Spoiler Alert: This article contains spoilers for the finale of Queen of the South.
The fifth and final season of Queen of the South was explosive, to say the least. Nobody in Teresa Mendoza's (Alice Braga) inner circle was safe, including Teresa herself. The drug cartel leader had often put herself in danger many times over the years, but she'd always managed to survive.
However, after the events in the penultimate episode of Season 5, "A Prueba de Balas," fans worried that she would not make it through the latest betrayal. Is Teresa Mendoza dead on Queen of the South? The second to last episode of the USA drama had fans worried that the show would conclude with her passing.
Is Teresa Mendoza dead on 'Queen of the South'?
Throughout Season 5, one of Teresa's main problems is that Russian cartel leader Kostya (Pasha Lychnikoff) wants her dead. In between his threats on her life, Teresa reconciles her romantic relationship with James (Peter Gadiot). Though he's recently been critical of Teresa's approach to getting what she wants, the two can't deny their feelings and their long history with one another.
As they are confessing their love for one another, James offers Teresa a gun with two bullets to use against Kostya. Instead, she manages to get rid of him by poisoning the rim of his tequila glass.
A shooting breaks out once Kostya's men realize that he's dead, but Teresa escapes. She expresses her desire to get "out of the business," once and for all.
While it seems like Teresa may actually get a happy ending after hovering over the line between life and death for so many seasons, she ends up getting betrayed by James — or so it seemed. After she has fled to Belize, James encounters Devon Finch (Jamie Hector) one last time. He's been working with the CIA agent to try to protect Teresa. Devon requests that James complete one final mission before he can let him go.
"Teresa isn't a threat," James tells Devon. "She just wants to be left in peace."
Devon says that it's impossible for Teresa to be left alone.
"You know what has to be done," Devon ominously tells Teresa's love.
Those who have been watching the show since the very beginning may remember that a flash-forward from Season 1 shows Teresa getting shot. The moment ends up happening in real time in "A Prueba de Balas," and James is revealed to be the one who is behind the weapon.
The shot appears to hit Teresa in the stomach, and the episode concludes with her falling to the floor with blood coming out of her mouth.
The series finale reveals that Teresa is alive — though her old life is dead.
Throughout the series finale, it certainly seemed that Teresa was dead. We even watch her get cremated and her ashes spread. It isn't until the end of the episode, when we fast forward three years, that we learn the truth. Teresa truly had wanted to get out of the business. So she hatched a plan.
Before moving to Belize, she and her team created this plot to deceive Devon, knowing the conditions that Devon put on James. James was required by Devon to kill Teresa so that he could spare her a much more painful death. What Devon didn't know was that James's betrayal was just a ruse that Teresa and Pote (Hemky Madera) were in on.
In the end, James, Pote, and Kelly Anne (Molly Burnett) returned to the safe house where Teresa had been hiding, and Pote tells her that all loose ends had been tied up. She was finally free. As they sit for a worry-free family dinner, Teresa sees her old self off in the distance.
“That Teresa did die, but she wasn’t murdered by an enemy or a rival,” she says. “She was killed by me, a money-changer from Culiacán who defied all odds to survive. And if either prison or death were my own options, what do you know, I chose life.”
The final episode of Queen of the South airs on June 9 at 10 p.m. EST on the USA Network.