Over its seven-season run, the ground-breaking Sons of Anarchy built a loyal fanbase for Jax Teller and his lawless motorcycle gang. So captivating was this series that a spin-off show, Mayans M.C., was created to continue filling SOA fans' appetites for more high octane-action.
While many were unsure as to whether Mayans M.C. would live up to the hype of its predecessor, audiences were blown away by the first season of this series set in the same fictional world as the men from SAMCRO. Let's take a look at some of the ways that Mayans exceeded all expectations even when compared to SOA, as well as the aspects of the original show that its spin-off just couldn't quite rival in its debut season.
In one of the pilot's opening scenes, EZ drove down a long stretch of road on his chopper before stopping in front of his old high school. The image of the school triggered a flashback to memories of years gone by, which was the first of many flashback sequences to be featured throughout the show's first season.
Such sequences allowed viewers to get a taste of the background of EZ's character, consequently stirring audience members' curiosity. This left audiences members desiring to learn more about this show's main characters, as well as to uncover the significance of the focal points of such scenes.
While seeing Marcus Alvarez in Mayans is thrilling, particularly for SOA fans, the influence he has on the overall plot is minimal. As for Bishop, while he is a charismatic and effective president, his interactions with EZ are limited and impersonal, probably due to EZ's standing.
Clay Morrow, on the other hand, brought an unmatched passion and intensity to SOA, due to his close father-son relationship with Jax. His occasional tension with Jax added intrigue to an already captivating storyline, and with a number of scenes being shot from his perspective, we see a personal element that is so far lacking from the leaders in Mayans.
While SAMCRO got involved in some intense violent encounters, such as removing the tattoo off of Kyle Hobart's back, this spin-off show featured showdowns of a larger scale and a much more diverse scope. From the get-go, the entire Mayans outfit found themselves in an epic battle with the Samoan gang after the hijacking of their shipment.
While most fight scenes in SOA comprised serious elements of the main storyline, Mayans M.C. managed to also use such scenes for comic effect, for example, the bareknuckle showdown between the Mayans and Galindo's men in the dog shelter.
From the moment that SOA first hit our screens, fans got an insight into the heated arguments going on around the table in the club chapel. From routine calls of yay or nay during club votes, to defining moments where one member's reluctance would lead to a motion being vetoed, audience members were treated to a look at the MC's decision making system as well as the relationships between its members.
Unfortunately, the political complexities are mostly lacking in Mayans M.C.'s first season. EZ is often absent from such meetings due to his status, while the meetings for which he does get an invite are mostly routine and thus lacking in heated debate.
While SOA did well to flesh out the storyline of Jax and his clan, and thus form an emotional attachment for viewers, it did little to provide viewers with insights into the lives of supporting characters and thus the general SAMCRO environment. Characters like "Juice" Ortiz were restricted to brief instances of comic relief, whereas prospect "Halfsack" received brief moments of glory such as the time he represented SAMCRO in the bareknuckle boxing tournament.
Mayans M.C., on the other hand, provided supporting characters with the spotlight needed to give the world at large a more realistic feel. From the drama between Johnny Cruz and his mother and daughter, to Felipe Reyes' interactions with law enforcement officers as a means of protecting his son, authenticity was delivered to viewers on all fronts; not just through the actions of main protagonist EZ.
While it may seem that the Sons of Anarchy club was comprised solely of male bikers at first glance, a key leader of the club was actually Jax's mother and Clay's wife, Gemma Teller. Gemma was a maternal figure to many throughout the first series of the show, and provided protection to many while combating external forces that threatened the club's survival.
The materal wisdom that Gemma provided, as well as her attitude, grit and many fierce confrontations will long linger in the minds of fans of the original series. Unfortunately, Emily Thomas, the main mother featured in Mayans M.C., does not show the same fire that Gemma once did.
What Mayans possesses that SOA ultimately lacks is focus on a specific culture, which is constantly referred to by the inclusion of subtle details that highlight the culture's beauty. Such references are placed in each episode's title which is comprised of two names; the first being in Spanish while the second refers to the Haab and Tzol'kin calendars.
In addition to this, each episode's title refers to the symbolic animal featured at the beginning of each episode, which in turn signifies that episode's prevailing theme. For example, the pilot episode's title, "Perro/Oc," is representative of the dog featured in the episode. This dog signifies loyalty and new beginnings, which EZ brings to the table in his new role as Mayans propect. Such symbolism provides each episode with added meaning and hints at its greater purpose in the overarching story.
While EZ certainly shows foresight and patience, these are traits that he has displayed from the start of the series. Jax Teller, on the other hand, started from a more flawed position and thus exhibited a more drastic change as he became wiser after learning from previous mistakes.
Perhaps, due to the thick and fast action in Mayans storyline, there was just not enough time to focus on individual character development, however this meant that viewers were deprived that feeling of fulfilment that was present during Jax's story arc.
While SOA did well to flesh out the main characters' backstories as well as the organisational practices of the motorcycle club, it took a few episodes for viewers to truly grasp the underlying plot, as the earlier episodes of the first season seemed to be mostly comprised of stand alone stories.
Mayans, on the other hand, did well to engage in a hard storyline from the get-go. Immediately from the pilot episode, viewers were exposed to the collaboration between the Mayans and Gallardo, the threat of Los Olvidados, and EZ's dealings with the Feds, making Mayans a show that was easier for viewers to sink their teeth into from the start.
While Mayans provides satisfaction to viewers by keeping their favourite characters alive, this also means that the true dangers of the world of Mayans is underplayed. Sure, it was difficult to see innocent people such as Donna being killed in a shocking and brutal way in SOA, however it certainly kept the reality of the dangers in the M.C. world fresh in the minds of viewers.
Because no one was safe in SOA, fans would truly appreciate when their favourites were spared from death in dangerous situations. In Mayans M.C., however, it is almost expected for fan favourites to make it through every situation.