Tuesday, September 4, 2018

How Mayans M.C. Forges Its Own Path in the Sons of Anarchy World [Contributor: Megan Mann]

(Image credit: FX)

Four years ago, one of FX’s most popular endeavors and dramatic television’s greatest triumphs in the last decade came to a devastating close. Kurt Sutter’s Sons of Anarchy took the motorcycle club image and — still maintaining the intensity and carnage that you associate with the outlaws — stripped it down to its bare essentials: it was a family and a community — a group of people you could count on no matter what happened.

Sons of Anarchy was, and still remains, my favorite TV show of all time. Despite its often gruesome nature, what the show boiled down to was a theme of love and the sense of belonging. The show holds a special place in my heart and a certain character’s unexpected death in the fifth season still fills me with anger and sadness: a testament to the incredible writing.

It was no surprise then that when it was announced that fans of the series would be treated to a spin-off, I lost my marbles.

Enter Mayans M.C.

Mayans M.C. carries the same vibe its predecessor did; it visually feels similar and also involves a motorcycle club. Thankfully, the series and plot is not a total shock to fans; our Men of Mayhem often dealt with the Mayans in Oakland. Alvarez — a character who will continue to pop up throughout the season — was at the head of the table. The thread of continuity between Sons of Anarchy and Mayans M.C. allows viewers to fall back into this universe without having to fully displace them with newness.

Mayans M.C. also similar tonally to Sons of Anarchy. It’s about a rebel motorcycle gang who has a front for their criminal activities so that they can carry them out without drawing any attention. However, instead of focusing on someone who has been involved in the MC for his entire life, like Jax Teller, the show switches its focus to a prospect who is fresh out of jail and looking to find his place within the Mayans.

Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes went to jail eight years ago for a crime that, as of the pilot, we’re not yet sure of. But we are lead to believe that it is in conjunction, somehow, to the passing of his mother. After cutting ties with everyone — including his girlfriend — while behind bars, he gets out and becomes a prospect for his brother, Angel, who is already a member of the club. EZ’s tasked with his first drug run for the cartel and things go awry. What follows, I can assure you, is not for the faint of heart and follows in the Sons of Anarchy tradition.

Over the course of the first episode of Mayans M.C., we realize that all is not what it seems with EZ, and this is where it becomes a much different show from its predecessor.

But in order for the series to stand on its own and move out from under the shadow of such a colossal hit, the twists we discover within the first hour and ten minute episode were necessary. It’s clear that the information viewers are given in the pilot of Mayans M.C. is going to create the drama down the line. But instead of predictability, viewers will be swept up in the ride.

JD Pardo shines as EZ and proves he’s just as a formidable force as Jax Teller was before him. His brother Angel is played by Clayton Cardenas, and his father by Edward James Olmos. EZ's ex-girlfriend — who we later discover is a major player in this story — is played by Sarah Bolger. While some may feel that this love story is similar to Jax and Tara, I would advise you to keep watching — it’s anything but that. Meanwhile, Danny Pino plays cartel leader Miguel Galindo and is incredibly intimidating at it.

As a super fan of Sons of Anarchy, I will say that I absolutely enjoyed the pilot of Mayans M.C. I thought it stayed true to the former's tone and style, while also managing to set itself apart within its predecessor's universe. The cast of the series is fantastic and the writing is just as amazing as it was on Sons of Anarchy. I’m thrilled to see where the writers take this show and can’t wait to watch how this all unravels.

And yes, for those of you wondering, there were sweet little nods to the original series that had me maybe jumping out of my seat. Trust me; you’ll see.

Mayans M.C. premieres tonight at 9 p.m. on FX.


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