Mayans M.C. co-creator on the show's graphic death scenes and whether Chucky will stay
It’s hard to figure out who the good guys are on FX’s Mayans M.C. — but that’s exactly the point. We checked in with co-executive producer Elgin James, who created the show with Kurt Sutter, about the action so far and whether the finale (in just two weeks!) will end with a cliffhanger.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You want viewers to really question who is the good guy in this story, right?
ELGIN JAMES: Yeah, definitely. That’s one of the things that always interested me about Kurt’s work. It’s that grayness. Each one of us are the heroes of our own lives, right? No one thinks they’re a villain. So we want to try to put that into work. Viewers are so smart these days. They can have these complex ideals that you can root for someone but also be completely frustrated by them. Or you can be angered or offended by someone but still find yourself rooting for them. That’s definitely what we want.
Why do you have the feds wanting to get in bed with Miguel Galindo [Danny Pino]?
Once you take out a leader, like an El Chapo or something, that is actually when the bloodshed goes through the roof because everyone’s fighting for that competition. That’s why sometimes we try to keep bad people in power, because we’re afraid of the bloodshed. We’re afraid of the unrest. It’s basically the devil you know is way better than the devil you don’t.
The decision by Adelita [Carla Baratta] to work with Galindo, is this her way of realizing there’s no way to completely obliterate the cartel, so she wants to see it use some of its profits for the good of the people?
That’s exactly right. It’s almost like taxing. The reason why people followed her was because of the idea of abolishing the cartels, abolishing Galindo, and taking revenge for all the horror that he and the other cartels have caused. I think she’s smart enough to realize that it won’t be the best thing for the people. The best thing for the people is to get the crime off the streets, to keep it controlled.
A question about the character of the agent Kevin Jimenez, played by Maurice Compte: You seemed to suggest there’s a familial tie to Felipe [Edward James Olmos]. Is that correct?
He is a second cousin to EZ [J.D. Pardo] and to Angel [Clayton Cardenas]. He’s related somewhere down the line to Marisol, their mother. We’ll reveal it over the next few episodes, actually, and then kind of explain it in the season finale.
You made the decision to have Coco [Richard Cabral] kill his mom in a pretty violent way — death by strangulation in the bathtub! She was not a likable soul, but did you guys really wrestle with how she should die?
Oh yeah. Maybe this is the #MeToo of it, but there are also people in the writers’ room who are not reacting to #MeToo. It is more about our core morality and the art we make. It was really important that it be very personal, in a graphic way, but not gratuitous. That’s the universe that he’s been born into, very over-the-top violence. With this one it was very important for Coco to be looking at his mom. It had to be very intimate, very personal.
You’ve killed two kids. One was burned, and one was pushed off the roof. And you don’t really see kids die much in the series. Why did you decide to do this?
It’s the same thing. We are dealing with things that are reality of that world. The thing with the children is that they died. And probably more will.
Just two more weeks until the finale! Are you building to a huge climax? Will there be a cliffhanger?
Yes. There will be a lot of stuff that’s going to be explained, finally. Like, this isn’t all for naught. We have a lot of plates spinning, and they will all come crashing down to get some answers. But sometimes those answers lead to much bigger questions.
Can you say what your favorite can’t-miss moment was this season?
I have so many, it’s hard. Coco and his mom, Letty in the bathroom, Adelita finally facing Felipe, every scene that Angel and EZ are in together. And honestly, you know what? All the scenes where the Mayans are together. Their chemistry is real. We’ve created something really special with each other, and I think it plays on screen.
Last question: Chucky, played by Michael Ornstein, officially part of the ensemble?
I never want Chucky to leave. Chucky’s amazing. I can’t say that with anyone because people do seem to die a lot in this universe Kurt created. But I never, I never want to come to work and not have Michael Ornstein be there. I mean this from the bottom of my heart, he is such a special, sweet, amazing artist. He has made all of our lives better. So yeah, Chucky’s here to stay.
Mayans M.C. airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on FX.