Finale Night for El Señor de los Cielos

It's that time of year again. Tonight is the finale of the sixth season of El Señor de los Cielos (ESDLC 6). The show has been somewhat of a rudderless ship this season, due to the disappearance of lead actor Rafael Amaya midway through filming. Amaya plays Aurelio Casillas, loosely based on deceased trafficker Amado Carrillo-Fuentes. Some reports say Amaya contracted an illness in a bat cave while filming an episode of the show in Turkey and he's still gravely ill. Other reports speculate there were contractual disputes with Telemundo and he's out of the show permanently. Telemundo has said nothing and the show just keeps on trucking.

Until this week, there have been no sightings, even on social media. He wasn't at the wrap party for the show in August. But here he is, at an event with a Mexican political consultant for the new President, posted on her FB page on Sept. 19. So we know he's alive.

To cover Amaya's absence, Telemundo's writers put Aurelio in a coma at the end of July, so all we see is someone lying immobile in bed with a head swathed in bandages. Then they brought in an actor to play his half-brother that no one ever knew he had. [More...]

The half-brother plays a CIA agent on the run who returns to the family fold to essentially take Aurelio's place. He also falls in love with a blond trafficker named Diana who lives on a ranch. Diana's father was running for Governor of his state when he was gunned down by rival trafficker El Cabo. Her mother is now running for the seat, with help from a vapid and annoying sister. If the show is using this couple to recreate Aurelio and Monica Robles, it's not working. No one is buying it. The magic is not there.

They also brought in a replacement for El Chema, a character very loosely based on El Chapo). The new guy not only bears no resemblance to the handsome and sexy Mauricio Ochmann who will always be El Chema in fans' minds, he wrong for the part in every way. He is very uncomfortable to watch. He reminds me of a wounded bird. (Unfortunately, he also has a lead role in the second season of Ingobernable and has now been signed to a new Netflix series).

Nothwithstanding that Rafael Amaya IS and will always be El Senor de los Cielos, Telemundo is marching on, having already announced there will be a season 7.

Telemundo and ESDLC may be facing more problems. While not many media outlets have reported it, Telemundo is being sued in federal court in Miami by the Colombian entertainment network Caracol over Telemundo's continued use of "El Cabo"'s character. I have uploaded the Complaint here. In an affidavit in support of a motion for a restraining order that would prevent Telemundo from continuing to use El Cabo, the writer states he believes Telemundo is planning a spinoff using El Cabo.

El Cabo is expertly played by Robinson Diaz, is a terrific character, who first appeared in the Colombian series "El Cartel", and then its sequel, Cartel de los Sapos. Here's a screengrab of him from that series.

When the show began in 2012, Caracol and Telemundo had a joint distribution deal for it. Caracol claims Telemundo breached the agreement by not seeking its position on renewing the show for seasons 3, 4, 5 and 6 or sharing the profits, and more importantly, for copyright infringement for continuing to use the character of El Cabo which it says it owns, Caracol says it only authorized the character to appear in the first two seasons of El Senor de los Cielos. (Cabo was not in seasons 3 or 4 of ESDLC, but made his return in the very last episode of season 5, to kill Monica Robles (the best and next to Aurelio, most irreplaceable character in the show. (Video clip of Cabo killing Monica and Felina is here). Cabo is now the key antagonist in Season 6 and tonight will go to war with the Casillas and the replacement El Chema. (I expect Cabo to survive.)

Here is the Affidavit describing the lawsuit in lay terms, with a very apt description of the complexity of the character "El Cabo".

I think there's an easy solution here. Cabo needs a comedic spin-off, not a narco drama spin-off. He is very very funny, especially for a drug trafficker. This season is ending with him impregnating both his girlfriends, one of whom is a gorgeous Colombian witch and the other is an uptight former adult dancer who turned to religion. The two have been battling each other all season. The three of them make a great comedic ensemble and they should get a spinoff about raising the two kids together, living in the churches Cabo recently stole from the cocaine trafficking pastor (along with his fiance who is now one of the women about to have Cabo's child. In other words, give Robinson Diaz a show where he gets to play El Cabo but El Cabo is no longer involved with drugs.

How many episodes of ESDLC have there been in all? According to the lawsuit:

  • 74 in season 1
  • 84 in season 2
  • 104 in season 3
  • 80 in season 4
  • 95 in season 5
  • 99 in season 6

The episodes are an hour, and air five nights a week. I have watched every single one, many more than once. It may not be the most sophisticated narco-drama, but it's production level is so high, it's impossible not to get engaged and invested in it. Why? The action scenes, the set details, the huge and evolving cast of characters (more than 100 have played recurring roles), the writing, the suspense, the makeup (especially for the women but also the tattoo artist for Skinny, the MS-13 member), the wardrobes, the beautiful homes and mansions and the presidential palace with every detail thought out, down to the crystal tequila shot glasses (which I can't find in any stores here or online) the objects d'art on every table, the re-creation of the Colombian jungle scenes and Mexican barrios, the skill level of the production crew, the vision of the directors, and on and on. The sheer scale of the production utilized for this series is amazing to take in. Shorter version: the show is just so engaging and satisfying to watch.

Will I watch next season if there is no Aurelio? Probably, especially if most of the gang, especially Rojo and Skinny are back. I'd also like to see the return of the sexy Venezuelan military attache, the Venezuelan ambassador, and the Cuban government honchos. I could do without the blustering DEA agent chief with the heroin addicted daughter and the newly introduced crooked CIA agent, but the fact that the show tackles corruption and mocks the "orange" leader of the U.S. makes up for it.

If you still want more about ESDLC, here's my recap of season 5 which is even longer than this post. In one part of it, I explain why I disagree with those who believe shows like ESDLC glamorize drug traffickers:

Far from glamorizing drug-traffickers, as I've written numerous times, these shows should be seen as a deterrent. The traffickers may be rich, but they end up dead or they become hunted and alienated from their spouses and children. They are all miserable, and the series show that. A few may survive to the next season, but none walk away a winner. There's nothing to emulate here.

The real story is not the traffickers themselves, who begin life quite poor and uneducated, with few opportunities to advance by legitimate endeavors, but the corrupt police, politicians and military in Mexico and Central and South America who claim to fight trafficking on the one hand while taking money from them to provide protection, even serving as hitmen when needed and the failed U.S. strategy of targeting kingpins and giving a blank check to the global holy warriors of the DEA to take down suppliers instead of concentrating on Americans' insatiable demand for drugs.

Shows like Narcos, which are fanboys of law enforcement, just don't work for me. Narcos can't hold a candle to Pablo Escobar: Patron de Mal; El Cartel and El Cartel de los Sapos; the original El Capo; La Reina del Sur (not the American remake called Queen of the South); Senor de los Cielos and El Chema. Even En La Boca del Lobo, narrated by the real life Cali cartel snitch, who along with the cartel's accountant, was responsible for taking down the Cali leaders tells the story better than Narcos. And they stick closer to history, making less stuff up.

So who will survive tonight's bloodbath of a finale to live to play another season? I have no idea but I think Mexican President Omar Teran may be on the chopping block after his arrest Friday. I felt bad for actor Jesús Moré having to play such a malefic character. I sure hope the survivors include "Rojo" Flores (loosely based on former Sinaloa co-leader and partner of El Chapo, Hector Luis Palma-Salazar, wonderfully played by Fernando Noriega, the best looking actor in the bunch) and Skinny (the MS-13 member with a heart played by David Ponce), bodyguards Pompeyo and Toro and Aurelio's mom, Dona Alba. I'd also like the female Venezuelan military commander, Venezuelan ambassador and the doctor/domestic violence victim who just lost her female lover but is now in love with Rojo to live.

I expect Rutila, Ismael, new half-brother Amado, and Rutila and Monica's kids to live to see another season. I wouldn't mind them killing off the new Chema, but I suspect they are planning him for a series of his own. And as I said earlier, of course El Cabo will survive. (I doubt even Telemundo would kill off a pregnant woman like one of his girlfriends, but you never know. They began the season blowing up a van with another daughter in law of Aurelio and her three kids.)

Just as importantly, Dónde está Aurelio? Will Aurelio wake up from his coma and escape with his new love DEA agent Corrine? Will they declare him brain dead, ending the suspense? I'll report back tomorrow.

If you want to tune in to see the finale, just turn your TV to Telemundo and turn on the subtitles. (CC3 is English).

< Reports of Rod Rosenstein's Possible Resignation | Bill Cosby: Sentenced and Jailed >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Jeralyn: "The show has been somewhat of a rudderless ship this season, due to the disappearance of lead actor Rafael Amaya midway through filming. Amaya plays Aurelio Casillas, loosely based on deceased trafficker Amado Carrillo-Fuentes. Some reports say Amaya contracted an illness in a bat cave while filming an episode of the show in Turkey and he's still gravely ill. Other reports speculate there were contractual disputes with Telemundo and he's out of the show permanently. Telemundo has said nothing and the show just keeps on trucking."

    ... on my part, that in the fall of 2015, Rafael Amaya reportedly had a serious substance abuse issue which prompted him to enter a rehab facility and seek treatment. And back then, his prolonged disappearance was explained away by both his agent and Telemundo as a "vacation."


    actually, it was an overdose (none / 0) (#6)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 26, 2018 at 05:58:51 AM EST
    I wrote about it here and Telemundo did come clean about it, as did he. He then took a vacation but they were done filming the season.

    He returned to do seasons 4 and 5 with no problems. This season (6), he reportedly contracted pulmonary
    histoplasmosis from inhaling bat dung in one of the caves they were filming in. It affects vocal cords. It can take months to recover.

    But there are other reports he relapsed on drugs and went back into treatment. I don't know which are true.

    Telemundo has fought the unions and just last year lost a big battle when the majority of Spanish-speaking actors voted to join SAG-AFTRA. Here's a report on one of the settlements and agreements. Amaya may just be out of their league now. Then again, there are also reports he's difficult to work with.


    Props for sticking with the show, which I believe you said in the past that you watch in order to keep up with your Spanish and the culture, etc.

    It cannot be easy to watch so many hours while translating in your head the whole time!

    Sarc, you're absolutely right. (none / 0) (#3)
    by fishcamp on Tue Sep 25, 2018 at 07:22:11 PM EST
    I speak fair Spanish, but cannot understand any of it on tv.  The Cuban spanish down here is also impossible since they speak so fast.  Of course I didn't learn Spanish in school since they didn't offer it in Oregon in the 50's.  I learned in the taxi cabs and cantinas of central and South America on many ski and fishing trips.  Almost every bar, restaurant, and grocery store down here has Spanish speaking folks I practice with.  They like to practice their English with me, so we have very strange conversations in both languages.

    Ha! Same kinda sorta same. (none / 0) (#4)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Sep 25, 2018 at 07:36:36 PM EST
    I took three years of Spanish in HS, but my main exposure was the four months I spent backpacking through S and Central America.

    If I really concentrated I could get the gist of what was being said, and I spent my many hours on the interminable bus rides with my Eng/Span dictionary.

    But I tell you, having long conversations with someone often left me exhausted.

    What was fun though is that I stuck out like a sore thumb where ever I went (red hair, etc.) and the locals loved practicing their English on me!

    Met some great people by just walking through the towns looking for a cold beer...


    The Difficulty With Spoken Spanish (none / 0) (#5)
    by RickyJim on Tue Sep 25, 2018 at 09:05:28 PM EST
    is not just the speed which can be well over 200 words a minute in many places.  Your brain has to reverse engineer what you are hearing since whole words often are not entirely pronounced and separated.  Consonants are often aspirated or left out entirely (d,r and s especially) and adjacent vowels from two different words are usually merged into one (synalefa).  After about 10 years of practice you will be able to tell if somebody has said queso or ¿Qué es eso?.  (-:

    Yep. I was on a bus in Colombia (none / 0) (#7)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Sep 26, 2018 at 11:17:29 AM EST
    and a bunch of college kids offered me aguardiente. Didn't make sense to me, "water tooth?" I asked.

    That got a lot of laughs and we then had a great time passing the bottle.


    did you go to (none / 0) (#8)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 26, 2018 at 11:13:42 PM EST
    both Medellin and Bogota? Cartagena? Which place there did you like best?

    I traveled by bus from Caracas to Cartagena. This was during the time when there were somewhat frequent violence at the hands of the Shining Path, so I and many fellow travelers stayed away from the interior of the country.

    I was in Cartagena for about three weeks. I also traveled back to Cartagena last year for a week. I recommend it highly.

    Cartagena, the old city especially, has centuries of history. Narrow, cobbled streets lined with multicolored homes and businesses draped with bougainvilleas, built hundreds of years ago. Last year we stayed w/in the old walls of the fortress that Spain built in the 1500's.

    Although I did not go to either Medellin or Bogota, my understanding is that those two cities are much newer and more "big-city" like.


    thank you for responding (none / 0) (#11)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Sep 28, 2018 at 01:35:12 PM EST
    In between congressional hearings and watching the latest Spanish series, I am checking comparisons between Medellin, Cartagena, Bogota, Cali and places in Ecuador, Panama and Costa Rica.

    Sounds like someone is thinking of retiring? (none / 0) (#12)
    by desertswine on Sat Sep 29, 2018 at 05:01:27 PM EST
    Hard to believe that (none / 0) (#13)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jun 21, 2024 at 03:28:29 AM EST
    you wrote this six years ago Desertswine and I'm still working. But I'm getting closer! I'd say 6 months to a year.
    Thanks to all of you who responded in this thread, I know I'm the only one who watches these shows (other than my Spanish speaking clients in detention centers who aren't given bond. Everytime I'd meet him (and a few others) at the jail, we'd start the conversation off with what happened on the show last night. It's now 2024 and one of them, long out from his sentence, called to ask a question, and we laughed about into the show we were. He said I even had Amazon send him the book El Senor de los Cielos and El Cartel del Sapos. I wonder what the guards thought!

    I'm sad because season 9 is ending Wednesday, I've watched every episode twice, once with Spanish subtitles and once with English. That's not my choice, Telemundo has gone on some batty mission to eliminate English subtitles on first run show segments. Two hours after the show runs in Spanish, they will add the English button so you can choose to watch with English subtitles.  

    The sets aren't quite as glamorous as in past seasons. Probably because Aurelio's mother was killed by one of Cabo's drones last season so no one is really into eating. But the amount of tequila and Aguardiente they drink is astounding. At least they stopped smoking in the shows. Those two habits alone are far worse then the drugs they sell(Aurelio put his foot downthis season and said he won't sell fentanyl and ran around town with his gang bowing up the Chinese storage places.

    Not too many killings this year, and no tortures. But Everybody knows the show ends Wednesday and Aurelio Casillas is going to be killed. That's a fact because Telemundo refused to pay Amado what he was asking for the next season, and he's annonced he's moving on. The Show, however, will go on, only under the name La Dynastia del Cassillas. No word yet on who is in and who is out.
    Regardless, I'll be watching. And reporting.


    Bogota is a large, dirty city (none / 0) (#9)
    by fishcamp on Thu Sep 27, 2018 at 08:34:56 AM EST
    but it does have the famous gold museum that is worth visiting.  Medellin is a terrible city.  Cartagena is a lovely island resort town with great boutique hotels and excellent restaurants.  It's also the oldest walled city in the western hemisphere.  There is one flight per day from Miami to Cartagena at 2:30 pm so connections are easy to make when arriving from other cities.  It's a fantastic vacation spot.