When Epifanio betrays Camila and tips off the DEA, the impending war heats up -- with Teresa caught in the middle
“Sometimes we need lies to survive.”
That’s one of the first lines in this week’s episode of Queen of the South, uttered with confidence by the future version of Teresa, the one wearing a tight white dress and killer high heels. It’s in response to another runner saying she’s only in Camila’s outfit temporarily because she’s heading to California to become an actress. We know it’s ridiculous, but is Teresa’s plan any more realistic? She hasn’t even really settled on one; she’s just surviving day by day. But what lies is she telling herself in the process?
Camila’s operation is struggling after Epifanio’s bold moves last week. With her shipment from Mexico failing to arrive — Cesar still insists it’s on the way, even as he and Epifanio exchange evil glances — Eric, the man associated with the Jimenez cartel (whom James really wants to kill), is offering to fill the void. He’s hitting up Camila’s clients, which obviously doesn’t make her very happy.
Still, deliveries are happening. Teresa is making one to a pretty exuberant, overly chill white dude who refers to his house as “The Abode” — man, you’re not The Dude, so lay off the faux chill. What’s interesting about this delivery, though, is the man not only tries to bribe Teresa into putting him at the top of a list should “snow stop falling in Texas,” but he also reveals he’s an immigration lawyer. How narratively convenient (assuming he’s telling the truth)! Teresa asks if he can get her papers with different names, and he says he can, but it would cost a lot of money.
On her way out, Teresa gets a call from Camila. She wants her back at the club for another job. When Teresa returns, she learns Camila’s drug shipment from Colombia is coming in and the details of the exchange are set. She’s to accompany James and help with the shipment.
While James and Teresa are on their way to the exchange, Camila calls her husband and asks his permission to deal with Eric. That means she wants to kill him, and Epifanio isn’t too thrilled about the idea. He’s rebuking her at every turn — and he once again asks about Teresa, but Camila denies knowing anything. The cat-and-mouse game continues as Epifanio makes another bold move, which he reveals only to Cesar: He’s called the DEA and told them about the drugs Camila’s getting from Colombia. They’ll be waiting at the exchange.
Sure enough, when James and Teresa arrive at the parking garage where the deal is going down, the DEA swarms the place, firing off a lot of rounds and killing a good chunk of the dealers. Teresa and James barely escape by jumping out of the parking structure and taking off on foot.
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They split up, and Teresa manages to get away by inserting herself into a group of tourists. When she makes it back to the van, she calls James, who tells her to get on the highway. She ignores those instructions — like any good protagonist would — and heads back for him, picking him up from a trolley before speeding back to the club.
NEXT: It all falls down
Of course, the shootout in the parking structure ends up all over the news, and Camila is furious. She wants to know how this happened. The best explanation James has is that since the DEA was literally waiting for them, someone must have tipped them off about the exchange.
Somehow, Camila still seems unaware of Epifanio’s involvement. I’m sure her reckoning with her husband is coming soon, but right now she seems kind of clueless… you know, for someone in charge of an expanding drug empire. Anyway, with the drug deal gone bad, Camila’s operation has now cost the Colombians $5 million and she still doesn’t have any coke to give her dealers.
One of Camila’s most trusted workers makes a suggestion. Why not sell Teresa to Epifanio for $5 million and use it to pay off the Colombians? Then they’d be back in business. James barely lets a look of disapproval cross his face — he’d hate to be seen as emotional or invested in Teresa, though it’s clear he is — but Camila actually considers the proposition. After all, it’d be best for everyone. Well, not Teresa, but you get the point.
Teresa just might sense something is up. After the failed drug deal, she heads to a local church where she’s seen many Mexicans congregate. She believes the church is bringing immigrants in from Mexico, so she reaches out to the priest in hopes of organizing some sort of transport. She says it’s for people she knows in Mexico, but she also mentions needing to get a specific item. We know she’s referring to the notebook, which still remains a trump card in this impending drug war.
The priest denies any sort of illegal activity, instead offering Teresa food and shelter if she ever needs it. That’s not what Teresa wants to hear, but it’s still relevant information. If she ever gets her immigration papers and wants to make a run for it, perhaps she’d have a temporary hiding place at this church. Hiding is really the only thing anyone can do right now. Even James, who always seems so in control, has his girlfriend take off to a secluded trailer they own until things settle down.
Interestingly enough, after the DEA debacle and all the talk of betrayal and bad blood, the episode ends with Teresa and Brenda. Brenda’s taken full control of the small drug operation in which she inserted herself last week, and that’s had an effect on Tony. He feels neglected, especially when his mother tells him to take the bus home. The two have a heated exchange in front of Teresa once he gets back to the hotel, and Tony screams that he wishes his mother were dead.
It seems like a strange scene to end on, until it all comes full circle. After Teresa convinces Tony to calm down and talk to his mother, Brenda tells him that sometimes you have to just push the difficult things down and keep moving forward. If you dwell on the bad things, the horrific things, they’ll consume you. Or, in other words, sometimes you have to lie to yourself to survive.