SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details on the June 6, fourth season premiere of Queen of the South on USA Network.
Season 4 of Queen of the South kicked off Thursday night with Teresa Mendoza setting up her growing empire in New Orleans. In the episode titled “Bienvenidos a Nueva Orleans,” Teresa arrives on a motorcycle dressed in all white.
“Running a cartel is like driving a motorcycle a hundred miles an hour in traffic, any miscalculation, any mistake can have fatal consequences,” actress Alice Braga says in a voiceover.
She switches into a white power suit for a meeting, where Pote executes two men standing by Teresa’s side.
“Staying on top is never bloodless,” Teresa says.
She has big plans in the Big Easy and buys a warehouse she wants to turn into restaurants, stores and a movie theater.
“I want us to own legal businesses,” she tells Pote. “Many great American fortunes started with crime.”
She’s also bought a bar as a front for her drug operation, but it’s not open for business yet. With racism running rampant, nosy neighbors and corrupt workers in every corner of the city government, she’s having a hard time getting the proper permits. Everyone wants a bribe, from the city inspector who oversees liquor licenses, to the local judge who tells Teresa: “I’m the decision maker.”
As for her real business, it’s still as dangerous as ever.
Her partnership with Mexican crime boss Castel is put to the test when the immaculately dressed female drug lord shows up unannounced. Teresa, Pote, King George and Javier fear the worst. But Castel comes with a gift – she pulled some strings in the Mexican government and Teresa is no longer wanted for the murder of Epifanio Vargas.
Teresa knows that’s not the real reason Castel traveled to Louisiana, and the stylish crime boss admits she has a problem.
“A small group of Colombian farmers are cutting into my business and I heard they’re getting ready to ship to New Orleans,” she says.
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Teresa assures her she’s not the buyer and wouldn’t double-cross a partner.
Castel apologizes and drops a memorable one-liner: “You know in this line of work there’s an enemy in every corner.” Teresa responds by saying, “That doesn’t mean we need to create them where they don’t exist.”
There’s no sign of Camila Vargas. But Teresa has other issues. She needs an East Coast distributor. Javier suggests Raul “El Gordo” Rodriguez out of Miami, who just happens to be in town.
Gordo has a horrible temper and is prone to violence. One of his workers says it’s probably because he got the lap-band and is “hungry.”
Gordo, who’s now flaco, initially refuses to do business with Teresa, but comes around after she reveals she’s mastered a way to move cocaine (in liquid form) that the DEA hasn’t detected.
Later, Teresa receives a coke shipment from Mexico. Unfortunately, it arrives several kilos light. Teresa thinks Boaz might be to blame, but he insists someone else in his operation is stealing because he’s no “ladrón.”
“Just because I question the boss’ style, doesn’t mean I’m not loyal,” he tells Javier.
Boaz hates answering to Teresa, almost guaranteeing he’ll go rogue in the future, especially considering he’s not loyal to anyone and shot his own brother in the head.
Teresa wants him to find the thief, but doesn’t want him to torture innocent people. That warning falls on deaf ears, and we see several men strung up in a barn like cattle waiting to be slaughtered. After Boaz hangs up the phone with Javier, he shoots one of the suspected thieves in the head.
There’s no word from James. “No one’s heard from him. James is a ghost,” Pote tells Teresa.
That opens the door for a new man in her life –- a musician with no apparent ties to the drug trade.
A preview at the end of the episode shows Teresa and her musician friend getting very close.
Queen of the South airs Thursday nights at 10/9c on USA Network.