Oh my lord, guys, okay. In episode six, One Eyed Jack, we finally get to meet the damn keystone of the Miami Vice cast. Like, spoilers for a very old show, but Edward James Olmos as Martin Castillo is heaven-sent. He’s a brooding force in a black skinny tie that acts as the anchor of the swirling pastel mayhem of Miami Vice.
Also in this episode we get to meet the next nemesis, and basically the gang is all here to solve crimes, take names and have upsetting moral realisations.
For a full summary of this episode, see the Miami Vice wiki entry for “One Eyed Jack”
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 open on this madman and his cats. Like, what’s better here, that his desk looks like one of those object hunt games or that he pays a water service?
I have been playing an embarrassing amount of one of those object hunt games, actually, and the level this desk is at is bonkers. There’s M&Ms, gummy bears, four prominently displayed medication bottles, at least another candy jar hiding on the far right, an assortment of inspirational objects d’arte and a cup full of pencils that are all sharpened to the same height, with a bundle of pens straight out of the box. It’s beautiful.
Also beautiful is what Crockett is shooting right now.
“Cover of GQ” says Tubbs. Our dudes are bored on their stakeout, part of a semi-regular attempt to flush out the head of all the big gambling rights.
Their boredom is broken though, when a dame walks into the office.
This isn’t just any dame with a gambling problem (PS: check out how many dang cats this guy has), this is a dame that Crockett knows. And we haven’t really got into it yet, but Crockett cannot resist helping a lady in distress. And this lady def is.
Her debt is so bad that the gamble thugs took all her husband’s tools and she’s here begging for them back, even while being threatened by this level boss with the unsettling phrase “money don’t have a sex, just color.”
But our vaqueros arrive just in time to save the lady and get their asses handed to them.
It’s an actual blessing how bad these guys are at hand-to-hand. Imagine all the beauty of their Daytona, flowing like mercury along the streets of Miami, each move calculated and balanced.
Now imagine the opposite of that.
They do eventually bring the dude down, but that only solves one problem.
‘Cause this lady, Barbra, is still in trouble. He tries to convince her to file charges, but she’s too scared. She asks him to get her husband’s tools back, so they can at least try to make money to pay these guys off.
Crockett promises to do what he can. We learn a bit from their chat that they probs used to date and ended things amicably. And if you’ve touched his heart once, Crockett will bend over backwards trying to save you, metaphorically or otherwise.
Back at Vice, a new player enters.
I AM VERY EXCITED MARTIN CASTILLO (played by Edward James Olmos) IS NOW ON THE SHOW. He’s like, exactly the balance this show needs, all terrifying stare and plain suits and thin tie. The vice department ain’t quite feeling it tho. To be fair, the dude they’d worked with for years got super sniped, so anybody stepping into the role is going to feel weird.
Just to talk details for a sec, putting those little baseball trophies on people’s desks is a nice touch. I do not believe we ever get any real info on this probably public service department-based softball team, but the production team wants you to know they win sometimes. The desk litter in general is ace.
Back to the always-too-intense stare of Castillo. He likes his forms filled out, no cowboy shit, and has eyes as deep as the void you shout into when you feel alone.
He gets described as “Charles Bronson by way of Atlanta,” which is kind of the most beautiful thing.
Anyway, now for a beach montage.
Honestly, anybody wanting to costume a particular range of lifestyle in the mid-1980s can just watch a couple episodes of Miami Vice and take their time on the crowd scenes. Sure, there will be some dame in a lame at a party, but there are also just folks with lipstick in a pink they don’t make any more, or who are wearing goddamn pumps to the poolside.
This poolside is also the office of one DeMarco, a clearly cool dude who is not weasely in any way.
Crockett has a chat with him about getting Barbra’s husband’s tools back, which end with Crockett putting his cigarette out in that cottage cheese health breakfast DeMarco is chowing.
Also tho? The sugar packets are just white (sugar) and pink (Sweet & Low). Equal (blue packets) was first sold in the US in 1982, but it’s gonna take them more than three years to get on every restaurant table.
Anyway, Dennis Farina shows up to bless us all with a mostly open shirt and the weird charm he brings to crime boss Lombard.
Trouble is afoot everywhere it seems, as Elvis is up to his regular party crashing and has to be wrangled by two wildlife officers that Crockett manages to quote enough bullshit code at to allow Elvis to return home.
I love not only these two officers, but this lady in the back, drinking a juice or something, who was probably spring cleaning her boat and got to watch this whole thing.
Crockett takes a call on his beautiful cordless phone and Elvis waits for his dog food snack bag. Feeding dog food to reptiles is a big no, but I’m thinking it’s a treat since it’s been shown that Crockett feeds Elvis good fish on the reg.
DeMarco arranges a meet, so Crockett can get Barbara’s husband’s tools back. Only, it doesn’t go so well. DeMarco says that he can only hand over cash, since they’d sold the tools. Once Crockett takes that envelope, well. Between the cash and Legitimate Businessman DeMarco’s testimony, he’s cooked.
Cher’s dad (from Clueless guys, duh) Internal Affairs the shit out of the situation, as is proper and expected in a procedural.
Everybody is pretty fucked up about it, because Castillo is new, so he doesn’t know Crockett or the situation or anything. Also, he is intense af.
Undaunted as ever, Crockett goes to Barbara’s house to corroborate his story. All he finds there is Jerry, her husband, who is wondering where Barbara is too. In a quick bit of expos we learn that Barbara’s gambling habit is linked to her depression and he’s determinedly sticking with her and doing his best to help her through it.
It looks like Barbara has been found though.
Just not by the right folks.
After Barbara is helped into the car, firmly but politely, we flash to the evening, where DeMarco is doing his thing at whatever gambling den him and Lombard are running.
Also there is our dude Tubbs, who is on a roll.
As he pockets his couple thousand winnings (good job, man!), he lets DeMarco know that he’s from Philly, where he was running some gambling rings for the family, until he got a little too much heat from the police. He makes some inquiries into working for Lombard and DeMarco, properly impressed, says he’ll see what he can do.
Crockett, upset about being stuck at a desk until this Internal Affairs thing is cleared up, and over the whole situation with Barbara, does a sad walk home.
But! Gina pops up from belowdecks, with a bottle of bubbly and some good company. Wonderful Tonight plays and we get a tasteful fade to black.
In the beautiful Miami morning, Tubbs shows up, showing off his fliff and letting Crockett know things are going well with Vice’s plan to finally get Lombard.
Not all is well, however, as our dudes are soon at the pond where Barbara’s body was discovered.
Jerry is there and he blames Crockett and the cops for his wife’s death. Crocket tries to tell him that vengeance is not the right route, but this is the guy who lives for cowboy vengeance saying this, so.
After Jerry leaves, some words are exchanged, as Castillo’s demeanour is not what Tubbs feels is appropriate for the whole situation.
In the cold, measured voice of a god, Castillo says “Don’t ever come up to my face like this again, detective.” We’re all shook.
Tubb’s infiltration of Lombard’s business goes onward, and he lunches with DeMarco and Lombard on a nice little boat.
Lombard makes a weird comment about Tubbs being a bit dark for an Italian, to which Tubbs replies that he’s from a little place in South Italy, “very south, called Africa.” They all laugh and take what are honestly Gentleman Shots and Tubbs makes a face we all agree with.
At the Vice offices, Cher’s dad is going through files and being the standard IA nuisance. Please enjoy Zito’s pants.
Gina and Trudy, in very great outfits, talk to Crockett to see how he’s doing.
And Tubbs swings by to let Crockett know he’s in, Lombard wants him handling his “Black and Latin action.” Huh, wonder what that is.
DeMarco introduces Tubbs to Angel, the guy who runs the fights.
See, Angel has the bad habit of betting on his own fights and is about 2K short of the 6K he owes Lombard. DeMarco threatens him with his envelope. Angel says nothing other than the amount they want is to high. Angel is a guy who talks little and sweats much.
Tubbs takes him aside to get the rest of the money off of him, but actually pulls some sort of con I can’t quite comprehend, saying he’ll cover the missing money (with his convenient casino win), but that Angel needs to tell anyone who called that he paid in full.
Tubbs lets DeMarco know all is good and DeMarco is charmed and impressed. This is Tubbs we’re talking about here.
DANCE. CLUB. SCENE. Bring on the shoes.
Tubbs wins hearts left and right, naturally. To Jump (For My Love), naturally.
While he’s dancing, DeMarco tells Lombard that they got 4K from Angel, and Lombard is pleased.
Tubbs brings his lady over and sends her and the other ladies off to power their noses, to which one responds “inside or outside?” Oh, 80s.
DeMarco goes to get drinks and Tubbs lets drop they got 6K from Angel. Lombard plays it cool, but when DeMarco gets back he asks them to lunch with him on his yacht the next day, in a very threatening way, before he storms off into the night.
Tubbs explains what he did to DeMarco, who is not into it, because you do not skim two thousand dollars of a crime boss’ money.
Cher’s dad, the next day at the station, is being shitty to Crockett in front of Castillo. I’ll let the caps do the talking here.
They get a call from DeMarco, who is shitting himself in fear. Lombard has eyes on his family and house, and he knows he’s absolutely fucked because of how Tubbs set him up. Which means he’s exactly where they want him.
Vice provides him with a confession that clears what he says about Crockett and he agrees to wear a wire to their lunch on Lombard’s yacht.
Tubbs pulls up with DeMarco in a hot-to-trot Mercedes-Benz 500 SEC. Look at it. You see those wipers on the headlights? Yeah. I don’t even. I used to have a 1991 300E and it had only one headlight wiper, because it was a replacement part and life is hilarious.
But he’s not alone. Crockett, Lester and the whole crew (in various undercover) are watching from the watery sidelines.
Tubbs gives DeMarco and his colour blocked shirt a pep talk.
Butttt. After they board, Lombard’s boat takes off and the backup has to mobilize too. Gina and Trudy got the good gig, by the way.
Zito and Switek got to dress as painters and push off in a basic bitch motor boat.
Anyway, on the yacht, shit is getting uncomfortable real fast.
Lombard gets handsy with DeMarco, who is not handling the situation well.
They’re getting Lombard warmed up to talking a bit, DeMarco leading though, hopefully nothing will go wrong…Oh no.
Okay, okay. So Jerry is on board with a gun. That’s okay. Lombard is gonna talk any second.
With everything breaking to shit, Crockett has to improvise.
But, as he boards: a gunshot.
Luckily, the distraction of DeMarco getting deaded is enough for the rest of the backup to arrive and flash badges. Jerry there is already feeling the effects of vengeance wrought.
DeMarco ain’t feeling nothing no more.
Lombard helpfully points out, as he is arrested, that he actually didn’t confess to anything, so good luck holding him.
Tubbs and Crockett talk over the whole mess on Crockett’s boat later, how Jerry’s sentence will probably end up being relatively light, that Lombard is already out on the street and what else can you do sometimes but go fishing as mental therapy.
And there you have it. The gang is all here, all our themes have been introduced and next episode I have SUCH a guest star for you.
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.