Miami Vice Mondays: “Whatever Works”

Episode: Season Two, Episode Two: “Whatever Works”
Original airdate: October 4, 1985
Directed by: John Nicollela
Written by: Maurice Hurley

Two cops are shot execution-style, with Santeria talismans left at the crime scene. Crockett and Tubbs investigate the murders and find local crime lords acting unusually wary and trigger-happy around the police, having been deeply spooked by something.

Castillo consults with his old friend Chata (Eartha Kitt, fabulous), a university professor/Santeria priestess, who provides him with access to the inner workings of Miami’s Santeria community. It turns out the slain cops, along with a couple of their comrades, had been brutalizing and extorting money from local miscreants, even going so far as to kidnap the son of Victor Davila (Hector Jaime Mercado), a powerful drug lord and Santeria practitioner. After Davila murders another crooked cop in retaliation, the cop’s partner (Bruce MacVittie) heads after him, guns blazing. Bloodshed and tears ensue.

There’s also a zany subplot (Miami Vice does not do zany subplots often, which is probably for the best), in which the police department repossesses Crockett’s beloved Ferrari. Furious and heartbroken, Crockett explains his feelings about his car to Tubbs: “I mean, if they called you back to New York, I’d feel exactly the same way about you.” Crockett’s capitalism-loving, Iacocca-quoting, Cuban émigré informant Izzy (frequent guest star Martin Ferrero, always a delight) tries to reclaim the Ferrari through various shady methods, all for naught; eventually, Castillo takes pity on Crockett and gets him his car back.

Iconic Moments:
Ah, yes. This is the episode with the infamous appearance by The Power Station, in which some damn fool decided it would be a good idea to trust a bombed-off-his-gourd John Taylor with dialogue. Legendary groupie Pamela Des Barres, in her memoir Take Another Little Piece of My Heart, describes the filming of this episode thusly: “John turned up late on the set due to overindulgence the night before, so all was not a bowl of cherries.” Indeed: Taylor, who can barely sit up straight, keeps sagging into Don Johnson, who bristles openly with annoyance at this nonsense.

(The labyrinthian Miami Vice-Duran Duran connection in a nutshell: Pamela used to date Johnson (he left her for Melanie Griffith) prior to her marriage to Michael Des Barres, who took over as the lead singer of The Power Station when Robert Palmer left the group. Johnson and Andy Taylor became close friends; Andy performed on some tracks on Johnson’s solo album, and a song from Andy’s post-Duran solo career, “When the Rain Comes Down”, popped up on the Miami Vice soundtrack.)

Moments of Castillo Badassery:
Castillo has a surreal encounter with a Santeria babalorichás, at which viewers are treated to various bizarre images, though nothing so fundamentally disconcerting as the sight of Castillo clad in something other than his omnipresent cheap black suit, short-sleeved white shirt, and skinny black tie.

It’s All in the Details:
This is just sad: Andy Taylor—who, lest we forget, was really quite famous in 1985—is actually in this scene, sitting to the right of Michael Des Barres, but he’s given no dialogue, and he keeps getting cropped entirely out of the damn shot.

Sign of the Times:
This is the computer Tubbs uses to run credit checks on the crooked cops:

Music Notes:
Power Station performs “Get It On (Bang a Gong)” live in a bar. The episode also features ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man” and The Blasters’ “Dark Night.”

Three flamingos. John Taylor, everybody. John Taylor.


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