Look, we know that at some point, Teresa Mendoza becomes Queen of a massive drug empire. We know her future involves gold high heels and a lot of money. It also involves getting shot, but hey, let’s stay positive. Still, as relatively promising as Teresa’s future looks — again, let’s ignore the whole getting-shot thing for now — she has a long way to go.
That’s evident in the cold open to “Cuarenta Minutos,” which gives us quite the look into the underbelly of Camila Vargas’ expanding drug empire. Everyone is locked up in a cage, girls are being force-fed drugs to keep them numb and complacent before they’re sold for sex, and Teresa encounters the butt-end of an assault rifle when she tries to get the attention of a guard. Teresa’s rise isn’t exactly going to be a walk in the park.
As if things couldn’t get worse, Teresa meets a woman who’s looking to take care of her. She says she’s a mule for Camila and that such a role gives her more perks and more money, so she tries to take care of the others. That all sounds great, until the woman dies right in front of Teresa, the cache of drugs she was keeping in her body dissolving and killing her. Teresa watches as the men cut her open and salvage the 23 balloons; that’s about all Teresa can handle. She makes a run for it, refusing to accept this life — but she can’t escape.
Her attempt at escaping brings Camila back to the warehouse; she was just trying to enjoy a quinceañera and get a little family time. Alas, business calls. Camila sits down with Teresa and immediately reveals why she has the upper hand. She calls Don Vargas right in front of Teresa, and the conversation reveals Camila hasn’t mentioned capturing her. Don Vargas is still looking for Teresa, and Camila wants to know why she’s so valued. Teresa doesn’t give anything up, but when Camila orders her men to drug Teresa and sell her body, she makes a compromise — she offers to deliver the drugs that killed the woman.
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It’s a risky move, but she’s out of options. What follows is a collection of scenes that are tense and terrifying, and they demonstrate how Teresa is in this game to save her life. She’s going to do whatever it takes to stay alive, so she’s swallowing 23 balloons in an excruciating scene and then heading to the airport with one of Camila’s men.
Meanwhile, back in Mexico, Brenda is freaking out. She’s on the run from Vargas’ goons and frantically calling Teresa, but she’s having no luck getting in touch. She has a single moment of relief when a deliveryman named Oscar, who seems to know Brenda, picks her up moments before she’s spotted by one of Vargas’ men. Unfortunately, her safety only lasts so long, as Vargas’ men end up finding Oscar, killing him, and tracking Brenda’s phone. Brenda is still alive, but the question is, for how long?
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