QUEEN OF THE SOUTH spends time in the villain’s world with “El Hombre Pajaro.” Crime has rules, we always here this from the thieves. If this is true, then Eric “Birdman” Watson must be breaking them. He’s working with the husband of his competition, the leader of his own cartel’s competition, to disrupt the balance of their local economy with pure product. This kind of behavior must be out of bounds.
Queen of the South is smart to spend some time with its villains. Teresa and Brenda may be doing bad things, but they’re in tough situations and would rather be living a more regular life. Epifanio, Camila, Cesar, and James all wake up every day making creative decisions for villainy. A good show will spend some time with them. This isn’t a knock against Alice Braga’s star power, but we’ll never see Teresa take a day to play golf. Enjoying life is for those people calling the shots. Camila isn’t experiencing much joy these days. Epifanio keeps attacking her supply lines, and Camila’s suppliers want her to get financial guarantees, from him, before they release more product.
Camila cashes out her rainy day funds, but Birdman, under direction from Epifanio, attacks James and Teresa before they return to the compound. They lose half the money they need to pay Columbian, Jaime, for more product. Epifanio suggests Camila look for a rat in her organization, and she does. To make up for her loss in funds, she tells James to set up an ambush against some Miami smugglers to hijack their 25 kilos. It won’t cover her customers, but it will get her closer to the funds she needs to keep in business.
Teresa grows her network and reminds the immigration lawyer/junkie she needs legitimate papers for her and her friends. He needs $30K per person just to get started; even then, no guarantees. Teresa turns to Brenda for the capital. Brenda is making a little money, but her product is extremely weak. She gives Teresa the little bit she has but considers changing to a more lucrative business; crystal meth. Brenda is a great problem solver, she’s happiest when she’s working some angle, but she’s also greedy. Her greed dropped the wrecking ball on their lives to begin with.
Storytelling-wise, we see a clear division on their ladder of sin. Greed is bad, but Power is higher on the scale. Epifanio is driven by Power. He doesn’t just want Camila to do as he says, he wants her to ask for forgiveness, admit she made a mistake. Epifanio’s power issues are laced with vanity. Camila is also driven by power, but her brand is more control related. She tells her daughter, Isabella, she must be strong in this world. Camila’s power is laced with independence and self-sufficiency. The Vargas villain world is packed with interesting thematic arguments. Typically in modern film and television narrative, the baddest of the baddies is the one with the God complex, with vanity characters close behind. For Queen of the South, that’s Epifanio and Birdman.
Season 1, Episode 7 (S01E07)
Queen of the South airs Thursdays at 10PM on USA
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.
Eric Rodriguez | Contributor