Spoilers ahead for Seasons 1-3 of El Marginal. The award-winning hit Argentinian prison drama is returning to Netflix Friday for its third season, which plunges viewers right back into the gritty, violent world of Buenos Aires’ San Onofre prison. The show finished airing on domestic television in late August, setting off a flurry of speculation about the possibility of a Season 4 of El Marginal, a possibility heavily implied by the open-ended finale.
According to Argentinian news outlet Rumbos, series co-creator Sebastián Ortega has already promised a fourth installment will be released in 2021, again with ex-cop Miguel Palacios (played by Juan Minujín) at the center of the sprawling, Byzantine saga.
Fans of Season 1 will remember the series kicked off with the story of Palacios, jailed for a double homicide and compelled to infiltrate prison gangs by a corrupt judge, desperate to rescue his kidnapped daughter from the clutches of a ruthless gang. It was an opportunity for Palacios to earn his freedom. But even for an ex-cop, San Onofre was a dangerous assignment. Adopting the alias of Pastor Peña, Palacios struggled to navigate the dilapidated prison yard, controlled by the vicious crime boss Borges.
El Marginal III, as this season was billed in Argentina, finished airing on August 27 within the country. A show producer has since confirmed that filming for Season 4 will take place this January and February, but already some hints about the storyline are leaking out. Interestingly, there also have been rumors of an El Marginal spin-off series based around the mercurial character of Borges’ younger brother Diosito, first introduced in Season 2’s prequel story, which sets the clock back three years prior to the original season. It’s a move that upset fans eager to see what happens next, but comments from series star Martina Gusmán (Emma) suggest that the time-jumping series will finally catch up to itself in Season 4. She’s told reporters that her character will be reunited with love interest Peña.
Netflix began airing El Marginal internationally in 2017, but the show had been winning awards for its cinematic portrayal of Argentinian prison life since its initial 2016 broadcast, including the domestic Golden Martín Fierro and Tato awards, and a Spanish Platino Award for best television series. The show uses the ruins of a decommissioned Buenos Aires prison called Cárcel de Caseros to realistically bring to life the overcrowded cell blocks and tent-city jail yard of San Onofre. Which is not to say the program is without detractors. The show has also been criticized for its excessive violence and glorification of organized crime.
There was some concern that the volatility of the Spanish-language television market could threaten future seasons of El Marginal. Underground Producciones, the company that makes the program for Argentinian public television, was recently acquired by Spanish-language behemoth Telemundo, with Ortega joining the global studio’s development and creativity team.
Telemundo, in turn, is owned by NBCUniversal, which is planning its own big push into streaming for 2020 with Peacock, a platform to compete with Netflix. So while a Season 4 of El Marginal appears certain, it's less clear where American audiences will tune in to see it.