Queen of the South recap: El Hombre Pájaro
Look, let’s get a few things straight right off the bat: Camila Vargas is having a rough time keeping her Dallas drug-trafficking operation running. That’s not necessarily her fault — Epifanio is secretly screwing her over with her orders, and in this week’s episode he takes even further — but that doesn’t change the fact that her once-loyal customers are turning elsewhere for their cocaine needs.
That’s why, at the beginning of “El Hombre Pájaro,” Camila is walking into a grimy biker bar and assuring some customers that more of her coke is on the way. Still, there needs to be another solution, as Eric is stepping all over her territory. He’s even dealing coke that’s 90-percent pure, with which it’s impossible to turn a profit. But that’s not the point. He just wants to show Camila’s customers he has the quality and stock, roping them into business before raising the prices later.
James has a solution: Kill Eric. It’s really all he’s wanted for some time now, but Camila is still against it. She’s not looking to start a war. After another call from Epifanio, she assumes she’s close to getting back on track. He says he’s taken care of the Federales, and her next shipment is already across the border and should be at their meeting point in a few hours.
As viewers, we’re privy to the other end of the call — and surprise, surprise, Epifanio isn’t exactly being honest. He tells Cesar to once again inform the DEA about this new shipment, making sure that for the second time in such a small window, Camila will have no drugs to sell. He’s slowly bleeding her dry, and it’s working.
Back at the warehouse, Teresa can sense her situation is getting more dangerous by the day. Not only is she becoming increasingly integral to Camila’s operation, she can sense conflict is brewing. So she heads back to the lawyer’s house where she did a delivery earlier in the season. “I want to disappear,” she tells him, but it’s not that simple. He says that clean, real papers start at $30,000 a person, meaning she’ll need $90,000 if she wants to get Brenda and her son out, too.
Money might not be the only obstacle standing in her way, though. You see, Teresa left the warehouse with the intention of picking up medicine for another ailing runner. But she also went to see the lawyer and to get some money from a reluctant Brenda, whose drug operation is up and running but not quite taking off yet. When the drug shipment from Epifanio once again gets busted — this time before James is even able to get there — Camila can’t help but be suspicious of Teresa.
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When Teresa returns, Camila has a few questions for her. She says her men checked the odometer, so she knows Teresa didn’t just go to the pharmacy. Teresa says she went to get something to eat, and in a tense exchange, Camila attempts to call her bluff by asking for the receipt. Sure enough, Teresa is able to provide one. She’s one step ahead of Camila for now, but how long can that really last? She needs to be more careful.
NEXT: Kilos and Colombians
James has an idea to fix Camila’s drug shortage. He says he knows a few guys in Miami who are looking to unload 25 kilos of coke. He knows it’s not a lot, but he thinks they should buy it anyway and divvy it up among a select few customers in an effort to show them they’re not dry. But Camila’s not ready for that yet. She’d rather go to the Colombians again and see if she can get another shipment. Considering she lost their last $5 million shipment, what could go wrong?
A lot, as it turns out. Camila meets with one of the higher-ups in the cartel and he refuses to send her more drugs. He says he needs his $5 million back first. His solution: Call Epifanio and ask for the money, and this will all be over. She won’t do that, of course, so he gives her three days to come up with $5 million on her own. If she can’t, he’ll call Epifanio himself.
Camila has a quick fix. She sends James, Teresa, and a few of her men to get their reserve money, which handily comes to a total of $5 million. It’s all they have, but desperate times call for desperate measures. So James and Teresa drive to a cemetery where the money is hidden — “dead bankers are the only ones Camila trusts,” James quips — and grab two bags containing $2.5 million each.
Unfortunately, their convoy is attacked as they head back to the warehouse. Men in masks block the road in their black cars, machine guns in hand. There’s a shootout, and James manages to kill one of the men, but not before the others make off with one of the bags. That’s $2.5 million gone. Camila really can’t catch a break.
After the robbery, the question is: Who was behind it all, and how did it happen? Teresa points out that one of the dead men boasts a tattoo she recognizes from Eric’s party. She’s sure Eric is behind this, which makes sense. He wouldn’t want Camila to be back in business just yet. But as it turns out, it’s even more complicated than that.
You see, Eric’s operation was behind the robbery, but they were following orders from Camila’s husband, Epifanio. He calls Eric to congratulate him on a job well done, and while Eric says they may have gone too far because one of Camila’s men ended up dead, Epifanio disagrees. “Keep going,” he says. He’s pushing for war at this point, and it may not be far off.
So Camila is truly stuck. Epifanio knows this and tries to capitalize on it. He calls her and they have a seemingly earnest talk. He urges her to come back home, that they’ve been there for each other since they were kids and it’s time to reconnect again. There seems to still be a genuine connection between them, but for Camila, this is about more than just business.
This is about proving she can do this on her own, that this male-dominated business has room for strong, independent women. It’s more or less the message she gives to her daughter in a phone call earlier in the episode. She may not always be there for her child, but she will prove strong women can overcome the obstacles put in front of them.
She meets with James and mentions the 25 kilos in Miami. As James points out, they don’t have any money to buy the product. Luckily, that’s not Camila’s plan. She utters a single phrase before the episode cuts to the credits: “We’re going to steal it.” Bring on episode 8!