When Teresa is kidnapped by Maria's family, she must find a way to escape and get back to Texas
Queen of the South has been putting the pedal to the metal ever since the series premiere. “Esta Cosa Que Es Nuestra” continues that hot streak, even if it does take both Teresa and Camila out of Texas. Such a detour typically results in a bit of a breather on any other show, but not here. “Esta Cosa Que Es Nuestra” is a thrilling, intense episode that paves the way for this season’s final confrontations.
The reason Camila is drawn back to Mexico is because Epifanio wants to keep her safe — his words, and definitely not hers. He says she needs to be by his side until this whole thing with the Birdman is sorted out. She’s packed and ready to go, insisting this isn’t an admission of defeat, but rather a temporary pause. When she gets there, everything changes, and we get more insight into the mind of Camila Vargas. More on that later, though. We have a kidnapping to get to.
While James does his best to track down Teresa, going to the church and then perusing security footage from the gas station across the street, Teresa finds her way to Mexico with Maria and her son. The warm welcome Maria receives is quickly abandoned when Manny, Maria’s husband — or maybe brother or friend, it wasn’t really clear — points a gun at Teresa and the men kidnap her.
Back at the farmhouse that belongs to Maria’s family, her father questions Teresa. He wants to know who she works for and who is after Maria. After some hesitation, and a little intimidation thanks to threats of possible dismemberment, she tells him it’s the Vargas cartel — and, more specifically, Camila. The family knows all about them, since they killed Maria’s brother, and his father has been waiting to get revenge ever since.
While the family is debating whether to kill Teresa — Maria insists she’s not like the Vargas clan, but her father doesn’t want to risk her giving away Maria’s location — Teresa makes it to the bathroom, where Maria’s son helps her escape through the window. Teresa steals the family’s car and disappears. For all the time Queen of the South spends showing people doing terrible things, this is a moment of reprieve, one where viewers see good people trying to do the right thing.
Meanwhile, Camila is feeling nearly at home back in Mexico. Her and Epifanio get it on upon her arrival — the wait staff hilariously puts in earbuds to avoid hearing the, um, ruckus — and then talk business. Essentially, they both come clean about competing with and hiding things from one another. It’s a lone moment of connection between the two, and it gives us some relevant insight into what made these two such a good pairing before Camila expanded the business into America.
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Still, there’s something rotten at the core of their relationship. You see, Epifanio wants something out of Camila she can’t offer: complacence and obedience. He invites her to a fundraiser that evening, as the election is only two weeks away, but Camila can see right through the invite and her husband’s relative flattery. She knows he’s using her as arm candy, as a way to present himself as a family man to the voters.
Camila isn’t interested in that role. She can barely muster up the energy for trite conversation and pleasantries at the fundraiser. She’s “home,” but it’s not where she belongs. She’s realizing she needs to be on her own, free from Epifanio’s manipulations and running her own operation. The whole sequence at the fundraiser is structured to give us insight into Camila’s character. She’s a woman finding her independence and strength later in life, removed from her husband. Now that she understands what she really wants, she’s not ready to give it up. That’s bad news for Epifanio, but good news for Camila.
With Teresa having escaped the farmhouse, she goes looking for exactly what brought her to Mexico: the notebook that includes something she can use against the cartel. She makes her way to a gas station in Culiacán and asks for a map to scout the possible location of the tire shop. But the cops show up while she’s there; Maria’s family must be looking for her and reported the car stolen.
Teresa manages to sneak out the back before being spotted, and from there she finds her way to the tire shop. Panic sets in immediately: She can’t find the notebook. She looks everywhere, but it seems to be gone. Someone sneaks into the bathroom and she hides in the stall, wielding a wrench, expecting a threat to her life. After all, that’s what her life is all about now: confronting and running from violence.
Luckily, the man means no harm. Rather, he found the notebook when a pipe burst shortly after her first arrival at the tire shop and he’s been waiting to see who would come back for it. The surprising part? He has no interest in blackmailing Teresa or ratting her out. Instead, he delivers a warning. He says the book is filled with things that could get someone killed, so she better be careful. Come on, Queen of the South, stop teasing us! To paraphrase Brad Pitt’s character in Se7en, WHAT’S IN THE NOTEBOOK?!
Anyway, Teresa takes off with the book, but it isn’t long before she’s captured by the police and delivered back to Maria’s family. After she’s thrown in the trunk of a car and driven around, she’s certain her death is right around the corner… but not so fast. The father actually lets her go. He chalks up his change of heart to God’s judgment, but who knows what else was at play. Either way, Teresa is allowed to return to Texas, where a whole lot of stuff has been going down in her absence.
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You see, James ends up finding the other car — which, as it turns out, belongs to Ricardo, the dealer Brenda’s been working with. James confronts him at the motel and has him call Brenda. Then, in the episode’s best scene, he threatens to kill Ricardo and the other man if Brenda doesn’t give up Teresa and her whereabouts. The threat sets Brenda off — she tells James no one talks to her like that, especially not a “gringo,” and he can do whatever he has to do. There’s no way she’s backing down. Brenda has been kind of a minor player this season, but her badassery has never been in question. It’s nice to see her get some time to shine in “Esta Cosa Que Es Nuestra.”
Of course, James isn’t a total stone-cold killer, so he waits. Teresa gives him a call and they meet up. She says the maid is gone, that it’s over and done with. What’s intriguing about the relationship developing here is that James clearly cares for Teresa and even wants her to remain “pure,” despite knowing Camila will come after her with everything she has if she’s betrayed.
So when Camila calls and asks about the maid, he lies. He says the maid is dead and everything is fine. Can the lie hold? Will James be forced to give Teresa up at some point? Those are big questions, and they’ll certainly linger over the last few episodes of the season.
But back to the conflicts. As the end of the season approaches, the Vargas cartel could be on the verge of war, yet Camila seems to have the upper hand for now. She’s convinced Epifanio to double her shipments, and while she’s been told Birdman is protected, she’s not listening. She tells James they’re going to kill him.
“Esta Cosa Que Es Nuestra” is a near-perfect episode. It’s thrilling in its own right: Teresa evades everyone, Brenda holds her own against James, and the conflicts that will define the final stretch of the season are also set in motion. By heading back to Mexico for a single episode, the show is able to shine a light on some intriguing character dynamics — especially between Camila and Epifanio, and Teresa, Brenda and James — while also highlighting the far-reaching impact of the people Teresa works for. Queen of the South has spent a lot of time with the Vargas cartel, so much so that it’s easy to see them outside the role of “villains.” What “Esta Cosa Que Es Nuestra” shows, especially through the scenes with Maria’s family, is the cartel is and always will be dangerous — and Teresa’s trouble is likely just beginning.