Family Ties Take a Hit in the Season 1 Finale of ‘Mayans M.C.’

Mayans M.C.” could possibly be the strangest family show on television. The season finale is all about the bonds that bind brothers, kill cousins and send outlaws on the run. In classic FX fashion it of course must run at 1 hour and 22 minutes, but the pacing doesn’t drag. The first spinoff from the highly successful “Sons of Anarchy,” this show has managed to cement its own identity while nodding here and there to the original.

In the beginning of this episode, titled “Cuervo/Tz’ikb’uul,” EZ Reyes (JD Pardo) faces a major dilemma. U.S. assistant district attorney Lincoln Potter (Ray McKinnon) has tasked him with killing his cousin and former DEA agent Kevin Jimenez (Maurice Compte). If EZ does this job the DEA will wipe out all records of his collaborating with them, which means his brother Angel (Clayton Cardenas) won’t face possible execution by the Mayans for bringing in a snitch to their ranks. But Angel is determined to do the hit himself, so as to keep EZ in the clear. It’s a tough burden on their father, Felipe (Edward James Olmos), who even considers doing the job himself but can’t. Back at the Mayans’s clubhouse, top dog Marcus Alvarez (Emilio Rivera) is finalizing votes for new gun running operations in conjunction with the Sons of Anarchy. The goal is deepen the Mayans’ links to the Galindo cartel. As for the big crime boss himself, Galindo (Danny Pino) is nearly done putting his empire back together, yet EZ still harbors feelings for Galindo’s wife and old flame, Emily (Sarah Bolger). After doing Potter’s bidding, EZ must decide to either leave or remain with the Mayans and anger Angel, who wants him to go into hiding. But someone else will indeed hang their vest and switch sides.

For a show about tough guy bikers and narcos, “Mayans M.C.” sure spends a lot of time threading multiple subplots and storylines. Following every angle can be a chore at times, no less in the season finale. But the heart of the entire first season is EZ, who remains a “prospect” right up until the end credits. He is the conduit for a show that is really about family, whether through blood ties or the tribe ethos of the Mayans club. EZ can’t just run from his troubles because the consequences would consume his brother and father. From the season premiere on, he’s been pulled by dual forces, loyalty to the Mayans and to the feds he was snitching for. In the finale it becomes obvious leaving the side of the law comes with a price. The central moment of “Cuervo/Tz’ikb’uul” comes when EZ and Angel both arrive at Jimenez’s house. There’s a shootout and Jimenez is dead, but is so an agent caught in the crossfire. When Potter arrives to inspect the bloodbath, he’s not too shaken but makes it clear to EZ he will still owe him yet more favors for cleaning up the mess. You always owe someone in this world. Many of the best moments belong to Angel. While EZ is always a stone-faced operator, Angel opens up in more honest ways. He chastises Felipe for the perception that EZ is the favorite. Edward James Olmos is fantastic as well, playing Felipe as a concerned but broken man.

The rest of “Cuervo/Tz’ikb’uul” keeps the show’s biker gang meets soap opera feel intact. One wonders if it’s because the characters are Latinx that it feels it needs to throw in forbidden love and Mayan names for tattoos. But this is TV drama after all, and biker gangs have always been the definition of dramatic, going back “The Wild One.” EZ obviously still loves Emily, but she belongs to Galindo and it becomes clear that in the next season this will become a bigger issue. In the finale we get more flashbacks to their youthful days of fooling around under the stars, then he sees her in the present, and realizes she’s truly not his anymore…for now.

We get the necessary bits of gruesome gangland violence as well. Galindo at one point breaks the news to Nestor (Gino Vento) that he won’t promote him past security detail because of his earlier stunt involving beating a nun with bats. The killing of Jimenez is like a forensic lesson on how a bullet can shatter someone’s head apart. By comparison the opening shot of roadkill as EZ cruises by is tame, even gruesomely poetic.

Fans of “Sons of Anarchy” will particularly revel in the finale’s third act, when the Sons arrive to hang with the Mayans. But the showrunners toss two brilliant cliffhangers at us. During an outdoor party EZ sees a particular Son, Happy (David Labrava) and immediately connects him to the shooting of his mother years ago. If that isn’t enough, Marcus Alvarez hangs his Mayans vest, seeming to resign presidency of the club and goes to the home of Galindo. The top Mayan will now be the top counselor for the drug lord.

There’s so much going on in “Mayans M.C.” you easily lose track of the other, small tales like the fate of the Los Olvidados rebels and Adelita (Carla Baratta). They have struck a deal with Galindo and are staying now in a designated house where Angel comes to visit. Not much happens with this storyline. It has been apparent all season that it suffers from being almost unnecessary with all of the cartel DEA intrigues going on.

“Mayans M.C.” ends a well-done first season with enough story to carry it into the next one. Because the leather and guns are a façade for themes about loyalty and bonds, it’s more intriguing than a mere crime show. But we still get a heavy dose of melodrama, keeping us waiting for the next dose of betrayal and broken hearts.

Mayans M.C.” season one finale aired Nov. 6 at 10 p.m. ET on FX.