Mayans M.C. season 1 episode 3 review: Buho/Muwan


In the third episode of Mayans M.C. the action slows down to make way for some much-needed story-telling.

Crafting a show like Mayans M.C., and its predecessor Sons of Anarchy, is a tricky business. Fans are obviously tuning in for the action, for the spectacle of it all. Guys riding around on hogs, dealing in violence and drugs and sex – it’s a life most aren’t familiar with and thus, fascinated by. Kurt Sutter knows that. It’s why he doubled down on all things morally questionable with his first show, but Sons ultimately suffered from copious amounts of criminal shenanigans. The end of the show felt frantic, filled with murderous backstabbing and back-door gun dealing that ultimately stole screen time from the character-building the series had previously invested in. It was a hurried rush to the bloody end.

Mayans M.C. thankfully doesn’t share that same problem. Because we’re just beginning with these characters and this new world, Sutter and his writing team seem more than happy to slow things down, letting the action flow naturally as an undercurrent to the more important plot and character development that’s carrying the show. It’s a welcome change, even as an episode like this week’s “Buho/Muwan” feels a bit sluggish without the kind of gang-on-gang violence and darkly-lit torture scenes we’ve come to expect from the cruel and unrelenting world of the M.C.

Of course, there’s a beatdown or two, a surprise death, and a nice tribute to the ultimate badass on this series, Edward James Olmos. Sutter hasn’t gone completely soft, y’all.

If the idea of plot-over-action worries the die-hard leatherbacks, the title of this week’s episode “Buho/Muwan” is a dead giveaway that danger is a constant in the world of the M.C. “Buho/Muwan” is the Spanish and Mayan translation for “owl,” an animal thought to be a harbinger of death among some cultures. We see the ominous bird pop up several times throughout the episode, first to warn the rebels that their hideout has been discovered. We’re led to believe it’s Galindo’s pigtail-sporting henchmen finally closing in on the thorn in the cartel’s side, but Adelita is too smart for that. Instead, she leaves a troubling calling card for Galindo, teasing him with the uncertainty of his son’s fate, while Angel, EZ, and Coco ride up to talk business. The rebels are low on supplies and Angel has secured a way to score some cash – an under-the-table drug deal with one of the Chinese. While he’s busy ensuring the kids have food to eat, EZ appears overly-concerned about the fate of Emily’s son.

Some fans have been speculating that Cristobal might actually be EZ’s baby – Emily did drop the pregnancy bomb on him when he was in prison – but personally, I don’t think the timeline adds up. Instead, it seems EZ feels a certain amount of guilt and responsibility to reunite mother and son – two powerful motivators in and of themselves.

MAYANS M.C. — “Buho/Muwan” — Season 1, Episode 3 (Airs Tuesday, September 18, 10:00 p.m. e/p) Pictured: Carla Baratta as Adelita. CR: Prashant Gupta/FX

Speaking of Emily, Mayans hasn’t given the talented Sarah Bolger much more to do than stare at an iPhone and look believably distressed so far. That changes with this week’s installment. Emily seems fed up with living in the dark when it comes to her husband. She picks up the cigarettes – why is smoking the go-to for dramas featuring worried, crazed women? – and finds a bit of her chutzpah by heading across the border to the square where Galindo delivered a pair of charred messengers. The point of this little field trip remains a mystery, but some of the episodes most enjoyable scenes are between Bolger and Ada Maris, who plays Galindo’s mother, Dita. There’s a commentary about the roles of women in the stories of powerful, dangerous men, the steel and resolve, and restraint they are required to exhibit, that feels like it’s itching to be explored. Anytime Bolger and Maris share screen time, they scratch at that just a little bit more.

While the women take a road trip, the Mayans drive down to a casino on the reservation to help mediate their mishandling of a botched drug run that happened earlier this season. The Chinese show up and Angel confirms his side-deal with a gang member named Jimmy, but Bishop makes sure Jimmy leaves the meeting in a blood-soaked rug, so Angel’s more than a bit dismayed. You see, the Chinese discovered one of their own was doing business without offering them a cut and they had the Mayans murder the traitor as a show of good faith. Makes total sense, right?

And while the Mayans deal with some everyday business, Galindo’s busy recruiting spies off the street in Mexico – wannabe gangsters who haven’t reached puberty yet who play video games and swear Boy Scout oaths – to narc on the rebels. One infiltrates Adelita’s camp by the end of the episode.

The show’s title might symbolize death, or at least the threat of it, but there’s also another thread the writers tug on this week: that of perception. Owls are widely believed to have excellent vision – their way of seeing the world makes them dangerous hunters – but they’re also comically farsighted. So much so that once they catch their prey, they can’t see it and must instead feel it using their beak and feet. There’s a metaphor there somewhere, one that has to do with EZ, his relationships with his father and brother, and how his life of crime began.

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We’re treated to a few flashbacks that further explain how such a promising college kid ended up behind bars. Glimpses of EZ chasing a hooded figure, a shootout near an abandoned high school, a cop startling EZ, causing him to instinctively shoot and accidentally kill the man. It’s unclear why EZ pursued the man – maybe there’s a correlation with his mother’s death – but the guilt wears heavily on him, something his brother has trouble seeing but his father seems intimately familiar with. This notion of seeing people clearly is tested with Felipe too, as he confronts an undercover cop outside his home, and Galindo, as he tearfully apologizes to Emily as the two lay in bed. Not everyone is as they seem on Mayans M.C., and it makes things so much more interesting.

Thoughts From The Table

  • EZ had a skirmish with some awful cops this week at the casino, and I know we’ve said the emphasis of story-over-action is needed, but damn, was it fun to see J.D. Pardo beat the hell out of someone and then walk off with a smirk. Major Jax Teller vibes.
  • I’m struggling with how to feel about the “villains” thus far. Galindo is a man just trying to better his family’s business, but he’s fallen into this trap of lying to himself and everyone around him about his true intentions. Instead of cleaning things up, he’s only getting his hands even dirtier. Adelita is no different. Her cause seems nobler, but at the end of the day, she’s using children to achieve her own aims, letting her rebel kids do the dirty work of the resistance. I sympathize with both but also detest their methods.
  • EZ’s connection with Emily’s son just doesn’t ring true, and I fear this whole baby subplot is just serving to confuse fans. I can’t believe the kid is his, but then why is he so distracted by Cristobal’s fate? We’ve only had one real-time interaction between Emily and EZ, and there just wasn’t much to go on there to rationalize this side-mission of his.
  • Angel proved he’s still very much a boy playing a man’s game this episode. He’s got grand notions of helping the rebels and overthrowing the cartel, but so far, his plans have been thwarted by men older, wiser, and more experienced in this life of subterfuge. It’s only a matter of time before his game is up.