When Sons of Anarchy ended in 2014, fans knew it wouldn't be the permanent end of this world infused with outlaw gangs, murder, mayhem, and a never-ending parade of custom motorcycles. Creator Kurt Sutter even teased future spin-offs and prequels to the series.
Now, nearly four years later, the first continuation of the franchise is ready for its debut. Mayans MC is set three years after the series finale of Sons of Anarchy and follows a chapter of the Latino gang first introduced on the original show. At its center is a member named Ezekiel "EZ" Reyes (JD Pardo). It's certainly not the same show, though. The location has moved south to the California border between the United States and Mexico and most of the faces, both in the club and otherwise, are new. Of course, that's not to say you won't see any characters from Sons of Anarchy make the jump to Mayans MC.
The most notable is Marcus Alvarez (Emilio Rivera), the founder of the club and president of its Oakland chapter.
"Thank God for Emilio Rivera," showrunner Elgin James told GameSpot at the Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour. "If it wasn't for that dude, we wouldn't be here."
Still, just because faces from Sons of Anarchy could make their presence felt doesn't mean Mayans is a retread of the original. "What's really interesting is it's actually Kurt who asked [us to] the police that line," he said. "We're so in love with the mythology, and we're so in love with the world. While realizing that we have to stick our flag in the ground as a new show, we're also just such fans of what happened in the past."
Still, as much as they love the original show, there was one rule Sutter insisted on from the beginning. "The mythology couldn't be messed with," James admitted. "Like whatever happened with Sons, whatever happened there, there's no changing that. We couldn't do anything that would in any way have an effect on that universe."
Given that the series deals extensively with flashbacks to prior years, some of which will undoubtedly feature characters from Sons of Anarchy, that may prove to be a tricky line to walk. It's an important one, though, as Mayans MC strives to stand out from its predecessor.
One major change is the lack of a strong matriarch character. In Sons of Anarchy, Gemma Teller Morrow (Katey Sagal) essentially served as a mother to the entire club, though she was a twisted and vindictive one at times.
Mayans, too, featured a woman at the head of the Reyes family in its original pilot. However, after reshoots changed several details about the show, that character is now deceased. According to James, having that presence missing from the show and family makes for a more interesting story to tell.
"By removing that, we created this huge vacuum in a beautiful way," he said of the remaining members of the Reyes family. "We have these three men just clumsily trying to communicate with each other."
Another major difference is EZ himself. On Sons, Jax was introduced as the vice president of his club. In that position of power, his words carried a lot of weight with his brothers. The same can't be said of EZ, who is a mere prospect in the Mayans club, working to become a full member.
"There's nothing more American than for someone who starts as a bar back here in the Beverly Hilton and then in ten years owns a Beverly Hilton," James continued. "You know, that's the American dream. So that's what we're gonna have with our prospect. He's the lowest of the low and he's got quite a climb for him."
And it's a climb filled with twists and turns. After all, this isn't the life EZ imagined for himself. He at one point had a promising life ahead of him, but after several years in jail, he's simply trying to put the pieces of his life together. Thanks to his brother, that includes joining the Mayans MC.
"It's about being stuck between two worlds," James explained. "That's something we really wanted to do. Like EZ doesn't belong there, but he's from there. You know? We're actually on the border stuck between two worlds. He's not a club member, but he is."
The showrunner continued, "It's not the death of the American dream. But it's definitely the death of an American dream. And we're gonna get to see that and then realize that now he's gonna go on to the most American of dreams, which is the dream of becoming an outlaw."
Whether that dream is fully attainable, though, remains to be seen. Mayans MC premieres Tuesday, September 4, at 9 PM ET on FX.