The twelfth episode of Miami Vice, “Milk Run” has two things in common with the last one! It lets us see an actor when they had hair and also looks at the terrible things that happen around selling drugs. Fun topics!
For a full summary of this episode, see the Miami Vice wiki entry for “Milk Run”
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.
Where are our dudes now? Ah, yes.
Crockett and Tubbs are working “airport passenger surveillance.” The 80s were a wild time for flying. Some measures for security had been finally implemented/were getting implemented after the one million hijackings in the 1970s, but like, this is still the decade that everything in Die Hard 2 happened, so.
I also finally looked up where they film airport scenes and it totally is at the Miami airport. I could look and see pictures of what it looks like now but I think that could bum me out.
Anyway, Crockett is having an enjoyable survey, to the tune of “Legs.”
I am going to bet they flipped the film, not the camera, which would be about 20lbs and not worth the effort for this gag. The dame gives him a genuine smile and wave, to make us all less creeped out by this full-blown butt scoping.
Crockett doesn’t have much time to enjoy it though, as his view is quickly replaced by a very sweaty Tubbs.
While Crockett has had the air-conditioned inside beat, Tubbs was working outside. He cools down for a bit and ribs his partner on the cozy gig with nothing to do but read the paper. As if on cue . . .
We watch these two babies buy a plane ticket to Colombia in cash.
NOT SUSPICIOUS AT ALL. The ticket agent signals Crockett after the boys leave and let’s look at her, because this is a blouse style that just doesn’t happen anymore but is kind of baller.
Like, I know people still wear blouses, it’s just that knit is king now and everything is very t-shirt based. Remember “shell blouses”? I mean, you have to, it’s a dang SEO keyword at Target, but like, those look terrible on everyone, they’re literally a formless synthetic fibre shell that goes between your bra and your office jacket. Gross. Give me pussy bows, which is the actual name those self-fabric neck ties are on blouses like the above. The history of women’s office wear is dang wild.
Anyway, back to the matter at hand: two New York kids buying a cash ticket to Colombia who are now killing time before their flight at the cafeteria.
Eddie, there on the right, is nervous af. But Louis (on the left) is all about their cool plan to use like, a cousin’s connection to pick up dope in Colombia and then sell it to buy their dream nightclub. BTW, it’s only Eddie who is going, not Louis. He’s just funding the trip and probably provided the empty-but-for-drug-buying-money duffle bag that is Eddie’s only luggage because that’s doubly not suspicious.
So, Louis looks familiar, right?
Yeah, it’s Evan Handler! Man, I love seeing these great character actors early on in their careers on this show. Handler has been in about every TV show, and here he is as a dirty baby with what honestly looks like sponged-on stubble.
Our dudes show up and quickly shower Eddie and Louis with urban legends and other assorted bullshit to get them to not take the flight.
Among the lies is the actual truth of “you literally could be killed by these drug dealing strangers, you dummies.” They don’t take well to this advice and take off running, our dudes in pursuit.
Institutional places like airports are so beautiful, just the bones of them.
Of course, these young guys get away and Crockett eats shit on a luggage cart and is accosted by security as well you should be after chasing people through an airport.
Now: hot dogs.
So, thing I didn’t mention last episode, Tubbs doesn’t eat the hot dog from the vendor he is also getting info from. He straight dumped it in a garbage bin, with a full look of disgust. I thought New York folks liked hot dogs? Is that a thing? I mean, Tubbs is also fancy, too fancy for hot dogs, I guess.
Crockett though? Not so much.
That fine piece of shit behind him is former public defender Andy Sloan, who paused in the dang road to tell Crockett how he’s going to open his private practise soon and look at his fancy car that 100% was not purchased with drug money he earned during a case where there were a bunch of obviously paid witnesses.
Basically this is just a scene to introduce us to this scumbag and for the throwaway joke of Crockett dropping his hot dog, complete with relish, into the space behind the passenger seat while Sloan is talking to Tubbs.
As another bummer, they got an overnight stakeout at a probable drug lab, so Crockett loads up another hot dog to make it through the night.
While our dudes are on their stakeout, Louis hypes Eddie up to get on the plane and get those drugs that will make them rich. “Don’t tell me you’re too scared to dream,” Louis says, like a fucked up inspirational poster.
By the way, one of the parts of this nightclub dream of theirs is “waitresses who work for us,” so fuck them both, actually.
The stakeout seems like a bust but then some dudes show up! Wow, wonder why this house surrounded by razor wire was a suspected drug lab, it looks so normal and above-board.
One of the guys going inside lights a cigarette and you know exactly what is going to happen.
He also tries to light that thing from the middle for way too long, bless you, television. Anyway:
They clearly got to blow up a real house and not a model and they milked the shit out of this, we just watch the house burn and explode for a bit in a way that feels like if Cronenburg made movies for houses.
Inside the husk, they find something surprising.
Lots of little statues of Shango (of Santeria fame), nicely hollow and packed with drugs to the tune of like 25k each, and a very complete computer file system because it’s the 80s and life is modern now.
The sole survivor of the explosion names a guy “Moya” but that’s all they got. Meanwhile, in Colombia, some guy is casually packing bags of rice flour into clay statues.
Eddie buys the statue he came down for and is then almost unable to fit in his duffel. Dude, production, you literally could have shaved the base down like an inch and a half.
Well, they were probably busy helping costume outfit the next scene.
See, Crockett has a source that is a “Santeria high priestess” who also works at a punk movie theatre because they wanted to introduce a character concept for me to fall in love with. I appreciate all these punks (or goths, honestly?) being like, normal (maybe they got the extras to just wear in their clothes?), and not ultra-extra-dressed-to-go-out. Like, these nice folks are seeing a movie midday, even I don’t put in my big hoops for that.
They’re still who they are tho, and Angela is head to toe in black lace, bless her.
Problem is, Angela has a boyfriend who needs to be distracted while she’s questioned. Yes, his name is Zeke, of course it is. Crockett and Tubbs flip a coin to decide who gets that pleasure. Guess who loses.
So, Crockett goes to bother Angela at work, and cuts in front of a New Romantic type and this lady in the nice jacket.
When she protests, he tells her to “get a haircut” which actually is funny and she does legit laugh.
Tubbs is not having such a good time of it.
Crockett gets the info he needs, that “Moya” refers to a Diego who runs a gym in South Beach, of all places. Crockett then goes to extricate Tubbs from his particular situation.
So, off to the gym. Dang, there seem to be a lot of boxing gyms in Miami. Maybe it was the era. Unrelated: these two dudes in the foreground are a key example of proper costuming. It’s 1985 and guy on the left is wearing a very late 70s suit. You know why? Because “fast fashion” (cheap, up-to-date, clothes) is a more recent phenomenon and even so, there are always people who don’t keep up on what The Look is now. You know how much suits cost? He’ll be buried in one with this cut. His frames look more modern though. DETAILS.
Anyway, Diego isn’t there so they talk to Pepe, pretending they’re involved in boxing, like agents or something. Please note that Modern Businessman Pepe has an up to date suit cut.
As they’re chatting, Tubbs finds an excuse to hustle out of there, as he believes he saw Louis leave through a back door.
And he so did.
Since Louis has applied for a Florida drivers license, our dudes have an address to check out. And look at it.
This pretty baby was demolished in 1988 and dang it has an excess of crank-operated windows.
Whatever it truly looked like inside, the production team def put their stamp on the reception desk.
That’s our dudes’ faces as Eddie walks in right behind them, then does a full double take and skitter out.
Eddie runs to a cab sitting outside, yelling “drive!” like any kid his age who had plans to sell a drug-filled Santeria statue for money to build a nightclub would.
The thing is, that’s not how life works. The cab driver says, basically “nobody talks to me like that in MY cab!” and straight gets out of the car to go remove this guy from his car.
Crockett and Tubbs get Eddie first, though, and bring him in. The statue in his bag super matches the ones in the lab explosion, but none of this solidly ties the Moyas into the game.
Blah, blah, cop stuff, using Eddie and his statue as bait to catch the buyer, at least they take some time to think about it.
How does Castillo have one of these baseball statues? He’s the new guy! Have they already won a baseball in the time he’s been there? Are they that good, that’s why there are these statues everywhere?!
Tubbs is trying to get Eddie to talk, or commit to being bait in a deal. Eddie is resisting and jackets with this kind of back vent (?) are so weird.
Crockett comes in and tells this terrified kid that they’re just not gonna beg him to help and he can do the 15 years. And Eddie blurts, as they reach the door, that his lawyer is the one who said cops won’t hold their end of the deal.
GUESS WHO THE LAWYER IS?!
It’s Sloan and he’s trying (and failing) to chat up the bartender, who makes exactly the face.
Our dudes arrive and muscle him out.
Sloan complains about them manhandling his $40 shirt. Bro. In now money that’s like $92 and that shirt is not worth that. Look at it.
He tries to play cool as Crockett chastises him for telling Eddie that they (cops) don’t follow through on their deals. Which, like . . . we’ll keep the spectre of disbelief fiction allows us.
Anyway, Crockett is pissed. And his shirt is probably actually worth $92 in today money, a really nice, high quality fibre t-shirt that is flatteringly cut is always expensive.
They haul Sloan in to be a lawyer for Eddie, since the kid is actually his client, and to have him say, to Eddie’s face, that they won’t hold up their end of a deal.
Sloan can’t really.
So, Eddie agrees to the deal. He, Louis and the statue full of drugs will go through with the deal so they can catch the Moyas.
Eddie is amped and scared and the whole process of securing their room at the hotel and making sure Louis is alone does not do well on his nerves.
With the room secured, the Vice team sets it up for the stakeout-trap while Louis and Eddie chill on the couch.
Let’s now enjoy a montage of intense patterns and interior design decisions as this happens. Please note the sniper in the window opposite.
And they wait.
Tubbs and Crockett set the boys up on what they need to do and where they need to be for this sting. They show them taking a lot of due damn diligence regarding Louis and Eddie’s safety, which is nice.
I would like to marry this shot.
The buyers roll up and in and flash their cash. Eddie removes the statue from the fridge because that made the most sense in this scenario, I guess.
Everything is going okay, and the boys are probably about to say their code word when we get this POV from the sniper’s position.
Which, just from a visual narrative perspective, is smart. It’s dramatic and good looking and allows the viewer (who’s been watching from a specific spot in the kitchen) a mental pause for when the camera view inside the hotel shifts slightly back to accommodate the next shot.
This guy considers the deal very done.
But the sniper is there for a reason and our dudes were right outside to bust in.
Louis is fucked up a bit, it was his idea, his money, him pushing Eddie into the deal. Also, this guy who was about to kill them just got sniped like, two feet from their faces.
Eddie though, Eddie is really fucked up about it. Crockett checks in on him, sitting there at a kitchen table with a dead guy on it.
Deed done, Castillo worries about Pepe Moya finding out that his brother got deaded. He will most probs want to take it out on Eddie and Louis for turning over.
The kids are handed over to Zito and Switek to be watched while Tubbs and Crockett run down where Pepe is.
Only problem is, somebody is watching the whole thing.
Of course, Crockett and Tubbs don’t know that, so off to boxing they go.
They spot Angela and she reluctantly spots them.
She makes her excuses to Zeke and follows Tubbs to the back.
She is gone like, just long enough to tell Crocket a couple of times that she legit knows nothing about the drug operations, it’s just shit Zeke does. Shit like deciding your lady taking a couple minutes away is to dang much and barging in to a random room and throwing your weight around.
This does not last long.
Zeke here knows all about the Moya operations.
He demands Angela leave before he tattles, which is weird, but whatever.
He doesn’t know where Pepe is but spills the drug lab location, which Crockett and Tubbs return to Castillo.
In return for what a shit show the evening was, Castillo gives them the titular “milk run”, taking Eddie and Louis to the airport and buying them tickets home to New York.
Back at the safehouse, Louis is treating the whole thing like a grand adventure and Eddie remains fucked up about it.
Well, they can get therapy back home. But first! Souvenirs?!
Eddie wanders over to look at the newspaper rack, like a nerd, but looks up to see Pepe.
The rest of the scene goes in slow motion, and the Miami Vice Wiki notes:
In the scene where Eddie is killed, the picture flickers quite noticeably, probably because the scene was not originally intended to be shown in slow motion and so was not shot using a high-speed camera; as a result, when the footage was slowed down, some of the breaks in the film can be seen as black ‘flashes’.
This shot of Pepe, where he’s totally out of focus but the broken glass is in focus? Devastating.
Crockett stays with Eddie and sends Louis to grab security and call and ambulance while Tubbs goes after Pepe.
Pepe is dead and so is Eddie.
It is now Crockett’s turn to be majorly fucked up.
Oof. Well, we’ll delve into someone else’s psyche and pay a different butcher’s bill! On the plus side: it’s a two-part episode.
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.