Call of the Void – | Review Score – 2/5
Silver or Lead – | Review Score – 2/5
Sin of Origin – | Review Score – 2/5
Juan Doe – | Review Score – 2/5
King Tide – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Plaza De Nada – | Review Score – 2/5
Coyote feels like it has been plucked out the wrong era, complete with archaic writing, illogical plot beats and some questionably moral characters that are hard to root for. At its core, there’s definitely a good show here somewhere but it’s muddied by the aforementioned problems and weighed down by a cliffhanger ending, poor plotting and some skewed morals that make for a very forgettable show.
Coyote’s story plays on the idea of a coyote itself – someone who ferries illegals across the border for a high fee. That coyote happens to be a retired border guard called Ben Clemens. On the surface, there’s a delicious sense of irony here and the idea of a defector of sorts actually feels like it could work quite well, especially if the character writing was up to scratch. Unfortunately, it’s not.
Instead, this grumpy, retired border guard has little knowledge of Spanish, no intention of mingling with the locals and walks around with a chip on his shoulder thanks to a racially charged murder in the past.
With his partner Javi dead, Ben decides to honour his memory by heading down and fixing up his old house. Once there though, he’s thrown into the jaws of the Mexican cartel thanks to a wildcard in the form of a girl called Maria. Desperate for refuge in America, Maria bundles into Ben’s car and begs for help crossing the border. In doing so, Ben winds up on the wrong aide of the cartel – and the law – as he’s thrown into a dangerous game he can’t escape from.
Along the way, Ben leaves a trail of dead bodies in his wake, never showing remorse for any of his actions. Even worse, the main storyline surrounding Maria is completely dropped midway through in favour of the cartel plot that doesn’t have the nuance nor the compelling script writing to emulate Breaking Bad, which this one seemingly tries so hard to copy. This even extends down to Ben’s look which feels like a discount Hank Schrader.
With 6 episodes to blast through, Coyote is one of those shows that’s best to throw on in the background and not think too hard about. It’s the sort of background scroll-on-your-phone-while-half-watching series that completely falls apart when you apply any sort of logic to.
Ben’s motivations are skewed, to say the least, while the cartel pop up all over the place but with changing motivations from finding Maria to something else that almost feels like a cliff-note than a fully fleshed out idea. I won’t spoil that here but suffice to say Coyote does a complete 180 on its ideas during episode 4 and never looks like recovering.
Stylistically, Coyote adopts the same harsh fades to black that FX’s A Teacher adopted last month and it makes for a pretty jarring watch. That’s before mentioning some of the haphazard edits that make it difficult at times to discern what’s happening during some of the more intense or action packed segments.
The other problem here comes from the conflicted commentary this one puts out about officers of the law. The episode recaps here go into much more detail on this but suffice to say, this is probably not the best time to release a show about police corruption and cover-up murders.
Some of this may be forgiven if Ben Clemens was actually a likable guy – but he’s not. He’s arrogant, unremorseful, selfish and at times outright racist. In fact, most of the characters here are really unlikable with the exception of the Mexican café owner Silvia, who’s severely under-utilized.
If this show had been released in the 90’s, Coyote would undoubtedly draw plaudits and praise. TV has come a long way since then though, propped up by behemoths like Breaking Bad, Game Of Thrones (Seasons 1-4 at least) and recent Korean dramas like Goblin and Crash Landing.
By comparison, Coyote struggles to even break into mediocrity, adopting some tired and archaic tropes, an illogical plot line and a frustrating cliffhanger ending. While some will enjoy this one, the show is a far cry from the quality we’ve come to expect and with so many choices out there, Coyote is not one I’d recommend spending much time with.