QUEEN OF THE SOUTH Review: “Cicatriz”

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delivers a fast-paced finale fueled by action and capped with a twist in “Cicatriz.” I’m always interested to see how far a series will go in its finale to keep viewers hooked for the next season. Some shows, like The Walking Dead may choose to hang the axe (or bat) of death over some beloved character’s head. Queen of the South teases a whole new direction for the show. It accomplishes this by attacking the Queens on a couple of levels.

Camila wins a very short and costly victory in “Cicatriz.” She calls Epifanio’s partners to a meeting in Sinaloa and takes command of all his operations. She promises to increase profits using the shipping company she acquired to move more product and boasts about the cooperation of the Jiménez cartel. This was her plan all along, move on Epifanio when he has his hands tied with the election. Epifanio’s men agree to support her leadership, which is tested immediately as the new Governor-elect arrives in person. Epifanio challenges her leadership, but Camila is too strong. She has played her hand and is enjoying the moment as much as she can.

Isabella ramped up the bratty for this last episode, not her finest character hour. Camila sticks to the claim that everything she does, she does for her daughter’s sake. Isabella just doesn’t see it, she wants to return to her father and be the governor’s daughter. We see Camila miscalculate for the first time this week. First, she knew Isabella would not accept change right away, but she didn’t know how much Isabella’s resistance and accusations would hurt.

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Camila’s second, and most costly miscalculation; how quickly Epifanio would retaliate on her betrayal. This appears to happen instantly. Epifanio calls his contacts in the military the minute he leaves Camila’s meeting. He tells the general to stand by for information that can be used to hit narco targets all over Sinaloa. A few moments later, we see military vehicles roll in and shoot up distribution centers and stash houses. Many of the men that recently pledged allegiance to Camila are hit and Epifanio kills one himself. It appears as if Epifanio set this attack into action, but there is another possibility due to the big twist at the end of the show. Bottom line, everything Camila planned for in season one is destroyed. Her daughter is lost to her. I can’t figure out where or how this woman even begins to recover for the second season.

Meanwhile, Teresa is captured escaping the Limpiador’s ranch. She regains consciousness in a warehouse, no sign of Brenda. Epifanio arrives and menaces Teresa for the location of the McGuffin book. She sticks to her story that someone else is holding it and it will go to authorities if that person doesn’t hear from her. Here too, the season-ending twist could play a big part in the second season set up. Guero, Teresa’s soul mate and the guy who gave her the book in the first place, is alive and in federal custody. Huge twist. I don’t know how they pull that off on a story level, it’s a lot to backtrack and unravel. On a character level, it’s a big story payday. This means it’s possible Epifanio didn’t set the military attack in motion. The speed of the attacks against narco sites enforces the story Teresa used to buy time at the warehouse.

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Teresa kills Gato to escape, but takes Pote hostage. All of this enforces the story she told Epifanio. Everything that happened on Election Day could be the work of Guero’s cooperation with DEA. There’s also a chance that Epifanio had Guero leak to the DEA as part of his Governor mandate all along, but that plot is full of mines. Teresa rushes back to the Limpiador’s ranch to save Brenda. Pote decides to help her on route. News starts to hit about the attack against narco sites. Many of his friends are dead and he also thinks Epifanio is behind it. He helps Teresa sneak onto the ranch and kills the guards but they’re too late. Brenda is dead when Teresa arrives. We don’t see how they killed her but Teresa comes out of the barn guns blazing. She kills the Limpiador when he arrives. This is a good character transformation step for her. It’s a cold-blooded, strictly-revenge kill. Killer-Teresa is something to build on next season if and when she finds out Guero is alive.

Imagine what happens when she finds out the guy she’s been seeking revenge for has been sipping coffee, feeding the feds intelligence. The Teresa that fell in love with him is dead. It’s the dawn of Terminator Teresa. During her drive to the Limpiador ranch, Teresa calls Camila and explains about the book she has that Epifanio wants. I can’t imagine what good the McGuffin book is now, but James convinces Camila to meet Teresa at the ranch. Camila offers to negotiate for the book and Teresa starts with conditions and terms. To begin with, Teresa is free, no longer a prisoner of Camila.

QUEEN OF THE SOUTH -- "Cicatriz" Episode 113 -- Pictured: Alice Braga as Teresa Mendoza -- (Photo by: Bill Matlock/USA Network)

Camila doesn’t have much to offer and we’ll have to wait for the second season to see how this moment plays out. On a certain level, the tables have turned. Camila can be a great resource if Teresa seeks revenge against Epifanio for the death of Brenda. Whether he is responsible or not, he is the most logical target. Also seeking revenge, Cesar “Batman” Guemes escapes Camila’s compound just before his execution. He has always been loyal to Epifanio, but he could also blame him for everything that happened to the Vargas cartel. He knows Epifanio isn’t above cooperation with the DEA when it helps his agenda. This nasty, violent character is capable of unloading a mountain of chaos for Camila, Epifanio, and Teresa. I wouldn’t put it past Cesar to target Isabella. That could create an interesting alliance. Queen of the South has a great foundation for building the second season.

TB-TV-Grade-A
Season 1, Episode 13 (S01E13)
Queen of the South airs Thursdays at 10PM on USA

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Eric lives in a world where the television is great, the smiles are warm, the pizza is hot, the puppies are playful, and the zombies are slow and meander while he reloads.
Twitter: @Etom2012

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