Mayans M.C. review: EZ and others battle between good and evil

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A new threat blurs the line between good and evil this week on Mayans M.C.

What is evil? Is it a supernatural force? Is it a collection of bad decisions? Is it the inability for empathy, a callousness, and disregard for morality?

The general definition of the word “evil” is the absence of good which means, to truly understand what is evil, we must first acknowledge what is “good.” It’s an even more difficult concept to suss out. Is it all just relative, or worse, circumstantial? Does a person’s measure of good or evil change because of nature, nurture or a combination of both?

It’s something philosophers throughout the ages have tried to make sense of, and we’re probably not going to get any closer to an answer with this episode of Mayans M.C. but boy, does Kurt Sutter enjoy challenging us with the tough questions.

This week, the concept of good and evil felt vital to more than a few character’s story arcs. As always, EZ straddles that line. One minute he’s hanging out with his brothers at a local whorehouse, serving beers and having a grand ol’ time, the next, he’s hunting down drug dealers and being asked to flip his ex-girlfriend for the Feds.

At his core, EZ seems like a good guy — he certainly has the right hangups about the life he’s currently living — but at what point will his circumstances change him. When does nature, his environment, his brothers, the task he’s been given, outweigh nurture, the character he’s built, the values he was raised with?

We’ll press pause on that for now to give a quick rundown of the biggest moments from this week’s episode.

The club faces a new threat in “Murciélago/Zotz,” as a bunch of redneck, wannabe border patrol agents begin hunting immigrants looking to hop the fence. Normally, Uncle Sam wouldn’t care about, as Bishop notes ever so bluntly, but this prey has been smuggling drugs across the border which changes things.

It’s not the club’s drugs, so of course, EZ and the rest must find out who’s supplying Oxy in town and a new villain presents himself in a mysterious new arrival who may-or-may-not-be named Cole. Cole is about the size of Andre the Giant, he’s got a shaved head, prefers military fatigues, and has a link to EZ’s past behind bars. He might also be a former Navy SEAL, so the boys are rightfully concerned about going toe-to-toe with the guy.

As the club handles business, Emily makes herself useful, researching guerilla war tactics to help her husband manage the rebel threat. Unlike Galindo, an educated businessman, and the rest of his cartel groupies, Emily’s been able to solve the problem across the border through a simple Google search. Instead of fighting fire with fire, torturing innocent civilians and cracking down on the general population, Emily thinks the way to win the war is by swaying public opinion, appealing to the masses, convincing people that the devil is not the cartel, but their self-proclaimed saviors, the rebels.

MAYANS M.C. — “Murciélago/Zotz” — Season 1, Episode 4 (Airs Tuesday, September 25, 10:00 p.m. e/p) Pictured (l-r): Raoul Max Trujillo as Che “Taza” Romero, JD Pardo as EZ Reyes, Michael Irby as Obispo “Bishop” Losa, Clayton Cardenas as Angel Reyes. CR: Prashant Gupta/FX

It’s a brilliant PR move that honestly feels so obvious, I was waiting for a light bulb to switch on over Galindo’s head at one point. The incompetence of men never fails to surprise me on this show. Still, an opportunity to destroy Emily’s plan presents itself when Galindo is sent a video of his son, shot by a rebel infiltrator, that clearly identifies Adelita and a nun who belongs to a church his family regularly donates to.

Now, instead of vandalizing the church during a sacred festival, blaming it on the rebels, then swooping in to be the people’s hero, Galindo’s men take things a step further, killing a nun and leaving her body for the town to flee from in terror. Emily is trampled in the chaos and the episode ends with Galindo carrying her to safety.

Again, we’re presented with the question of good vs. evil. Emily and Dita have a heartfelt conversation before the ruckus, with Dita warning her daughter-in-law that being a part of the inner circle is a slippery slope, one she made sure to avoid by remaining ignorant of the business. Emily assures her she doesn’t care about Galindo’s empire, she just wants to help get her son back, and yet, it’s her and her husband’s idea that ultimately leads to an innocent life being lost.

Does that make her evil? She’s certainly not all good, and no matter what the writers would have us believe, Emily’s no victim. She chose this life, chose this man. Her reluctance towards violence and bloodshed proves she has some kind of moral code, but we’re not sure what it is yet.

We’re also not sure of her relationship with EZ, which looks like it might be rekindled thanks to this latest fiasco and the feds pressuring him to turn Emily to their side. EZ doesn’t bite at the bait, but his handler has no problem threatening Felipe and promising to pull the deal if he doesn’t cooperate. Emily might be more than willing now to turn to EZ for help in exchange for information on her husband, but once she discovers his deal with the feds, things probably won’t end with a happily ever after for the two.

Speaking of new information, we finally get a glimpse into the murky past of Edward James Olmos’ character. EZ’s pop has been set up as the friendly neighborhood butcher, a guy for whom family comes first, an upstanding citizen of the community. This week, we find out there’s more than meets the eye with Felipe Reyes, if that’s even his real name.

The guy didn’t exist until the ’80s, he took the social security number off a dead woman and may have been involved with some kind of militia or cartel down in Mexico before crossing the border.

Again, does this revelation make him good or evil? Does someone’s past always define them? Or are we just living in varying shades of grey on this show? I’m leaning towards the latter, but I think Bishop’s got it right. The greater good just keeps getting a little harder to see.

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Thoughts From The Table

  • This week’s episode title “Murciélago/Zotz,” references a pretty ominous animal in old world mythology. The bat is thought by some cultures to be a harbinger of death — which, isn’t everything on this show? — but in the Mayan calendar, the symbol of Zotz is a cross between a bat and a fish. Both animals perfectly adapted to their two warring environments, air, and water. Again with the dichotomies, Sutter? I’m going to have to dust off my notes for that Philosophy 101 class I took in college, aren’t I?
  • Richard Cabral continues to put in some fine work on this show. We get a glimpse of Coco’s dysfunctional home life this week along with the tragic reveal that his sister in the porno is actually his daughter who we wanted to give up for adoption before he went to prison. His mom decided to keep the kid, raise her as her own, but the second time was not the charm. Now the girl knows the truth and Coco’s in an even deeper mess than he started with. I feel like “Poor Coco” is going to be a phrase we’ll be saying a lot this season.
  • I love Sarah Bolger and what she brings to this show. She feels like an outsider in more ways than one but I’m ready for her to shed this good-wife persona and get her hands dirty. A docile housewife she is not, and I can’t believe she’ll revert to that role after this week’s episode. Also, is it terrible that I want to see her and EZ back together again? Why tease us with these flashbacks if we’re not going to get some action eventually?