While looking up the use of “cool running” as slang, I ended up reading the Wikipedia entry for Cool Runnings and then the list for white saviour plotlines and then, for some reason, the entry on The Thirteenth Warrior. But then I just looked it up on Urban Dictionary and it seems to be “peace be the journey/safe journey.”
Which matters not at all for this look at the third episode of Miami Vice, which is about guns and hubris, but I was curious since they did the thing where you say the name of the episode as part of the dialogue.
For a full summary of this episode, see the Miami Vice wiki entry for “Cool Runnin’”
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.
It’s the wee hours of the morning and Crockett and Tubbs are on a stakeout, in a glorious beast of a van, waiting for a drug deal to go down. Except, only moments into white pants there showing up, they get shot.
Which leads to something that just doesn’t happen enough in shows: a van high speed chase! Seriously, two boxy boys that are not made for the things fast cars do, lumbering boxily after and at each other. It’s like heavyweight wrestling, it’s not about speed, it’s about slamming.
BOMP. We are treated to these vans slamming sides and other offensive driving manoeuvres from our dudes when the guys they’re chasing cheat. With bullets.
In a nice variance of the classic “shooting from back of van”, it’s not the bullets that threaten our dudes’ health, but the landscape.
Oh noooo. Please take a moment to enjoy the shitty perfection of the stakeout van, though. You can enjoy it because, of course, Crockett and Tubbs are lightly ouched but otherwise okay.
Another shitty day on the job, which is remedied by a cop party on Crockett’s boat. There’s assorted ladies, a lobster and two young dudes who are newer to the vice scene. Trudy’s hat! Gina takes a moment to correct the young dudes on a Spanish name pronunciation, which Crockett mauls a moment later. She doesn’t correct him because he does it in that pronouncing-Spanish-while-drawling way that happens when you know the language just fine but your mouth hates enunciating.
I’m into what they’re cooking here. It’s assorted things on the grill, including corn, and everybody is pitching in to prep the food, which is my personal favourite part of hanging out, besides the corn. Or, at least, everybody helping except this dame, but she’s otherwise occupied. Understandable.
The young dudes make a wager as to which duo will have the most drug busts (by weight) by the end of the month. Nothing makes me want to make my own clothes more than the causal wear on this show. This sleeveless v-neck is to die.
The lobster goes overboard, by the way. My notes remind me that Crockett says it was a $28.95 lobster, which, I tried looking up lobster prices now, out of inflation curiosity and I think lobster prices from Miami Vice to now have gone up more than cocaine prices. The Miami Vice wiki helpfully notes “The $28.95 lobster Tubbs drops into the ocean would cost $66.13 as of 2016.”
New day, new shirt, no sleeves, the dudes are at Zito and Switek’s robbery fake hock shop, talking about the wiretap that had tipped them off on the bad bust and the main dude behind it, Desmond.
They stop talking shop and get back to playing undercover when their appointment comes in. What I love about Neville ‘Noogie’ Lamont is that the way Charlie Barnett plays him is as a motormouth who spend all his character points on charisma. Nobody doesn’t love him, even when they’re tired as shit about his behaviour. That doesn’t mean they treat him well, however. They’re still cops using informants, at the heart of it.
He’s not selling much to whet the appetites of the vice/burglary sting, though, mostly sunglasses, Calvin Klein underwear (in “Ivory” and “Shell Pink”! ?) and assorted sundries, nonea which Switek is showing interest in.
Noogie gets desperate to move some sort of product and glances up at a poster that is too nice to have actually been pulled out of a magazine, which means maybe it was shot for the show. Which is amazing. He spins some words about having magazines to sell too, rounding out his probably fake stolen product warehouse.
The slow-motion slapstick duo that is Zito and Switek bungles it again as Zito pops the cover of the TV hiding the video camera while trying to change the tape and reveals the operation to Noogie. I’m actually super unsure how he does this, as earlier we see him changing the tape in the VCR like normal:
But when he pops the front off the television, he’s fucking with the lens. Bro, it’s probably set just fine, what were you doing.
And Noogie is taken in, because he’s gotta be out of rotation while the fake hock shop is going on. I’m not totally sure why he has the bag over his head, but I think it’s because this is the vice department and it’s chock-a-block fulla undercover folks.
The two young dudes from the boat cookout sass at Crockett about winning the bet and I’m mostly including this shot so you can enjoy this dude and his boombox and little camera. Plus paperwork in mouth. He’s like the star of one of those shoujo manga.
Noogie is processed and when Trudy walks by he mentions her “motivating perfume.” Her look is good but was barely in the scene because life is cruel.
Meanwhile, Gina and Crockett are kissing around the corner, making date plans. Trudy drops off some mail for Crockett, who plays surprisingly chill for it being his wife officially filing for divorce. “It’s been a long time coming,” says the man who was just kissing up his co-worker. Gina’s face sort of speaks for us all as he cements their plans for later.
The cops all get called into the Lieutenant’s office and we get the briefest look at the book Tubbs is reading. It’s the bible (straight says “Holy Bible” on it). Both me and the show got no context for this.
Noogie takes the moment to pilfer some paperwork.
Not too long after, the lady who was processing him lets our dudes know that Noogie has some info to share. The way he crosses his legs with confidence, knowing they can see him and that his value has changed, kills me.
Crockett and Tubbs bring him into the debrief room and he drops the right names.
So off they go to accompany Noogie on a wander through the streets, where Crockett feels like Noogie is scamming them. He gets handsy when Noogie casually mentions getting high first, because they “don’t work [their] informants that way.”
Noogie says he knows where to go and we’ll get to that in a moment, but you see these sunglasses on Crocket up there (classic Ray Bans)? Okay, now look at this pair on Tubbs.
Yeah, they’re the ones Crockett was wearing in episode one, part one. Which, this show does a great job of keeping actual character wardrobes, we see the clothes reworn and that sort of thing. So canonically, Tubbs took Crockett’s sunnies.
Anyway, off to a Jamaican bar, where Noogie gets $40 off of Crockett to go get info from a guy who walked in that he says knows Desmond.
That, of course, just ends with Noogie out the door and gone. They probably had to graffiti this bathroom/bathroom set themselves, which makes this face and arrow pointing next to it pretty great because you know it’s sassing somebody.
A lesson: don’t try to outrun dudes in a sports car when you’re on foot.
Noogie confesses to having just stolen some paperwork to get names to drop. He’d been in prison for a year and lost all his connections once he got out (which explains the sad selection of shit he was trying to sell at the fake hock shop).
Crockett and Tubbs are pissed at the run-around and make Noogie ride in the trunk. Which is super-duper shitty but is also a weird Chekov’s gun.
Off Noogie goes to jail/lockup and off Crockett goes to meet with his soon-to-be-ex wife, Caroline and her lawyer at what seems like too fancy a resturant. They kiss a hello, but the moment she’s gotta start talking, Caroline looks like she’d rather have frogs come out of her mouth with every word than tell Crockett she’s going to move with their kid to Atlanta.
There’s a job there she’s passionate about, her family is there, it’s good, it’s just minus Crockett. He makes some vague threats and stalks out, only to be caught by the ah, host (¿what’s the word for the person who checks you in at restaurants?) with a phone call.
It’s not good news. The two young vice dudes, last seen laughing and heading out to a meet (no money changing hands so no backup needed!) are now dead or in a coma. There’s mention of “machine pistols.”
They were wired, though, so there’s a chance the cops can get a lead on these shootings. And people wonder what the value was in those tiny cassette tapes!!
The tape’s a jumble, but they can hear that, with his dying words, one of the vice cops describes the killers and their car. The shooters were Jamaicans, like the dudes at the start of the episode.
Crockett is clearly very burdened by thinking that the bet the young cops made with him is what got them killed. This does not mean that he brings the bet up at all.
Trudy, in an excellent shirt, brings them some info on Noogie, as it turns out he does for real know this Desmond guy. Man, Trudy. Every time she brings these folks info she casually mentions the messy and tricky computer shit she had to do to get it. In modern procedurals she’d be waving her hands at a hologram GUI to move files into folders, but here she just sounds like she’s talking about spreadsheets.
Using some not-very-cool casual threat tactics to jog his memory, Crockett and Tubbs get Noogie to set up a meet with Desmond. They go to a hip club where a house band plays Jamming, because of fucking course they do.
In full Miami Vice tradition, we enjoy a good chunk of the song while extras dance and the camera pans past toes tapping and folks dancing. For real, anybody who wants to study shoes 1984-1990 should just watch Miami Vice, the leg/foot pan is a constant.
Not having such a fun time is Desmond, who is the scary-serious type.
Tubbs uses his Jamaican accent on him and he passes? I guess it’s mentioned that he’s also from Brooklyn, so maybe that’s why. Some of those east coast dialects will mangle anything.
Desmond doesn’t really want to deal with these two dudes though, but Crockett hands a number over and tells him to think about it. Tubbs notices that Crockett handed over Noogie’s number, but Crockett has no qualms about putting this dude in danger from quick-to-kill terrifying gun dudes because cops/shame/etc. His words:
If something happens to him, it’s gonna haunt me for a long time, but guess what, I’m doing it anyway.
Good lord, Crockett. You’re a selfish mess, man.
As they’re driving up to Noogie’s apartment, they get word that the probable shooters have been apprehended. How do you put three people in a Daytona Spyder, btw? Oh, easy.
At the station, the guys being interrogated look pretty beat up and are Haitian, not Jamaican, like all previous indicators said they were. Plus, the van they were tooling around in, the one that went all chase-times with Crockett and Tubbs earlier, they’d just found abandoned.
That lump of shit on the right there drops casually that he beat the dudes up after bringing them in. Crockett does not take this well. Not only because that’s not how you do things, but because that could get the case tossed out on a technicality. And this is cops that got killed, cops that Crockett feels shame about because he encouraged their hubris. So, a little bit of slamtown.
The cool AV dude, Lester brings Crockett and Tubbs the cleaned up tape. When they’re like “they already got the guys,” he gets angry since he spent three hours cleaning up and re-dubbing this dang couple of minutes, so they should value his time and listen to it. I love Lester (who, it turns out, is played by Julio Oscar Mechoso, a dude continuing the weird Venn diagram of folks on Miami Vice who are also in Jurassic Park films and the From Dusk Till Dawn tv show).
Driving home, Crockett pops in the tape and listens to Lester’s work.
Cleaned up, it’s clear the dying cop is describing a sports car, not the van that was part of the whole opening incident. Which means it’s def not the Haitians the shitty cop picked up.
Which means Crockett has very much put Noogie in danger.
He gets a call from Noogie, actually, letting him know the Jamaicans are there and ready to deal.
I really love Noogie’s apartment. He knows what he values in life. Good lampshades, a nice keyboard, but just butcher paper in the windows. Um, I think that’s also beer in an ice bucket?!
He’s very much in the shit right now though.
The cops have got the word and are making plans. The (¿SWAT?) team has not only classed the gun guys “terrorists” but their leader straight says he’s “not risking my men for some low life.”
To which Crockett says, “well, he’s my low life.” Hold on to your anger at Crockett here, because you’re not the only one. Also Crockett, now just overburdened by guilt, has a better plan with a higher probable success rate.
The Jamaicans see Crockett coming and make threats to Noogie.
What they don’t realise, of course, is that Crockett is not walking up to Noogie’s beautiful apartment building alone.
Snipers and backup and poor Noogie knows none of this but lets Crockett in and Crockett is escorted by this gentleman to his car to get the money.
Desmond is commanding AF in this look but don’t overlook the stand-up of a dancer in Noogie’s apartment, who seems to be wearing actual netting and feathers.
When Crockett opens the trunk to get the money, Tubbs pops up and zaps Desmond with a taser. So putting Noogie in the trunk pays off story-wise but is still part of the overall uncomfortable treatment of Noogie.
A short couple of moments later, Crockett walks back to the apartment with a shadowy, gun-toting figure.
No worries though, it’s Tubbs.
Shooting happens, fucking up Noogie’s wall of electronics. They’re all like CBs and radios, but there’s no cords so are these like decorative?
Noogie gets shot in the arm and grabbed as a shield by the last dude, but that dude gets sniped and it’s over.
Medics are there in a flash to interrupt this Pietà-moment. The camera takes time to let us see Tubbs in this get up one more time via slow pan, though.
For real though, what is up with Noogie’s aesthetic? Those signs?!
A day or so later, when going to visit the now-out-of-a-coma cop, Crockett and Tubbs encounter Noogie leaving the hospital. They give him an honestly GIANT box of candy they were bringing by for him. Noogie has some legit disgust.
Tryin’ to get me bumped by three crazed Jamaicans and you buy me a box of candy and I’ll think everything is cool?!
The candy is also turtles, which he hates.
Noogie lets our dudes know that they’re lucky he’s a chill dude who is okay with continuing their partnership. To which Crockett and Tubbs are a little confused, because this is the same dude who very much did not want to help them earlier.
Noogie has the control now, though. His girlfriend arrives to pick him up and her hair! Shaved head, but this loose curly fringe?! This combo of new-wave prep with light punk?! The clear bag with pockets of coloured water?!
Also, her car is TO DIE. As she’s dragging him off, Noogie launches into some freestyle about superman and Crockett and Tubbs laugh confusedly because the Noog-man is on a level they will never be, but that they can admire.
For all that Noogie is treated like garbage in this episode, he has maybe the happiest overall show arc, btw. He gets married and goes to Disneyland for his honeymoon and everything. Which is a nice thing to look forward to because some loose ends get tied up and shit gets real in the next two episodes.
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.