Queen of the South 505: ‘More Money More Problems’

QUEEN OF THE SOUTH -- "More Money More Problems" Episode 505 -- Pictured in this screengrab: Alice Braga as Teresa Mendoza -- (Photo by: USA Network)

On Queen of the South 505 “More Money More Problems, Teresa faces the age-old concern of drug dealers everywhere: how to launder all that cash! Combined with a B-plot in Miami (thanks to Boaz and King George), this episode sees our favorite cartel leaders globetrotting and stealing a Van Gogh (of all things).

One of the only Latina-helmed shows currently on TV, Queen of the South is in its final season and LatinaMedia.Co and Fangirlish are teaming up to give it the coverage it deserves. So join us each week as we celebrate/commemorate/mourn Queen of the South through episode recaps, filled with our hot takes, commentary, and, of course, Latina perspective. Let’s do this!

CRISTINA ESCOBAR, CO-FOUNDER OF LATINAMEDIA.CO: For me, this episode suffered a bit from that mid-season slump, where a show’s done setting up the problems but hasn’t yet turned to finding solutions. This time, Teresa got closer with her Russian friend Oksana after seemingly pushing her away at the start of the season, what with a Russian death squad sent to kill her and the fact we still haven’t met the infamous Kostya and all.

LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ, FANGIRLISH EIC: It certainly felt like more of a filler episode than the first four, but I will say that, if this is what this show does with filler episodes, they need to teach a show or twenty a few things, because this was actually interesting, engaging and though it didn’t help to move the plot along as much – it was fun! Not that Oksana is fun, in general, but she was always one of those characters that felt like they had potential to be so much more, and I’m glad they gave her a moment in the spotlight. Plus, even though this feels like an episode that isn’t connected to anything else… how much do you wanna bet Oksana proves to be instrumental for whatever endgame this show has planned?

CRISTINA ESCOBAR: She certainly could be but I have to admit, I’m not particularly invested in Oksana’s plot. It is fun to see two women running stuff in a notoriously male industry (although this being drugs, it’s hard to feel real pride, you know?). And I liked how they dispensed with the silly men who would try to stand in their way. Blackmarket art dealer? Teresa takes his gun and uses it to get her way. Molly-dealing “crazy man?” Your sexist comments lead to you being on the wrong end of a shoot out. But all of that is more Teresa being the biggest baddie in the room than it has anything to do with Oksana so ‘meh’ to the sisterhood I guess.

QUEEN OF THE SOUTH -- "More Money More Problems" Episode 505 -- Pictured in this screengrab: Vera Cherny as Oksana Volkova -- (Photo by: USA Network)
Do you care about Oksana? We’re still on the fence…

LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ: A part of me went back to not caring for her that much once the episode was over, but as the episode was going on, I did enjoy it. Five episodes in, I will say this has been a very strong season of Queen of the South so far, even if the fact that I can’t see the endgame clearly – or maybe I’m just refusing to accept the endgame I’m seeing – worries me a little. And I’ll take Teresa being the biggest baddie in a room in every episode, if the show wishes to give me that. But Oksana as more than a plot device or an entertaining one-episode storyline probably isn’t something that’s on the cards right now, and I can’t say I mind. 

CRISTINA ESCOBAR: Me neither! You know Oksana aside, this episode had Breaking Bad echoes for me and I couldn’t help but notice that James was in the Skyler role. Yes, he had some badass moments, stealing that painting and riding that bike. But still, his main role was to ask Teresa if she wasn’t getting too greedy, to play devil’s advocate to her ambition, to poke holes in her plan. Anna Gunn famously got hate male and death threats for playing doubting partner Skyler and now that the gender roles are reversed, I seriously doubt the crossover contingent feels the same way.

LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ: This is a very good observation, and though I make it a rule to, you know, survive writing about a show, to not go too deep into the fandom, I’m pretty sure most people just appreciate James, probably for the same reasons I appreciate him, which is that he genuinely cares for Teresa. The thing that differentiates Queen of the South from Breaking Bad, for me, is that there I didn’t appreciate the main character – or I appreciated Walter as a great character, but I didn’t particularly want him to “win.” Here I wouldn’t mind if Teresa got away with absolutely everything. So, personally, in Breaking Bad I was team Skylar, while here I am team Teresa, which at times seems like it’s the same thing as being team Jeresa, and others… well, I’m not so sure.  

CRISTINA ESCOBAR: I also thought a George-Boaz pairing would work better. Boaz usually brings such delightful chaos and now that he’s through the worst of his grief, King George does too. But it was all too obvious that George was there to spy and his reaction to the execution seemed overplayed (he’s killed plenty of men himself). It was fun to see Boaz use his hard-partying reputation against George and the tripe bit was delightful (but were they eating tacos and not menudo?!?!). I guess I just hope moving forward, we get more mileage out of this odd couple. Bringing together two grieving narcos, each with loud but totally distinct sensibilities has so much potential.

QUEEN OF THE SOUTH -- "More Money More Problems" Episode 505 -- Pictured in this screengrab: Ryan O'Nan as King George -- (Photo by: USA Network)
This was King George’s best scene (he googles if sleep deprivation can cause permanent brain damage, because, you know, cocaína).

LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ: This part of the episode felt a bit too predictable for me, as I saw every beat coming. It might be that the show wanted me to, and they have another ace up their sleeve, so I’m willing to roll with it, but in general this was the weakest part of the episode for me, even if it did provide us with some funny moments. Perhaps I’d just set my expectations too high, or I’m still too angry at Boaz, or both. 

CRISTINA ESCOBAR: On the other hand, I did appreciate Kelly Anne and Teresa’s moment at the end. Kelly Anne’s fears around pregnancy are super common and so was her commitment to work twice as hard. That Teresa doesn’t want her to reminds us of the compassionate, good person at Teresa’s core. It was nice to see but it is sad that it feels like a surprise – Teresa’s response should be the common one! Although that says more about our real world than Teresa, Kelly Anne, or Queen of the South in general.

LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ: It felt to me like this moment was a little bit of the show trying to establish that the woman Teresa was, the one James fell in love with and has spent most of the season thinking is gone, is still very much there. This is why we root for Teresa, despite the fact that she’s clearly not a hero. I’m just worried that this is a red herring, and that Teresa doesn’t get to be this woman, she doesn’t get to follow her heart, get the happy ending – or whatever she can get with James, and instead we’re just going to see her get harder and harder, because that’s what the world requires of a woman in her position. Because, even if that ending would be understandable, and I would probably appreciate it, writing wise, there’s still a part of me that just wants her to get a real win, drug-dealer or not. 

CRISTINA ESCOBAR: I’m rooting for Teresa too but I’ve got to say, lastly, like every week, Pote stole the show. His instance that he’s having a boy, his envisioning of fatherhood, even his self-knowledge of how he’s changing from living in the present to focusing on the future, it was all pitch perfect. Actually having a child will certainly be very different from how he imagines it but watching him be 100% himself even while he’s changing, even when he’s wrong,  it’s what makes his character and really all of Queen of the South so good. It’s the rare show that knows its characters, accepts them, and makes them change.

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