WARNING: Spoilers for premiere of Mayans M.C. will be found below.
The debut episode of Mayans M.C. introduced a whole new club to recapture fan thirst from Sons of Anarchy loyalists, who showed up to make FX’s newest series the most watched cable premiere of the year. Co-creators Kurt Sutter and Elgin James honored existing mythology while setting up higher stakes, for which hidden agendas (most of which are believably fine-tuned, even with much upfront double-crossing involved) have already poured out. “Escorpion/Dzec,” the second episode, makes those challenges personal on multiple levels, but we should talk about that title, since this biker universe digs symbolism.
As our own Dustin Rowles noted, this season’s titles follow a telltale format — the Spanish/Mayan name of an animal for each episode. Last week, a lingering stray dog prevailed (is it Jax reincarnated?), and this week’s installment features the titular scorpion at a few key moments: (1) While the child of cartel leader Miguel Galindo is kidnapped; and (2) When the Mayans notice escaped dogs barking near a kennel that also houses lost children in cages. It’s plausible that the scorpion arrives in the spirit animal totem sense, to forecast change on the horizon — that is, the army of Los Olvidados (“Forgotten Children”) rebels are working to overthrow the cartel after decades of brutality.
For what it’s worth, the Mayans M.C. Twitter account recently tweeted a crude drawing of a scorpion atop a gun with a “the table decides your fate” caption. The club table? Who knows, but there’s not much time for the club to think about scorpions because sh*t is going down, and worlds are colliding all over the place. Perhaps most entertainingly in terms of nostalgia, the show builds upon the cameos (Gemma and the San Bernardino SAMCRO president) from last week by adding in another familiar face. That would be Chucky Marstein, (Michael Ornstein), who’s working at the salvage yard where Coco (wait for it) researches porn (more on that later). Thankfully, Chucky’s not preparing to cook chili in this chapter.
More substantially, this episode develops evolving club dynamics while prospect EZ swiftly wins the respect of seasoned members. Whereas he was punched for speaking out of turn last week, he now receives a pat on the back from club President Obispo “Bishop” Losa after mouthing off to Miguel. EZ can’t hide his resulting uneasiness, since he fears club blowback for whatever he’s doing to help the DEA. Elsewhere, well-executed action goes down, including when the Mayans descend upon the kennel for an all-out brawl with invaders. Some humor surfaces during the violence when Bishop halts his fight with Miguel’s braided mercenary. They part ways with a smile while letting the others have “a few more minutes” to work out their differences. It’s an amusing moment.
A larger arc featured in this episode revolves around Emily’s burgeoning awakening. Much of this has to do with a viral video made by the rebel group, and the clip’s gimmicky as hell but gets the point across without adding 15 minutes to the episode, which is always appreciated, but back to Emily. She’s certainly not a female character that’s anywhere near as powerful as Gemma, the matriarch who wielded plenty of behind-the-scenes heft. Emily’s much more like a Mafia wife, who knows that evil is afoot but doesn’t know details. Yet now that her child’s life hangs in the balance, Emily demands the truth.
Miguel, of course, icily shuts Emily down. He’s already been encouraged to follow in his father’s footsteps and sacrifice the baby to show the rebels that he will not yield. He’s internally tormented, and Danny Pino (yes, SVU‘s Danny Pino) effectively communicates Miguel’s polished-monster persona, something he must uphold while ruling a bloodthirsty organization. When he steps outside to talk with an associate, Emily glances through the window in a moment that mirrors The Godfather scene where Kay horrifically witnesses Michael Corleone amid the “kiss the ring” tradition. After such a betrayal, we can likely expect Emily — who later asks EZ for help — to fall into her ex-boyfriend’s arms at some point.