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Less than thirty minutes into its opening episode (commercial breaks notwithstanding), Mayans MC introduces one of the most iconic characters from Sons of Anarchy lore — and this person’s unexpected appearance may pave the way for similarly surprising sightings.
While Kurt Sutter and Elgin James’ new biker drama exists in the same Sons universe Sutter launched in 2008 and ended in 2014, Mayans MC focuses on an entirely separate corner of the world populated by an entirely new set of characters… well, almost entirely new. There’s one obvious crossover character in the form of Mayans founder Marcus Alvarez, played by Emilio Rivera, who first played the character all the way back in the Sons of Anarchy pilot. An additional Sons alum shows up later in the series premiere: Robert Patrick’s Les Packer, the president of the San Bernardino chapter of the Sons of Anarchy, who appeared previously in the sixth and seventh seasons of Sons.
With all due respect to both men, Alvarez and Packer’s inclusion in Mayans pales in comparison to the biggest crossover character of the episode: the legendary Gemma Teller Morrow, the Sons of Anarchy matriarch played by Katey Sagal. For anyone who skipped the series premiere, but has a working knowledge of Sons of Anarchy — especially the final few episodes — Gemma’s appearance in Mayans is bound to cause some confusion. In context, it makes much more sense, and even opens the door for a full-on Sons of Anarchy reunion.
Little more than midway through “Perro/Oc,” the first episode of Mayans, viewers are tossed back in time to an earlier period in protagonist Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes’ life. Though he was once on a fast track toward a bright future, EZ’s life was upended when he was arrested for killing a police officer, the exact circumstances of which remain unclear. According to a title card, the flashback scene takes place eight years before the present narrative. In the scene, EZ’s then girlfriend Emily (Sarah Bolger) visits the Mayans hero in prison, a tense encounter that ends with a dramatic twist: Emily is pregnant with EZ’s child, which she only reveals after he breaks off their relationship. Once she leaves, EZ becomes unhinged, attacking prison guards in a desperate attempt to get Emily to return and discuss their child’s future. All the while, there’s a surprise guest who witnesses the action: Gemma, sitting by herself, clearly waiting to visit with one of EZ’s fellow inmates.
As the prison guards drag EZ away, Gemma utters a single word: “Assholes.” With that, we’re tossed back into the present, with nothing more from Gemma than that one vulgarity — a rather tame vulgarity at that, given Gemma’s typically colorful prose.
The cameo from Sagal, who is married to Mayans co-creator Sutter, only makes sense in a flashback context, given Gemma’s death near the end of Sons of Anarchy; a return from the grave in the modern day Mayans story would be a shark jump that even the Mayans motorcycle club couldn’t complete. It’s a fun nod to fans of Sons, but it’s not just a whimsical easter egg, as Gemma’s appearance in this specific context places EZ within the world of several members of the original Sons of Anarchy cast. In addition to placing the scene eight years earlier, the title card reveals the location of EZ’s imprisonment: Stockton State Prison, a facility that housed numerous members of SAMCRO for fourteen months in between the events of seasons three and four.
The full list, as well as their status through the end of Sons of Anarchy:
• Tig Trager (Kim Coates) and Happy Lowman (David Labrava), both alive through the Sons series finale;
• Juice Ortiz (Theo Rossi), eventually killed in the final season by Marilyn Manson’s Ron Tully;
• Bobby “Elvis” Munson (Mark Boone Junior), shot to death after a significant stretch of torture and imprisonment;
• Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman), the Sons’ longtime president who was eventually replaced and later killed in season six by…
• Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam), star of the show, killed in the final moments of the Sons finale.
Timing-wise, Jax and his allies’ stint in Stockton lines up with the Mayans premiere’s prison scene, set “eight years ago.” The Sons were in Stockton for a 14-month stretch in between the series’ third season in 2010 and the fourth season in 2011, which more or less perfectly aligns with at least some of EZ’s time in prison. Beyond seeing Gemma again in another visitation scene, is it possible Mayans could feature a scene in which EZ interacts with some of the original stars of Sons of Anarchy, despite their eventual deaths? If nothing else, the timing works out.
For his part, speaking at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour, Sutter mused on the possibilities presented by the Gemma-filled flashback scene: “It was a way of letting us know that [EZ was] in Stockton, where those two worlds can ultimately perhaps collide, at least in memory.” Asked if it paved the way for deceased Sons of Anarchy characters to show up in flashback form, Sutter answered, “In flashbacks, perhaps, yes.”
“We’re playing the real time of Jax’s demise and the impact that it sort of had on the outlaw community,” he continued. “I don’t want to mess with that mythology. So I feel like any characters we deal with in real time are sort of auxiliary characters that there can be points of intersection without perhaps suggesting any sort of direction or history that continued with the Sons, so that that idea, that memory, that mythology can kind of live on in people’s imaginations. But, yes, absolutely in flashback where we wouldn’t be sort of stepping on what’s happening now, there might be opportunity to do that.”
In other words, don’t get too excited about seeing the classic Sons roster on Mayans MC anytime soon… but before all is said and done on the new biker drama? Not off the table. Indeed, the odds of a Jax Teller sighting by the end of Mayans MC’s run are certainly higher than one would have expected heading into premiere night.
What are your expectations for a Sons of Anarchy crossover? Sound off in the comments below, and keep checking THR.com/LiveFeed for more Mayans MC coverage.
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