As stated in the first half of this season survey, Season 4 is where a lot of Miami Vice fans tune out. However, those that do so will miss out on some memorable shows that will interest the show’s dedicated fanbase. Here’s a rundown of five more strong entries from the show’s penultimate season, episodes that cover everything from an episode directed by Don Johnson to the return of one of the show’s nastiest villains…
Love At First Sight: Johnson stepped behind the camera to direct this episode, whose clever premise pulls the show into psycho-thriller territory. Someone is murdering the clients of a video dating service and Crockett is pressed into service as bait, which complicates his domestic life with new love Caitlin (Sheena Easton!). The addition of a wife for Crockett was another controversial move in this season but it works well in this episode, providing a nice domestic counterbalance to the kinky turmoil of the case Crockett is pursuing. Johnson’s direction is really fluid here, with a nice grasp of atmosphere and how to use a moving camera. Guests stars include Iman and Lori Petty, who is fun as a kinky member of the dating service.
Baseballs Of Death: Character actor-turned-director Bill Duke does an effective job of helming this episode, which utilizes the familiar Miami Vice theme of the government providing covert assistance to foreign criminals who support its interests. This time, the baddie is (Tony Plana), a Chilean diplomat who uses his cozy relationship with the D.E.A. to illegally conduct arms deals, including the cluster bombs mentioned in the title. The solid script here is strengthened by how it emphasizes the vice squad’s teamwork and makes quality use of each character. Duke’s direction is brisk and stylish, including a tense, well-choreographed finale that involves a multi-gun armed standoff, boats and a seaplane.
Blood And Roses: Gina (Saundra Santiago) gets a well-deserved episode to highlight her character here. She’s undercover trying to get info on a potentially drug-oriented businessman (Michael Wincott) when mobster Frank Mosca (Stanley Tucci) turns up and takes an interest in her. She finds herself caught between her job’s demands and Mosca’s seductive prowess – and Crockett doesn’t like it all. An excellent showcase for Santiago, who has strong scenes with both Tucci and Johnson here – and the episode is another of the show’s effective explorations of the emotional rigors of undercover work. Johnson and Tucci do first-rate work here and the direction by Canadian filmmaker George Mendeluk lives up to the show’s high-style profile. As a bonus, the support cast also includes Meg Foster and Frank Stallone!
Deliver Us From Evil: Miami Vice was no stranger to two-part episodes but this was the first episode in the show’s only attempt at a multi-episode arc. This involves the return of the show’s cruelest and smartest villain, Frank Hackman (Guy Boyd). He returns to Miami to pull off a job and when his actions cause tragedy for him, he decides to repay the favor to Crockett. It’s a memorably dark episode of the show, showing Sonny’s belief in the law pushed to the breaking point by the amorality of his opponents. Johnson brings a depth of emotion to Crockett’s travails and his work is balanced effectively by Boyd, who underplays to chilling effect. Look out for Don Opper, star of the cult fave Android, as a nasty, woman-beating associate of Hackman’s. Once again, the strong direction here comes from Mendeluk.
Mirror Image: The second episode in the “Sonny Burnett Arc” and the show’s one and only cliffhanger season finale. Still reeling from Frank Hackman’s treachery, Crockett gets reckless and is seriously injured during the pursuit of some dealers. He suffers amnesia, coming to really believe he is vice work alter-ego Sonny Burnett and devolving into a mean, violent player in the drug scene. Some fans roll their eyes at the “amnesia” theme but it’s done really well here, with Johnson effectively altering his mannerisms to fit his new persona and the script using it as the pretext for a noirish exploration of Crockett’s crisis of faith in his work. Philip Michael Thomas is also used to good effect here as the Tubbs/Crockett relationship is tested. Slick direction from Richard Compton brings back the show’s old minimalism, including a well-done dream sequence, and the guest stars include Antonio Fargas, Chris Cooper and a young Julia Roberts.