Miami Vice: Season 1, Episode 8 – The Great McCarthy

Miami Vice episode 8, The Great McCarthy

Oh man, so the title of this, “The Great McCarthy” is feels so sarcastic. The titular bro is the kind of monied blowhard who has exactly twenty-six stories and forty-eight anecdotes that he rotates between with a mechanical precision.

One theme about this episode, on a theoretical level, is pretending the past doesn’t exist. We get the return of an actor who played a notable, and very dead, character. Tubbs absolutely pretends something from three episodes ago didn’t happen. Oh man, I just realised that the twist at the end is basically part of that too. Miami Vice, I love you.

For a full summary of this episode, see the Miami Vice wiki entry for “The Great McCarthy

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.

Oh no! A bank robbery! And really adorable and clunky ADR (re-recorded dialogue) as our dudes squeal up in their car and hunch-run to save the day. There have been a million advancements in filming tech since the 80s, but what you can do to capture sound (and cheaply!) now is wild. ANYWAY.

Such a hilariously long shot

This isn’t your regular bank robbery, though. The Barnett Bank Centre is, and whatever building they filmed in probably actually was, undergoing renovation. It makes for a gorgeous expanse of brutalist windows and pastels for Crockett and Tubbs to navigate, running up the dead escalator.

Those windows, tho

Their quarry escapes only briefly, since he hid not that great. And look! It’s Martin Ferrero, who we last saw in part two of Brother’s Keeper, as a person who got very deaded. But he’s back! Izzy Moreno, God’s biggest snitch.

That's not blood, that's dye pack from the bank money

Moreno, we quickly learn, is on his fourth felony and adamantly does not want to go to prison. He’s tattled on everyone he knows and is ready to dredge up a new name and connection to get out of his current situation.

Still looks like blood, though.

The name he drops is Louis McCarthy, a big-time drug smuggler with a shipment due to arrive soon. Exactly the morsel our dudes need.

Delicious information morsel

Cut to: a boat just fucking around, doing whatever doughnuts are in water, basically showing off. And these two, I’m sure very charming, folks watching the boat and talking boat stuff.

Obviously super fun people to hang with

They’re pretty impressed with their boat, but you know who isn’t?

Still wearing those glasses he stole from Crockett

Here’s Tubbs, in his cool New Yawk dude Richard Taylor role, looking at their boat and saying, “you think that is a racing boat? You are like a little infant child, look at my boat.”

Cut to Crockett.


Crockett gets called a “hot shot driver” and I don’t know if anything has ever been said that is more accurate. Tubbs tries to get in on the big race coming up but McCarthy stalls him, saying it’s a “closed race, no ringers.”


Tubbs casually drops some heavy innuendo about other business he’s into, which McCarthy brushes off as well. With a charming shrug, Tubbs joins Crockett on the boat and they confirm for each other that the red headed guy with McCarthy was Gifford, this accountant they use as an informant.

So, they go to Gifford, with his amazing abstract sculpture.

Also prints of boats

Informant use is sketchy as best, let me just say. And, for all of Miami Vice’s strengths, they use informants A LOT and their relationship with them is uncomfortable (let’s remember poor Noogie). Gifford drops that he’s helped them get four of his clients in six months. Four! Good lord. How is anyone trusting this guy?!

Anyway, he has to help them because otherwise it’s slammer-time. Tubbs reads aloud some of the expenses itemised in McCarthy’s books and is incredulous that Gifford got the IRS to believe it.

Money, money, money by the pound

Like, buddy. What he’s spending on and how much he’s spending isn’t the suspicious thing. It’s what money he’s bringing in. God, there is tax code for illegal income, and most smart people wash their money in a business.

Which McCarthy is doing, using a super high-end men’s clothing store. Tubbs spots a strange little column there and accuses Gifford of skimming.

"No, I like whole milk"

But it isn’t Gifford who’s taking a fee for their work, it’s McCarthy’s girlfriend, Vanessa. Our dudes go to McCarthy’s clothing store to meet her and see if they can find a way into his social circle. Of course, as soon as Tubbs meets Vanessa, it’s clear he’d like a way into a bit more than that.

This shapeless lime dress

Tubbs tries on some black linen jackets (!!) and he and Vanessa are dripping all over each other.

And an asymmetrical hem!

Crockett plays the role of third wheel in a way that had me muttering “same”.


They get invited to brunch with Vanessa, which Crockett happily agrees to, earning him a death stare from Tubbs.

Though, I don’t know what Tubbs was expecting, because here’s who else is at brunch.

Half-blink caps are the best

The goal is catching the smuggler, Tubbs, not boning the smuggler’s lady. Tubbs, are you listening? Dude—


Okay, let’s take a moment of refresher for the last time Tubbs fell for a pretty lady in the line of duty. It was literally three episodes ago. And she basically dressed him down for using his position as an undercover officer in a shitty way. So.

I love this fancy napkin as a top

And how is McCarthy feeling about this? Tubbs straight asks Vanessa if flirting in front of McCarthy like that is some sort of a turn-on for them. Her answer? “For me it is.”

Like, lady, that is how folks get deaded. You gotta get everybody chill with this.

At least the two of them cooing at each other frees up Crockett to try and work a deal with McCarthy for either the boat race or some drug smuggles.

"Boats?" "Boats."

No luck, but McCarthy does invite them to a party at his place that night.

So, that night they prep for the party by checking out McCarthy’s boat to see if there’s any way drugs could be smuggled in it. Crockett is all full of boat wisdom about hulls and things, and they conclude: no drugs on this boat. Crockett also warns Tubbs not to get emotionally involved with Vanessa. Tubbs is like “naw, I would NEVER.”


Lemme just once again drop a link to the episode where he fell in love with a drug kingpin’s daughter who then ended up watching her father get shot.

Okay, anyway, HOUSE BAND TIME.

Their motley get-up, I love it

According to Miami Vice Wiki, this wasn’t the normal Miami Vice case of pretending a band on stage is actually playing a song. This particular band played “Some Guys Have All The Luck” and “Self Control” during the whole party scene and they look uncomfortable as hell, which makes sense if they’re not folks used to lip synching their own work for video.

Vanessa shows up in a glorious lamé scarf and one of Tubb’s shirt buttons spontaneously undoes itself.

I love that weird metallics and satin neons are her Thing

She’s not with them long before Gifford comes up and steals her away to “talk about something.”

Oof, the disparity of dress, here

Our dudes wander off, and we’re treated to a moment of Izzy.

He tried for about a minute to light this lady's cigarette

Crockett wanders down to the rec room where McCarthy is holding court while playing pool. His opponent never gets to hit the ball, as McCarthy just sinks every last one of these babies while spooling through a well-worn anecdote.

" . . . I hardly know her!"

Crockett sees his opportunity to win his way into the race and makes a bet with McCarthy. He wins, he gets to be in the race. McCarthy wins, he gets the Ferrari. McCarthy breaks, but he misses the shot and it’s all Crockett. Let’s have a cap montage:






Crockett wins, of course. Tubbs tells him, “you clearly had a wasted youth.” Crockett ruefully shrugs and he’s in the race. Now! WE DANCE.

This whole scene was precious with perfect clothing, btw


McCarthy isn’t quite into how much Vanessa is into Tubbs. Communication, friend. That’s how you keep a relationship going. Anyway, Crockett goes to hit on a lady and is interrupted by Izzy, who very much wants to talk to him. Crockett dismisses him, as he’s eyes on the prize.

I am into everything about this

Then, there’s a scream. We soon see the reason why.

Oh no

Gifford is shot and very dead. By who?!?!? Is it because he was skimming and now he’s swimming? The whole scene is very shady.

Poor Giffs will have to wait. See, now that they’re in the race, they need the cash to get in it. So, our dudes go to papa Castillo.

Still, with the cleanest desk in the force

Except, nobody upstairs thinks Crockett can win the race, so they’ll have to get the money elsewhere. Castillo casually mentions a kilo buy that Gina and Trudy are on. Our dudes pick up what he is laying down and head to the hotel the ladies have set up the meet at.

What is with this dresser? Is it bamboo?

I love Gina and this show and that this is not a fan service shot. This is an adorably legit character moment where Gina is worried the gun will show beneath her modern poodle skirt. They’re all prepped for the buy and who shows up but Crockett.

Trudy's cute-ass look!

The ladies are not stoked as they already have backup and wtf are these nerds doing here?

Speaking of backup, here they are.

Switek just fits in at a bar perfectly

Zito as a lifeguard, tho

Zito and Switek, totally and casually blending in. That frigging hat on Zito.

The whole look of this hotel room is priceless

Their buyer shows up, a professor who is excited to sell two students a danged KILO of cocaine. Lord, does he teach at the college I went to or?

They flash their badges, he panics and runs and is caught by the whole squad on the beach volleyball court. Once he gets hauled off, Crockett sweet-talks the money off Gina. Her face once he leaves is basically: yeah.

A mistake was made

With everything set up, Tubbs kicks back and relaxes. You get two caps here, because what the absolute hell is this bed.

The lighting is great, gotta say

The bed, on the other hand

This is some Oracle Gate shit.

And then we get to 10 minutes of boat race. That’s basically one-fifth of the show. Which, listen. I like car chases. I love car chases, actually. And the whole feel of Miami Vice is this willingness to go the scenic route, which is awesome.

But that’s still a lot of boat. Here are some highlights.

McCarthy comes out, looking for all the world like he’s about to be in Deathrace.

Actually, if you look at Deathrace from the early 2000s, the use of the masked man who isn't who you think he is is kinda perf

The cops are set up on their police boat, ready to swoop in once they know McCarthy has the drugs.

Got them 'nocs

I’m going to be honest, I’m not 100% on how they know McCarthy smuggles the druggles in via boat race. Maybe Izzy told them and I missed it because everybody dresses so great. Who knows. What I DO know is that oh shit Tubbs and Crockett haven’t shown up yet. The announcers say to start the race anyhow.

White, white, white

But! Yeah boy, here our dudes come, with Zito helping crew. Let’s BOAT, BITCHES.





It’s Florida, so there’s shitty little islands off-shore and McCarthy ducks behind one. Our eagle-eyed dudes catch that he didn’t emerge from said islands, yet suddenly his boat is ahead of theirs? It’s the old switcheroo!

Side note: I can’t even imagine the money it costs to maintain two incredibly top of the line speedboats to pull this gag. How are you going to write this off with your accountant dead, McCarthy? Despite the cheating, our dudes pull ahead, because that’s how protagonists work in American media.


Everybody seems basically stoked that the guy who re-tells the same five stories while flaunting his wealth didn’t win.

"Huzzah! We shall cut out the tongue of the loser!"

McCarthy seems to take his loss well and I shit you not, Crockett is wearing just pants under his jumpsuit and it cracks me up. Even Tubbs has an undershirt on, bro.

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)

As McCarthy goes to leave, he meets an unstoppable force.

Oh fuck

You fucked

Who is backed up by an even more unstoppable force.

Coast Guard!

Woo! Drugs got, bad guys caught, time to celebrate! First though, a gratuitous pic of more of Vanessa’s weird interior design vibe.

Also, wtf this bottle

Now, three couples with their beloved.

Tubbs and Vanessa, drinking shit weird, like their first brunch together.

This looks genuinely uncomfortable

Crockett and Gina, being cute and happy and chill, even though Crockett was totally angling at that model earlier because they know what communication is.

Aw ?

And Elvis and his blankie, the prom king and queen.

He's a good boy

While Crockett and Gina are snuggling up, Izzy drops by, scaring the shit out of them.


See, he still needs to tell Crockett the thing he was going to tell him at the party.

He found the gun Gifford was killed with. Bonus: it’s Vanessa’s and she straight shot him because he was going to reveal her secret account.

Oh nooooo

They roll up to Vanessa’s and who answers the door?

Oh no, Tubbs

Oh man. Yeah.

How do you say “this lady you dig, she is a stone cold killer?”

This is at least the second time we've seen Crockett in this shirt, btw

It’s awkward for everyone.

Why is everyone there?

In what has to be an at least two-way defiance of any policy and ethics, Tubbs arrests Vanessa right there in front of her weird doors.

This can't be legal

Lady ain't even surprised

And, that’s it.

Man, our flawed-ass dudes do not make good choices. I love them, though. Next episode has some true country folk and a delineation of drug goodness and badness (a little).


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.