Alice Braga as Teresa Mendoza and Peter Gadiot as James Valdez in "Queen of the South." Photo courtesy USA Network
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‘Queen of the South’ 5×02: Soft looks, hard conversations

12 mins read

One word comes to mind when I think about the latest episode of “Queen of the South:” heartstrings. 

Oh, goodness heartstrings were pulled north, south, east and west. My emotions were all over the map. “Queen of the South” delivered an emotionally charged episode when season five, episode two, aired Wednesday, April 14.

Each main character put their hearts on the line and delivered one beautiful scene after another. I was overwhelmed in the best way.

It reminded me of a line Pote had in season three:

“The heart will kill you faster than a bullet.”

This season continues to amaze me. Every moment is meaningful and adds another layer to this story before we say goodbye to it in a couple months.

Here is my star rating for “Me Llevo Manhattan:” 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Recap

Image by USA Network

The episode opens with Teresa needing $100 million in one day for the New York City waterfront property. She decides to send a cocaine shipment to the Dominicans –– the Russians’ rivals –– because she doesn’t trust the Russians after they sent a kill team after her.

“We can’t lose the waterfront,” Teresa said. “Kostya had his chance. I’m done playing games.”

With James’ injury still healing, Teresa goes to check on him in his room. She suggests that he leave because he’s “done enough” for her. However, a conversation with Pote changes James’ mind, and he decides to stay to help her with the business.

“She might not want you to stay, cabrón, but she needs you,” Pote said.

Judge Lafayette is still posing a problem throughout all this, so Kelly Anne uses their bankers to trace who he’s paid off in the past, which will give “la familia” the upper hand to expose him. This leads Kelly Anne and Pote to Gordon Wheeler’s office, a chairman of a dozen prisons scattered throughout the south. The Judge invested $30 million of Teresa’s money to help Gordon build a new prison.

Turns out the Judge has been sending boys to juvenile detention centers, giving them maximum sentences. Gordon would pay him $5,000 a case, but then the state would pay Gordon $45,000 a year to lock up each one. The two men have been doing this for decades and made millions of dollars off these children. They sent a total of 2,000 boys to juvenile detention centers knowing that will make them twice as likely to end up in one of the Judge’s prisons as an adult.

Pote: They’re poor. They never had a chance.

Gordon: I didn’t make the system.

Pote: But you got rich out of it.

Pote kills him. Afterwards, Kelly Anne reveals she’s pregnant to Pote.

James and Teresa are dealing with the Russians throughout this. Oksana finds out the kill team is part of Kostya’s family and wanted to kill Teresa to hurt their family’s business because of family drama. James and Teresa meet Oksana at the motel where she kills the kill team and ensures Teresa the Russians still want to work with her. 

Kostya kills a bunch of the Dominicans though, expanding the war between the two cartels, so James and Teresa go to New York to make a deal with them. They manage to strike a deal that involves the cartels splitting the city and having Teresa as their shared supplier, creating a free market.

The trip ends up being more than about business though when James and Teresa share a kiss at the hotel. However, later on, Teresa tells James she wants him to stay but only as a business partner.

She also ends up making a deal with the Judge after Kelly Anne and Pote share what he’s been doing. They have a flash drive with records of all of it. The deal is that he does a press conference clearing Dumas of his son’s murder, works for her from now on, and then Teresa won’t expose him for what he’s done.

The Judge agrees, but Boaz kidnaps him on his way to the conference.

The Jeresa of it all

Image by USA Network

Soft, yearning looks and a rollercoaster of emotions were everywhere in “Me Llevo Manhattan” (“I’ll Take Manhattan” in Spanish). I couldn’t keep my eyes away, and apparently neither could the characters.

This episode gave me everything I love about this series. There was action, mystery, deals, women kicking butt, Boaz getting into the middle of things, Pote dealing with his past and future and then there was perhaps my favorite thing of all.

James and Teresa were back as the dynamic duo. All seemed right in the world.

I said this in my last review, and I’ll say it again: These James scenes bring me back to the beginning of this story and remind me of how far the show has come.

I think Teresa feels the same. It didn’t take long for James and Teresa’s chemistry to spark once again (I nearly fell off my couch when they kissed). Everything they do with each other just seems so natural and their chemistry picked up where it left off in season three.

They also reminded me of crushes teenagers have in school. They would glance softly at each other, and as soon as the other would offer a kind sentiment, they would look away and blush. My heart was so happy and full watching this. But just as quickly as their kiss in this episode, their flirting was cut short. 

In a beautiful scene towards the end of the episode, Teresa approached James in New York and said she wants him to stay but only as her business partner.

Teresa: I want you to stay.

James: I’d like that.

Teresa: But you and me –– it can’t happen. Maybe in some other life, but not this one. I hope you understand.

She’s pushing him away to either keep herself level-headed or to ensure his safety from people who could come after her. She doesn’t want what’s happened to Brenda, Guero and Tony to happen to him too.

This scene also paralleled a Jeresa scene from season three when James was standing next to a chain link fence, thinking about leaving but Teresa asked him to stay. He decided to leave then, but this time he decided to stay. This new scene is almost identical to the last one, but this time he’s standing next to a glass wall overlooking New York City. 

James doesn’t feel as trapped anymore with the weight of his past falling over him and Teresa. He feels a semblance of freedom this time around because he knows she trusts him and that he’s done working for Devon Finch.

I wasn’t expecting to get a moment like this for at least another few episodes. The writers are really speeding along with Jeresa’s relationship, which scares me. Could James’ death be right around the corner?

Kelly Anne and Pote confront their emotions

Image by USA Network

Kelly Anne and Pote also had a lot to face in this episode.

I was struck by Pote talking about Tony early on, because I didn’t realize just how much that boy meant to him.

“Tony became like a son to me. He was a good boy. A pure heart (*in Spanish*). But this world is not for a child. They make you weak and vulnerable. And I promise you, never again. After I lost Tony, everything changed.” – Pote

So much for Pote not wanting a child, because Kelly Anne had some news for him. There’s going to be an addition to “la familia.” Kelly Anne is pregnant with Pote’s baby. While fans may have cheered with excitement, Pote looked terrified when he heard the news. 

A moment that often elicits excitement in the media was a sad one in “Queen of the South” as Kelly Anne cried when she shared the news. They’re both terrified, because they know what this means. They’ve seen firsthand what happens to children in this field. Pote reflected on Tony dying earlier in the episode, and he and Kelly Anne discovered the Judge had been selling boys to juvenile detention centers for money. 

Having a child in this business means having a weakness and something to lose. It will be interesting to see where this storyline goes because Pote is still working alongside “the Queen” in the future, according to fast-forwards in past seasons.

With just eight episodes left in the story, characters are being forced to face who, and what, they’re prepared to lose in the battle for the throne. 

Brianna Taggart

Brianna Taggart gets way too emotionally invested in TV shows and loves to bring her love of stories and writing to her work in journalism. She has two degrees in journalism and communication from the University of Minnesota Duluth and works full time at a weekly newspaper in Minnesota. When she’s not covering community news, she’s covering entertainment for Bri’s Binge right here on the Daily Planet.

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