FX’s Mayans M.C. has gone through a lot of tweaks over four seasons. EZ Reyes has moved towards darkness (even though he’s arguably doing what’s necessary with his coup) sooner than expected, if one compares his (incomparable) journey to that of Jax Teller. Meanwhile, Angel is moving towards the light (and not too spiritually far away from Clayton Cardenas’ dream of nut farm territory), all while the ensemble cast has further expanded (some might say too much), and it’s grown difficult to keep track of some individual threads. The Kurt Sutter era of the show is in the rearview mirror with Elgin James now hitting his groove as showrunner, which means that stories have become less about the drug business and more about the club’s dynamics.
There are pros and cons to that shift, but the fans are digging it, and Season 5 will happen (via SDCC/Deadline). War is certain between clubs, and that’s the key focus. Yet I must draw attention to an over-the-top development that could turn into a throwaway scene, even though it was so “out there,” especially for a character who hasn’t seen much love from the writers. The show gifted Emily Galindo with the ^^ above ^^ moment. This hair-dye-soaked freakout has nothing to do with Rudy Giuliani (whew). Rather, it’s spun from the soapiest moments of biker-fueled drama. And I want to love it, so very much.
I actually would love it as a standalone scene about a character that I knew nothing about, but I don’t love the way that Mayans M.C. built up to this scene for Emily.
Because geez, I’ve been thinking about this for weeks and need to exorcise it: the hair-dye situation says a lot to anyone who’s colored their own hair (and I’m guessing that most women have tried it at least once). And no woman would be doing it like Emily did unless their sanity has reached a breaking point. The scene says a lot about a character, some character, and this should be very compelling — yes, it should.
The problem is this: Emily has easily become the show’s worst (or rather, most poorly written) character. Actually, the situation is worse than that — people stopped caring (no love or hate) about Emily Galindo and have been wondering why she gets any screen time at all. And that’s tragic, largely because Emily once seemed poised to become a force. Very early on, Sutter declared that she was definitely not a Gemma but pointed towards the inception of similar energy, and Sarah Bolger seemed jazzed about her character’s prospects, both with Emily’s cartel family dealings and in EZ’s ear.
Yet something bizarre happened: Emily became obsessed with something called an “agripark,” and I guess that happened because this universe can’t resist a shady real estate deal, but the writers did her dirty. This has little to do with Sarah Bolger’s abilities as an actress. She was fantastic (and acclaimed) on Showtime’s The Tudors, after all, and this dye mess had such potential. It’s a visceral scene, with the slippery chemicals, the crunching of the plastic gloves before she gave up and started to make a larger disaster. Her internal self, and all of that fear, leaked into her outside appearance.
Clearly, Emily was righteously f*cking up the whole hair situation. It’s all over her face and hands and shoulders, and that stuff will not be coming off anytime soon. Never mind that all of Kentucky will realize that there’s something very suspicious about Emily because she’s going to have inky junk all over her body. These are the frantic moves of a desperate person, who’s likely afflicted by some PTSD and feels a compulsion to erase herself. An investigator played by Cheri Oteri (!) spooked her. Emily’s (to be generous) an accessory to murder, and EZ could go down, too. And she’s on the run from her husband, Miguel, who tried to kill her by drugging her and starting to drown her in a bathtub before regret set in, and then Emily got the hell out of dodge.
All of this appears to set up Emily’s return to Santo Padre. Emily fled in a separate direction when Miguel’s cartel collapsed, which conveniently led him into the desert while Danny Pino revved up for his stunning directorial debut. I hope Danny gets to direct more episodes, and I hope that Emily’s story becomes more interesting with or without Miguel, but at this point, her character might be boring beyond storytelling redemption. This is where I grow a little angry. That scene where Miguel tried to kill her set up Emily at her most vulnerable, with nudity that didn’t feel sexual but sad and empty. It should have made viewers feel for her, and we should have been invested every time that we saw her on the run during this past season. Yet sadly, the show dropped the ball on Emily years ago.
In the end, the above scene crashes when it could have been a hit, rather than merely absurd. It does make me wish Mayans M.C. accomplished more with its female characters. Now I understand that this show is not Sons of Anarchy, but there really aren’t any women who are as influential as Gemma or as pivotal as Tara or as sympathetic as Donna or Lyla. Instead, Adelita began as a rebellion leader and has since veered away. Letty’s been saved by going off the rails after Coco’s death, but her upswing seems to be happening because she has a chartreuse-colored car (?); this same car helped Letty pull Hope away from turning to drugs again. Don’t even get me started on Nails/the baby or how EZ shot his ex-girlfriend, Gaby, to protect Angel.
No female character, though, has been through as much weak development as Emily Thomas Galindo, which is a real bummer. She was EZ’s college love, and the writers toyed with a star-crossed exes arc before fully detonating Emily’s potential as an intriguing presence. We should be looking forward to Emily — who let out one hell of an agonized scream after Miguel semi-ominously (after probably having her sister killed) told her to come home, that she is forgiven, and he has their son — coming back to hell on earth and doing something about it. Instead, it’s hard to care about where she goes next, or even to know how the show wants us to feel about her. I suspect that the writers will kill her off soon, and man, what a potentially impactful scene wasted. I still dig the idea of it, but it feels unearned by the character or the writers. I’ll still hold out hope and pour out some conditioner (Emily will need it) while waiting for Season 5.
FX’s ‘Mayans M.C.’ can be streamed on Hulu.