Miami Vice Mondays: “Out Where the Buses Don’t Run”

Episode: Season Two, Episode Three: “Out Where the Buses Don’t Run”
Original airdate: October 18, 1985
Directed by: Jim Johnston
Written by: Douglas Lloyd McIntosh & John Mankiewicz
Story by: Joel Surnow & Douglas Lloyd McIntosh

A legendary retired Vice detective named Hank Weldon (Bruce McGill) reemerges after years of obscurity to drop a bombshell: He claims to have evidence that his former nemesis Tony Arcaro, a notorious druglord who vanished in 1979, is once again doing business in Miami. Weldon teams up with Tubbs and Crockett to search for Arcaro. As Crockett and Tubbs spend time with Weldon, they grow more and more skeptical about his reliability. Weldon, who spent years gathering enough evidence to arrest Arcaro only to see the case dismissed on a technicality, suffered a psychotic break shortly after Arcaro’s disappearance. His demeanor careens wildly between goofy and violent; his former partner Marty Lang gets openly spooked at the mere mention of him.

Apropos of nothing: Distinguished character actor and Oscar nominee David Strathairn, who plays Weldon’s ex-partner Lang, was a stone-cold fox in 1985:

Exasperated by Weldon’s delusions and erratic behavior, Tubbs and Crockett give up on the investigation. Weldon, claiming to have finally located Arcaro, summons them to an abandoned house in the middle of the night. He smashes down one of the walls to reveal Arcaro’s much-decayed corpse, which he’d stashed there in 1979 after murdering Arcaro.

Iconic Moments:
There’s a beautiful opening sequence, in which Crockett and Tubbs chase down a roller-skating drug dealer along the beach while fiery street preacher Little Richard gives an impassioned sermon on the dangers of drug use.
The episode makes pointed parallels between Weldon and Crockett (and equally pointed parallels between Lang and Tubbs, the rock-solid cops unable to break loose from the unstable orbits of their flashier partners). Like Evan Freed in “Evan”, or like Cates in “Payback”, Weldon is a cautionary tale for Crockett: Insanity and corruption are the only logical exits to the path Crockett is on. Indeed, by the start of the final season, in a storyline that by rights should’ve just sunk the show and yet somehow managed to be glorious, Crockett will be both insane and corrupt.

Moment of Castillo Badassery:
As with “Payback”, we see that Castillo sleeps in his office, fully dressed (and, in this case, sitting upright in his chair behind his desk). Not because he doesn’t have a home (we’ve seen his Japanese-style house before, and it’s lovely), not because he’s pulling an all-nighter on an important case, but just because… well, because Castillo is deeply strange and unfathomable.

It’s All in the Details:
I’m charmed by the way Crockett and Tubbs refuse to sit in chairs or on the sofa in Castillo’s office: Tubbs is perched on top of a bookcase, while Crockett sits on top of Castillo’s desk. Chairs are for wimps.

Signs of the Times:
Computers were amazing in 1985.

Music Notes:
Two songs, both outstanding: The opening sequence is scored to The Who’s “Baba O’Riley”, while Dire Straits’ impossibly melancholy “Brothers in Arms” (“Someday you’ll return to your valleys and your farms/And you’ll no longer burn to be brothers in arms…”) plays over the gutting climax. 

Five flamingos. Full marks. This one’s a classic.


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