On Thursday Fox premieres Gang Related, a gritty crime drama starring Ramon Rodriguez as Detective Ryan Lopez. Lopez serves on the L.A.P.D. Gang Task Force with his new partner Cassius Green (RZA) and their captain Sam Chapel (Terry O’Quinn). But Lopez holds a secret as the mole for notorious crime family Los Angelicos, who helped raise him after the death of his father.
Here’s what you need to know about Fox’s new series Gang Related and take a first look at the show above.
1. Ryan Lopez Has Two Allegiances
Ryan Lopez owes Javier Acosta, the Acosta family and Los Angelicos his life for taking him in after the loss of his father. To repay them, he enlisted in the military to extract tactical procedures for the gang to use on the streets, and he joined the Los Angeles Police Department to keep his family out of serious trouble.
Ramon Rodriguez tells the New York Post about the ethical tight rope he walks.
“Ryan feels indebted to this guy and would do anything for him, especially when Javier kind of comes up with some really honorable reasons [for] why we’re doing what we’re doing… So I think for Ryan, in his head, it feels justified and right.”
He also feels indebted to his cop family. He wants to give them 100 percent when they’re on assignment and earn their trust in the field. His loyalty toward the Acosta family and his former gang life changes when he loses his partner in a gang shooting, making his choices for Los Angelicos even murkier.
— Gang Related (@GangRelatedFOX) May 15, 2014
2. He Has Two Father Figures To Make Proud
Javier Acosta brought Lopez into his family and raised him like his own son. Lopez wants to help his adoptive father, even when it comes to his illegal activities with Acosta’s crime outfit Los Angelicos. “Everything I’ve done is for the family. Military. L.A.P.D.,” Lopez assures Acosta when he questions his loyalty to the family.
Back at work, Lopez admires his boss Sam Chapel and wants to honor him with the same trust and loyalty he shows Acosta. “I brought you on to this task force because you’re a great cop and we need you,” Chapel tells Lopez. The young cop will have to choose which of these “two really strong men” to put his faith in, according to Rodriguez.
“This captain specifically takes him in and treats him, really has a lot of faith in him and sees a lot of potential in him. So he’s torn between these two really strong men in his life.
3. Lopez Lost His Last Partner To Gang Violence
Lopez doesn’t mind working both sides of the line until his partner dies in a gang shooting. Then everything changes and his world becomes more grey than black and white. He’ll team up with longtime task force member Cassius Green to pursue his dead partner’s killer and the gangs waging war on the streets. Rodriguez explains his character’s predicament to TV Guide.
“My character hopes there is an endgame [to this], but sees it’s not that easy. There are challenges with trying to get out [of the gang] or the task force trying to take down his family and while in the beginning he thought this was a great way to get the family out, things get complicated.”
— Gang Related (@GangRelatedFOX) May 14, 2014
4. Only People Who Know the Streets, Can Win on the Streets
Lopez’s knowledge of the streets he covers as part of the L.A.P.D. gives him an advantage that others in the task force might not have. He knows the players involved including black gang members, the Columbian cartel, the Koreans and his own family ties with Los Angelicos. This knowledge will prove useful when his task force goes after Acosta and a shipment of a new cocaine drug coming up from Columbia, and Lopez will have to keep his adoptive family’s involvement secret.
“One of the things we always discussed is that there is a very Game of Thrones element to our show where we have territories and the politics are very specific and very different. We want to make them feel that they’re their own kingdoms all jockeying for position.”
5. ‘Gang Related’ Premieres on Thursday
Originally set for a midseason premiere, Fox held Gang Related for a summer debut. The show will air on Thursday, May 22 at 9 p.m. All of the episodes have Spanish names (i.e. Sangre Por Sangre for the pilot, meaning Blood for Blood), and 40 percent of the 13 episodes contain subtitles, according to the New York Post.