Queen of the South 510: “El Final”

QUEEN OF THE SOUTH -- "El Final" Episode 510 -- Pictured in this screengrab: Alice Braga as Teresa Mendoza -- (Photo by: USA Network)

Queen of the South 510 “El Final” closes this show in spectacular fashion, (SPOILER!) delivering the happy ending we were afraid to let ourselves hope for, making us worry along the way, and closing all storylines neatly. Endings are so difficult to nail down, but Queen of the South truly ends in a way that makes us feel happy we were along for the ride. 

LatinaMedia.Co and Fangirlish teamed up this year to give one of the only Latina-helmed shows on TV, Queen of the South, the coverage it deserved. We’ve celebrated/commemorated/mourned Queen of the South through episode recaps, filled with our hot takes, commentary, and, of course, Latina perspective. Here’s to a fantastic show, and hopefully many more projects for the people involved. We will be watching. 

Now, let’s talk the finale! 

LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ, FANGIRLISH EIC: Well, that was AN ENDING. Did you also go through a rollercoaster of emotions as you watched the episode? I ended 509 completely sure Teresa couldn’t be dead, started 510 the same way, but I admit that somewhere around minute fifteen or twenty, I started to worry. And then they kept the happy ending to the last few minutes, in what was a longer-than-usual episode! Talk about making us suffer. I wish I had it in me to truly trust TV, but I’ve been disappointed so many times, and right now I’m having a hard time even nailing down my emotions. But I do know I loved the episode, and I feel really happy with the way this ended. In fact, I kinda want to re-watch the whole thing now, since I know the full picture.

CRISTINA ESCOBAR, CO-FOUNDER OF LATINAMEDIA.CO: I was worried. Watching “El final,” I kept saying (out loud, to myself), “When is Teresa going to pop up?” Like you, I just couldn’t believe she was dead and that James was the one to kill her, but I expected a short turnaround – to see her again after the opening sequence. But it kept going on with everyone acting like she was dead and it was just brutal. It was all going bad for so long! I definitely doubted myself, especially when Pote and Boaz were fighting and it looked like Boaz was going to win – that was my lowest moment. I’m so glad it went the other way.

LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ: Do you feel this was the best-case scenario? Because in so many ways, it feels to me like it was. Even if some things didn’t go the way they should have – and it hurts that Pote had to miss so much time with his daughter – most of this went really, really well. And Pote got to be the one to take care of Boaz, which I admit was precisely what I’d been hoping for. Plus, I gotta take a moment to mention Chicho, because dude was really there when it mattered. But after all of that, I’ll say the relief of learning the plan, at the end, was unmatched. Plus seeing Pote, Kelly Anne, Teresa, and James as some sort of makeshift family was kinda… nice. This show has been so go-go-go for so long, that I never let myself truly believe we could get this moment at the end.

QUEEN OF THE SOUTH -- "El Final" Episode 510 -- Pictured in this screengrab: Hemky Madera as Pote -- (Photo by: USA Network)
Our favorite Pote was down this episode but never out

CRISTINA ESCOBAR: Yes! I loved the final sequence as a way to end this show. Teresa (and really all of them) have been through so much – losing Guero and then Brenda and then Guero again and then Tony again. We’ve seen our leading lady in pain. It was so nice to finally see her in happiness. And I’d add that obviously narco shows require a certain moral ambiguity but it was clear when Dumas got out of the business that leaving is the only true hero move. To see Teresa and company do it too – it was perfect.

LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ: One thing I will say is that I sort of expected something else out of the Dumas storyline than we ended up getting, though I admit it was fun to see him help Pote get Boaz, and then just walk away to be a better kind of man. But that was probably me thinking about the next-big-problem or maybe next-big-solution regarding the business, when the endgame was always to leave the business. And Teresa left Dumas the waterfront property, which felt like another full-circle moment. Some things felt a tad abrupt, but I don’t know that there was any way for Teresa to make the decision she made without some things feeling abrupt. She hadn’t been planning it for ages, she was sort of forced into it, so I think the realistic thing was for it to feel this abrupt. And I think if a show has to make a decision between being abrupt and ending with the most “realistic” thing, sometimes I’d rather they give me the happy ending. Happy endings make me want to rewatch a show!

CRISTINA ESCOBAR: Oh man, when this season drops on Netflix, you want to start at the beginning again? I liked the Dumas ending! He and a cleanly shaved Chicho are going to clean up New Orleans and be the sort of non-corruptible leaders the city needs – I say they’re not corruptible because they’ve already done the whole life-of-crime thing and they know its rewards and drawbacks and have picked differently. I didn’t want more time with them but I could have used a little more time with James and Teresa at the end. Are they going to have kids? Did they get married? Is she la jefa down there, running some businesses with his support? Or has their dynamic changed? I guess I’ll just have to imagine.

LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ: Yes, yes, yes! I really wouldn’t have minded, considering we got the happy ending, a little more to write the fanfic in my head of what’s going on. At least an obvious wedding ring would have been a nice touch, and I know it’s a little greedy of me, but what can I say? Happiness makes me greedy for more. But, let’s talk James, because we knew, from the beginning, that he was likely Teresa’s happy ending, and yet the show played us for a bit by trying to make us doubt him or at least the connection between them. Yet, in the end, James ended up being the man he always was, from the beginning, the one who put Teresa first, at all times. The one who cared about Pote and Kelly Anne (how many times has he saved Kelly Anne by now?), and the only one who could really understand what Teresa has gone through, and what she’s had to fight to come out on the other side. So I’m happy they got their happy ending, especially because I was never sure they were headed there. Plus, as I said before, wasn’t it amazing that the ending managed to give us the romantic happy ending, plus the family one all at once? It was so great to see the four of them together, at the end, having escaped and found peace.

CRISTINA ESCOBAR: Yes, I really appreciated how the show didn’t privilege romantic love over familial love or friendship. That’s an incredibly rare thing to see and it felt right, particularly for a show that’s seen so much betrayal and heartbreak. These are characters who’ve chosen their families and there’s power in that. It also releases them from some of the typical gender dynamics that can be so limiting. Teresa and James, Kelly Anne and Pote, these couples are stronger together but they’re certainly not codependent nor do they lose their individuality. It’s such a long way for Teresa from being Guero’s kept woman. She’s completely free now but not alone. I love it.

QUEEN OF THE SOUTH -- "El Final" Episode 510 -- Pictured in this screengrab: Peter Gadiot as James Valdez -- (Photo by: USA Network)
Don’t look so sad James – we promise, everything’s going to turn out ok!

LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ: We really came full circle. I remember being hooked on this show from that first glimpse of Teresa possibly dying in the first episode, and the end of episode nine took us there, and then… we got the after. Is there anything you would have changed? I’m not sure I always understood all of the beats during the course of the show, and I would have definitely appreciated if they’d managed to go deeper with some of the questions and possibilities they raised, particularly the race issue because I think we’re past due a latine show actually going into the colorism within the latine community, but overall I think this show, particularly in this final season, always had an endgame in mind and did its best to take us to that endgame in a way that made sense. That is something I can respect.

CRISTINA ESCOBAR: I wouldn’t change anything about the ending. As you know, I thought the show could have gone harder on the race/colorism issue but they’d have needed a whole other season to really do it well and I think it was time. I saw a few tweets about people wanting to “save” Queen of the South but I actually think, race aside, five seasons was enough. Five or six is often the sweet spot for shows and I appreciate them going out on a high note. I’ll certainly miss this crew though – and plan to watch them wherever they go next.

LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ: Teresa looking at the camera was really the perfect ending, for me. The whole “they said that prison or dead were my only options, but what do they know, I chose life” bit? Perfect. This was always Teresa’s story, and it started on her, and ended on her, except it started with her alone, miserable, and feeling powerless, and ended with her surrounded by people who love her, with the love of her life by her side, and her knowing not just her worth, but what she’s capable of. Couldn’t have asked for anything more. 

CRISTINA ESCOBAR: It was a little cheesy but I love some cheese! Give me a happy Teresa in a white outfit, free from danger and finally full of self knowledge. It was a great journey and I can’t help but assert that the reason it was so good – so fresh, nuanced and surprising – is that it was from voices we don’t normally hear: Latinas. Give us more shows!! I promise I will watch them (and maybe write about them with Lizzy here). Long live the reinas!

LISSETE LANUZA SÁENZ: I have no problem with a cheesy ending, especially because Latinas rarely get the happy endings, and I was so glad the show allowed Teresa this final happiness. As you said, long live the reinas! 

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