In which Kim and Shawn consider the first two episodes of Kurt Sutter's Mayans MC.
Kim: 10.) After two episodes, I know three character names - EZ, Angel, and Coco. I’m not sure if they aren’t saying the names, or if I’m not picking them up in the dialog. But so far, I don’t care about any of them. I’m not sure I’m ever going to. They aren’t being established as sympathetic characters. The only redeemable quality I see in any of them is that EZ likes to read. I mean, he’s a snitch too, so there you go. And his ex who did not keep his baby when he was in the pokey is married to the Galindo cartel dude and they all see each other all of the time around town. And here’s the best part of all of that - when they do the flashbacks, it’s like watching Sandy and Danny Zucko and I keep waiting for them to start singing “Summer Lovin’” and follow it up with a version of “Greased Lightening” that involves motorcycles. Speaking of motorcycles, did anyone else notice that amid the Mayans' chromed-out bikes with super ape hangers, there are a couple similar to a HD Street Glide riding around with them? It made me laugh because it looks out of place.
9.) I spent the entire first episode saying things like, “There’s your Jax” (EZ) and “That one’s your Opie” (Angel). I think I’ve found all of the Sons characters in the Mayans. Even June Stahl, who is now a dude, but whatever. Also, the homeless woman is now a super mangy dog. Or a scorpion that spontaneously catches fire, but doesn’t burn up. I couldn't even focus on the content or the happenings of the show. It's all kinds of weird for me.
8.) Gemma is still Gemma, three years later, which is really eight years earlier, which means that this takes place about three years after Jax died but back when they were all in the klink? Am I close? I don’t even know. There are zero references to help you put a timeline on this. You know it exists in the SoA universe, but you just don’t have any reference as to when.
7.) Emilio Rivera could save this show alone, but he’s only slated to be in three episodes this first season. How does that happen? I’m hoping IMDB is wrong. Once again, my face lit up whenever they mentioned “Marcus”.
6.) I wanted there to be 10 things in my list. So when I sat to write, I listed the numbers on the page and filled in where I wanted things to go. Turns out, I really only have nine things to say about the show. But I don’t want to cheat you out of any amazing revelations. Also, I know you’ve missed my brand of wit. Hey! How about them Packers?! When does The Walking Dead come back? Do you care? Do I? More importantly, are you all ready for the season opener of This Is Us? I am. Have you had enough of the small talk? That’s kind of how I felt throughout these episodes.
5.) I really can’t stand the going back and forth between English and Spanish with subtitles. You know, no one really talks like that, no matter what language you speak. You don’t just say most things in English, and occasional random phrases in your native tongue, do you? That would be like me saying, “I like to eat hot dogs. But they have to be cooked on the grill. Y deben ser quemados y haber derretido queso sobre ellos.” Yeah, you figure that out because I don’t give a shit.
4.) There are things happening that just don’t make sense and I feel like even with these "longer than an hour" time-slots that they’re not cutting things out for time. Here’s my big question after two episodes:
Recall in the second episode, when they’re out with the french-braided hair dude (I did my hair like that in the early '90s, FYI) and they are looking at the station wagon? Milli Vanilli gets a call and leaves quickly. Then, within a matter of a few seconds, there’s some puppers out barking at the magic scorpion. So, they realize the doggos are from the shelter and rush over. What do they find? Braided Boy is there assaulting the lady with the big boobs, basically trying to pick her up like a bowling ball. This is problematic for three reasons:
- A) Not enough time elapses. They hop into their SUV, get over to the shelter, let the pups out, have the pups get to the boys, and you see where I’m going with this, right? The dogs are there almost as soon as they drove away. Obviously, someone has a time machine.
- B) There is no explanation as to why they were called and sent over to the shelter. None. Did they just find out that their application for dog adoption was denied? I don’t even know. You don’t even know. No one even knows. And we never will.
- C) You can’t pick a woman up like a bowling ball if she’s wearing pants.
3.) I may have a harder time with following this series. There’s a lot of back and forth. There’s a lot of Mexico to SoCal. There’s a lot of flip-flopping. There’s a lot of things I’m not going to understand. There might be some things that I don’t get because of cultural norms that don’t apply to me. I am concerned about how I’m going to get drawn in. What am I going to care about? I just don’t know. I mean come on now, there are no epic beards. (I miss you, Ryan Hurst!!)
2.) You are going to have to give women something more to look at than JD Pardo. He’s kind of cute and all, but seriously, he’s about it. Which reminds me of another problem. When blondie shows up at the meat market and EZ is obviously there, she acts like her husband can’t know she’s there talking to him. Yet she stands with him, in front of a window where her escorts are sitting out front. He walks her out the back door and there’s a dude to usher her to the vehicle. He’s just standing there in the doorway, staring longingly at the girl who got away, and I’m supposed to believe that no one saw him? Does he think he’s John Cena?
1.) When you mention that “The Crow has landed”, and the diehard SoA fans hear that, they assume (rightly) that SamCro is about to roll in. YAY! And yet, there wasn’t a single recognizable character. I was in complete shock when the new head bitch in charge didn’t morph into a version of Clay Morrow and put his liquid metal arm-swords right through whoever it was they were there to kill. That would have been a scene worth talking about. But yeah, don’t tease me about my beloved Sons and not give me a glimpse of Tig, Chibbs, or Happy. Bastards.
Two in, I’m still not overly impressed, and Taco Bell was named America’s favorite Mexican restaurant. It’s going to be a long season.
Shawn: 10.) There's always going to be a problem with this show that I don't know how they will overcome. It's portrayed as a continuation of Sons of Anarchy. It's hard to follow such an iconic show and not be seen as a reboot. I don't think you can have another MC and not have people compare it to the characters of the previous show. So you have to do something to separate yourself (if you really are trying to do that) and that risks alienating the reason we all liked the show in the first place. Starting with running drugs didn't really accomplish any of that.
9.) It's okay to have Ezekiel (EZ) as our Jax. J.D. Pardo is also a very attractive man and is at least in somewhat of a different place in his life than Jax was when we met him. Jax had a pretty complicated social life in addition to the Sons responsibilities. EZ as a Prospect puts us in a slightly more interesting situation because as viewers we are clued into more info than our main character. Jax was not out of the loop on many of the issues happening around him - he was usually the instigator. The camera loves Pardo to the point that I might start counting the number of "freeze on EZ looking into the distance" shots.
8.) I will give Kurt Sutter credit for one thing in everything that he is involved in - his musical choices are spot on. Sons had a wonderful musical base. Not just the songs that played as defacto "music videos" at the end of emotional episodes but the bed that played under all the scenes. In particular, he had a great ear for that Latino punk/rock sound that accentuated the scenes with the Mayans there. Now, he has full lease to feature those types of songs that mostly played as background noise before. In two episodes, I'm already finding tunes to add to my playlists.
7.) Coco is my early favorite. His sniper skills are crazy and I love his reactions - "Sorry". Richard Cabral was my favorite actor in American Crime and he was powerful in a few episodes of Southland. His smile is contagious and he feels unique to this group without a Sons equivalent.
6.) Two episodes in and it's obviously a much bigger universe we're dealing with. This isn't SamCro and their small-town antics. While they had adventures that reached as far as Ireland (for me, some of their weakest moments) - the Mayans are covering huge areas from south of the border in Mexico to Southern California and further. The drug stories carry a bigger load than how it functioned in the previous series. I am not sure how that will play out over the season but the stakes feel much higher and probably out of the hands of a simple MC.
5.) There's an expectation of violence from Kurt Sutter shows. I expect violent shootouts and lots of old fashioned fist fights. The problem here in two episodes is even more pronounced because they feel out of place and forced. Or worse, the shootout in the graveyard in "Perro / Oc" and the fist fight by the cages in "Escorpión / Dzec" are both played only for comedic relief from the main plot.
4.) Edward James Olmos is a quality actor in everything I see. His role as EZ's father the butcher is full of symbolism and he eats up the scenery. I want more of him and his story and that's not necessarily a good thing for a supporting character. If the show is titled after the motorcycle gang and I'm more interested in the ones that aren't in the club, then there's an imbalance that is hard to overcome.
3.) The original series played out with nods to The Godfather and classic gangster films. This series continues that tradition but we are spending an inordinate amount of time with people who aren't a part of the Mayans MC. Miguel is a "Michael Corelone meets Scarface" character and gets lots of screen time over the first two episodes. I like his story but it isn't a guy on a Harley. Miguel feels like a character that's going to dominate the show as EZ's nemesis.
2.) I will give you that this show is even more dude dominated than Sons. There isn't a Gemma here (other than a glance at the actual Gemma in "Perro / Oc") and I think we're going to need a strong female lead soon. Kurt writes shows with loads of testosterone. But at some point we need a breather. I don't see that female yet through two episodes.
1.) I know you aren't impressed. I'm a little in that camp too. I love the Sutter-verse and I'm willing to give him some slack to pull it all together. What I'm battling with is my overall interest. There are lots of stories going on and I should be interested in more than just EZ's father. Every time a new wrinkle is exposed, I feel a bit of "Meh, I've seen that before." You can borrow from as many previous television shows and movies that you want but at some point you need to put in your own material. There's potential here but I'm not feeling it coming together. The television landscape is very competitive. You need to hit a home run on your first episode or people are headed to the other 13 new shows premiering on FX, AMC, HBO, Amazon, Hulu and Netflix tomorrow. I worry that I'm one of the few with patience to let this play out.