This review of Mayans M.C. contains spoilers.
Mayans M.C. Season 1 Episode 1
The Mayans M.C. season premiere opens with Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes riding his bike alongside a familiar looking wall in his California/Mexico border town, which is divided by fences. With an opening so self-aware of the current political climate of divisiveness, Mayans M.C. and creator Kurt Sutter are all but shouting at the viewer. If you were hoping for a retelling of Sons, you better let that hope go (you can read our spoiler-free review of Mayans M.C. here). A conceit tidily summed up as EZ runs over a dead crow with his bike. Damn Sutter, we hear you!
However, fear not old-school Sons fans. The premiere is packed full of cameos from the earlier show, including one that will knock your goddamn socks off.
Eight years ago, EZ was a clean-cut Stanford student, biding his time until he could escape his shitty cartel-controlled town with his high school sweetheart. All that changed when he killed a cop and landed in prison. Now this is where it gets interesting. As EZ is in the prison visiting room, losing his shit as he learns his girlfriend is pregnant, who should we see sitting at the next table but [SPOILER] Gemma Teller (you cannot imagine the pitch and volume of my hysterical shrieking as this absolute QUEEN once again graced my screen). So, while EZ had dealings with the Sons while incarcerated, the real question is: How did he manage to escape a 20-year prison sentence for murder and are the two connected?
Did he cut a deal with the D.E.A. for insider information on the cartel? It certainly seems that way, with EZ meeting an agent after hours at his father’s butcher shop. But knowing Sutter, we have barely peeled away the first layer. Expect every character to be a story unto themselves and leave your preconceived notions at the door. This is new ground, in terms of politics, motivation, and moral relativism and the story is clearly locked into the current cultural climate.
Unlike the Sons, who ran guns, the Mayans deal in heroin. They have a robust relationship with a powerful Mexican cartel and easy access across the border using tunnels decked out in electric lights and religious iconography. But not everyone is happy with this arrangement. Club politics are alive and well as the Mayans wade through the usual morass of rival gangs and in-house betrayal. At least three of EZ’s brothers are working to undermine the club’s relationship with the cartel, in a bid to support a faction of Mexican rebels (made up of orphaned children who have clearly watched The Purge one too many times) who want to destroy the cartel by any means necessary.
Yet despite the implied higher moral ground of this betrayal, which is organized by EZ’s actual brother, Angel, you get the feeling that something is not quite right. Why would their father secretly support EZ’s deal with the D.E.A, but will only talk to Angel about baseball? Where is the trust?
And how did EZ’s spunky childhood sweetheart become the wife of the cartel’s douchebag middle manager? Sure, the guy claims to be running the organization, but he has “Dunder Mifflin Regional Manager” written all over him.
By the end of the premiere, we are left with a heap of lose ends, a compelling story played by an all-star cast (I see you Raoul Trujillo), written by a man who has returned to form. Sutter is back on top, bringing us character-driven anarchy by human beings trying to survive being lost amid a labyrinth of endless walls and fences.
Reyes Carnicero Book Club Recommendation: Antologia Poética by Vinicius de Moraes