The A and B plots combine tidily, there’s a total WTF guest star who has a total of two minutes screen time and we learn the lengths Crockett and Gina will go to do their jobs in Give a Little, Take a Little.
Heads up, there is sexual coercion in this episode that will be mentioned briefly in the post and is much stronger in the episode.
For a full summary of this episode, see the Miami Vice wiki entry for “Give a Little, Take a Little”
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.
Even though the episode ends on a hell of a bummer, they start it light with another seedy-Miami stock footage montage, cut between clips of Gina and Trudy shopping for lingerie, all over Better Be Good To Me.
I’m super into the shape of the letters in this neon sign.
We see this show later, and no, I don’t know what is really going on here. I’m guessing it’s a real show though, because of the level of costumes and performers in the snippets we see.
Miami Vice wiki notes that this is the second episode where we open with “establishing shots of the seedy areas of Miami, many of which are located in the South Beach area before the revitalization that took place there during and after Miami Vice was on the air.”
Empty storefronts would have been useful for shots like this, unless it was an actual lingerie shop at the time.
I’m super partial to how lace was used in 80s’ lingerie. Also, the colour of this? So good. Please also enjoy the lace parasol turned upside down to hold some stocking packages.
Some more “seedy” flavour (this dame getting catcalled, then kicking the guy’s car).
We got our ladies trying on more looks. This neckline is to die.
Gotta shout out to this guy, who they gave some solid time to, doing sweet moves with two crutches and one roller skate.
And the song fades out, Gina and Trudy are done shopping.
Now we go to Tubbs & Crockett, walking down similar streets. They don’t have much going on, work-wise, and Tubbs wants to maaaaaybe have a night off? But Crockett isn’t having it.
He knows just where to go to get the info.
Noogie! Who greets them with much more kindness than they deserve, considering the last time we saw him they’d got his arm in a sling.
The Noog’s apartment is different (or at least has been wildly repainted), but still has the same amazing collection of electronics. Like, is this a tabletop jukebox?!
Noogie insists he’s on “vacation” and has no info for them. Crockett tells him he’s “so high right now you need clearance to land,” which is honestly an amazing line.
He also starts to do the classic cop-threaten-informant thing, the bully works, but Noogie holds strong on not knowing shit. A couple $50s changes his tune though. Like, dude, just pay the man and he’ll always get you deets, that is established.
What Noogie gives them is some info on major amphetamine movement. That’s our B story, and what Crockett and Tubbs will be doing this episode.
For Gina and Trudy, they have a bigger case and a more dangerous one. They’re back working the streets (hence the earlier shopping spree).
The guy they’re going after right now is Ramirez, big time seller of ladies’ high-end time and also probably the author of a couple bodies they found.
This is our A story. Gina and Trudy will be working up the ladder in Ramirez’s outfit and Switek and Zito are their backup and fake clients. Dang, look at that belt.
Our ladies get to work, hustling a fake hustle and getting their faces out there.
Trudy is “picked up” by Zito and Gina waits for her ride.
Look at this dang window display. They sold wireless (cordless) phones!! I hope this was a genuine display and not something the production team made.
Here’s Gina’s ride, Switek in an adorable limo-type that sadly isn’t listed in my go-to for car finding.
Meanwhile, our dudes are staking out the place they got from Noogie, which is looking better than they expected.
Crockett flips his ID out and calls out to the single dude behind the warehouse gate asking for info, which he is reluctant to give, though he does give his name as Bob Rickert.
A push on the bars though (“shoulda locked that, Bob”), and in they go. At the question of warrants, Crockett gives the regular spiel of how he could get one in five minutes, poor Bob is overwhelmed and Crockett has found evidence. Freezer bags of Tic Tacs and Altoids.
Bob is not your regular drug warehouse type and is easily bullied by Crockett, even though he still isn’t giving up any info on what is going on with all those bags of breath mints.
Leaving Tubbs to guard the warehouse, Crockett takes Bob on a walk down the pier.
“You gay?” Crockett asks, which you think is a setup for your classic and terrible prison “jokes” but after Bob answers that no, he’s married, Crockett just says that it’ll be five years before he sees his wife again. I am legit curious what his tactic would be if Bob said yes. Like “well, maybe in the five years you’re in prison you’ll find your soulmate, but probably not” ???
Threatened with jail, Bob shares info about the pickup times for the stock he’s watching and names an Alvarado as the pickup guy. Crockett tells him to go about his business like they were never there and it’s time to swap back to story A.
We’ve returned to the club we saw in the opening clips, hosted by this dude, Cinco.
Maaaaaaan, take in this set.
Trudy and Gina are working the club now, instead of the street, but are no closer to getting to Ramirez.
Gina and Cinco share barbs and he’s shitty, but she cuts him down well, because Gina is a badass.
She makes a good case as to why she’s not small time and should be introduced to Ramirez and then BAM we’re back to the B story.
Our dudes drive up to Alvarado’s house, which immediately does not go well.
Look at this gorgeous Bronco. With a fresh plate from a dealership, even.
After a car chase where Alvarado makes the same poor decision I have done a million times playing GTA: Vice City (cutting through the grass is never worth it), he is well and caught by our dudes.
Now, I’m gonna put this next cap out of order, it was the best one I could get of the very short, very bouncy-blurry bit that we see inside Alvarado’s vehicle. Can you guess the guest star, on his ninth listed role ever?
Answer is at the end, because that’s the only other time we see his face.
Back to story A, where our ladies and their backup are at the club and Switek thinks about the allure of the stage.
Cinco finally brings Gina to Ramirez and she makes her case. She introduces herself as “Paula” and that she left her last location due to some heat, but that she’s strictly outcall and priced at 1k “a throw,” specialising in conventions, politicians, etc. This seems to impress Ramirez enough.
Gina also makes it very clear she’s only interested in being business partners. He provides protection, she provides money.
Back to Crockett and Tubbs, who’ve been called in to chat with a lawyer Crockett has dealt with before. I love when you can kind of really feel the edges of a set in a shot. Like, this is dressed really well, but there’s a specific kind of spacious-crowded that happens when you’ve made up a pretend room to use for a five minute scene.
The lawyer lets Crockett know that Florida law, and the judge that’ll be hearing the Alvarado case in particular, demands naming informants. Crockett is not into this.
The whole confidential informant scene is very fucked up but Florida in general, is a bad place for it. I found when looking up confidential informant law because I take capping Miami Vice too seriously, that Florida is apparently like, a mad hotbed of entrapment. There’s a bunch of depressing articles and legal guides about it.
Anyway, fancy lawyer knows that if he can get Crockett to name his source, then the folks in Alvarado’s team can take care of that leak and the business can keep going, no matter where Alvarado is.
Cue the leak, Bob, who confesses what he’s been doing to his wife. Some “college friends” got him into selling drugs, lord. Bob, find better friends.
Crockett and Tubbs get called into Castillo’s office to be told basically what they already know. The judge is going to try and force Crockett to give up Bob and if he doesn’t he gets contempt of court and probably jail time.
Castillo basically tells Crockett to follow his heart.
Which the judge takes about as well as you can expect.
Crockett gets contempt of court and jail time, Bob gets a call about it and is floored that Crockett protected him.
Now, back to story A and the exterior of this house they rented for this shot.
Gina has been summoned to talk to Ramirez, and it seems to be going well. He invites her to a business dinner/party where she can meet clients and that’s exactly what Gina needs.
As Gina leaves she passes Cinco, who has come to tell the boss some bad stuff.
Fun fact, this is Tony Plana, who gets TONNES of TV work, including a role in the upcoming Punisher TV series that I didn’t know was getting made. He’d already had comparatively fuckloads of work by the time he was on this episode and Miami Vice totally reused him four years later as another character because Miami Vice don’t care.
Anyway, Cinco drops that they found a wiretap van (who just leaves those around?!) and the two of them determine that Paula (Gina’s undercover name) is an informant and needs to be killed. Ramirez makes a point to tell Cinco to wait until after his scheduled dinner with Gina to kill her, because he is a fucking creep.
So stories A and B start to intertwine thematically on the point of the danger for informants. And we get more of a feeling on how else they’ll relate when Gina meets Trudy for lunch and refuses backup on her date with Ramirez, because she wants to keep her cover. Trudy is worried for her friend.
Gina reassures her that she can “take care of herself.”
Back at the station, they’re going over plans and dang I cannot get over these stupid baseball trophies ever.
The setup here is that Switek is practising his standup, which is mostly bad Elvis impressions. It’s neat, in a way, how some of this character stuff is set up so early. Elvis is Switek’s Pope, basically. Everybody is also all here to see Crockett return triumphant and earlier than his scheduled 30 days in jail for contempt.
He ain’t happy long, as he learns that he’s out not by anything Castillo did, but because Bob outed himself, because Bob is kind of a simple soul.
Jeez, look at Tubb’s shirt here. I love that he’s either five buttons down or full tie. NO COMPROMISE.
Crockett also learns that Alvarado did less jail time that he did and goes full tantrum kicking over a coworker’s trashcan. I love the face this extra gives. You go, dude! Earn your day rate!!
Now, here’s the stressful scene and I’m just including one cap.
Gina shows up and learns that, obviously, there is no party. To keep her cover, she agrees to have sex with Ramirez.
It’s bullshit that Tubbs gets to ruin lives or have his heart broken when he sleeps with people (Crockett’s relationships are a whole ‘nother issue) and characters like Gina only gets unwanted interactions and trauma.
Back to story B. Crockett not snitching on his snitch gets Noogie stoked to help him and he drags a friend over to spill info on Alvarado.
They learn that Alvarado does all sorts of shitty shit for Ramirez (stories A and B connect!) including a hit that very night on some probable informant named Paula. Cue car scene.
Why yes this is footage used like six episodes ago, but would you remember if you were watching? No, fast car go fast.
Trudy comes by to take care of Gina.
That’s, that’s a dang space heater in the fireplace, I swear on my grave.
Our dudes arrive moments after Cinco does and now it’s time for OMG this apartment building tho.
Okay, so Cinco is inside now, etc, etc. But this poster?!
It’s by Jane Whiting Chrzanoska and is called Solitaire. I pulled it from this cap and cleaned it up in Photoshop and then image searched it because it’s one of the few art pieces in this dang show I knew GIS would find.
Okay, back to “pictures say this better than words.”
THAT BAG of Trudy’s man. MAN. It’s like almost tote-sized. Trudy also gets a shot in. Into Cinco, specifically.
As he’s lying, bleeding, on the table, Crockett and Tubbs get info out of him regarding Alvarado’s whereabouts, though he won’t tattle on Ramirez, because that’s a more probable death than if Trudy had aimed differently.
Where is Alvarado? At the club, of course. Where Switek is practising his terrible stand up because Miami Vice is queen of whiplash.
Zito loves it though.
Okay, were you able to guess who is playing Alvarado? Here’s a longer shot, though I think how he’s sitting is a dead giveaway.
It’s frigging Michael Madsen, who I didn’t know was ever fully unlined in the face. The whole scene he’s in here is like, maybe a minute and he uses most of it to practise mugging in disbelief.
He then tries to scram, but that is prevented.
With the B story concluded, it’s time to end the A story.
Alvarado gives up Ramirez, which allows Gina and Trudy to make the bust.
He’s sitting there at a cheese plate, which he uses to his advantage, thinking he can cow Gina.
It was the wrong decision.
The rest of the team shows up and there’s a really long moment between Crockett and Gina. What I like a lot is that he is clearly just Being There for her and waits (what is a really long time in television and viewer time) until she is in a place to be comforted.
Gauging when to offer the support of touch is super hard, but this is the basics: make it clear you will provide it and wait until the person you are offering to indicates they are ready for it. For all that I hate this storyline with Gina, that they demonstrated this is good.
I baaaaaarely remember the next episode, which is rare! I think it is about The Rich, so that’ll be fun, because they’ll get their comeuppance, most probs.
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.