20 (42nd Overall)
April 4, 1986
August 15, 1986
The Vice squad is assigned to protect a hard-partying political prisoner from assassins so he can testify before Congress.
A recently freed Central American wheelchair-bound political prisoner named Hector Sandoval (Byrne Piven) arrives in Miami escorted by Castillo and company (requested instead of Federal agents due to their "efficiency and being inconspicuous"), due to a potential assassination attempt on a stopover before testifying before Congress about the conditions in his country. A mystery man passes a gun to an assassin named Carmen (Bianca Jagger) in the airport, but no action is taken yet.
They meet up with Sandoval's daughter Blanca (Yamil Borges) and Sandoval tells about being hunted by right-wing death squads due to a book he wrote. Castillo wants him to cancel two personal appearances due to the death threats but Sandoval insists on attending, especially the function where he is to receive an award. Blanca tries to convince her father not to attend but he refuses. Castillo will set up security sweeps and protection at both functions, meanwhile the assassins are planning their next move.
Tubbs and Blanca discuss Sandoval's poetry and desire to party with younger women, even before he was in prison (which is why he wants to attend the parties so much). Blanca publishes for the opposition newspaper, knowing if she were still there she would be dead. Sandoval attends the first party at an art gallery, meeting numerous people, including Carmen again, who leaves a message for him - they (the opposition) are tired of him, and he needs to disappear. This time she pulls her gun, Tubbs recognizes her from the airport and shoots Carmen dead before she can kill Sandoval.
Back at the safe house, Blanca brought in her acquaintance Manuel Guerrero (Hector Mercado), much to the dismay of the Vice cops, who fear Sandoval's safety has been compromised. Gina and Trudy are at a hotel bar where Guerrero is and four members of the death squad kidnap Guerrero and get away under a hail of automatic weapon fire. Sandoval will not forgo the award ceremony regardless of the risks, so security will be tight. The safe house will be staffed by police if the squad tries a hit there thinking Sandoval is in the house. While Sandoval is at the ceremony, the death squad car is spotted at an old mansion, Zito and Switek head over there.
They find Guerrero has been tortured by high-pitched sound, and also beaten physically, and taken to the hospital. Guerrero said the main kidnapper was Alfredo Gomez (Jaime Tirelli), and they thought they were heading for the award ceremony but they didn't make it there. Crockett said Guerrero supports leftists with his own money which is why they didn't kill him, and they didn't ask any questions about the safe house. Sandoval left the Casablanca Hotel after complaining about the hotel and disappeared. He is at a bar in Miami Beach picking up young ladies and dancing in his wheelchair when someone takes one of his ladies away, he pulls out a gun and fires one shot and emerges from the club, slightly drunk and firing his gun in the air when Crockett and Tubbs find him and bring him with them. The death squad places a bogus call to Blanca's room saying her father is in the lobby, and they kidnap her when she arrives. A drunk Sandoval is taken to OCB, where Castillo informs Crockett and Tubbs that someone (other than the police) was watching the safe house, and that Guerrero is a highly specialized left-wing assassin. The leftists want to make Sandoval a martyr while the right-wings want to kill him outright. The death squad contacts Sandoval at OCB and make their demand - his life for his daughter's.
Sandoval is at a hotel beachfront waiting for the kidnappers, when they lead him into where his daughter is, the Vice cops quickly eliminate all the death squad members. Guerrero comes back to see Bianca, pulls a gun on Sandoval intending to kill him, but Crockett and Tubbs shoot him down before he can. Sandoval heads to Washington to testify in Congress.
- Don Johnson as Metro-Dade Detective James "Sonny" Crockett
- Philip Michael Thomas as Metro-Dade Detective Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs
- Saundra Santiago as Metro-Dade Detective Gina Calabrese
- Michael Talbott as Metro-Dade Detective Stan Switek
- John Diehl as Metro-Dade Detective Larry Zito
- Olivia Brown as Metro-Dade Detective Trudy Joplin
- Edward James Olmos as Metro-Dade Lieutenant Martin "Marty" Castillo
- Byrne Piven as Hector Sandoval
- Yamil Borges as Blanca Sandoval
- Hector Mercado as Manuel Guerrero
- Jaime Tirelli as Alfredo Gomez
- Bianca Jagger as Carmen
- Luis Guzman, Marta Velasco and Michael Bay as Goons
- Donna Alexander as Blonde
- Tiffany Miles as Nymphette
- This episode was called "Free Verse" when it originally aired, but the name was changed to "Zero Solution" for some syndicated broadcasts; however, unlike every other Miami Vice episode that had it's title changed (where the new title became the official one), the episode's name has reverted to "Free Verse" for the show's VHS and DVD releases, and online. Also, unlike most other episodes that received name changes (to link two parts of a single story together), the reasons behind this alteration are unknown.
- Sandoval discusses Percy Shelley and William Butler Yeats while at the safe house. He refers to the line "poets are unacknowledged legislators" from "A Defence of Poetry" when discussing the political controversies his work has created in his homeland. When his former student describes himself as a "centrist", Sandoval criticizes this position by quoting Yeats' poem "The Second Coming", which includes the famous line: "the centre cannot hold".
- Don Johnson appears in the opening, then doesn't appear until about 18 minutes later into the episode, his absence explained by having to appear in court.
- Michael Bay makes his acting debut as a goon in this episode. Bay would go on to a much bigger career as a producer/director of such movies as Bad Boys and its sequel, Bad Boys II, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, Transformers, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series.
- This episode refers to the trend of "Banana Politics" in the 1980s, referring to the coups and civil wars that occurred in Central American and Caribbean countries during that time.
- Sandoval's poem:
In the place where I came from the jungles were a jade wall
And the plains rolled like the sea
The mountains carried the wind on their shoulders
But some thought the sky was too bright and they wept
And others thought the sea was too deep and they gasped for breath
And some said we use the land - it cannot be owned or possessed
And others said we did not create this and so it mocks us
And therefore we will take it
And they said that which we did not create we still can kill
And they rolled out in all their armor
The horses weighed down under the weight
And the rains came
And the mud
And they sank in the land which they could not possess
Upon the earth which they did not create
- Switek is armed with a M16A1 rifle fitted with a bipod and an AN/PVS2 Starlight scope during the nighttime operation to rescue Blanca. This is the second time he is used as a designated marksman in an operation, the first being in "Smuggler's Blues", where he carries a Winchester Model 30 bolt action with a scope.
- At one function Switek views an art display of a man and a woman at a table and asks, "You folks from Iowa?" Zito then responds, "I think they're from Ohio." Michael Talbott is a native of Waverly, Iowa, while John Diehl is from Cincinnati, Ohio.
- Working Title: "Zero Solution"
- Filmed: February 24, 1986 - March 4, 1986
- Production Code: 60005
- Production Order: 42
- Miami International Airport (Sandoval's arrival)
- 191 Ocean Boulevard, Golden Beach (Safe House)
- Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale One East Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale (Poetry reading)
- Hamilton on the Bay Condominiums, 555 NE 34th Street, Miami (Guerrero kidnapped)
- 37/38 Star Island, Miami Beach (Guerrero being tortured)
- Euclid Avenue, Miami Beach (Sandoval shoots street lamp)
- 46 Star Island, Miami Beach (Guerrero watches embassy)
- Beach in front of Loews Hotel, 1601 Collins Ave, Miami Beach (Beach night scenes)
- St. Moritz Hotel, 1601 Collins Ave, Miami Beach (Guerrero Shot/Interior hotel scenes)
- "Feel It Again" by Honeymoon Suite (at hotel bar)
- "Institutionalized" by Suicidal Tendencies (Performed live in bar)
- "Maybe The Poet" by Bruce Cockburn (End scene with shootout)