Miami Vice Mondays: "El Viejo"

Episode: Season Three, Episode Seven: “El Viejo”
Original airdate: November 7, 1985
Directed by: Aaron Lipstadt
Written by: Alan Moskowitz

Crockett’s attempt to ensnare a trigger-happy drug lord known as the Bolivian goes horribly wrong—a security guard is shot and killed, and in the resulting chaos, a down-on-his-luck elderly gentleman named Jake Pierson (Willie Nelson) absconds with a buttload of the Bolivian’s cocaine. Pierson wants to return the cocaine to the Bolivian for a hefty finders’ fee; to salvage their case, Crockett and Tubbs, in their long-term undercover guises as lowlifes Burnett and Cooper, intercept Pierson and help set up the deal.

It turns out Pierson is no harmless old man: He’s a legendary former Texas Ranger, who is hell-bent on avenging the murder of his partner’s son, a DEA agent killed by the Bolivian. Pierson escapes from Crockett’s protection and confronts the Bolivian on his own. In the ensuing gun battle, Pierson shoots and kills his nemesis before dying.

Iconic Moments:
Well, I mean… Willie Nelson. Doesn’t get much more iconic than that.

Also, this episode features a very young Steve Buscemi in a meaty role as one of the Bolivian’s sleazeball associates.

It’s All in the Details:
The Bolivian is played with appropriate lethal menace by Anwar Zayden, who:
a)      is super hot,
b)      has zero acting credits outside of Miami Vice, and:
c)      is profiled in this lengthy 2014 Miami New Times piece: “Anwar Zayden: Miami Wildman and Internet Hero”. The title does not lie.

Gina and Trudie, who almost always get the crap jobs in the Vice department (when they’re not posing undercover as hookers, they’re running downtown to fetch files for Crockett and Tubbs), finally get a cushy assignment: Lying by the pool at a glamorous hotel, looking fabulous while keeping an eye out for the Bolivian. Ladies, you’ve earned it.

Sign of the Times:
Sometimes, Miami Vice’s gorgeous, hyper-cool set design could be counter-productive to an episode’s intentions. For instance, this room in a lavish, expensive, high-end hotel…

…is weirdly similar to Jake Pierson’s room in a dirt-cheap, sketchy dive motel. 

You made the cheap motel look too good, set designers:

Music Notes:
 “State of Emergency” by Irish rockers Cactus World News plays twice in the episode. Also featured are Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” and Depeche Mode’s “Fly on the Windscreen.”  The lack of Willie Nelson seems like an oversight.

Four and a half flamingos. There’s something very effective about Nelson’s portrayal of a once-legendary gunslinger, now a penniless old man with a bad ticker, surviving on canned cat food and a burning need to avenge his partner’s son.


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