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Mayans MC - Perro/Oc - Review: 'The Dress Makers'

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Welcome to the world of the Mayans MC, EZ Reyes. You have just signed yourself up for the ride of a lifetime, once you get done detailing El Padrino's bike and disposing of a body.

In 2014, the world bid adieu to Jax Tellar and the Sons of Anarchy. Four years have now passed and the Mayans are here to show us a new club and new way to run things on the fringes of the law. The pilot episode was a perfect introduction to the world of the club and its members and by the end, I was on board and ready to take this ride with EZ. If the first episode is any indication, it is going to be a wild one.

Welcome Prospect

When we meet Ezekiel 'EZ' Reyes (JD Pardo), he has been battered and bruised by the weight of wasted potential. We get flickers of what made him this way in the form of well-placed flashbacks that show a very different EZ just eight years prior. Pardo brilliantly infuses a stoic silence in EZ that speaks volumes to what this man has endured and what he must carry as he joins his brother Angel's (Clayton Cardenas) motor cycle club upon release from Stockton State Prison.

EZ has a photographic memory or as Angel puts it, 'He remembers shit' which comes in handy and could also be his curse after one of the two twists in the episode is revealed. Aside from his new family in the club, EZ has a close relationship to his Pop, Felipe (Edward James Olmos). Felipe seems to be the port in the storm for the many lives EZ is straddling. While watching the pilot, and having many hints dropped that EZ got released much earlier than the 20 years he was given for killing a police officer, it became obvious that he cut some kind of deal, the terms of which do not involve taking down the Mayans, but rather the Galindo Cartel they run drugs for. This twist is one of the few shaky things about the pilot because it puts our protagonist against the club and we are supposed to be rooting for both. EZ is already in over his head with the DEA handler who is not above summoning him in the middle of club business, and if that keeps happening, it will eventually raise some flags. His pop is there to assist in the meet-ups at his butcher shop and is weighted by what his son is doing, but will help him no matter what. The other issue with this to me is is Angel. EZ cannot let him know he is spying by using the club and Felipe keeps his eldest at a distance to ensure the two worlds don't collide. Is this really fair to Angel? I don't think so, but his brother and father can shield him with plausible deniability should it all come to light, so in that respect, I get leaving him out in the cold.

The next devastation from EZ being locked up is the loss of his high school girlfriend, Emily (Sarah Bolger). The audience only gets snippets of the good then the heartbreak but Emilly and EZ have history and it will be interesting to see the fireworks when they are in the same room in the present given who Emily is married to (more on that in a bit). There is also the small detail involving their last interaction that will get messy. In a flashback we see EZ breaking up with her for her own good and Emily throwing him a curve that she was pregnant with their child, but after his decision, she would take care of it. EZ instantly tries to undo his damage once he sees the ultrasound, but Emily is gone. Now if you are a SOA fan, this scene also had a sweet little cameo by a very familiar character. Back in the present, EZ's plate is very full and his journey seems to be wrought with obstacles of familial obligation and the desire to leave a town and life he just can't get away from.

Club Business
In this first episode we learn the Mayans main task is to run drugs for the Galindo Cartel that was first introduced in Sons of Anarchy. They use a dress making factory as their front and stuff the drugs into dresses that they can pack into a truck and run all over southern California for Miguel Galindo (Danny Pino). This deal is a shaky marriage as the Mayans don't exactly love the the terms and the dangers it entails. I am trying not to draw comparisons to Sons because I know this show is its own journey, but I feel like we are seeing the club already fractured. When we met the Sons they were kings of their domain and anyone outside the club bowed to their dominance, the Mayans however are just trying to stay whole and afloat in a deal that is shaky at best. Perhaps in later episodes we will see their effect on their southern Cali home.

Galindo is in the driver's seat of this marriage and is none too pleased when a routine run to Vegas is hijacked by a rival gang and his drugs are stolen. Pino makes Galindo a terrifying adversary that cannot be underestimated in any way. Once the Mayans, with the help of a southern California Sons chapter find the men that stole their drugs, Miguel calmly interrogates the ring leader and helps him 'lose weight' by cutting off his arm until he spills the goods that rebel forces in Mexico were pulling their strings to steal the drugs. Oh, and Miguel Galindo is also married to the aforementioned Emily with which he shares a young son. This twist felt a bit forced to cause more underlying issues for EZ. If he doesn't know, it may be more incentive to take down the cartel, if he does, that is more devastation to navigate for a man that has lost everything. Clearly the writers want us to be invested on a personal level to how EZ and Miguel will be intertwined.

The Mayans aren't all gun fights and drugs. We see glimpses of their bond when they run a member over the border to be patched up and joke that their non Spanish speaking brother is actually there for a sex change. I especially loved scene-stealer Johnny 'Coco' Cruz (Richard Cabral) making EZ's day harder by dropping a 300+ body near him and simply saying 'my bad!' (a phrase he utters many times during the pilot). Club president Bishop (Michael Irby) gave EZ a 'welcome to the club' moment when he punched the prospect in the face for speaking out of turn in front of Galindo, but I hope we get more of him and his leadership over the club in coming episodes. The President is an integral character and we need to know how he ticks because of what EZ is doing outside his purview with the DEA. Will he be on board or will he end his prospect for snitching even if it wasn't against the club?

What the F*** are you doing Angel?
Brother bonds can really make a show and it looks like Mayans will have a very complicated one in Angel and EZ. Cardenas spends the first half of the episode portraying Angel as a good solider, but he played him with a subtle restlessness that helped me see that there is so much more to his character than just the brother and faithful club member. Angel helped bring EZ in and he is hiding something from his brother that makes EZ's secret a little easier to take.

The member that set up the ambush of the rebels was none other than Angel. He clues his brother in when he, Coco and Gilly (Rocco Vargas) take EZ back across the border under the guise of burying a body. EZ is thrown a curve when his brother leads him to a remote camp in the desert and learns that Angel has aligned himself with rebel leader Adelita (Carla Baratta) and feeds her information on the cartel. Adelita is fascinating because she takes in orphaned children due to the drug ravaged border and is working to rid her home from the drugs that plague. Angel is the perfect bed fellow for her and EZ is shocked that it was his brother who set up the ambush. Once they talk about it, Angel instantly become a richly layered character with a strong vision for the future.

This was one twist I didn't see and was pleased because I spent much of the episode after the EZ reveal silently whispering 'what about Angel?'. The reason for this is that Angel is not a blind follower, he knows the cartel is ruining his club and has made moves to separate them from Galindo. This is a rich mine of story to tell and will no doubt be compelling from start to finish. It also puts Angel and others in the crosshairs which makes me nervous. Both brothers are hiding something but a deep love will hopefully carry them through.

Other Thoughts:
- The child we saw Emily with is obviously too young to be EZ's, but she could have a 7 year old at home. Could she have had the baby complicating EZ's deal even further?

- The Sons timeline is there. By my calculations, Gemma could have been at Stockton visiting Jax or Clay when they were locked up after season 3. This means EZ could have crossed paths with those incarcerated sons and that is an exciting possibility for flashbacks.

- Another Sons reference. I personally had no issues with EZ running over the crow in the beginning but some Sons fans may have taken exception. I loved the symbolism of it being their turn now.

- Marcus Alvarez being there was welcome sight. Plus El Padrino being bestowed upon him makes him once again a scary character for EZ and Angel to cross.

- Something is up with Angel and Felipe's relationship. I hope we explore that because the distance was disheartening between father and son.

What are your thoughts on this first episode? Will you stick around? Let me know!

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