Honor Among Thieves?
16 (84th Overall)
March 4, 1988
Setpember 2, 1988
January 6, 1989
Crockett and Tubbs find a serial killer, but revealing him would blow their cover in a major drug dealer's case.
In his lair filled with dolls, Paul Delgado (John Bowman) speaks to a female doll, which speaks back in a high-pitched voice, while he injects a whimpering girl with cocaine so she will "feel all right."
Crockett (as Burnett, a legal expert in laundering money) and Tubbs (as Cooper, VP in charge of Collections) are meeting with big-time dealer Palmo (Ramy Zada) about moving money; Palmo, citing his preference for "personal relationships", asks the Vice cops to stay at his mansion for awhile until he gets to know them, willing to provide "toothbrushes, tuxedos, and companionship (women)." Meanwhile, Delgado places the dressed-up body of the girl on a bench, along with a doll dressed in an identical outfit. Crockett & Tubbs discuss their inside contact (who will ask them if it rains everyday in Miami) as they dress for dinner. Lt. Edward Jarrell (Dylan Baker) of Homicide, who is under intense scrutiny from the press, is supported by District Attorney Taggart (Tom Kouchalakos) in enlisting Castillo to help search for the killer, since the body was loaded with cocaine. Castillo has an ongoing investigation with most of his staff undercover, but will see what he can do.
At dinner Crockett & Tubbs, who have been with Palmo for three days and still not talked business, demand an answer. Palmo says he has to consult with his group before confirming anything, and in the meantime the doll killings are hurting his PR. Delgado is planning for his next victim in his lair of dolls. Jarrell, rejecting all of Vice's files on potential suspects, says the victims were killed with 100% pure cocaine, which puts it in Vice's jurisdiction as only someone connected could get hold of such high quality drugs. Castillo is concerned about Crockett & Tubbs being in the middle. Delgado scouts a local carnival for his new victim; the next morning Castillo and Jarrell visit the latest crime scene, which makes four dead girls at this point.
The Miami mayor (through the DA) announces a virtually unrestricted crackdown on the city's drug trade, including quarantining Palmo's stable & shutting down three of his clubs. At Palmo's place, Tubbs makes jabs at Palmo's rather simple-minded man Cyrus (Gary Basaraba), who vows that he & Tubbs will "dance" later. Homicide & Vice bring in tons of suspects, including Benny (Jimmie F. Skaggs), a local flasher with a thing for teenage girls, who claims not to have anything to do with it. Dealers who fit the profile cannot be tied in and make statements to the local news, causing the department to be accused of harassment. Castillo is concerned about lawsuits, but Taggart is willing to deal with them, and Jarrell wants to hit Palmo, whom Castillo has been avoiding. Taking care not to blow Crockett's & Tubbs' covers, Castillo has Palmo's yacht impounded and can't promise it won't be damaged when they strip it. Palmo furiously argues that he runs a business, and the murders are bad for everybody. Delgado continues to scout the beach, the playgrounds, and the schools to find a new girl. Crockett & Tubbs, trying to move things along, act fed up but Palmo urges them to stay, saying the problem of the doll killings will be solved, tonight. Palmo calls a meeting of all of his people, including some that the police have already had in custody, to announce they will put aside their petty differences and shut down the business until they find the killer—not knowing that he (Delgado) is among them.
Palmo's people conduct a citywide search; Delgado decides to burn his doll collection, with one exception. Cyrus corners Benny, who tells him, Crockett & Tubbs to talk to "Captain George", who knows a homeless wino who saw something in the park that's "worth something." Cap tells them the person they are looking for is at a bench at the amusement park, near the shooting gallery. From him they go on to question the gallery operator, Rickman (Brian Tarantina), who works for Delgado and says he picked up an empty doll (normally the dolls are exchanged with cocaine-filled ones) that might be the same one found with the dead girls. Cyrus and his men corner Delgado at the park; he begins shooting and flees, but falls off a roof into a pile of inflatable rafts, which are shot at until he surrenders in a high-pitched voice, holding his doll.Palmo decides to put Delgado on trial by a jury of his peers (the remainder of Palmo's partners), reasoning that Delgado broke their code and must be dealt with internally. Crockett, seen as the lawyer, is chosen to defend Delgado—if he's acquitted, Crockett gets him to take to the police—and he gets one hour to build a defense. While conferring, Delgado reveals to Crockett he's their contact, and if he's not acquitted he will expose Crockett and Tubbs as cops. Everyone gathers in a deserted nightclub; Crockett informs Tubbs about Delgado and tells him to get hold of Castillo, while Crockett presents his defense. The trial begins, with Palmo acting as the prosecutor. Rickman confesses to Jarrell that Delgado is the killer; Castillo & Jarrell go to Palmo's place and find it deserted, as well as all of the drug underworld's other hangouts. Tubbs gets to a phone and lets Castillo know where Delgado is, but is caught by Cyrus and pulled into an electrical room for their "dance"; they fight it out until Tubbs shoves Cyrus into an open fuse panel, electrocuting him. Crockett's defense for Delgado is that he's a sick man and has impulses he can't resist. This convinces no one and Palmo argues for a guilty verdict. Delgado, realizing he's finished, begins talking in both his normal and high-pitched voices and scrambles up into a stage light array before leaping off, landing directly on Palmo and killing them both.
- Don Johnson as Metro-Dade Detective James "Sonny" Crockett
- Philip Michael Thomas as Metro-Dade Detective Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs
- Saundra Santiago as Metro-Dade Detective Gina Calabrese
- Michael Talbott as Metro-Dade Detective Stan Switek
- Olivia Brown as Metro-Dade Detective Trudy Joplin
- Edward James Olmos as Metro-Dade Lieutenant Martin "Marty" Castillo
- John Bowman as Paul Delgado
- Gary Basaraba as Cyrus
- Dylan Baker as Metro-Dade Homicide Lieutenant Edward Jarrell
- Ramy Zada as Palmo
- Jimmie F. Skaggs as Benny
- Brian Tarantina as Rickman
- Raphael Gomez as Delgado Man
- Pirty Jackson as Beausouire
- Cindy King as Arlene
- Will Knickerbocker as Captain George
- Tom Kouchalakos as Taggart
- Keely Mackarvich as Girl
- George Mato as Leader
- Bobby Rodriguez as Fuentes
- Susan Vanech as Boardwalk Girl
- This is one of the few episodes where Crockett and Tubbs are so deep undercover they can't even get out to OCB.
- The episode contains what is arguably John Petersen's most noteworthy score music from his stint on the series; he provides a strong, identifiable them for Delgado that appears in several variations throughout the episode. Peterson's work here is notably richer and more cinematic in feel than Jan Hammer's overtly synth-based score.
- This is the second consecutive episode where the main villain jumps to his death. It is also the third consecutive episode where the principle villain conveniently self-destructs as a result of either their own mistake ("Baseballs of Death") or suicide ("Indian Wars" and "Honor Among Thieves?").
- Palmo's house appears to be the same one used for Guzman's house in season 1's "Evan" and Alexander Dykstra's house in season 3's "Lend Me an Ear", while the building where Delgado is put on trial is from this season's "Death and the Lady" (where it appeared as Milton Glantz's house).
- Crockett's defense of Delgado is so poor that one almost suspects he is intentionally trying to lose his "case". Granted, he's a cop, not a lawyer, but it might have been better to argue that Delgado, rather than being utterly unlike the men in the room, is actually like them but more extreme and unable to control his more aberrant version of their own dark sides. This could have created some sympathy, unlike Crockett's emphasis on his difference, which makes his peers feel more comfortable in condemning him. It would also make more sense of Crockett's final comment that Palmo and Delgado are alike -- and would take advantage of the visual symbolism of the bodies of Palmo in white crossed by Delgado in black, as if they were two sides of one personality. The rhetoric used by Crockett is so unconvincing, in contrast with his usual articulateness, that Don Johnson seems uncomfortable and is unusually awkward in delivering it.
- The opening scene of the episode, where Crockett and Tubbs first arrive at Palmo's house, is one of the more glaring examples of how dramatically scaled back Tubbs' role in the show often became during season 4 -- despite being present throughout, he says absolutely nothing at all during their arrival and introduction to Palmo, with Crockett doing all of the talking for them.
- The moody lighting and cinematic style of this episode, particularly the scenes in the doll room and the trial room, foreshadow the style of season 5.
- Despite the fairly convincing -- and highly dramatic -- depiction of Delgado's illness throughout the majority of the episode, the conclusion is jarringly off-key. As he has multiple personality disorder (one personality, at least, being manifested through ventriloquism into the dolls), psychology dictates that Delgado was likely a victim of childhood sexual abuse (the primary and possibly only known cause of multiple personality disorder -- MPD). His apparent reversion to the maturational level he was at when the abuse occurred -- the age at which he would have played with dolls -- and his actions in passing on the sexual abuse to immature females also dressed as dolls -- avoiding contact with adult relationships -- bears this out. His sudden decision that he can fly at the end of the episode, however, is inconsistent with the symptoms of MPD and seems little more than a deus ex machina moment.
- This episode borrows heavily from the 1931 Fritz Lang film M. Both involve murders by pedophiles. Delgado is clearly a nod to the character Peter Lorre plays in the film (Hans Beckert). Likewise, the underground jury of criminals at the episode's conclusion resembles the kangaroo court at the end of the movie.
- When Cyrus knocks Benny to the floor, Benny drops his groceries, which spill over the carpet right beside him. However, they later move considerably further way, to the point where they are out of frame.
- As Delgado jumps from the light array, no ladder leading there can be seen.
- Filmed: January 27, 1988 - February 4, 1988
- Production Code: 63519
- Production Order: 84
- 1727 W 27th Street, Sunset Island 2, Miami Beach (Palmo's house)
- 1235 Club, 1235 Washington Ave, Miami Beach (Delgado's trial)
- "Capricho Árabe" by Francisco Tárrega (dinner at Palmo's house)
- "Sweet Sixteen" by Billy Idol (Delgado at carnival scouting his next victim)
- "Rag Doll" by Aerosmith (Palmo's people looking for killer & Delgado burns his dolls)
- "Tripe a la mode du Caen...you know what that is, Cyrus? Chitlins...should make a good ol' boy from Georgia feel right at home!" -- Tubbs to Cyrus
- "I'm lookin' at the only whores in this investigation! You've got plenty to keep your readers turned on - get off my back!" -- Jarrell to reporters, when one of them suggests the victims were hookers
- "I said there was a disease in our city. And you don't fight a disease with warnings and Miranda warrants!" -- D.A. Taggart announcing the crackdown to the press
- "They're all bad men!" -- Delgado jumps from the lighting platform to his death, killing Palmo in the process
- "Which one is it?" "Take your pick." -- Crockett to Jarrell about whether Palmo or Delgado was the child killer