Mayans M.C. season 1 episode 2 review: Escorpion/Dzec


Things get messy for the Mayans this week as a kidnapping has bloody consequences for pretty much everyone.

There’s an old proverb about laying with scorpions and expected to be stung that seems pretty fitting for Kurt Sutter’s Mayans MC, and it’s not only due to the handful of close-ups of the desert-dwelling arachnid that litter the show’s latest episode. The title of this week’s installment, “Escorpion/Dzec” literally translates to “scorpion” in both Spanish and Mayan but who’s the dangerous animal we need to look out for?

Is it the rebel group, Los Olvidados, a gang of orphaned children with a ruthless agenda to destroy the drug cartels that have become a plague south of the border? Is it Miguel Galindo (Danny Pino) and his drug empire? Is it the Mayans themselves, a biker gang begrudgingly doing the bidding of more nefarious criminals? Or should we be watching out for EZ (JD Pardo), a character who’s set up to be the de-facto hero of this story, a man pretending to be all in for the club while working as an informant for the feds?

Right now it looks to be all three. After last week ended with the kidnapping of Emily (Sarah Bolger) and Galindo’s son Cristobal at the hands of the rebels, this week, the writers waste no time in cluing us in to exactly what happened that night.

After a righteously angry Emily curses the kids out (in English and Spanish), the rebels decide to off her bodyguard and take Cristobal back across the border, presumably as leverage over Galindo. Emily’s been fine playing the dutiful housewife to Galindo’s Godfather type, but the loss of her son propels her into her husband’s criminal enterprise and now she’s done with the whole “ignorance is bliss” attitude.

Galindo, for his part, seems properly shaken up about the loss of his son, promising honesty to his wife, a pledge he only half-keeps by episode’s end. To cope with his grief, Galindo knocks some heads, tortures some innocent business owners, and enlists the Mayans to help in hunting down the people responsible for the disappearance of Cristobal. We’re treated to a grisly interrogation, one Galindo carries out in a pristine three-piece suit before EZ rescues a shop owner and his son who may have information on Los Olvidados by employing his photographic memory to identify the group’s getaway car.

At this point in the episode, things begin to get messy. EZ desperately wants to help Emily find her son — there may be some guilt there from the loss of their own child while he was in prison — but his first commitment is to the club, and to the feds who continue to pressure him to turn over information on Emily’s husband. As terrible as Galindo is, sending him to prison and destroying his business will no doubt have repercussions for Emily and her son, something EZ has yet to fully grapple with.

MAYANS M.C. — “Escorpion/Dzec” — Season 1, Episode 2 (Airs Tuesday, September 11, 10:00 p.m. e/p) Pictured: Danny Pino as Miguel Galindo. CR: Prashant Gupta/FX

Meanwhile, Galindo’s faced with an impossible decision. If he retaliates against the rebels, his son’s life is surely forfeit. If he does nothing, as his wife begs him to do, he risks appearing weak by his competitors and losing his grasp on the business. Enter Jose, Galindo’s father’s business partner, who enlists Galindo’s mother’s help in swaying her son to the “right” path. The two reveal to Galindo that his baby brother, also named Cristobal, didn’t die in infancy from pneumonia as he was told, but because of a coup planned by his father’s business partner. When Galindo Sr. refused to give in to the demands made by his enemies, they killed poor Cristobal in retaliation. That pattern of sons dying for the greater good of the business looks like it might continue with Galindo, who after some handwringing and deliberation, gives Jose the greenlight to strongarm the rebels, no matter the cost.

Emily, sensing her husband isn’t following through on his deal of complete honesty, seeks comfort and aid from her ex-boyfriend EZ, meeting him in secret at his father’s butcher shop, demanding he tells her if Galindo does in fact move against the rebels. He already has of course, and Emily breaks down in EZ’s arms when she hears the news.

As if the subterfuge and relationship drama weren’t stressful enough for the poor prospect, Angel (Clayton Cardenas), EZ’s brother, lets him in on a darkly-held secret — he and a few club members have been secretly helping the rebels and their leader Adelita (Carla Baratta), whom Angel seems to have a romantic history with. Angel trusts EZ so implicitly that he’s willing to risk his own life, and the entire Olvidados operation, to come clean to his brother. Whether that’s a wise decision or not, we’ll have to wait and see.

We’re only two episodes into Sutter’s Sons of Anarchy spinoff but already the mood is darker and more serious than its predecessor. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Where Sons glorified sex, drugs, and bad behavior, Sutter’s doing something different with Mayans, forcing his characters to have existential identity crises because of their actions.

It’s a welcome 180, one that helps us to identify with each of the main players, to empathize with their struggles. Even Galindo, who’s being set up as the villain of this season, is deserving of some sympathy — here’s a man bred to hold the position he now enjoys but one being asked to do the impossible, place his business over his family.

EZ’s being asked the same, to put his duty to the feds, his promise to provide damaging information on the cartel in exchange for his freedom, over the safety of his father, his brother, and the club.

Both men are walking paths in parallels and they’re connected by Emily, a character that still feels murky in terms of her true motivations and desires. Sons rarely did justice to its female characters but for Mayans to work, we need to understand who Emily is, how she arrived here, and just what is keeping her tied to this life for the actions of the two men circling her to truly make sense.

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Thoughts From The Table

  • As of now, Mayans feels more focused on its villains — Galindo, the rebels — than it does its own club members. We finally got a scene of the guys winding down with a few “sweet butts” (hopefully they’re not called that on this show) at their clubhouse, but the most interesting dynamics are those of Angel and his crew and just why they’ve decided to disobey their leader’s orders and help Los Olvidados. It’d be nice to see more of the club interactions to really get a feel for that rift in the group that’s sure to grow as the season goes on.
  • EZ and Emily finally shared a scene in the present this week and it didn’t disappoint. Pardo and Bolger have tangible chemistry on-screen, but that relationship needs to be explored in more than just a few washed-out flashbacks for EZ’s motivations to find Emily’s son to feel justified.
  • Richard Cabral as club member Coco is this week’s standout character. Not only do we see him grapple with the news that his underage sister is doing porn, we also see him lie to his brothers to save face before confronting his mother — who happens to work as a lady of the night. These kinds of bread crumbs that dig just deep enough into a character to have us craving more is what the show needs more of. And Richard Cabral. We could always use more Richard Cabral.
  • Shout out to Clayton Cardenas for the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Stranger Things reference in this week’s episode.