Ah, the episode “No Exit”, besides being named after a fabulously depressing play, has an actor that you may know now, but who got his first credited role here as the abusive Tony Amato.
Heads up, I’m keeping the mention light in this summary, but if you watch this episode there is some heavy emotional/physical spousal abuse.
For a full summary of this episode, see the Miami Vice wiki entry for “No Exit”
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’re starting with a stakeout again, but this one is (if I may) more high stakes.
The whole gang’s all here, waiting around at what I guess is a retirement community?
They’re about to call things off when Suspicious Van trundles up.
A couple of goons stumble out and proceed to do their weapons deal. Of no consequence, this is one of my favourite blazers of Crockett’s.
Things break bad, as they are wont to do here in the fine city of Miami.
There’s a whole assload of machine gun firing by the goons, and wild firing back by the vice team. Nobody is hit, thanks to the quick work of Tubbs, but oh man.
See, as Tubbs forcefully explains to the one goon they were able to catch, he hates machine guns. See, when he hears them, he gets scared and “when I get scared I get angry.” Bro, same.
They take the captured goon and interrogate him, and this boy easily gives up his pals, Gentile (pronounced “Gentle”) and Ramone.
The lot of them are all just middle men for the big fish, Tony Amato. Crockett and Tubbs call in my favourite third-tier member of the vice team, Lester, to bug the hell out of the house.
Just dig on the two other probably-tech-or-admin folks here. There’s a lady who found her look about six years ago and is fine with that, and this tan dad that is 100% listening to a baseball game on a transistor radio.
Anyway, to another gorgeous, rich person house in Miami. First though, there’s a dame.
Man, when isn’t there a dame? Anyway, Lester gets them in and they have thirty seconds to find the alarm and shut it off. Will they find it in time? Is that even how this shit works?!
Of course, Lester being awesome means they find the alarm and shut it off. It’s very science, I’m sure you wouldn’t even understand what he’s doing.
While Lester works, Tubbs and Crockett browse through Amato’s life, including a magazine that is like a Sears catalogue of weaponry.
That big ol’ bay behind them means the headquarters for their snooping will be on Crockett’s boat.
Now, let’s enjoy height differences.
They’re watching a lady exercise, btw. That never stops being a gag. But it’s also a great way to look at exercise clothes of the era.
I still don’t get exercising in tights. This look is fab tho.
But, who watches the watchers?! Some square.
Ah, the Feds.
After an awkward moment with Elvis, the Feds agree to work with MDPD on getting Tony Amato, because he is super full of guns. Specifically, shoulder mounted ground-to-air missles. Oof.
Here’s a moment of calm, with dark wood and big ol’ tape recorders, before we get into the next bit.
We’re introduced to Tony Amato, the young and barely tried Bruce Willis, by him verbally abusing his wife, Rita, for how she is dressed to go out.
After throwing Rita into the pool, and telling her he’ll never divorce her, Amato gathers up his bodyguard and goes out for whatever evening he had planned. As one would suspect, Crockett’s cowboy spurs are up.
While they listen, helpless, Rita calls a friend and finally sets up “a meeting.” It’s pretty clear her only way out is with Amato’s death.
Later, at the office, Crockett is angry and the Feds are telling him they don’t have time for his “passion plays.” Like dudes, I get you, but this is a shitty situation.
The Feds let the vice team know that there’s a Jamaican buyer for the missiles arriving at the airport that day. They have an agent they’ll drop in his place, so they can meet with and catch Amato. Crockett doubts his skill.
I’m realising this is literally the setup of The Fifth Element, with Major Iceborg seeming like the totally logical choice for the situation. Oh god, that has Bruce Willis in it. What a world we live in. Anyway, the obvious choice is Tubbs. You’re now going to get some 1980’s airport and flying looks. Can you imagine thinking a jumpsuit is the right thing to fly internationally in? Lord.
I’d like to imagine that the Miami Dade airport has Argento gels going on. Why not. Anyway, the real Jamaican guy is picked up on the one from Jersey is put in his place, to meet Moustache the Muscle at pickup.
And they’re off, with the Feds trailing. Was any airport this not-busy at any time when the sun is out, even in the 80s?
While crimes are being caught, Crockett is tired of cooling his heels and goes for a walk.
Of course, his walk direction happens to be where Rita is meeting the hitman.
Crockett casually scares the hitman off and lets Rita spill her heart a bit (she can’t go through with it, she realises) before telling her he’s a cop. Because cowboys aren’t good people, honestly. God, poor Rita.
He takes her into the station and Rita gives them the whole fucked up story. What it comes down to is: when she finally tried to get a lawyer, the lawyer’s family was seriously harassed and now that’s on Rita’s conscience as well.
Because of the whole Tubbs-undercover and house-bugged situation, Rita has to go back to Amato, so he doesn’t get suspicious. She has to go back! Why take her in at all?! Just to give her empty reassurances that you’re “Gonna get him and put him away forever.” Lord. Castillo’s face here is me.
Time for the missile meet. Gentile and Ramone are absolute doofuses. The weapons they got though, those are bad news.
Amato is jumpy through the whole thing, he just wants the missiles sold but here’s this dude who wants to see that they actually work, ugh.
As explained by Gentile, “any knucklehead with a GED can light one up.”
And light one up he does, while Amato continues to look like a jerk in the background.
During post-missile drinks, Gentile lets slip that him and Ramone lifted the Stingers while they were on National Guard duty. That’s a bit of a relief, at least, this load is a fluke and once they get this bunch there aren’t more to deal with.
Not everything is so easy, though. Back on the boat, Crockett has to listen to Amato try to make nice with Rita.
The scene plays out exactly as you’d expect, and Rita has to play nice with this monster while she knows the cops are listening.
This adds even more fuel to Crockett’s jets when the Feds say they want to pick up the missiles now, instead of at a meet, which would be enough of a situation and evidence to bring everybody in and lock them up good.
Here’s a mental refresher. Switek getting swindled by a tiny pool shark.
Back on the boat, the mood is much darker.
Angry at a phone call and being a kind of guy who deals with that well, Amato throws his phone and, in doing so, finds the bug. What a fuck pile.
Thinking quick, Tubbs calls Amato and tells him that he’s being bugged too, so they need to move the meet up to right the hell now.
They agree to meet where they first met up, which means more shots of this amazing airport.
This can’t be the actual bathroom, though. If so, I hope the tile is still there.
With Tubbs, Amato and his crew head to the docks (because everything goes down on the docks) to finish the hand off to I Don’t Care Anymore.
Switek and Zito are waiting for backup when Crockett arrives and grabs Switek to follow Amato into the ship, so he can keep tabs on the situation and his best buddy.
In the bowels of some giant ship, Amato brings Tubbs to the missiles.
Crockett gets as close as he can, as cinematically as he can.
Satisfied with the exchange, Tubbs takes a moment to be lit spectacularly well.
Then, the Feds show up too soon and it all goes to shit.
Tubbs can handle shit, though. He gets that gun off of Gentile after he knocks him out and I have no idea where he got that tiny gun from. That thing looks like it would blow up in your hand.
Rita gets a courtesy call that her husband has been picked up.
The next morning, she goes off on what I’m sure is a totally innocuous errand.
Our dudes bring Amato into court, but oh shit, here are the Feds again.
And they got some kind of paper freeing Amato, because he can bring them bigger fish.
Castillo had a feeling bullshit like this was going to happen, but he has to let Amato go.
Everyone feels like fried shit except Amato.
And then Rita shows up.
Like the previous episode, the thing Crockett was trying to help just went to hell in a handbasket.
Ugh, what a bummer of an episode. The next one is fun, though.
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.