Queen of the South continued its final season with 5×02 “Me Llevo Manhattan,” an episode that’s less setup and more actual plot, with a twist or two, a lot of boss moves by Teresa and even more morality questions than usual – for both the characters and us, the viewers, as the show starts to set up the endgame, whatever that is.
Since Queen of the South, one of the only Latina-helmed shows currently on TV, is ending this year, Fangirlish will be here all season to celebrate/commemorate/mourn alongside our friends at LatinaMedia.Co, as we try to give the show the coverage it deserves – weekly episode recaps, filled with our hot takes, commentary, and, of course, Latina perspective. Let’s do this!
LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ, FANGIRLISH EIC: This was an intense episode! And it set up some very interesting moral questions, what with Pote’s reaction to the prison scheme. It’s understandable, and a part of me was as mad as he was – these are kids, often Black/Brown kids with absolutely no choice – but is it fair of us to judge only parts of what’s morally wrong with what’s going on? Teresa isn’t exactly a saint, but we’re rooting for her. And I think part of that can be tied to not just how good the show is at making her relatable, but to what things we consider crossing the line, and what we’re willing to look the other way on. I can’t say I felt bad at what Pote did, the question is …should we have?
CRISTINA ESCOBAR, LATINAMEDIA.CO CO-FOUNDER: I hear you but I have to admit, I was cheering Pote on! I guess the difference for me is the hypocrisy. Drug dealers don’t pretend to be doing the community a service. I mean that’s why those things are illegal (even if perhaps they shouldn’t be). But the judge, the prison contractor, and their cronies – they pretend like what they do helps us. AND they have other options. They’re not doing it to survive like Teresa was, at least at the beginning. They’re doing it for more power, more money, more control when they already have plenty. And their actions feed into this racist narrative that people of color, young men in particular, are dangerous. That’s what made Pote (and me!) so mad – they’re funneling kids who “never had a chance” into this life, the one of crime and drugs and it’s just racist, wrong, and WAY over the line (in the way that figuring out how to get rich in a stacked system isn’t).
LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ: It’s also worth going into the Dominicans, and how it seemed like the show was setting up this Latinx solidarity, in a way. If we – and Teresa – are rooting for someone here, it’s gotta be them, right? Plus, in the long run, this would seem like the plan that would cause fewer headaches for Teresa, who we know would like to go legit with her business. Kostya isn’t the type of person she wants to be in business with long-term, if she can help it.
CRISTINA ESCOBAR: Yes, I was glad to see that. You know, last season it was super obvious from the beginning that Teresa should have partnered with Marcel and not the judge. Instead, she had to learn the hard way. The show didn’t delve into but I always wondered if her bias might have had something to do with it – there’s plenty of racism in Latinx culture after all. Plus the fact that she always dates white guys… I don’t know. But I am glad the show creators are setting up these Black men to be in solidarity with her (even if everyone’s a cartel member of one stripe or another).
LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ: Which leads us to Teresa, just in general. She is the Queen, that’s literally the name of the show, but she was showing it over and over in this episode, boss move after boss move, and there was something about the way she seemed so sure about every one of her moves that was amazing to see, especially considering where she started. It was especially striking when she basically laid out her plans to James, and yet, despite the clear signs he’s one of the few people she trusts, made it clear the two of them together wasn’t something that could happen. Maybe in another life, she said, but not this one.
CRISTINA ESCOBAR: I kept thinking how far she’s come! She started this journey as a gutter rat and now she’s really the QUEEN. I love to see it. One of the things I love is how she owns her power, has full confidence in her ability to make and implement her plans, even if the men around her constantly underestimate her. Do so at your peril Boaz (and James)!
LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ: Ironically, in regards to James, but also in general, this episode made me feel like some happy endings might be possible. Teresa told James the two of them couldn’t be, but since she was the one who reached out and kissed him first, I’m not sure that’s what she really wants, just what she thinks is best. And I’m more and more convinced that James is just around because he loves her. Plus, if Pote and Kelly Ann can be parents – parents, then maybe some happy endings are possible?
CRISTINA ESCOBAR: Maybe! Pote’s whole speech about how there’s no place for kids “in this business” was a nice setup for Kelly Anne’s reveal. He’s going to be a great Dad! And yeah, I definitely got the vibe from Teresa that she was trying to protect James. Everyone around her dies and so her way to keep him safe is to push him away. But obviously, she wants him, even if she thinks she’d have to be “in another life” to make it happen.
LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ: We can’t end this without bringing up Boaz, who’s about to mess it all up when Teresa had it absolutely handled. I guess there’s gotta be some drama in the season, but it’s kind of annoying that she had it all under control and yet, even in season 5, she still has to deal with men who think they know better than her. Especially when, for the first time, I’m actually clinging to the idea that Teresa might be able to find some happiness, after all, as long as everything works out.
CRISTINA ESCOBAR: I just wanted to scream at Boaz, “she has it handled!” But if the show has taught me anything, it’s to trust in Teresa to figure it out. I guess we’ll just have to wait until next week to see how. But whatever happens, I hope she gets some of his hats.
LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ: LOL, yes. I just wished she didn’t always have to clean up other people’s messes! But that would be a boring show, I guess.
Queen of the South airs Wednesdays on USA.