Both the actual title (Little Prince) and the working title (White Bread) sort of prepare you for this episode’s attempt at making The Rich look like people/people we should give a shit about. Spoiler: they really do try to humanise them, like they do anybody else, but it doesn’t really work.
Buckle in, btw, because I think this has the most single images in a post yet. It was just a real looker of an episode.
This episode deals with needle drugs, but no needle-to-skin are shown, FYI.
For a full summary of this episode, see the Miami Vice wiki entry for “Little Prince”
Miami Vice was more than just a pastel distraction. It examined some legit issues in both society and law enforcement, had awesome lady characters and people of colour, all while holding fast to Michael Mann’s glorious music video aesthetic.
These posts aren’t really plot summaries, but you’ll find links to Miami Vice wiki articles if you desire all the dirty deets. I’m just going to try and look at some visual themes I’ve picked up after watching the show a half-dozen times through.
We get the same “stock footage and b-roll of the streets” intro the last two episodes had, including the under-butt sign from last episode that I am basically in love with. By now, we’ve seen most of the gems, but here’s this bad boy.
The camera pans up from a pair of barefoot feet shuffling along with some sneakers and SURPRISE, BAM, it’s our faves, Trudy and Gina.
Trudy is giving a very good and loud show of how badly she needs a fix and it hooks a sizeable fish.
And yes, that is Giancarlo Esposito, playing a guy named Luther, at an adorable twenty-six years old and wearing pants with a total of six pleats in the front because of course he can pull that off. Esposito had done a bunch of other work by this time and actually comes back twice to Miami Vice, but as different characters because that’s how casting on this show rolled.
Our ladies don’t trust him, Gina says he’s probably a cop (oh, the layers of this setup), but he points at the teardrop under his eye as proof that they can trust him to get Trudy high. God, look at his little baby face here.
As Trudy and Gina are lead to whatever place this guy uses as headquarters, we get the reassurance that they have backup.
However, their back up is Zito and Switek, who are basically chumps in this season. They go to start the car and it doesn’t go and they have to chase on foot and holy shit, that’s the “Burlesque” neon letters there from the intro last episode. Ugh, I love that sign.
Anyway, our ladies are hustled off and the guys pursue and lose them.
Time for the backup to the backup.
The bait and fish have reached the drug hangout and are greeted by the soulless stare of a rando manning the door. “Don’t mind Gary, he died three years ago,” says Luther, which is obviously reassuring.
Trudy and Gina’s game is getting played close, as they don’t know where their backup is and the point of no return is looming.
No worries though, as Crockett and Tubbs are hot in the pursuit of some extra-legal info-getting from some doper they know.
Gina and Trudy, meanwhile, share a look and a quick nod before exploding into action.
At that same moment Crockett and Tubbs show up because that’s how the story always goes. They’re four against a den of dopers, so they actually don’t get much aggressive pushback, but the dude Gary takes a runner out the window.
I do really love that there had to be a couple people in production who did all the graffiti. I also thought that was a Bosch print on the left there but that just seems too on the nose.
Crockett goes to see what way Gary took after going down the fire escape.
Turns out: there was no fire escape.
Take a moment and make note of this guy, ‘cause the camera did. Also, somebody in production likes their Keith Haring, good for them!
Doot, doot, now we’re at the police station and, having been informed that the khaki boy nodded out in the earlier shot is Mark Jorgenson Jr., and some fun facts about him are his dad is a fucked up rich stockbroker and this is Mark Jr.’s second offense in eight months. CANDY for cops.
Mark Jr. is barely tracking their convo, but it is conveyed to him that now would be a good time to give up names of dealers. When he resists, not wanting to name his friends, Tubbs points out, “those people are not your friends.”
Tubbs also makes time to do the classic, “you have such a bright future ahead of you, etc. etc.” and Mark Jr. finally decides to name some names.
Oop, nevermind. Lawyer and judge favour time, he’s released.
I actually have a nicer looking cap of this moment but you can see the lawyer’s glasses better here and really, that’s what I’m about. Look at the size of these fucking things.
Speaking of fashion, Tubbs adjusts his socks and explains to Crockett that he wasn’t playing good cop. He just thinks uptown junkies are super sad because they do drugs because they’re hurting inside. He also says “so what else is new, Gucci Class slips through the cracks,” so I’m not 100% on what his feelings are.
I like that they took time to show Trudy removing her makeup from her and Gina’s street show. Please also: Crockett’s jacket.
Anyway, whether rich junkies are humans or not, permission is given for Crockett to “rattle the cage” of Mark Jr. in hopes of scaring him into spilling his suppliers. Which means Crockett has to go see polo. The horse kind.
Now let’s enjoy some fashion choices of the pastel elite and look at horsies.
One of the players falls and it’s Mark Jr. who is just not having a great week.
The dude who caused him to fall basically tells him he’s a piece of shit and rides off.
Bummed Mark Jr. wanders up to a lady we saw earlier, among the polo-watchers. He brings his horse.
Jeez, look at that Rolls Royce. Oop, also to the right and back of it, an incoming downer.
Haha, not as much of a downer as learning that the guy who dissed on Mark Jr. is Mark Sr. This dame is Mary, his girlfriend.
Crockett, of course, makes up a charming reason for knowing Mark Jr. and wanders off, his task of fucking up the kid finished.
We’re then treated to a long and loving shot of a fancy mansion and an opulent room, but this foyer is what got me:
You look at that, you do not expect the next room over to be full of Baroque frames and that extra-layered “here are all the things I own” of old money sitting rooms.
Not that any of this matters as we swiftly are panned to a far less fancy bedroom.
My cousin had a TV like that! It was black and white and I saw a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles episode on it once.
She did NOT have a bathroom connected to her bedroom, however. Mark Jr. totally does and is taking a bit of a drug nap post-polo.
Now, I’ve encountered carpeted bathrooms. But it’s been in wildly dry places like Wyoming, not the damp and tropical swamps of Florida. Who does this. WHO DOES THIS!? That’s how you get rot, folks.
Mary calls around the house for Mark Jr. and finally goes to his room. I did try and GIS this painting but it just gave me “cartoon”.
Mary, of course, finds Mark Jr.
Mary asks Mark Jr. what is up, as she’d thought he’s moved past this. Mark Jr., in response, talks a bit about interior design and the colour white. Okay, Mark Jr.
Mary sees Mark Sr. arriving and goes to run interference.
It does not work and Mark Sr. angrily goes to do his stock business times out on his palatial lawn.
Mark Jr. comes out and is told some options to erase what he did, record-wise. It includes a six month stint at a rehab program, which he refuses to do because that’s as bad as jail. It doesn’t appear that he has a lot of choice. All this is due to happen after he finishes this semester AND the polo season, tho. Priorities.
At the station, Trudy (who does all the best and most reliable research for the entire team) has got some deets on the Marks. Mostly on Mark Sr. who has multiple times been like thisclose to getting into trouble but always has cash to fix things.
They get enough to get a warrant to wire the Jorgenson’s house, which nets them some useful audio.
With the sharp ear of this tech who is frustratingly uncredited, they’re able to pinpoint discussion of a warehouse (for some “inventory”) between Mary and Mark Sr. to a location by a church and train tracks.
Tubbs gets some info from a hot dog vendor who spends a chunk of his discussion with Tubbs conferring with his dog about which warehouse they saw a van at.
Tubbs tracks the warehouse down and casually picks the lock. Man, look at the type on the sign behind him.
Warehouse level: unlocked.
Some muddy footsteps, or dirty ones, I honestly don’t know why someone would have muddy shoes in this situation, lead Tubbs to the loot.
Reinforcements are called in, could we take a moment to appreciate how well the silhouettes of these folks say who is who?
The team sets up at the mission across the way, let’s montage.
First though, I just want to say that the kind of goofy and simplistic design of this lamp is such a well-thought placement in a mission/YMCA environment, it’s the kind of mid-century lamp that a business donated a dozen of to the mission as a tax write off.
Back to montage. Montage to Turn Up The Radio.
Between the stakeout setup, Crockett goes to learn what he can about who owns the warehouse in question. Look at this console computer. Man. Man!
More montage. The shape of underwear has really changed over the decades. I wonder if there is a pictograph?
I did really hope this bit would end with Gina and Trudy putting up a foldout of their own. There’s a great Herb Ritts photo of Don Johnson standing in the surf, his clothes practically transparent. I guess that’d be a fourth wall breaker (and wasn’t shot until like a year later) but still.
In the search for the warehouse’s owner, over two days, Crockett and the researcher find an excess of shell companies and whoever is at the nexus of them is impossible to find.
After all that waiting, the stakeout crew finally hits their jackpot. I’m proud of myself because I accurately called that these limos were Lincolns.
I know I’ve been kind of montage-y here, but a good Miami Vice episode is like a comic book, the visuals do as much work (if not more) than the words, and this episode in particular is a stunner.
That said, how is the team gonna get past the door muscle?
Two shmucks walking back from the gym, talking about how to sell a lie. . .
The door dudes stiffen up but relax once they actually get an eye on these two and realise they’re no threat.
OR ARE THEY?!
Scope Crockett’s car there in the background, perfectly framed!
Anyway, they shush the guards and then:
Tubbs drives Mary back to the station and tries to get her to talk but she holds by her demand for a lawyer.
Mark Sr. is not stoked on the situation, though he seems more upset about the money (75 million!!) lost than Mary getting picked up.
Well, time to go yell at the son you don’t like, I guess.
Mark Jr. is upset about Mary getting picked up and knows right away that his dad isn’t going to do shit about it for her, that he “can’t be connected.” So he sends Mark Jr. to check on her, tell her to not come back to the house, etc. Classy stuff, basically.
Transition scene tailored realness. God, the costuming on this show. The consistent use of clean lines for Tubbs and refined sloppiness for Crockett is so on.
Our dudes get word that Mark Jr. is at the station to pick up Mary and try to explain the whole deal (his dad dealing drugs via Mary, so he has a middleman-fall guy). Mark Jr. is just basically overwhelmed and reactive.
He huffs off, and grabs Mary to take her to her apartment. Well, they both go in the chauffeured car to her apartment.
Mary, for her part, seems mostly amused by the whole booking procedure. She’s practically trilling about how quaint the whole process is, how “antiseptic” and “almost polite.” Well no shit, lady, you’re rich and white. WTF.
Mark tried to convey to her that he is mad about his dad abandoning her, but she agrees, it’ll be best if she stays separate for a bit, to protect him. What a fucking romp this is for her.
Mark Jr. is dropped off at the house and the car drives off to take Mary to her apartment. Only, you know. Not really. Because this locks before they’re out of the Jorgenson’s driveway.
Yup. You figured it out, Mary.
The very next shot is a gorgeous pan down an overpass to this whole mess.
It’s Mary, or was, and although it’s very suicide-looking, it just as obviously isn’t. Nobody is feeling good about this situation. But it gets worse.
It’s been arranged for Mark to show up at the scene. He does not take it well, OBVIOUSLY.
Neither of our dudes are stoked, because this is manipulative as shit, even for them. Castillo says it’s the Jorgensons who wrote the plays they’re following.
On a better note, the choice of mis-matching stripes on Crockett is nice. Shades of grey indeed.
They get Mark Jr. to agree to wear a wire by basically looking at him.
Mark Sr. got the sad drinks on in his office, staring at a picture of him and Mary together, but he’s moved to the yard by the time Junior rolls up.
There’s some convo that I guess is supposed to be sad. Mark Sr. talks about how he was raised with “Jorgensons never cry” as some sort of mantra, and thought that just being who he was would put him above the law. Really, really, not sure if that was supposed to humanise him or ???
He turns, eyes full of those tears he’s never cried and says he killed Mary.
Mark Jr. reacts about how you’d expect after your dad sort of maybe tells you he loves you and is proud of you, right before he confesses to murder while you’re wearing a wire.
Welp, can’t put that back in the bottle. Dad is arrested, Junior loses his shit about it, literally stomp-running away from Crockett after he tries to help him chill out.
Crockett and Tubbs, later that evening, go back to the house and check in with the housekeeper about where the hell Mark Jr. is. She’s got no clue and Tubbs tells Crockett that he won’t be coming back.
Tubbs asks Crockett, “what we did today?”
Crockett replies, spitting out the words around his unfiltered cigarette “good, routine, police work.”
Sometimes I worry that how I feel about law enforcement unfairly influences how I portray actions on this show, but then I remember, Miami Vice is well ahead of me there.
As much as I’d love to write monographs on this show, I’ve really only got time and energy to cap the shit out of it and share the things I’d be yelling at the TV about anyway. If you like this and want more, become my Patreon supporter to access to posts like these first and also get zip files of the first cull of caps (which is about twice what is used in a post).
Also published on Medium.