Opinion: In Letting Go Of Sons Of Anarchy, Mayans MC Has Finally Surpassed It

In Season 3, Mayans MC has finally found itself and it telling compelling stories without the baggage of Sons of Anarchy weighing it down.

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When Mayans MC first debuted on FX in 2018, the possibility of revisiting the world of Sons of Anarchy was exciting, especially through the eyes of a new group of bikers. Still, the original series left some massive shoes to fill when it went off the air in 2014. While the show's quality may have fallen off in its final couple of seasons, Sons of Anarchy was a groundbreaking series for FX that told a compelling story and featured a group of characters you were dying to root for. How could a sequel series with an all-new cast stack up? As we arrive at the end of Mayans' third season and best season, the answer has become clear.

Not only has it measured up to the original series, but it's also toppled it. It took some work to get there, though. After all, while all three seasons of Mayans MC are worthwhile, it's not until the current run of episodes that the show did the smartest thing it could: It buried the past and moved forward.

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Now Playing: Mayans M.C. Season 1: The Best Sons of Anarchy Easter Eggs

Co-created by Elgin James and Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter, the first two seasons of Mayans MC introduced a very relevant story. Unlike Sons of Anarchy's predominantly white motorcycle gang in a small Northern California town, Mayans is made up of a primarily Latinx cast of actors in a tale set on the border between the United States and Mexico. It couldn't be a more timely narrative.

Yet still, with so many intricate stories to weave, the first two seasons--in which James and Sutter served as showrunners together--could not untie the knots that bound it to Sons of Anarchy. While this story of the Latinx existence in such a dangerous place at such a dangerous time was the primary plot, all too often the series relied on callbacks to Sons of Anarchy, as if it were afraid of telling a story independent of the original show. It began with the pilot and continued right on through the Season 2 finale, in which a member of the Sons club was mistakenly gunned down.

Then, something important happened. At the premiere of Mayans MC Season 2, Sutter took the stage and announced he would be handing sole control of the series over to James. "It's time for the white man to leave the building," he said at the time. A few months later, the Sons of Anarchy creator was fired by FX, reportedly due to "multiple complaints" about his behavior on the show.

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In a way, that departure allowed Mayans to be creatively reborn into the show it should have been since the beginning. With the debut of Season 3, the Sons of Anarchy influence decreased, while the series was refocused on an inter-gang rivalry between different charters of the Mayans club. With the advent of this civil war, the new season has gone to great lengths to confront members outlaws who they have become as a club and made them grapple with how far they are willing to go to protect their own interests--even if that means killing their fellow members.

What's more, a refocused Mayans MC allowed certain characters that had been stuck largely on the sidelines to shine bright, whether it's Coco's (Richard Cabral) struggle with heroin addiction and the haunting and violent upbringing he had--in which Cabral is giving the performance of his career--or the tragic story of Taza (Raoul Trujillo).

It was revealed this season that Taza, the vice president of the Santo Padre Mayans MC charter, is bisexual--something that's frowned on in this world of outlaw bikers. Viewers came to learn that his past misdeeds against the club were done to not only protect that secret but to seek vengeance on the person who killed the man he loved.

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Coco and Taza's stories are by far some of the most riveting on Mayans MC this season and had the show not pulled back on the Sons of Anarchy influence, it's possible viewers wouldn't have seen them come to light. At the very least, they likely wouldn't be given as much time to bloom as they have in Season 3.

In the end, Sons of Anarchy had its time. It ran for seven seasons on FX, telling the full tale of Jax Teller's (Charlie Hunnam) rise and fall as the king of his MC world. That story, however, is over. Mayans MC has proved this season that it can more than hold its own without having to also fill in the gaps in Sons of Anarchy's history. As much as we, as fans, would all love to know what's happening with SAMCRO since Jax's death, that is not this show's responsibility--and it never should have been.

Instead, Mayans MC needs to tell its own story, explore its own characters in more depth, and make the audience care about them independent of their relationships with characters from another show that stop by from time to time. And it's done that.

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Moreover, it has surpassed Sons of Anarchy. The stories unfolding, including Coco's addiction and Taza's bisexuality, are being given the time to breathe and grow naturally. These are the types of stories we never got on Sons of Anarchy. That show was always honest about what it was. Sons of Anarchy was about the club, first and foremost. Everything, ultimately, was in service to the story of SAMCRO. While that's not a bad thing, it can certainly be limiting.

Mayans, on the other hand, has shown that it's more interested in the people that make up the club--and not just one of two main characters, but as many as possible. It is looking at how they function as individuals, and how that impacts the club. That's the kind of story we need to see in this vicious, blood-soaked world. Thankfully, we'll get to see more of it in Season 4.

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