QUEEN OF THE SOUTH Review: “Punto Sin Retorno”

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deals Epifanio his worst week ever for “Punto Sin Retorno.” Camila really poked the bear this week. Setting aside her mandate for illegal activities, she regularly displays the qualities of great leadership. Epifanio may be the guy running for office, but Camila is best suited to lead. She does not believe in half measures. “Punto Sin Retorno” begins with Camila giving James the okay to take out Watson.

This one bold move sparks retaliation against Epifanio’s operations in Mexico. Don Manuel opens the season on Vargas men all around Mexico as Epifanio gives a television interview, telling the press his plan to take on the Mexican drug Cartels on every level. Camila’s trap couldn’t have snapped at a more crushing time for Epifanio. She puts his candidacy on the table, he can no longer afford to defend his drug operations and maintain his “Man of the people” qualifier.

Camila heads to Juarez in the middle of all the chaos to meet with Don Manuel, head of the Jimenez Cartel, in person. It’s a bold move by a woman who proves she’s capable of master manipulations. Camila even confesses she used Manuel’s anger to deal a strike at Epifanio’s operations. Manuel likes to talk of diplomacy, but he doesn’t seem as diplomatic as Epifanio, nor as forward thinking as Camila. Camila knows she needs to strengthen her relationship with the Jimenez and offers compensation for “Birdman” Watson. One of Manuel’s best henchman is in a safe house before heading into a Mexican super-max prison. Camila offers to free Manuel’s henchman to replace Watson. Manuel accepts the deal at first. Greed before revenge. On the other hand, attacking a safe house is a risky proposition. Even if Camila tries to free Manuel’s henchman, it would be interesting to see his response if the rescue attempt goes bad. I don’t think he’d spare Camila because she did her best. Camila’s best asset, James, is riding the bench for now.

QUEEN OF THE SOUTH -- "Punto sin Retorno" Episode 111 -- Pictured: (l-r) Peter Gadiot as James Valdez, Blair Bomar as Kim -- (Photo by: Bill Matlock/USA Network)

James has wanted and planned to kill “Birdman” Watson for months. He goes to girlfriend Kim’s condo to pick up his sniper rifle and warn her to go into hiding. Kim doesn’t want to. This isn’t the kind of life she had in mind for them. He tries to explain this is the big move he’s been planning for a long time, but she shows little support.

James kills “Birdman” and all the henchmen at his estate. It’s well planned and successful on all fronts. If Camila is going to pull a Jimenez Cartel henchman out of a heavily guarded safe house, she’s gonna need James to plan and execute the rescue. However, James heads to his own safe house, a secluded trailer, to give Kim chance to reconsider and join him. James reports Teresa missing to Camila. While everything else was going on, Teresa disappeared with 4 kilos of cocaine. Camila tells James to stay put for now. She’s his main asset and needs him to move forward. Kim does appear at the safe house, but this is drama and I doubt all the characters we love will survive the last two episodes.

QUEEN OF THE SOUTH -- "Punto sin Retorno" Episode 111 -- Pictured: Will Beinbrink as Russell -- (Photo by: Bill Matlock/USA Network)

What about the MacGuffin book? Neither Brenda nor Teresa can translate the contents to anything meaningful they can sell, but Teresa knows it’s valuable to Epifanio. She starts off the day by telling Camila she wants out of Camila’s family. It’s always interesting to see Camila react to news like this. She has a lot on her plate and calmly tells Teresa this just isn’t possible. Things are changing fast and Teresa could move up in Camila’s organization if she wanted to. Instead, Teresa steals 4 kilos of coke while the warehouse is packed for relocation.

Teresa uses the product to pay Russell, the junkie immigration lawyer, for three sets of proper papers. He says it could take up to two months to get the citizenship together. That kind of time frame is an eternity during a narco war. It’s great storytelling for a couple of reasons, it adds a new clock for Teresa’s new MacGuffin; immigration papers. There’s also the element of suspense over Russell snorting his entire payment over a crazy weekend and killing himself. It works on all fronts.

QUEEN OF THE SOUTH -- "Punto sin Retorno" Episode 111 -- Pictured: (l-r) Justina Machado as Brenda Parra, Alice Braga as Teresa Mendoza -- (Photo by: Bill Matlock/USA Network)

Teresa sends Brenda to “Birdman’s” place to sell the MacGuffin book. She figures if anyone can make sense of the pages, “Birdman” should be able to see the value. Brenda arrives with two pages as a sample for “Birdman” to authenticate. Don Manuel instructs “Birdman” to pay Brenda for the whole book when the information turns out to be correct locations for Vargas narco stations all across Mexico. James punches “Birdman’s” ticket before Brenda gets any compensation. James recognizes Brenda through his sniper scope and lets her live. He has something in mind, he isn’t exactly Mr. Nice Guy. Brenda sneaks away during the shooting but leaves the sample pages behind. James finds the page when he steps up to finish “Birdman.” He probably knows what the information means too.

Teresa and Brenda head back to Mexico to lay low for a while. Brenda sends Tony to stay with her mother while she and Teresa leverage the book. They figure out some of the information is locations of Vargas banks, stash houses. There is no place safe for anyone for the last two episodes. That’s a great third act mandate, no one is ever safe.

TB-TV-Grade-A
Season 1, Episode 11 (S01E11)
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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