Queen of the South (Episode 1×02) Cuarenta Minutos – Recap and Review

Queen of the South aired its second episode Thursday night: Warning Spoilers Ahead.

If you recall the first episode, Teresa (Alice Braga) had gotten cozy with Guero, a drug distributor. The head of the cartel Epifanio Varga (Joaquim de Almeida) had Guero and his pal killed because they were stealing from him, and he was after Teresa and the other guy’s wife too. Killing an entire family is supposed to be usually a strong deterrent to prevent such occurrences.

But Teresa escaped and survived a car wreck that she caused after killing Epifanio’s driver. They had driven her out into the desert to kill her. Epifanio said, Help me out of the wreck, and I’ll let you live. Leave me, and I will kill you. Do you think that there’s any place you can run to that I won’t find you?

Teresa leaves and later she falls into the clutches of Camilia Varga, whose network remained in place in Mexico.  Camilia has left Epifanio because he wanted to leave the drug business to enter politics. Camilia decided to stay in and she relocated to Dallas, Texas. Her drug operation continued. The closing line of the first episode was spoken by Camilia to Teresa,

Welcome to America.

So as the second episode, called Cuarenta Minutos (Forty Minutes), opened, Teresa is in the lockup portion of Camilia’s drug operation warehouse. It is here that some women who are used as mules to transport the drugs are held captive. They are regularly shot up with drugs to keep them docile as well as to keep them needy enough for the drugs to remain in play as the mules when necessary.

So another girl in the care of Camilia’s warehouse gang approaches Teresa. She relates that she gets better food, special privileges, and so forth because she does some work for them. It maybe that she provides sex, but it is definite that she swallows small packets of H for delivery, which is the job of these girls as ‘mules’.

How do I know this?

Because within minutes, this young girl keels over dead. Teresa calls for help, but there’s no help to be given as she’s already dead. They place the dead girl on a table, and then, as if slicing open an old canvas valise, they cut her open to retrieve the packets. They are only able to pull out 23 as the other two packets likely ruptured and poured the H into the girl’s system, thereby killing her.

While they were retrieving the H, a gate was left open, and Teresa attempted to make a run for it. But they captured her minutes later.

Meanwhile Camilia is palling around with some Dallas bigwigs at a Christmas party. Camilia gets a text from her lieutenants – Teresa tried to run. 

Queen of the South - Season 1

She immediately leaves the party and heads back to the warehouse. Teresa is told unceremoniously that because she tried to run, she will now have to work as a mule. When Teresa refuses, Camilia tells her guys – okay drug her up then put her to work.

Queen of the South - Season 1

With a needle only inches away, Teresa frantically changes her mind – okay I’ll do it. I’ll make your delivery.

That decision begins a long set piece. Teresa has to have a passport made up. tickets for a flight have to be purchased, and they have to get to the airport. I won’t spoil the set piece for you, but it is pretty complex and well done.

Plus the set piece is cross-cut with Camilia a) talking with Epifanio on the phone, and b) discussing arrangements with a new banker which as you all know means ‘money laundering’. The banker is both eager and cautious. He tells Camilia that he works on a percentage as commission. She is just as cagey – We’ll see how you perform before we settle on your ‘compensation’.

Okay, I’m two episodes into Queen of the South and I like what I see. This is not a new story so to be a successful series, the show will have to surprise us, and on top of that, make a series that is both watchable, entertaining, and well put together.

Alice Braga and Veronica Falcon as Teresa and Camilia are both rather new to me, and so far they’ve excelled. Joaquim de Almeida does what he does and seems to be born for roles like these.

I am recommending the series. It airs on the USA Network on Thursday at 10:00 PM Eastern time.

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