I was an unabashed fan of the first four seasons of Kurt Sutter’s blunt, violent motorcycle soap opera Sons of Anarchy, and I very much enjoyed hate-watching everything that came after Opie died (and based on those last three seasons, Sutter clearly hated writing the show, too). I was weirdly excited about the Sons spin-off, Mayans M.C., which debuted on FX last night (and in grand Sutter tradition, he couldn’t keep it under an hour). It’s too early to make a determination about the quality of the series — the pilot fell somewhere in between early season and late season Sons, but there was enough meat on its bone to make it compelling.
The problem? Sons never lacked for shifting alliances and backstabbing, but the pilot episode of Mayans MC crammed a lot of it into an hour and a half, and viewers who weren’t paying close enough attention may have gotten confused. So, here’s a brief unraveling of the storyline, so far.
The show is set four years after the events of Sons of Anarchy and focusses on a different motorcycle gang (that often allied with SAMCRO), the Mayans. Here’s Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes, the lead.
EZ is a prospect in the Mayans, which means he hasn’t been fully initiated and therefore has to do all the dirty work, which includes — in this episode — wrapping up the dead body of a man who had his arm cut off. EZ’s story really begins eight years ago, when he was at Stanford and in love with Emily (Sarah Bolger).
Something happened eight years ago, however, and EZ apparently killed a cop and was sent to prison, which is when he found out that Emily was pregnant with his child. We don’t know exactly what happened between the time he was convicted and now, except Twist #1: He made a deal with prosecutors to inform on the Galindo cartel as a member of the Mayans in exchange for his freedom.
The only person who knows about this arrangement is EZ’s father, Felipe, played by Edward James Olmos. But twist #2: The head of the Galindo cartel, Miguel Galindo (Danny Pino) is in a relationship with EZ’s ex-girlfriend Emily, and the two have a child together.
The Mayans ostensibly work for the Galindo cartel running drugs. During a drug run to Vegas, however, the Mayans are robbed by a Samoan gang, the Base Town Tribe. Galindo wants revenge and tasks the Mayans with taking out the Base Town Tribe, only Twist #3! it was actually another gang, Los Olvidados, that arranged the Base Town Tribe intercept, and Galindo wants to kill their leader, Adelita.
The Mayans say to Galinda, “Cool, cool! No problem. We’ll kill Adelita for you,” only Twist #4. it turns out that the Mayans — or at least, several members of the Mayans (including EZ’s brother, Angel) — are working in cahoots with Adelita and Los Olvidados to take out the Galinda cartel. Here’s Angel, by the way:
Knowing this obviously complicates matters for EZ, because he was just supposed to use his position as a Mayan to inform on the Galindo cartel for the Feds not rat out his own gang, but now the Mayans want to take out Galindo for Los Olvidados. There’s one extra complication because Twist #5, the Mayans are also targetting Galindo’s wife and EZ’s ex-girlfriend, Emily.
Got it? OK, how about one more twist (number 6): Several years ago, EZ may have had some help in striking a deal with the Feds to inform on the Galindo cartel from a familiar face:
Leave it to Kurt Sutter to find a way to get his wife involved in the Sons spin-off.
tl;dr: The pilot is packed with compelling, twisty storylines. The test is how well Mayans M.C. can unravel them, and whether the series can do so without chewing through six seasons of television in three episodes — as Sutter often did on SofA — or taking entire season to tell a story that could be told in two episodes (as Sutter also did on SofA. Elgin James will be co-showrunning the series and, from what I understand, Sutter is also taking a backseat on this show, for better or worse.
Header Image Source: FX