It’s time we took a break from the hectic, modern world of Miami and dove into the Tru Country™ that surrounds it: the GLADES. Now, I personally am also from the sort of area that makes people wonder if they’ll end up with their skin lovingly removed, only it’s a different biome; more coniferous rainforest and less tropical wetland. You still gonna have your last scene in an abandoned and rotting school bus that’s on blocks in somebody’s couple acres of “yard”, tho.
Like most things, Miami Vice treats the folks who live in the glades pretty even-handedly, like poor country folks are actual people, which is honestly more than I’ve come to expect from media. This is, btw, totally a monster-of-the-week episode. If it was X-Files there’d be a split-screen phonecall.
For a full summary of this episode, see the Miami Vice wiki entry for “Glades”
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 start with some charming b-roll and stock footage of busy and porny city streets. I’m honestly not 100% if they were trying to compare/contrast the hectic city with the dense country, because I feel like if they meant to, it would have been obvious.
The intro (backed by We Got To Get Out Of This Place) lazily brings us to a specific building and window, and I realise that it’s probable the point of this opening stock roll was less a general moralising thing and more giving us the inner feels of the out of place character.
A character who is watching the incredibly Southern cartoon Deputy Dawg.
I went to look this up and landed on an article titled “Segregation and the Selling of Deputy Dawg” but I think the producers chose this cartoon for the “lol cops and not cops, also: SOUTH” aspect, not any deeper levels.
Anyway, Crockett bored af.
This dude they’re watching, Bramlette, is also bored af and sick of being in protective custody.
Tubbs and Crockett do a good expos job, reminding Bramlette (and, conveniently, the audience) that he’d be extra super dead if he wasn’t getting watched and besides, he only has a few more days before he testifies!
On cue, there’s commotion at the door and our dudes go into action.
But it’s just Switek and Zito, there an hour early to bring Bramlette’s mail and also catch an episode of a soap opera they’re watching.
This letter does not seem to be good news, but Bramlette doesn’t answer Tubbs about it and our dudes go to court.
Tubbs is sworn in to testify and he explains how Ruiz straight killed somebody and when Bramlette told him about it, etcetera. The point of the scene is that Ruiz is smirking and playing it super cool during all this damning testimony.
Man don’t care about no murder charge. Also in the camp of not caring about important things, the court reporter is not interested in Tubbs, but who cares because look at this cutie extra behind them both.
Back at the safehouse, the boys are arguing at their telenovela while the guy they’re supposed to be minding broods over that letter.
Switek takes a pee and Zito continues their argument while standing at the bathroom door, which Bramlette takes as an opportunity to just straight walk out the door.
Castillo sums it up in a face, as per usual.
Tubbs and Crockett are assigned getting Bramlette back. They have 48 hours to get their guy back an in court on Monday. The one place they know to go look is Harry’s Bar, which is where they picked him up before. We get an epic pan up Harry’s sign and if you’ll pardon me I will take you on that journey.
To the surprise of nobody and the joy of all, Harry’s has foxy boxing and the ref is something else.
Look at this room they’re in! You know the production team went in and spray painted all that. I also feel like they got actual ladies who do foxy boxing who had to turn down their show and dial back the punches a little, based on their expressions.
The dudes meet with Harry, who explains he made the change from mud wrestling to foxy boxing because it is way less of a mess. No shit dude.
We had neighbours once who filled a kiddie pool with lime Jell-O, no shitting, btw. The entire kiddie pool was watery, pale green gelatin. It was for a party and I think one person sat in it, then it just sat there for a week and we got ants.
Anyway, besides business tips, Harry also lets our dudes know that he gave Bramlette some cash and that he most likely went back to his fam in Okeechobee.
Then we get one of my fave images in a while.
They really use the shit out of helicopters in this show. I can’t imagine the expense, now that we live in a world of camera drones. Worth it, tho.
So, Crockett isn’t straight up city like Tubbs is, but he also isn’t boonies af. Which is what this area of the glades is. Also, this fucking car.
Our dudes look very natural, very normal, not suspicious.
Crockett takes this moment to tell Tubbs that the DEA has sent folks into Okeechobee twice, under the guise of fishing, and they’ve not come back.
In Crockett’s defense, his drawl gets thick as custard while talking to the folks sitting in front of the general store, actually out-doing some of these character actors, because if you have an actual drawl and are put in a situation where it makes sense it rears it’s head like a 100-year storm.
Yes, that is John Pankow in his fifth credited role as “Floyd”. A year later he was in To Live And Die In L.A.
He and the chap next to him (Billy Joe, naturally) take in what the city boys are saying about fish, diss on their car being foreign, and offer to drive them to Bramlette, who they were asking after as a guide.
The route they take at the speed they do is absolutely the kind of thing you do to fuck with city folks when you have a 4×4.
They reach what could generously be called a clearing, with an entirety of about 15 square feet of open space and make our dudes get out of the car for the obvious.
Between punching, they basically admit they don’t know where the hell Bramlette is either.
Unable to get any useful info out of our dudes, they abandon them to gators and assorted swamp deaths.
Crockett does some boyscout talk about moss growing on the north side of trees and they start walking towards what ideally is where the road is.
The moss thing isn’t totally a myth, but it’s no hard and fast rule and our dudes get spectacularly lost. In their rambling, Tubbs says that it reminds him of part of the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. That place looks bomb as hell, btw.
Our dudes aren’t lost for too long, though.
They don’t obey right away and one of the folks surrounding them lets off a shot, which I’m only mentioning because Tubbs yells “TIME OUT” and does the “T” hands and it was just a Very Real Character Moment.
Crockett and Tubbs get walked silently to the edge of the river, where this dame calls them by their names and they realise some very real shit is going on.
The three of them then boat it for a while, again in silence, which seems to be causing actual physical pain to Tubbs and Crockett. They do get the lady’s name, Cassie, before she tells them to shut up and chill out.
They pull up to a personal dock and dang I always envied folks who had these, even though the river we lived near was a flooder.
Cassie still ain’t talking.
Inside, we get a full rotation of dudes with guns, landing on . . .
Cassie is his wife, see, and that letter? It carefully explained that their daughter, Tammy, had been kidnapped and would be killed if Bramlette testified. Only, Bramlette knows Ruiz will just kill Tammy anyway.
So Bramelette left custody to team up with his fam and get Tammy back. Only problem is the house she’s being held in has a tonne of the dudes running drugs out of the Everglades hanging around there. There’s a window of opportunity, however, since a shipment is due to come in and they’ll all be busy.
The Bramlettes are hoping Crockett and Tubbs can help, but the whole situation is weird because the Bramlettes are weed smugglers (who just smuggle, not kill like Ruiz and his folks), Crockett and Tubbs are cops and also, they have way less people and guns on their side. There are 22 folks at Ruiz’s place and 8 (counting Crockett and Tubbs) in Bramlette’s.
Crockett isn’t into it.
Of course, though, as evening comes on and they gotta get out of there and get Bramlette on the stand and honestly, a kid is being held hostage, Crockett and Tubbs cave and decide to help. They ask for some help from Clem, an awesome old dude who only has this one episode on his IMDB, besides him being the host for a German show called Rockpalast. What a world.
The next day, Clem fiddles with the big fucker of a truck that Crockett and Tubbs got a shitty tour in the day before, and gives Billy Joe and his drug runner groceries a ride back to his place, somehow smoothly getting info about the upcoming drug drop on the way.
Clem forwards the info he got from Billy Joe to the rest of the Bramlettes and it’s time for an adorable battle plan.
Crockett lays out the game with this dang Playmobil house. He’s gonna climb up on the roof and once the shipment comes in the team will take out Ruiz’s guys and Crockett will get in the house and save the kid.
Clem wants to help. Clem has one hell of an alligator gun.
Tubbs, being a Fallout: New Vegas character with a 95 in guns, is very in love with this weapon because of course he is. This man is a gauge size queen.
Our dudes and the Bramlettes get their stakeout on.
And we wait.
As dawn breaks, we got Crockett on the roof and a plane coming in.
All of Ruiz’s dudes, conveniently gathered on the dock, are blasted at by Tubbs and the Bramlettes.
And the house is bombarded by the rest of the folks.
Crockett takes this time to pop down the skylight (? I dunno why this house has a hole).
He deads a few of the folks still in the house and finds Billy Joe holding onto Tammy, gun to her head. He does the classic thing of expertly shooting the bad guy holding the hostage, probably super messing this kid up while saving her life.
Bringing Tammy outside, she’s reunited with her folks.
While Crockett is talking to Bramlette, one last bad guy stands to shoot him, but Clem gets him with his gator gun.
Our dudes take off to deliver their witness. Back in the city, they’re about to move on. The guy playing the judge, btw, seems to be uncredited but he has a great accent and I wish I could find out what other, if any, stuff he’s been in.
Anyway, NATURALLY, our dudes and Bramlette blast through the door, sweaty and wild-eyed, just before the point of no return.
Ruiz is Not Stoked.
This laywer is, tho.
See? Monster of the week episode. Next one is a dang bummer, tho.
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.