Can New Series ‘Coyote’ Avoid Pitfalls Of White Savior Narrative?

Lead Photo: Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla
Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla
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In the new online series Coyote, actor Michael Chiklis (Fantastic Four) stars as Ben Clemens, a cranky border patrol agent who must reevaluate his ideology after going to a small coastal town in Mexico and meeting a desperate young woman who needs his help.

Clemens travels to Mexico to finish a construction project left behind by his dead partner. In the process, he gets mixed up with a Mexican gang looking for trouble. A staunch believer in protecting the border, he disagrees with a local restaurant owner’s thoughts on border issues, but listens to her as she explains why she feeds immigrants who are in need.

“What would you do if a young woman came to your door hungry, hurt [and] looking for a job, not a handout? Does she get to cross your line?” she asks him.

Clemens’ beliefs are put to the test when a pregnant young woman, Maria Elena Flores (Emy Mena), begs him to drive her across the border to the United States. One of the men in the gang has forced her into a relationship and now she fears for her life and the life of her unborn baby.

While one episode isn’t enough to give audiences a full idea of what the rest of the series will bring, the first hour of Coyote feels authentic, emotional, and intense. We’ll have to wait to see if series creators can avoid making the show follow an uninspired white savior narrative. Also, can they make the Latino villains more than just cliché characters? The first episode gives us a little hope that storytelling and relationships are going to come before anything else.

The first episode of the six-episode season is available online at CBS All Access.