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- This article is about the character from the television series. For the movie rendition, see Castillo (Film).
Martin "Marty" Castillo
Detective Lieutenant, Commander of Metro-Dade Organized Crime Bureau-Vice Division
Martin "Marty" Castillo (played by Edward James Olmos, b. 1947) is a Detective Lieutenant of the Metro-Dade Police Department and the Commander of the Organized Crime Bureau, Vice Division. Castillo is a former agent for the DEA, specializing in Southeast Asian operations, and a thorough investigator who would, on occasion, go into the field to stop drug cartels and other OCB-handled crimes.
Castillo is very mysterious in his ways, almost always wearing a black tie, white shirt, black sportscoat and black pants; taken to sleeping in his office on particularly difficult, complex (and sometimes personal) cases; speaking in a low tone unless angered; and having an icy staredown that he used on peers, superiors, and others to display his disappointment in a situation's outcome without words.
Castillo's taciturn, rough exterior masked a compassionate, deeply caring man who was loyal to his team, often going out on a limb to help one or more of his detectives succeed in a case where departmental red tape prevented it and using his extensive network of contacts in government (both state and federal) for assistance.
Life before ViceEdit
Little is known about Castillo's past; one of his defining character features is his tendency to keep details of his personal life private. However, it is known that he worked for the DEA for some time, operating mainly in the "Golden Triangle" region of Southeast Asia. His attempts at neutralizing the area's extensive drug industry (producing mainly heroin) were constantly frustrated by the CIA, who were willing to turn a blind eye to and even assist the local drug lords in return for concessions that were then used to fund the Vietnam War.
Castillo's biggest adversary while in the Golden Triangle was General Lao Li, whose extensive organization had the backing of the CIA and even received direct advice and assistance from CIA Agent Dale Menton. Following Castillo's repeated successes against Lao Li's business interests, Menton sold out Castillo's strike force during an operation to assault a Lao Li convoy, and the team was all but wiped out in an ambush. Lao Li's forces also shelled Castillo's home, apparently killing his then-wife, May Ying, whose survival was not revealed until several years later. During his time in Asia, Castillo also worked with a CIA agent named Jack Gretsky (who would later name his son Marty after Castillo), Nguyen Van Trahn of the South Vietnamese police, and had dealings with intelligence agent Edward Reese. Castillo left Thailand in 1980.
As a result of these experiences, Castillo is an extremely tough customer. When he says in "Indian Wars," 'I can kill twenty men in six minutes,' the viewer completely believes him.
Castillo joined the Metro-Dade Organized Crime Bureau after the death of his predecessor, Lou Rodriguez (killed defending Sonny Crockett). His no-nonsense, by-the-book style clashed with the laid-back atmosphere of OCB at first. His immediate defense of Crockett against trumped-up charges of accepting bribes from racketeers won him the respect of the OCB team, and the team's loyalty to Castillo was never more evident than when they volunteered to help their leader bring down General Lao Li, at the expense of their own caseloads. He is often cited as "the glue that holds the team together." The qualities he values most are reflected in his speech at Crockett's engagement party: "loyal[ty]" and "unselfish[ness]."
Career In ViceEdit
Castillo thoroughly investigated every case his team was involved in, often using his many contacts from his days in the DEA to help break cases open. After bringing down the Lao Li cartel he arranged for Crockett & Rico Tubbs to go to New York and stop the Revilla drug cartel, helped stop a rash of bad cops in South Beach with his knowledge of the Santeria religion, protected his old friend Jack Gretzky's Russian wife and son from the KGB, worked with his Saigon ally Trahn (who in reality was a North Vietnamese soldier) to stop The Savage from continuing his 10+ year murder spree, but mainly let the team do their jobs, only involving himself when necessary, not being afraid to admonish the team if they didn't perform to his standards (often through the use of his famous staredown, but even going so far as to request their transfers after the Beaks case), but also praising the team for a good job. He was not afraid to go on the street to help the team, including going into prison to get Tubbs out of a bad situation, working undercover on a drug case because the dealer "didn't trust Anglos", and unwisely visited a politician alone because of a setup. His superiors didn't have a problem with his actions because of his experience.
Castillo was married once, to May Ying while in Southeast Asia (the marriage presumably annulled when she was assumed killed in the raid executed by Dale Menton & Lao Li's men). After discovering she was alive (and remarried with a young son) his feelings returned and he protected her & her husband from Lao Li's cartel. Later, her son was killed in a car accident involving a drunk driver; her husband Ma Sek began to blame her for it, and turned to crime. He & Castillo fought over May Ying; Castillo arrested him for murder and other charges. Castillo never remarried nor had any other relationships, and protected his privacy fiercely, even from his team, although they do apparently at least know the location of his beachfront home. There are also other indications that despite his "off-the-rack" dress and modest personal lifestyle, he does have a substantial personal income.
Owing to his largely managerial role in the team, Castillo simply drove a standard police issue 1982 Plymouth Gran Fury, along with a Ford LTD in season 1. However, during his time undercover in the episode "Indian Wars", he drove a black Lamborghini Jalpa.
Unlike the other members of the Vice team, Castillo did not seem to favor any one particular weapon for his sidearm and can be using several inconsistently throughout the series. However, almost all of the pistols the Lieutenant carried were large-calibre revolvers, including a Smith & Wesson Model 29 in .44 Magnum (as well as the stainless steel version, the 629), a Smith & Wesson Model 686 in .357 Magnum, a Colt Trooper MK V in .357 Magnum, a Smith & Wesson model 29 in .44 Magnum, and a Colt Python in .357 Magnum. He tended to prefer such weaponry over more modern semi-automatic pistols, although he did use the latter type of weapon in certain situations; he carries a Detonics Scoremaster in the episodes "The Prodigal Son" and "Whatever Works", and uses a Colt 1911 while undercover in "Indian Wars".
Like the other detectives in the Vice division, Castillo also used several auxiliary weapons when the situation called for it, such as a Colt Model 733 assault rifle in "When Irish Eyes Are Crying". He appears to be an expert rifle marksman—in "When Irish Eyes Are Crying" he successfully takes down several targets with a carbine weapon from an airborne helicopter, and Castillo is also implied to be the sniper who executes Martillo Borrasca as he escapes in a helicopter in "Borrasca".
Aside from being adept with firearms, Castillo was also trained in classical swordfighting, presumably while working with the CIA in the Far East. He wields a Katana to great effect in the episode "Bushido", using it to take down two highly trained and armed KGB agents whilst himself suffering from a knife wound. Castillo also possesses significant martial arts abiltities, aptly demonstrated in "Golden Triangle (Part I)" and "Heart of Night".
Stylistically, Castillo was the polar opposite of his predecessor Lou Rodriguez. In many ways, Rodriguez was an archetypal or conventional police chief of the sort to be found in many crime dramas of the 1970's and 1980's; Castillo broke sharply from this archetype in his tightly-controlled yet mysterious and somewhat exotic persona. Rodriguez could be hot-tempered; Castillo's anger was icy. Rodriguez sometimes shouted; Castillo never raised his voice. Rodriguez was occasionally disheveled; Castillo was always neat (including his desk, which almost never had papers or files on it). Rodriguez was often familiar with his squad members; Castillo maintained his distance. At least one review has argued that in the series's earliest episodes, the Vice style was mixed with elements of a conventional cop show, but that Castillo's introduction was one factor that helped end this.
Castillo's style of dress, with its severe blacks and whites, can be seen as a metaphor for the way in which he views the world, with no shades of gray.
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