Four years after the finale of “Sons of Anarchy,” Kurt Sutter, along with Elgin James, returns to a familiar world with “Mayans M.C.” Like its predecessor, it’s a drama filled with motorcycles, men and mayhem but where the strongest element of “Sons” was its fascinating tale of family betrayal, “Mayans” has little to offer beyond overlong shootouts, over the top torture scenes and multiple rambling plots. The lack of layered female characters stands out as the show’s biggest weakness. Where’s Gemma when you need her? The story takes place a few years after the end of “Sons” and features Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes (J.D. Pardo), a promising college student who makes it out of the neighborhood only to be derailed when he kills a cop. The mitigating circumstances of the crime enable his release after a few years in prison. He returns home and becomes a prospect for the Santo Padre branch of the Mayans motorcycle club, where his brother Angel (Clayton Cardenas) is a member. This is upsetting news to his father Felipe (Edward James-Olmos), who runs the local butcher shop. The Mayans run drugs for the Galindo cartel and answer to Miguel (Danny Pino), the educated son of a Mexican drug lord who compartmentalizes his life by separating it into the respectable married businessman with a beautiful wife and baby side and the cartel boss who grotesquely tortures his enemies side. Miguel is married to Emily (Sarah Bolger), who was EZ’s high school girlfriend. A Mexican vigilante group is disrupting the drug trade, which puts the Mayans in an uneasy alliance as some members of the gang begin to question the Galindo arrangement. There’s much more happening but revealing the rest would be considered a spoiler since everything else is constructed as a “surprising” twist. What’s less surprising than the not really mysterious plot shifts, is the show’s reliance on masculine posturing as a primary character trait and violence as a way of life. It’s not hard to believe that solving every problem with guns and the occasional mutilation are part of belonging to a criminal motorcycle gang and a drug cartel but when that narrative is not countered with character development that makes you care about the people committing or receiving the violence, the story becomes one long montage of blood and body parts. Pardo puts energy into his role as EZ and in a more thoughtful story, it could stand out. But EZ is mired in a chaotic mess of plots and subplots that leaves the character reacting to situations rather than being a driver of them. As Emily, Bolger is stuck in wife-of-a- bad-man territory and like the most typical of these characters, spends her screen time being the victim of his lifestyle. The leader of the vigilante group, Adelita (Carla Baratta), shows some promise and might be a more interesting female character as the series goes on. (Assuming she survives past the two episodes that were released for review). What made “Sons of Anarchy” so watchable was the relationship between Jax and the strong, complicated women in his life. Without that element, “Mayans M.C.” is a much less compelling spinoff. “Mayans M.C.” premieres September 4 at 10 p.m. EDT on FX. — Melissa Crawley is the author of “Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television’s ‘The West Wing.’” She has a Ph.D. in media studies and is a member of the Television Critics Association. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter at @MelissaCrawley.