WHAT IT'S ABOUT In this spinoff of "Sons of Anarchy" — the wildly successful FX hit that ended in 2014 — the Mayans M.C. and SAMCRO (Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Originals) are now allies. It's set at some point in a "post-Jax Teller world," according to FX, and the Mayans are in service to the cartel. They are still led by Marcus Alvarez (Emilio Rivera), and they may also have a new recruit, Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes (JD Pardo), who's just out of prison. His brother, Angel (Clayton Cardenas), is a full-patch member and wants his especially bright sibling to join. Their father is Felipe (Edward James Olmos), who runs a butcher shop. This 10-parter was co-created by "SOA's" Kurt Sutter and Elgin James (2011's "Little Birds"), who is a former gang member.
MY SAY Here we go again. An eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, and whatever other body part that comes to mind. "Sons of Anarchy" went all-Old Testament from the opening episode, and there was every expectation "Mayans" would too. It does — and how: In this opener, you'll get two raging gun battles, one pyrotechnic explosion and a particularly gruesome torture scene. "Sangre [blood] is sangre," one Mayan says to another. Right, and apparently the more of it the better too.
This was all to be expected. Unfolding as "Mayans" does in the "SOA" universe, there was never any reason to assume the gods would be any less crazy. From the opening shot, Sutter signals that they'll be even crazier this time. A chopped bike rolling down a dusty highway runs over a dead crow that's being picked at by a mangy dog. The dog steps back as the cycle roars by, then appears to grin. Read that symbolism any way you like — perhaps "SOA's" Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) reincarnated or the dead crow a reference to SAMCRO? Crows appeared in the opening and closing shots of "SOA" too, while this dog, like "SOA's" famously itinerant Homeless Woman, appears at other points in the pilot.
But if dogs could talk, this one might say that what goes around comes around. History repeats and people repeat their terrible mistake, too. The universe is indifferent or the gods must be crazy. Either way, stories end badly and so do people, like Jax, who ended up a smudge on some lonely highway.
If this sounds nihilistic and depressing and, really, a little bit exhausting, then welcome to "Mayans M.C." Have at it. After all, you're the one who's been waiting for this spinoff the past four years, while Sutter spun his own wheels on "The Bastard Executioner." This Bud's for you. Me? Already been here, done this. I am exhausted.
BOTTOM LINE Violent, jarring, contorted and doesn't fully make the case this was the spinoff "SOA" needed or demanded.