After building up its fifth and final season with riveting chemistry, explosive violence, and the death of a beloved character, USA Network’s Queen of the South is coming to an end with Wednesday night’s series finale.
This last season saw queenpin Teresa Mendoza (Alice Braga) expanding her drug empire to New York, battling a seemingly endless list of enemies, narrowly escaping death, and finally expressing her feelings for James (Peter Gadiot).
Prior to the series finale, Urban Hollywood 411 spoke with Queen of the South’s co-showrunner Dailyn Rodríguez to discuss the long-awaited love scene between Teresa and James, as well as the worst villain over the show’s five-season run, and what it means to be a Latina showrunner.
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Rodríguez remained tight-lipped about which direction Teresa and James’ love affair would go, although she did offer insight into the decision to finally explore the couple’s feelings.
“In my mind, I’ve always felt that after she [Teresa] sort of moved away from mourning the death of Guero (Jon-Michael Ecker), she really focused on feelings that she had for James. After losing Tony, in season four, it was going to be very hard for her to admit those kinds of feelings to James, because I think that she was putting up a lot of walls to protect herself and to protect the people that she loves around her,” Rodríguez said about Teresa’s thought process.
“She would regret not telling him how she felt, and vice versa. He’s worried about her safety and her life. And I think that that was the most perfect moment where they could really be honest with each other,” Rodríguez explained.
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Earlier in the season, there were two shocking deaths — both at the hands of Boaz (Joseph T. Campos). First, he cut off the head of slimy Judge Cecil Lafayette (David Andrews). Several episodes later, he shot and killed beloved cartel soldier King George (Ryan O’Nan).
The villains, Boaz included, seemed to get more vicious with each passing season, but Rodríguez said she has a pick for the absolute worst.
“I actually personally think that the judge was the worst villain on the show,” Rodríguez said with a laugh. “It would be easy to say Boaz, but I think that’s a complex answer. I really think the judge is a character that is really a purely evil character on the show.”
Developing characters like Boaz, in addition to the plotline for Queen of the South, is something Rodríguez has been working toward for years.
It took nearly two decades in Hollywood before the first-generation Cuban-American landed her first senior level job on a television series. Now, she is using her position to help other people of color.
“It’s taken me a really long time to get to this position. And it means a lot — for many reasons. One, that it allows me to have the ability and power to cast more Latinos — and a variety of Latinos, including Afro-Latinos — and it also allows me to staff my writers’ room with people of color,” Rodríguez said.
She added that she hopes her work will inspire generations of Latinas after her.
“It’s also really important for me that people see me in this position of power, because when I was growing up, I didn’t see anyone like me in a position of power. And I think it’s important for generations coming up and Latinas graduating college, to see that this is a possibility—that this is an avenue that they can take, they can strive to be,” she noted.
Rodríguez credits her casting team with finding a diverse group of talented actors to bring the show’s characters to life.
“We had such a wonderful casting director, they were always open, and just very specific about the types of people that we needed to be able to tell the story we wanted to tell, whether it be Cubans in Miami, or Dominicans in New York, we were really able to push, and also African Americans in New Orleans, we were really able, to push for more diverse casting, and we had all the support that we needed from the studio and the network and our casting department,” she said.
Rodríguez plans to keep telling the stories of underrepresented groups on screen after her work on Queen of the South ends. She revealed she has a couple of Latino-based TV projects in the works.
In the meantime, she is excited to see what fans think as Teresa’s reign as Queen of the South comes to a close.
The Queen of the South series finale airs on Wednesday, June 9 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on USA Network.