As the new “Mayans M.C.” season booms onto the screen, it seems a bit like a newsreel from the Ukraine.
Here are the bikers, outgunned and outmanned, clinging to their home. They have Molotov cocktails, makeshift shields and desperation.
These scenes (10 p.m. Tuesday, April 19, on FX) were filmed before the Ukraine war, but they remind us that fact inspires fiction. Consider:
–George Lucas has said Vietnam had an impact on “Return of the Jedi.” Remembering how the undermanned Viet Cong survived, he created tiny Ewoks to use guerilla tactics on the storm troopers.
— Elgin James, the “Mayans” writer-director, went further back. On a European tour in his punk-rock days, James heard stories of Poland’s struggle during World War II.
“They were fighting … tanks, when they were on horseback,” James said. “They were fighting machine guns with sticks, with fire and whatever they could do. And that spirit always stayed with me. I see so much of that in what’s happening in the Ukraine.”
The opener gives this fourth season a huge start, with two episodes airing Tuesday. “There’s more action in the first episode than there was in the first three seasons,” James said. “And then we have to take our time (and) re-set ourselves emotionally. But once it starts rolling again, man, there’s no stopping it.”
The results are stark, Edward James Olmo said. “This is a very dark show. And the first three seasons don’t quite prepare you for the fourth.”
His character, Felipe Reyes, added to that darkness as the third season ended: His younger son EZ (JD Pardo) finally had a glimmer of hope, planning to leave town with the radiant Gaby. After Felipe talked to her, she fled alone.,
“Felipe did the right thing …. I think he saved Gaby,” James said. And happiness for JD? “Maybe we find it in Season 4, you know; maybe we don’t. Maybe (it) gets darker.”
Pardo agreed. Once a bright, college-bound kid, EZ ended up in prison, losing his girlfriend (Emily, who married drug kingpin Miguel) and his future. He was lied to by his father, manipulated by the FBI and overwhelmed by his older brother Angel.
He found a place in the Mayans, alongside Angel, But now its leader, “Bishop” Losa (Michael Irby, shown here left, with Pardo right) has forced this against-the-odds fight against other bikers.
“You almost have to go through the fire and experience the lowest of the lows to understand yourself,” Pardo said.
And his brother? Last season, Angel learned that “Nails” is pregnant with his child. And that the son he had with “Adelita,” stolen at birth, may still be alive.
“I think that’s her main goal this season to try to find if that’s true.,” said Carla Baratta, who plays Adelita. “And if it is true, how she’s going to manage to be a mom.”
Angel is facing t double prospect of parenting, said Clayton Cardenas, who plays him. “It’s being the father that he never had in his own life.”
Well, he does have a dad, but not a great one. Felipe is “paying a heavy price for what (he’s) done in his life,” Olmos said.
Is no one emerging from the darkness? Well, Emily did refuse to go with her drug-kingpin husband when he fled.
Now “you get to meet her for the first time,” said Sarah Bolger, who plays her. “You get to meet the girl, potentially, that she’s always wanted to be. If I could pick a word (for this season), I think the word is ‘freedom.’”