It Starts On The Page: Read ‘Griselda’ E5 Script “Paradise Lost” By Doug Miro, Giovanna Sarquis & Ingrid Escajeda

Editor’s note: Deadline’s It Starts on the Page features standout limited or anthology series scripts in 2024 Emmy contention.

Narcos and Narcos: Mexico showrunner Eric Newman followed up the popular Netflix crime franchise with Griselda, starring Sofía Vergara as notorious Colombian drug lord Griselda Blanco. The six-episode limited series premiered Jan. 25 and topped Netflix’s Weekly Top 10 rankings for three straight weeks.

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In the series’ penultimate episode “Paradise Lost,” directed by Andrés Baiz, Griselda (Vergara) continues her ascension to La Madrina status. But as she is celebrating the high life with a lavish birthday party for her third husband Darío Sepúlveda’s (Alberto Guerra), unbeknownst to her, law enforcement is hot on her trail.

The celebration is interrupted when Griselda’s most trusted men discover a misstep that could blow the operation. Also, cracks begin to form in her personal life as her husband reveals he’s looking for her to be more a mother and a wife and less Cocaine Cowgirl. Unfortunately for him, she’s exactly where she wants to be amid the drugs, her people and the chaos that fuels her more than any illegal narcotic ever could.

In the introduction to their “Paradise Lost” script, Griselda co-creators/executive producers Doug Miro, also a Narcos and Narcos: Mexico alum, and Ingrid Escajeda as well as writer Giovanna Sarquis explain why they decided to have the episode take place over the course of a single night, focusing on one event that plays an important role in Griselda’s tragic story as she descends into paranoia.

‘Griselda’ is a tragedy. But there’s no singular tipping point where it all falls apart. Her story is a death by a thousand cuts. And the last cut happens here.

We always wanted the episode to be about her paranoia. A fear both true and imagined borne from the endless battles she’s fought to get to the top. As a woman in the drug business, Griselda’s adversaries are endless and part of her ‘flaw’ is inescapable, apparent the moment she enters a room. That wears you out eventually, seeps into how you see the world and elevates every fear. It’s also why we designed her ‘fall’ more as an unraveling. Even as she ‘rises’, she’s pulled apart at the seams — right up to Arturo’s death at the end of episode 4, a lasting wound which sets the stage for this.

The fact that this episode is a culmination of a long build- up led us to the idea which defined its structure — that it could take place on one night, around one event. There were many great party scenes on ‘Narcos’ but never an entire episode devoted to one. Here it made perfect sense. In real life, Griselda unraveled in an escalating series of parties which descended into drug fueled deviance (and did give Dario a golden gun!) More importantly, we felt her building fear would feel more claustrophobic and potent over a single night and in one location. Also the party, celebrating Dario’s birthday, seemed the perfect way to establish the joy of being on top, the warmth with her family and friends, only to become something uglier — a manifestation of the monster pursuing her, released here by her son’s behavior, spiraling suspicions of her rivals and, of course, that free base pipe. In the end, we see her consumed by the power she sought and the fear which drove her to seek it. Her last mistake, the final ‘cut’, is the most damning. The identity Griselda always claimed to cherish most was being a mother, and Johnny Chucho’s death undoes that facade while foreshadowing the price she’ll eventually pay for all she’s done.

Of course, there’s one other benefit of the party — it is a universal and visceral event which further roots our audience in Griselda’s shoes. Maybe you’ve been to a party that got a little out of hand? Where you woke up wondering ‘what the f happened?’ Ok, not quite like this! Still, the point is we all want to be at this party — until we really don’t. And that shift is how we hope to give the viewer a little taste of all the ‘careful what you wish for’ Griselda is eating.

So that’s how one episode built around one event came to be a singular, emotional and hopefully thrilling snapshot of Griselda’s journey. A celebration of her family and the mountain she’s climbed which becomes a wildly disconcerting drug fueled paranoid thriller.

Click below to read the script.

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