Queen of the South 509: ‘A prueba de balsas’

QUEEN OF THE SOUTH -- "Prueba de Balas" Episode 509 -- Pictured in this screengrab: (l-r) Peter Gadiot as James Valdez, Alice Braga as Teresa Mendoza -- (Photo by: USA Network)

A LOT happened in Queen of the South 509: “A prueba de balsas,” which is exactly as it should be in a second-to-last episode in a series! Major spoilers ahead so let’s just say here that we cannot wait to watch the Queen of the South finale!

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: Lizzie – I’m looking at my outline for this conversation and every single item has an exclamation point. Sex! Pote! Death! Boaz! This episode was jam packed (like they all have been since 507) and all of the events were so emphatic. Before we get into it all, I’ve just gotta say what a fun ride this season has been.

LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ, FANGIRLISH EIC: It absolutely has. Even the parts in the middle we weren’t sure were going somewhere, have mostly paid off and tied up. And there was just so much emotional resonance to everything that happened this hour, so much of a feeling that this is exactly where the show was always going. Though I will say that your list having “sex” and “Pote” before death is kinda hilarious, mostly because that would be my ranking too.

CRISTINA ESCOBAR: Obvi! Let’s just talk about the sex! Finally, we saw some smiles on Teresa’s face and of course that was because she was having some hot, hot sex with James. At last! It definitely felt inevitable but I’m still glad it happened. I liked seeing these two together and hope the relationship shippers are happy! You know, usually, I’m not that big into romantic plotlines for my female leads (I think they’re over done and can be reductive) but this one is different. Teresa’s such a whole and complex person that seeing her with James doesn’t make her feel less. It makes her more.

QUEEN OF THE SOUTH -- "Prueba de Balas" Episode 509 -- Pictured in this screengrab: (l-r) Alice Braga as Teresa Mendoza, Hemky Madera as Pote -- (Photo by: USA Network)
THIS is the self-actualized bad bitch we’ve been rooting for

LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ: I’m usually a big shipper (even if the writing on ships is suspect on more shows than not), but Queen of the South made my doubt my instincts at times, because I was never truly sure they were going for what I thought they were going for, or what the actors were transmitting. Apparently they were just playing the long game, because boy, here it works. It absolutely works. And I think it does because, when James and Teresa come together, when he tells her he loves her, when she says it back later, it rings true. We haven’t seen them *be* in a real relationship (and that sometimes helps, because it means we also haven’t seen them be ruined by silly drama), but we truly believe these two people love each other. And we believe that, as you said, they compliment each other in good ways. No one has to be less to be in a relationship when it comes to Jeresa.

CRISTINA ESCOBAR: Soooooo – we clearly can’t pretend that this episode was all happy for Jeresa, as much as I’d like to. I mean – he killed her at the end?!?!!? Or, it appeared like he did. I just don’t believe it. I don’t know what Finch has over James, but there’s nothing that could make him assassinate her. Especially with Finch saying that James couldn’t “get out” – what could possibly be the pay off for James then? I don’t buy it. So then the question is, what did happen? Was that Oksana’s daughter (that’d give her a reason to exist)? A dream (like Teresa’s dreamed before)? What do you think?

LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ: There’s absolutely no way I’m buying that James killed her, that James was always going to be the one to kill her. It just makes no sense considering the James setup for five seasons. Even leaving Teresa out of it, for him to just give into it so quickly? Yeah, no, that’s just not James. James who has repeatedly made sacrifices for her, and gone against his better instincts, over and over. So I assume this is part of the plan to trick Devin and disappear. It would be just the Queen of the South thing to do, and it would provide one final twist, the best one of them all, if you ask me – that of happiness. There would be no better ending for Teresa, for this show, than for them to decide that the ideas that people had for how this show should/had to end, don’t apply to them. 

CRISTINA ESCOBAR: I’m definitely rooting for happiness! And assuming Teresa didn’t really die at the end of this episode, that means she lives! Because they can’t kill her twice, right? I’m not as hopeful about Kelly Anne though. Pote leaving a voicemail for her made me anxious! Also, did you notice how badass he looked when he finally came back? More assured than we’ve seen him all season. It was such a relief when he came in, guns, literally blazing. I just hope he didn’t have to sacrifice his family to get it. “Pete” the suburban dad (and hopefully chef?) would be a fun ending for him too.

LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ: Look, all I want is Pote and Kelly Anne, and Teresa and James happy, living somewhere near each other, totally remote. The quiet happiness, that’s what Teresa always wanted, and what the people around her, her family, always wanted to. I’m pretty sure Teresa isn’t dead – the fakeout at the end of nine means a twist is coming in ten, I firmly believe that. Kelly Anne would worry me less if we didn’t have one more episode to go, but at this point I don’t see the show giving us pain for the sake of pain. The ending of nine made it very clear to me that, after leaving us in this pain, they’re going to give us the payoff in the series finale, and I’m super excited to see it.

CRISTINA ESCOBAR: But back to this episode! I know she protested, but clearly Teresa got rid of Kostya without much difficulty. I mean, these men cannot stand her way. I know Boaz is still alive (I’m predicting his demise in the finale) and so is Dumas and Finch (the digs at the CIA were fun this episode) but I don’t see any of these fellows stopping Teresa. Now, if Camila comes back, that’d be another story.

QUEEN OF THE SOUTH -- "Prueba de Balas" Episode 509 -- Pictured in this screengrab: Joseph T. Campos as Boaz Jiminez -- (Photo by: USA Network)
Boaz’s days are definitely numbered. You don’t cross Teresa and get away with it!

LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ: Yeah, I’m not even worried anymore. I will say, since Teresa was the one to get rid of Kostya, and she now has to presumably lay low, can we have Pote be the one taking care of Boaz? If anyone has earned it, it’s Pote. I’m not so sure Dumas or Finch need any taking care of, though. They just need to be fooled into thinking Teresa is truly dead.

CRISTINA ESCOBAR: What are your hopes for the finale? I’m thinking the racial dialogue we saw in the subtext isn’t coming to fruition. There just isn’t enough time and it’s not action-centered enough. These last few episodes have been plot-rich and I’m thinking the finale is going to turn it up to eleven, as they say. But I don’t think Teresa’s really dead and instead we’ll need to figure out a way for her to be with James, keep Pote and family safe, get rid of Boaz, and decide what she’s really going to do with her business. A quick trip to a Belizean paradise is far too tidy.

LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ: I agree, I think the racial dialogue subtext is just going to stay unresolved. I will still say I’m glad the show made it as obvious as it did, I’m just never sure people take the right lessons from these things. It’s better to bring it up than not, though. As for the finale, we have to get rid of Boaz, and since I’m pretty sure Teresa is alive, and to stay alive she’s going to have to get out of the business for good, I’m actually thinking the tidy ending you mentioned might not be so far off? Though at this point I’m not sure I’d pick Belize again, but I’m sure someone like Teresa has properties everywhere and planned about 34 getaway options years ago.

CRISTINA ESCOBAR: Whatever happens, it’s been a joy watching Teresa this season and for the last five. She’s such an interesting Latina heroine: yes, she’s embroiled in the drug trade but that’s where the stereotypes end. She’s a foil to Boaz’s hot headedness. She’s sexy but not defined by it. She’s both an insider and an outsider and it’s been fascinating to watch her journey.

LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ: It has truly been a joy. I had some passing knowledge of the original La Reina del Sur telenovela, and that made me stay away from this for far too long, because I was afraid it was just going to be more playing into the stereotypes. Instead this show took joy in going against them, but not in a way that felt they were doing it just to be contrary, no. They just built an amazing character that defined the expectations, and that’s something that should be celebrated. Here’s to Teresa being alive and finding her happy ending, whatever that is.

CRISTINA ESCOBAR: God, I hope she lives!

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