Queen of the South 506: ‘Silver or Lead’

QUEEN OF THE SOUTH -- "Silver or Lead" Episode 506 -- Pictured in this screengrab: Alice Braga as Teresa Mendoza -- (Photo by: USA Network)

Queen of the South 506 “Silver or Lead” reveals Teresa Mendoza not just as a ruthless businesswoman, but as someone who has decided to actually live, not just survive. But things are never as easy as they seem, and with just four episodes to go, Boaz has become an even bigger problem (we will miss you, King George!), and James is still mourning a Teresa that isn’t coming back, even as she continues to make all the right moves for her business.

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!

LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ, FANGIRLISH EIC: We gotta start with King George and Boaz, only because that turned out the worst way possible – for Teresa (and King George!) and I’m kinda sad about it. I kept thinking he was being set up the entire episode – the whole business with the Haitians smelled fishy from the start – but at the end I was still sorta hoping he wasn’t going to get caught, not just because I liked King George, but because I’m tired of Boaz. Tired. Teresa should have gotten rid of him ages ago. And now here we are again, with a problem that could have already been handled. Also, King George, we will miss you. I never actually thought I would grow to care about you, but here we are.

CRISTINA ESCOBAR, CO-FOUNDER OF LATINAMEDIA.CO: I was sad too but not surprised. How they shot this whole plotline, like keeping King George in the foreground during that last poolside call to Teresa, it foreshadowed his demise. It was like, where’s the sniper coming to get him? I do wish he’d had a better ending plot. He was so much fun sussing out whether James was back ‘for the right reasons’ – it would have been a better farewell to have gotten more of that King George in his final arc. 

That said, it’s fitting if also ironic that white guy King George is the one who shows the most empathy to the Haitians. What with his history with Bilal and his old crew, it’s somewhat understandable but still rough. I mean, Boaz brutalized those Black men for show. The racism is loud in the facts, even if Queen of the South doesn’t hit you over the head with it. And it’s worse when you add in the fact that the reason Boaz is able to do it is that Teresa picked him over Dumas. I’m generally rooting for her, but this chain of events reveals a truly repulsive side to our leading lady.

LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ: And to Boaz! Which, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised, considering… but the show is once again hitting us on the head with the racism within the Latino community, and casual everyday racism to boot. And yet this episode doesn’t truly focus on that, it mostly tries to examine the idea of Teresa choosing to now live, as Kelly Anne put it, instead of just surviving. Once again, James has turned into the voice of reason in this regard, the person who deep down, cares about Teresa, and just wants her to be her better version of herself. I think he’s meant to speak for us, the viewers, because yes, we should be rooting for that. But we’re not, are we? And that James continues in this vein – despite the fact that he hasn’t done anything about it – is starting to get annoying. Like, we get it, James, you miss the person she was. It’s high time you got used to who she now is, though.

QUEEN OF THE SOUTH -- "Silver or Lead" Episode 506 -- Pictured in this screengrab: (l-r) Hemky Madera as Pote, Peter Gadiot as James Valdez -- (Photo by: USA Network)
Teresa’s right-hand men… you know which one is our favorite!

CRISTINA ESCOBAR: I was very annoyed at James this episode. I know he finally verbalized what we’ve been talking about, but saying it aloud didn’t make it better. Teresa’s grown! I can see wishing for her to have more of her idealism but wishing that she was the scared, powerless woman he met? No thank you! Also, I couldn’t help but compare, again, Teresa’s latest kill order with the time she sacrificed so much to save a “loose end” – back when Camila (we miss you!) was calling the shots. I guess the difference is, that loose end was an innocent and this guy was a crook…

LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ:  While we’re on James, we’ve discussed before how he seems to be the only possible “happy” ending romantically, for Teresa. That’s still true, as it’s clear she not only cares about him but fully trusts him. The show has set him up as nothing but trustworthy for all five seasons, and yet they’re trying to make us doubt right now, presenting us with all his doubts. Is it a red herring? Should Teresa trust James? I’m still mostly on the side of yes, and I really would love for these two to find some level of happiness together, but with four episodes to go, I’m starting to believe that’s not happening. Which means that, if James has somehow become Teresa’s conscience, does he need to die for her to become the most ruthless version of herself? I don’t want it, but now I can’t escape the thought.

CRISTINA ESCOBAR: Or maybe him dying will give her back her conscience? Or will King George’s death do that? I think the fallout will be big from his murder – King George was like a brother to her. Will Teresa go to war with Boaz and his men? How long will it take for her to find out? And what is his end game? I agree, she should have gotten rid of Boaz (hell, never made him part of her crew to begin with) a long time ago! Those mistakes are coming back, hard.

LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ: Which sort of makes sense, with four episodes to go. This episode focused a lot on Teresa’s decisions, her instincts, not just with her business, but with people. And her decisions keep paying off in the short term, even if those decisions become more and more ruthless. It’s never been clearer that Teresa is the one in charge, not the men around her. It’s also never been clearer that Teresa is not letting her emotions cloud her judgment, about any part of her business. I’m just not sure this will hold, considering we’re so close to the ending. At some point, something’s gotta go truly wrong, right?

CRISTINA ESCOBAR: I don’t know – she’s following more of the conventional cartel wisdom now, not trying to craft a gentler drug business (whatever that is) any more. And as much as James frustrates me, I do think there’s a loss inherent in that. Remember how unhappy Camila was (at the end, middle, beginning)? I don’t think there’s a lot of joy ahead that way.

QUEEN OF THE SOUTH -- "Silver or Lead" Episode 506 -- Pictured in this screengrab: Ryan O'Nan as King George -- (Photo by: USA Network)
We miss you, King George, already!

LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ: I must say I particularly appreciated Teresa dealing with the wannabe gangsters in a suit the way she did, and I realize this is the particular moral quandary of the show, that we are rooting for the literal villain, but one thing Queen of the South does very well is establish that there are a lot of people doing bad things, on either side of the law. Teresa might be a drug dealer, but she tried to play fair, she tried to do things right, and she found herself dealing with two men who take advantage of the law to scam people. Was anyone really sad about how things ended for them? 

CRISTINA ESCOBAR: Definitely not. White-collar criminals can eat it. BUT, you’re forgetting my favorite scene in the episode – Pote at the pool! Those are two words I never thought I’d say together and it was hilarious. Give this man a spin-off! Because Queen of the South is ending and Teresa’s journey is going with it but that doesn’t mean we have to leave this universe entirely, does it?

LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ: Even when Pote is not involved in any of the main storylines in a way that requires ample discussion, he somehow always finds a way to be one of the best parts of every episode of this show. I also particularly enjoy his face every second James is around him. It just cracks me up, what can I say? 

As for the plot – my main concern with four episodes to go is that I still can’t really predict where this show is going, and that’s both exciting and absolutely worrisome. I’m usually very good at guessing the endgame, and I’m not sure if part of me is just refusing to see the obvious here, but I will say I’m really looking forward to the end of this show. I’m going to miss it a lot, but I’m glad it’s gotten a chance to do what it wanted, on its own terms. And whatever happens, I’m glad I got to enjoy Teresa Mendoza.

CRISTINA ESCOBAR: I was thinking back to when we met Teresa and how improbable it seemed that she’d be running a cartel. And now, it’s hard to imagine her the other way. It’s really a testament to the show’s creators and I’m excited/scared/nervous to see where it goes next. Here’s hoping Teresa lives, recognizes and eradicates her racism, and keeps rocking those fly black and white outfits!

LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ: It’s good to end on the racism note, especially because I don’t think this is just a Teresa problem – but it’s one the show has done such an obvious job of portraying, that at this point it has to be intentional, right? A reckoning is coming, right? I’ve been waiting a long time for a show to finally go into the anti-blackness of the Latino community, I just hope we get to see this verbalized before the show is done. If there’s one lesson Queen of the South should be heavy-handed with, it’s this one. 

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