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FX's Mayans MC gives Sons of Anarchy a new baby boy


”EZ” Reyes still has training wheels in Mayans MC. FX photo

Premiering: Tuesday, Sept. 4th at 9 p.m. (central) on FX
Starring: JD Pardo, Clayton Cardenas, Edward James Olmos, Sarah Bolger, Carla Baratta, Michael Irby, Danny Pino, Antonio Jaramillo, Richard Cabral, Raoul Max Trujillo, Tony Plana
Produced by: Kurt Sutter, Elgin James, Norberto Barba

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Once you learn how to ride a bike . . .

Creator/executive producer Kurt Sutter gets back on one less than four years after his Sons of Anarchy ended a seven-season run in December 2014. His Mayans MC tracks the same-named Latino bikers club and its lawless, violent activities in an initial 10-episode run that begins on Tuesday, Sept. 4th.

Only the first two episodes were made available for review, with FX also reminding TV critics to observe a “spoiler-free zone” which “includes strong hints, suggestions, foreshadowing of key plot points, casting, etc.”

Because after all, we’re children.

Not to give too much away in this resultant rather brief review, but Mayans MC is a talkie that’s also in color and has lots of loud two-wheeled vehicles, automatic weapons fire, drug-running, tough talk laced with f-bombs and a grisly torture scene in each of the first two hours. So if you liked Sons of Anarchy, which ended up as one of FX’s most-watched drama series, then you’re very likely to roll with this one, too.

Let’s see, what else probably can be revealed without being sent to a corner for time out?

Mayans MC operates out of Santo Padre, a poor town on the Southern California/Mexico border. The Galindo drug cartel has terrorized its denizens for years, but a group of resistors claims to “no longer fear the devil.” Identifying this rebel group’s leader might constitute a spoiler, and your friendly content provider is wary that some of the many threatening words spoken in the first episode could apply here, too. For example: “They will hunt you down. Chop off your f***in’ heads and give ‘em to your kids for Christmas.” I’m reasonably sure my two adult children still wouldn’t like that.

JD Pardo is the principal star of the show, playing Mayans “Prospect” Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes, whose brother, Angel (Clayton Cardenas), is already a full-fledged member. EZ, recently released from prison, has cut a deal that leaves him straddled between two worlds. He also has a former girlfriend named Emily (Sarah Bolger), who’s back in the picture because she’s married to someone whose identity won’t be revealed here for fear of experiencing a “very unpleasant way to lose weight” -- which happens with graphic suddenness in the opening, extended episode.

TV vet Edward James Olmos plays EZ’s and Angel’s steadfast father, Felipe. He owns a humble butcher shop where other occasional transactions are made besides buying red meat for dinner.

There’s also a brief guest appearance by -- oh wait, that would fall into a casting spoiler. Let’s just say he’s newly free of a canceled CBS series. And he gets to say, “Well, boys, looks like we got ourselves a Samoan sandwich.”

The Mayans members invariably are ready for a fight, but at times are caught in the middle. They also enjoy a good group laugh, whether it’s a car flipping over and crashing or a little off-color humor in a makeshift doctor’s office.

Now and then, a glimpse of humanity seeps in. As when EZ spontaneously pays a vendor for the corn on a stick heisted by a little boy before his mother scolds him for not moving faster.

There’s a constantly intervening sound track, sometimes to the point where Mayans MC is very much a music video. Subtitles also are deployed regularly as the main characters drift in and out of Spanish.

Maestro Sutter, who’s married to former Sons of Anarchy regular Katey Sagal, obviously loves and knows this world, to which he returns after his preceding FX series, The Bastard Executioner, got an uncommonly quick ax by a network known for extreme patience.

Mayans MC, which almost assuredly will get considerable mileage, is another victims-of-circumstances undertaking in which degrees of badness are the accepted norms. All of those full-throated, angry-sounding motorcycles both add to the menace and spike the allure. At the very least, it sure beats a battalion of Buicks.

GRADE: B-minus

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