Review: Queen Of The South (USA Network) – Spoiler alert: Teresa dies at the end
By Robin Oatley on June 24, 2016
tells the story of Teresa Mendoza (Alice Braga, I Am Legend), who also narrates the story, badly. Teresa lives in the type of environment where it’s normal to snort a bit of cocaine before going clubbing. It’s here that she meets her drug runner beau ‘El Guero’ (Jon Ecker, Narcos). He introduces her into the world of drug running, takes her to cartel parties, and when he moves up the ranks of the cartel he provides her with seemingly unlimited amounts of money. Until he is killed for betraying the cartel by running a little side business. Teresa has to flee the house she’d been living in so comfortably.
Only after El Guero has been killed does the story really start to unfold. Teresa now has to fend for herself, and motivated by her desire for revenge she sets up a drug network. The process is a bloody one, but Teresa doesn’t have anyone to be accountable to but herself. Sure, she could have made better decisions every now and then, but to err is human. Plus, it makes for some intense scenes where guns and cars (yes cars) fly.
The series does its best to throw Teresa into the narrative as quickly as possible, which means there is relatively no background to Teresa and a lot of ‘look how much she’s falling in love with this drug runner who will introduce her into the world of narcotics’. Although it does little for the series at first, things start to pick up when El Guero is killed and Teresa and her friend have to flee from the cartel in a series of flashy action scenes. The question is; should a series really have to rely on an action scene introduced only halfway into the pilot for entertainment?
There is something to be said for letting go of the Hollywood glamour every once in a while. Teresa having perfectly curled hair after a car crash contrasts the feeling of the scene, which was supposed to be one of desolation and despair having crashed in the middle of the desert. It is a shame, because the scenes are well thought out – save for these details – and the series does a good job of differentiating Teresa’s flashy life from her struggle to climb up the socioeconomic ranks.
One thing I have failed to understand is the lack of effect drugs seem to have on the characters in this series. Hardly a scene goes by without someone snorting one thing or the other, but they never seem to be affected by it. Now, it could be my lack of experience with using cocaine, but I was under the impression drugs have effect. Although I understand why the writers wanted to emphasize drug use, this is yet one more detail that makes that much less appealing.
During the story, Teresa has visions of herself in the future, giving her advice in dire situations. Add the opening scene in which we see Teresa in the future, rich and shot to death in her mansion, and future Teresa’s narration, and it’s clear the series is trying to connect the present and the future in any way possible. It does little for the story and it makes the series feel forced. It could have done without.
Is it such a horrible series to watch then? No. As you may have noticed, my scruples with this series are minor details, because all in all, the story is solid and the execution – although wanting in some areas – is good enough to grasp your attention. Even though it takes a long time to build up any favorability towards Teresa and from the first action scene on the premiere episode is a continuation of violent chases, I believe a lot of people will find themselves tuning in to see how the young woman fares on her own as a female drug kingpin in a male-dominated world.
Queen Of The South airs on Thursdays at 10/9c on USA Network.