While Teresa tries to secure her and Brenda's safety, Camila and James turn on Epifanio and the Jimenez cartel
For much of its first season, Queen of the South has been about survival. Teresa and Brenda are doing everything they can to stay alive after Epifanio’s men killed their partners, while Camila is working to keep her Texas operation alive despite her husband’s attempts to derail her. “Punto sin Retorno” shifts gears. It’s still about survival, but more than that, it’s about the consequences that come from trying your damndest to survive.
You see, it’s only a matter of time before everything that’s been building this season comes to a head. James knows this. He’s loading up his sniper rifle at home, scaring the hell out of his girlfriend, Kim. He’s comforting, but also urgent. He tells her she needs to, once again, meet him at the trailer later that day. She refuses, saying she can’t live like this, on the run all the time. He promises it won’t always be like this, that this time is different because bad men will come for them. These are common crime-drama tropes, but they’re tropes for a reason: They sure are effective.
Speaking of survival, Teresa makes a bold move early in the episode. She meets with Camila before going on her deliveries and tells her she wants out of the operation. Camila has generally been kind to her so far, but this request is too much. It’s like Teresa has forgotten she’s dealing with a legit drug queenpin. Camila denies her request, saying Teresa’s too valuable to her, both as a runner and as a bargaining chip against Epifanio.
Therefore, Teresa needs another plan. When she sees everyone packing up the warehouse on Camila’s orders — the whole operation is moving as a preemptive measure against the retaliation that will surely follow after James kills the Birdman — she improvises. She grabs her backpack and the kilos of coke she’s meant to deliver and heads out in one of Camila’s cars.
She’s not heading out to make her deliveries, though. Instead, she goes to Brenda and tells her it’s time to pack her bags. She’s going to get them papers so they can finally disappear. How exactly is she going to make that happen? Well, the plan involves Brenda, Eric, and the Vargas cartel’s notebook.
I mentioned in last week’s recap that it was nice to see Brenda finally getting some substantial character work, and she gets to be the star again tonight. She’s integral to Teresa’s plan, as she shows up at Eric’s house and shows him a copy of a single page from the cartel’s notebook. She tells him she has a whole notebook filled with information, and all she wants in exchange is cash.
Eric calls Manuel, the head of the Jimenez cartel, and tells him about Brenda. Manuel tells Eric to check the numbers in the book — which he believes are the locations of stash houses — and if everything adds up, to pay Brenda. Everything seems to be in place. Brenda has convinced Eric she’s legit and Teresa has the coked-up lawyer working on getting the papers ready, a process that could take a month or two.
But things can only seem good for so long on Queen of the South.
NEXT: El Limpiador
Just as Eric is coming close to confirming the stash houses, James puts his plan into action. He guns down the two bodyguards outside the house and then activates the mechanism that aggravates the birds. When Eric comes outside to see what the ruckus is about and Brenda flees the house, James shoots him in the chest. He walks over to the Birdman so he can see his face — so Eric can see who finally got the upper hand — and then shoots him in the face.
With the job finished and the Jimenez cartel on his heels, James heads to his trailer in the middle of nowhere. Kim isn’t there, though. She’s sitting at home wondering what to do, ignoring his calls and messages, so James calls Camila instead. He knows Teresa is “missing” and that she’s left with some kilos of coke, but he doesn’t tell Camila. As usual, he’s protecting her for one reason or another.
Meanwhile, Brenda and Teresa are working to decode the notebook so they know just what they have to bargain with. Eventually, they stumble upon the name El Limpiador and figure out he must be a guy who cleans money for the cartel. They assume the numbers must be bank accounts, so they call Brenda’s friend Victor in Mexico and get him to track the accounts.
Alas, Victor says the numbers can’t possibly be bank accounts. So what could they be? Well, after Tony’s video game gets Teresa thinking as they flee on a bus, she believes the numbers are coordinates. Sure enough, it looks like they point to the locations of the cartel’s many stash houses. Obviously, that’s hugely valuable information.
At the same time, the Jimenez cartel is hitting back. In a great scene that contrasts Epifanio’s run for governor with his drug-trafficking business practices, we see Epifanio doing a TV interview about being a man of the people who wants to stop the cartels from controlling politics, all while the Jimenez cartel executes raids on his distribution centers. The retaliation for James killing Eric is coming fast.
“Punto sin Retorno” ends with the characters in flux. We’ve been watching Camila work to assert her independence and remove herself from Epifanio’s influence all season long, and this episode she takes her first real steps toward finally making her own mark. She meets with Manuel to tell him she wanted these attacks on Epifanio’s distribution centers. That’s why she called for the hit on Birdman. He was a catalyst for change.
Now, as Epifanio backpedals and deals with the fallout of voters questioning his ties to the drug trade, Camila sees her opportunity to step up. She wants Manuel and the Jimenez cartel to be her friends as she moves forward; she even offers to get a higher-up within the cartel out of prison as a gesture of goodwill.
Of course, Epifanio isn’t the only threat to Camila’s operation. James is keeping secrets from her, not telling her about Teresa and the copied notebook page he found at Eric’s house. Teresa and Brenda are also in Mexico again, meeting up with Victor, their future uncertain with only two episodes left in the season.
Queen of the South has constructed a debut season that rivals some of the best new shows of 2016. Now let’s see if it can stick the landing.