“Mayans M.C.” is like a new leather jacket. It doesn’t bear the scars of time or the creases of experience. But it’s likely they’ll show.
Set a couple of years after “Sons of Anarchy,” it looks at a rival gang, the Mayans, and how another generation finds its way in.
In this case, the hope isn’t the heir apparent like Charlie Hunnam’s Jax was. He’s Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes (J.D. Pardo), a once-golden boy who is out of prison and looking for direction. A deal forces his hand and he finds himself at the bottom rung of the motorcycle club, able to see how crime plays a part and how promises are meant to be kept.
To smuggle drugs, the Mayans don’t rely on a network of couriers. They hide them in quinceanera dresses. To meet in secret, they go to EZ’s father’s business – a butcher shop.
There, dad (Edward James Olmos) dispenses his own wisdom and protection.
The backstory, however, is what really intrigues. EZ was once the kid who could do no wrong. He was a star in high school, a standout in college and one-half of an important power couple in Charming, California.
Then, a shooting occurred and, instantly, EZ’s life changed.
Creators Kurt Sutter and Elgin James sparingly drop in flashbacks, giving “SOA” fans a taste of the Mayans' history and a glimpse of some familiar faces.
Like EZ, the new series is fairly untouched – until he gets in and sees the dirty work that’s involved.
Nearby, the Galindo cartel, led by a tailored college grad (a steely Danny Pino), isn’t afraid to get dirty, raging war with Los Olvidados, a rebel Mexican group out to end the cartel.
Director Norberto Barba gets back on “SOA” turf with some of the torture involved and a surprise or two that most didn’t see coming.
While Pardo is a super lure into the world of the Mayans, it’s the fringe characters who make us want to see more. “American Crime’s” Richard Cabral is perfect as a Mayan who knows more than he lets on. Olmos is comforting, too, as someone supposedly removed from it all, and Clayton Cardenas, as EZ’s brother, is the perfect connection between two worlds.
Sarah Bolger turns up as EZ’s ex, now the wife of Pino’s Miguel. And, yes, children are involved.
“Sons” fans will view this as a similar ride, only in a different gear. Where the potholes and speedbumps exist remains to be seen.
For now, though, the road is open. “Mayans M.C.” appears to be on track and ready for a long, long ride.
“Mayans M.C.” premieres at 9 p.m. Sept. 4 on FX.