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As soon as Mayans M.C. revealed that surprising flashback cameo from Sons of Anarchy's Katey Sagal in its series premiere, fans were essentially given a carte blanche foundation for theorizing what other Sons stars and characters could return. For many out there, Jimmy Smits' Nero is likely near the top of that fantasy list, but is "more Nero" something that could feasibly happen?
It's very, very real possibility, though it's not the most probable reveal at this point. Let's break down both sides of the decision-making here.
Jimmy Smits Would Love To Reprise Nero For Mayans M.C.
Despite the fact that he had some messy skeletons in his closet, Nero was as close to an angelic presence as Sons of Anarchy had going for it, and Jimmy Smits' killer performances had everything to do with how memorable the character's journey was. And as it happens, the actor sounds extremely down to return, saying this when the subject came up at this year's Television Critics Association summer press tour:
Kurt is very into the lore of the show in terms of the Sons and its influence [on Mayans]. I would absolutely love to come back into that world. Sure, I can pop in! It’s really up to them, so we’ll see. They’re doing a great job. I was surprised to see as many of the Sons characters making little appearances on Mayans. I’ve been watching the show, I love it.
Jimmy Smits delivered that fan-friendly answer to EW at TCA while promoting his new NBC series Bluff City Law, which features quite a different take on justice than Sons of Anarchy and Mayans M.C. The lawyerly series is currently tapped for 16 episodes in Season 1, which will keep Smits busy for the foreseeable future.
However, he presumably won't be so busy that he would already need to rule out a return trip to southern California to touch base with the Mayans crew for an episode or two. Hell, if Kurt Sutter and Elgin James wanted to set Nero's return to the franchise completely indoors, then Smits wouldn't need to travel far at all to make the scene happen. Depending on who else would be involved, of course.
But for all that Jimmy Smits may truly be willing to return to Sutter's world for a cameo or more, it'll take more than just a willing eagerness to make Nero's TV future a reality.
Nero May Be Too Close To Jax Teller's Story To Return
Part of the reason Mayans M.C. exists is because co-creator Kurt Sutter believed that there was more than enough narrative real estate to expand this universe without the need to keep everything tethered to Jax and the rest of the Teller family. So far, Jax has merely been a spiritual influence, with his M.C. ideals loosely being carried on by the Mayans. (JD Pardo is doing his darnedest to keep EZ from being a Jax xerox, too.)
As co-creator Elgin James noted to EW, Kurt Sutter's need to contrast the two shows' worlds may hinder Mayans M.C. from finding a way to bring Jimmy Smits' Nero back into the fold. Here's how James explained it:
We bring it up a lot in the writers’ room, about bringing Nero back. I think the only problem with that is that his appearance will bring up the topic of Jax’s kids. So there’s more to unpack there in the mythology as to where they are now. Every time we go there, Kurt reacts but then he sidesteps. It’s not off the table, and I’d love to work with [Jimmy.] When we consider bringing someone back, we have to think about the ripple effect it’ll cause and what it all means. I think Kurt wants people to remember that for what it was. Jax for what it was. And in your memory or your imagination, it could be whatever you want it to be.
Though Mayans has introduced several important and over-arching crossover elements in Season 1, appearances from Michael Ornstein's Chucky and David Labrava's Happy are able to be fully incorporated into the spinoff's storyline without the need or urge to make waves within the Jax Teller mythos. Nero, however, is quite a different story.
Having served as a love interest for Katey Sagal's Gemma in that post-Clay period, Nero also became a father-like influence to Jax in that time. His importance is perhaps signified best by the fact that he is helping to raise Jax's sons Thomas and Abel along with Abel's mother, Wendy (Drea de Matteo).
There are no doubt ways for Sutter and James to write Nero back into this world without needing to reference Wendy and the boys. The character has enough of a criminal history that he can be pulled back into the drama on his own merits. However, it would likely surmount to blasphemy if Mayans M.C. went that far only to then pretend like Thomas and Abel don't exist. That's not how Kurt Sutter would want to handle things.
After Sons of Anarchy wrapped up its seven-season run in 2014, Jimmy Smits went on to reprise one of his other most beloved roles, that of Senator Bail Organa for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. On the small screen, Smits stayed just as busy as ever. He took on single-season arcs for Netflix's super-budgeted (for the time) musical drama The Get Down, Fox's spinoff 24: Legacy, and ABC's How to Get Away with Murder. He also showed up for two rocking episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
What does everyone else think? Would you be comfortable with Mayans M.C. bringing Nero back in a way that didn't necessarily go hard on the Jax Teller history? Or is Nero so important that his return would only be understandable if Charlie Hunnam was also able to come back in some way? (Might as well get Katey Sagal involved too, right?)
Mayans M.C. will return to FX for Season 2 starting on (Teller) Tuesday, September 3, at 10:00 p.m. ET.