very interesting," she described. "It's very nice to play. It's really fun."
"You know what I feel about her? I feel that her surge of power is not necessarily about being more powerful than men, but she's trying to secure a place for herself," Ruiz shared. "And we can all relate to that."
Season two of Narcos: Mexico is now streaming on Netflix.