Cast: JD Pardo (“Revolution,” “The Messengers”), Clayton Cardenas (“American Crime,” “Snowfall”), Edward James Olmos (“Battlestar Galactica”), Sarah Bolger (“Into the Badlands,” “Counterpart”), Michael Irby (“The Unit”), Danny Pino (“Cold Case”)
Airs: The 10-episode first season premieres on FX on Tuesday, Sept. 4
The premise: Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes (JD Pardo), the gifted son of a proud Latino family, had a bright future that never was realized. A personal tragedy turned EZ’s life upside down, and he’s never recovered. EZ, recently released from prison, now is a prospect in the Mayans Motorcycle Club, which works as hired muscle for a local drug lord. Highly intelligent and full of regrets, Reyes is adjusting to his new identity as a gang member in the same small town along the U.S./Mexican border where he once had it all.
“Mayans MC” is co-created by Kurt Sutter. The series is set in the same universe as Sutter’s popular FX series, “Sons of Anarchy.”
Highs: When viewers first see Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes, he’s riding his motorcycle near the U.S./Mexican border wall and looks like any other member of a biker gang. Excuse me, motorcycle club. He’s muscular, covered in tattoos, and has a permanent sneer that says, “Stay away from me, I’m not someone to be trifled with.” But there’s a lot more to EZ than what you see on the surface, which is evident moments after we meet him.
Stopped at a high school crosswalk, the tatted Mayans MC prospect has a fond flashback to his younger days. Clean cut and a student at Stanford, he paid a surprise visit to his high school girlfriend. Then the memory vanishes, and off he goes. What derailed this promising young man’s life? That still wasn’t clear after the first two episodes, but series co-creators Kurt Sutter and Elgin James do an excellent job of making EZ a layered and conflicted character who’s fascinating to watch. You’ll want to know what happened to this man and where his path takes him from here.
Reyes isn’t the only interesting character in this series. EZ’s brother, Angel (Clayton Cardenas), is a full member of Mayans MC and a valuable contributor to the group. Angel has his own plans, however, and they don’t necessarily align with what Mayans leader Bishop (Michael Irby) has in mind. A lot of power struggles are afoot in Mayans MC, and not just between club members.
Adding a pinch of gravitas is the iconic Edward James Olmos, who plays EZ’s father. Olmos isn’t onscreen nearly as much as I’d like, but his actions have purpose every time he is. Pop, as EZ calls him, does what any good father does: He helps his son and guides him as best he can.
Lows: The storylines in “Mayans MC” are complex, sometimes confusingly so. Aside from the drama in the club, the Mayans have a drug lord named Galindo (Danny Pino) constantly dictating their actions, rival gangs that complicate their lives, and the inconvenient fact that EZ’s childhood sweetheart is Galindo’s wife. Considering how elaborate the story lines can be and how attractive the cast is, at times “Mayans MC” can give off a telenovela vibe.
Grade: (B+): Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we prospect for a motorcycle club. But what an enjoyable web it is to dive into. I never got into “Sons of Anarchy.” It’s one of my pop culture blind spots. But if it was anything like this series, I’ll have to rectify that. First-rate acting, drama galore and high-risk activity make “Mayans MC” must-see TV.
VERNON — Nesbitt’s Portside Tavern became the talk of the town when a no-trespassing sign went up last week.
Select Board Chairman Josh Unruh said the sign was only on the property for about two hours. He told residents on Facebook that a motorcycle club known as The Iron Militia put it up.
“There has been nothing filed with the town about them purchasing the property as of yet,” he wrote Friday, adding that the Windham County Sheriff’s Office and Vermont State Police had been notified. “We will see what comes of this.”
Dispelling rumors on a Facebook thread, Unruh said he had been told the club was not a Hells Angels charter. Complex.com named Hells Angels one the most dangerous biker gangs in America.
Information on the Iron Militia online was sparse. But a pig roast held in Brattleboro during July supported the group, according to a flyer posted on Facebook in June with the words “we reserve the right to refuse anyone” appearing in small print inside the lines of an illustration of a pig.
Unruh invited community members to come to the next Select Board meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 21 at 6:30 p.m. He said board members will do their best to answer any questions.
Sheriff Keith Clark said he recently received a call about the no-trespassing sign.
“We had heard some rumors over the summer; there was a group wanting to buy it or make it into a club,” he said. “But it’s all rumors at this point.”
Clark said the bar closed about a month or two ago but he had not seen “anything official” about a new use of the building.
“We don’t have any real information,” he said.
State Police Lt. Anthony French confirmed he heard the same information Unruh shared on Facebook with the exception of the discussion anticipated at the next Select Board meeting.
Calls made to the number listed for Nesbitt’s and John McKay, building owner, were not immediately returned Sunday.
Unruh works for the Reformer in the advertising department.
Reach staff writer Chris Mays at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.
It’s not every premiere where you see a pack of motorcycles flanking the red carpet.
Fans of the FX franchise will find the “Sons of Anarchy” spirit firing on all cylinders as “Mayans” undoubtedly picks up the torch. Departing from the northern California town of Charming, we find the Mayans gang in Santa Padre on the California-Mexico border.
“The impact of Jax’s last day still has a residual effect on the the outlaw community, and that definitely does for the Mayans,” said series co-creator and executive producer Sutter. “That’s the reality of the ‘Sons’ legacy.”
“It expands on what that world is from a completely different perspective,” said Edward James Olmos, who plays Felipe Reyes in “Mayans.” “It’s been adapted not only in sociological ways. Also it’s deeply into politics, religion, and in a lot of issues that really weren’t touched in ‘SOA.’”
Now, 10 years after “SOA” debuted, “Mayans” arrives in a far different political climate, while the location evokes interpretation of the current administration’s stance on immigration. It’s something Sutter contends is a storyline that unfolded after “Mayans” was already in the works, yet something he will dutifully tackle as the show progress.
“The original idea for this I wrote a couple years ago,” he said. “It’s set on the border, it’s a fictitious town, but I’m playing the current climate we live in.”
“It’s not a political show, but to keep authentic, I can’t avoid what is,” Sutter added. “I just know that there’ll be people who view this and go, ‘Oh, they’re doing it down there now with everything that’s going on.’ Who the f— could have predicted what’s happening (now) two years ago?”
Series co-creator Elgin James points to the ability of the show to offer a voice to a culture that is underrepresented.
“What we’re trying to do is tell the story the from the inside out,” he said. “We have to write it from the people that actually live on the border.”
“It’s not about politics,” James added. “It’s about survival.”
Ezekiel “EZ,” Reyes, played by JD Pardo, rides into Santa Padre and must work his way up the ladder of the motorcycle club. “You’re being told a story through the eyes of EZ, who’s a prospector,” Pardo said. “He has to be an observer and he has to be very careful.”
Aside from highlighting the exploits of this rough brotherhood of the bikers, “Mayans” dives deeper into exploring the relationships that bond the band of outlaws.
“It allows you to experience the subculture within the culture,” Olmos said. “It’s like giving water to someone in the middle of the desert. I don’t care how dark it is, people are going to be very grateful to see their own cultures going through storytelling.”
Sutter and company doubled down on authenticity, as much of the “Mayans” cast brought actual street rather than stage experience. Or as Sutter affectionately puts it, they brought “more jail time than screen time.”
James, who also found himself on the wrong side of the law at one point, credits Sutter for wanting that perspective to embolden the character of the show.
“He’s still the father of this and it’s his universe,” James said of Sutter. “But he’s been able to give us our voice in it as well. I’m someone that wouldn’t be able to get a job, as a violent felon, in like Costco or Walmart, but here I am, on a red carpet for a TV show. For a lot of our cast, it’s the same way.”
“What you start to see right away is relationships and situations,” said Clayton Cardenas, who plays EZ’s brother and fellow Mayan, Angel Reyes. “Colors and demographics go out the window.”
“The writers (Sutter and James), they don’t want this to be a brown version of ‘Sons,’” he said. “It’s possibly going to take some adjustment time for the ‘Sons’ fans.”
“We want to honor those actors from ‘SOA’ with our work,” Pardo said. “We don’t take this for granted. We’re here cause the series was a monster and it’s a monster fanbase.”
As for those looking for the return of original characters from Charming, Sutter is quick to dismiss the need to look back.
“I like just leaving that mythology where it is and the way it ended, especially with our primary characters,” Sutter said. “So that any decisions people have made about how it continued or what happened next; I really want that to sort of live in their imagination.”