Throughout the year, I am approached to compose creative reviews. Those tossed my way in the television world are chosen based upon their casting and creative story lines. As I am a backseat Harley rider, this acted as one major motivator to provide print coverage for said show. The definitive seal to the deal came when witnessing the abundance of audience support showered upon every cast and crew member of Mayans MC. Due to the aforementioned, and a dozen more reasons, here I am to review this FX success story.
Creation and cultivation of interest and intrigue which sustains viewers and visibility on television is truly tough. Soliciting fine looking faces and big bodies can attract attention, but likely will lose audiences after a few shows. This program employs attractive actors who embody emotion and energy every second on screen. They have done their homework, along with slapping on some extra credit work within each scene. Additionally, within several of the lead actors, we see a splendid spectrum of ethnic exhibitions. To be more specific, these are Mexican, Dominican, Cuban, Irish, Hispanic and Venezuelan. Pooling together such an array of culture to carve out tales of family and fury is purely priceless. If only people in the real world could perform so well hand in hand – Sigh. Finally, the ingenious scribblings and solid content created by Elgin James and Kurt Sutter serves as a solid foundation upon which these thespians can stand and tell a beautiful story. Many fans started following the show expecting several Sons of Anarchy similarities within each episode. A true testament to success is to become a stand-alone show. Mayans MC has different drama and diversity, while still showcasing strong spousal, sibling, and father/son relationships. Two triumphs on one network carved out by a few chimerical characters – NICE.
Before doing a breakdown of these characters, bonus points must be provided as to songs and speech. The theme song had a major makeover, resulting in a more resilient, remarkable feel from a female songstress. As to the dialect spoken during most shows, one is rarely offered lengthy vignettes with foreign languages. This forces the actor and associated players to step up the performance, and man, have they done so through ten episodes. Lastly, as a Milwaukee native, I must mention the show promotion point. I will bet a bunch of you never noticed that Miller Coors paid for promotional consideration on Mayans MC!
Onto the character critique, and this should entice even non-viewers to enlist into watching on a weekly basis. In order to encapsulate the entire cast, I would need to write numerous reviews. Hence, I shall shine my spotlight on as many as space allows. A mature, mysterious father and friendly neighborhood butcher is played by Edward James Olmos. Olmos’ character, Felipe Reyes, portrays a nearly completely numb man who appears direly disconnected from his deeper self. He comes off as rigid; yet has a real sense of regret that surfaces slightly from time to time. True to form, Olmos could speak three sentences and audiences would jaw drop in awe. He is the epitome of excellence with his delivery during dramatic roles. Reyes is another testament to his poignant talents as a pantomimist. Felipe acts as a somewhat sympathetic, yet stoic, parent to both Ezekiel (EZ) and Angel Reyes, played by J.D. Pardo and Clayton Cardenas, respectively.
EZ comes across as a wild and wounded man; tippy toeing on a constant tight rope between being the bad boy and illusive informant to a lunatic lawman. The loss of his mother and first major love have left him enormously empty – which reduces one to rage more often than once. Pardo’s portrays Ezekiel’s heaviest hurts through his eyes, and his body language radiates a deep discomfort with his own identity and issues. Immensely captivating to see him create two sides of one character so simply.
Cardenas is charged with the task of balancing Angel’s resentment and ripe sense of abandonment against his powerful need to be accepted and abandon his sizable “soul” scars. Clearly, he elects to utilize humor and snide sarcasm as tools to combat his true torture. Cardenas brilliantly brings to screen a man battling dark demons with immeasurable insecurities – making us route for him to be his best self. He gets viewers to gaze upon him as not just the misfit, but rather a man owning his weaknesses while forgiving that beheld by his own family. The love/loathe battle between brothers is beautiful and bothersome to watch, but Pardo is perfectly paired with Cardenas to build a beacon of shelter from their own storm.
Angel’s love interest and long-standing rebel is played by the vivacious Venezuelan actress, Carla Baratta. Named Adelita, she too is walking a narrow live wire, as her life finds her stuck between the cartel and the Mayans Club. Her intense belief in her battle often places Adelita in harm’s way, both physically and psychologically. Baratta comes off as crude while maintaining compassion; passionate and proud of her people. Her dedication and devotion fuel her fire, and she would die before surrendering to man-made Satan. Baratta is a bold bright actor who clearly immerses herself in becoming this raw and remarkable woman. Mayans MC may be her US television debut, but she makes us believe she is a well-established entity in the acting world.
Now, the Reyes family could be construed as the proverbial protagonists, hence, there is always an antagonist. Make way for Miguel Galindo, son of a drug lord who is witty, classy, and charming. Remember, underneath lies ruthless and rough – and at times, relentless. Three-way winner in the acting world Danny Pino is point-on perfect to pull off this gritty gangster. Viewers have seen him gravitate from larger than life to lost and lonely. He is no longer on solid footing at home or among his huge entourage. Pino has a giant gift for effectuating emotion, verbally or non-verbally. We want to watch him work his magic, minute by minute despite the darkness. From his walk to inferring winks, Pino’s performances are award winning and purely precious.
Bravo to the creators in casting a solid and strong lead to stand alongside Pino, and that is Sarah Bolger. Bolger infuses immense intensity and even bigger evil into her role as Emily Thomas, wife to Miguel Galindo and EZ’s ex. Even though there is an inferred chemistry churning between Emily and EZ, she realizes her real-life role is cartel lord’s companion. The once innocent Thomas has grown to embrace an inner greed while succumbing to the spite that seems to surpass her love for Miguel. Bravo, Ms. Bolger!
Last but not least is Dita Galindo, mother to who some call a mad man named Miguel. Ada Maris plays a mom with a stockpile of secrets disclosed week by week. She is sharp tongued and shrewd; willfully waiting to pounce on her prey. Manipulation and mind tricks are in her trusty tool box 24/7. Maris is a marvel on screen, between her scary stars and somber suggestions. She makes me remember that acting legends still live.
This brings us to Mr. Marcus Alvarez, brought to life on SOA by Emilio Rivera. Now working in another world, Alvarez appears to carry a calculated and cold persona. It is harder to read his motivations, and he seems more unhappy and uncentered alongside Miguel. I have come to regard Rivera as one of my favorites, as even his on-screen silence says something. The best actors are artisans who bring life to the lifeless and meaning to the unmemorable. Alvarez has life and meaning because Rivera plays this role. Congrats, fine sir, on a fabulous season.
The final character I have come to honestly admire and appreciate is Johnny “CoCo” Cruz, played by Richard Cabral. Cruz is seemingly overflowing with ongoing agitation and angst. His weapons are volumes of violence and vulgarity, and at the core, heis crushed by the horrors of hell he has seen. His soft spot seems to lie within the club and children. It is hard to tell where Co Co starts and Cabral ends, as they seem singular. Cabral brings all of his heart, himself, and strong star power to his portrayal. I have yet to meet him but feel I must simply say, I am proud of your work, Mr. Cabral.
I was blessed to be offered feedback from fans; with the compliments being big and the criticisms so small. Regardless, every individual, if offered the opportunity, would watch, dish on, and discuss this show several times a day. Mayans MC has wooed the world.
To conclude, Mayans MC is a series that transcends crimes and clubhouses. It is a show that displays the deep love and large destruction felt by families, both on and off motorcycles. These characters frustrate you in a flash, then fill you with fear in a few short seconds. All are complicated, a small bit crazy and chaotic. Yet, they are also every day humans with heartbeats. They represent the several sides and shades of every being in society. If you want a weekly hour of television which finds you screaming, sighing, and or/sitting in shock, tune in to FX on Tuesday nights at 9pm. More importantly, if you seek to see statuesque storytelling played out by astounding and atypical actors, Mayans MC is a perfect pick.
Please visit the website for additional information on the show: www.fxnetworks.com/shows/mayans-mc.