- This article is about the Miami Vice episode. For the song by Glenn Frey, see Smuggler's Blues (Song).
15 (15th Overall)
February 1, 1985
May 17, 1985
August 23, 1985
Crockett and Tubbs flush out a DEA leak with the help of a guitar-playing, free-thinking pilot.
Crockett, Tubbs, Switek and Zito are observing a smuggler named Morales, who is being told in Spanish by someone to "drop the bag or your family gets it". Morales drops a bag into a boat passing under a bridge, causing Crockett and Tubbs to wonder why a smuggler gives up the goods so easily. They follow him to a houseboat where the silhouette of a woman can be seen dangling from a rope. Suddenly, the houseboat explodes, killing the woman inside and badly injuring Morales.
At OCB, Castillo and Homicide Lieutenant Jones (Ron Vawter) discuss the incident; Jones chalks it up to "the politics of contraband", while Crockett is concerned the smuggler's family was somehow involved. Jones sneers about the Miami Dolphins, then leaves. Morales survived the explosion but is paralyzed from the waist down, ending his smuggling career; Castillo feels he might talk, considering his wife is dead. He is distracted by a phone call, and asks Crockett and Tubbs to meet him in an abandoned building. They are joined by Trudy and DEA Special Agent Ed Waters (Richard Jenkins), who informs everyone that there have been five other smugglers recently involved in similar incidents, and that the victims were currently under investigation from law enforcement, suggesting there is a leak somewhere. Waters offers a strictly voluntary plan to flush out the leak and end these attacks: Crockett and Tubbs pose as two legit dealers, go to Cartagena, make a cocaine buy and bring it back to Miami. Trudy will pose as Tubbs' "wife" (the "family bait") and wear a homing device. Waters will circulate a false inter-agency memo about Crockett and Tubbs' activities, and for support they get three things: Morales (who agreed to cooperate and ID Tubbs as his cousin), fake background histories on both, and $1 million in cash. The catch is that they will be completely on their own -- no backup, no support, no pass through Customs, no transportation provided. Crockett and Tubbs agree, and Tubbs looks up an old contact, Tucker, for the name of a pilot. After they talk Tucker out of a Vice raid, he sends them to Jimmy Cole (Glenn Frey), who they find playing his guitar at a hangar, and he agrees to take them to Cartagena for $25,000 up front. Tubbs drops off Trudy at the hotel, and they park Tubbs' Coupe de Ville at the drop site, where he puts a gun under the rear bumper (just in case). Jimmy's mechanic, Wavey Davey (Richard Edson) gets his plane ready and they take off.
In Cartagena, Crockett, Tubbs and Jimmy get a room in a rundown section of town, across from the meet place with Grocero (Jaime L. Sanchez). After arguing and failing to agree on a price, Grocero says he will Tubbs know when, or even if they will meet again. After leaving the meet, a woman pleads with Tubbs in Spanish, but it's only to lure him into an alley where two bandits try to run the Vice cops over. While Tubbs fights with one of them, Jimmy and Crockett are forced to flee as the Policia show up and take Tubbs into custody. Back at their room, Crockett turns his rage on Jimmy (and tells him "never to pull a gun on me again!"). Jimmy calmly tells Crockett that "it's the nature of the business", but apologizes and states his concern for Tubbs, having been through the same thing himself. Crockett asks Jimmy if he's ever lost any friends he was close to. Jimmy says he's lost count, something Crockett admits to as well (as both served in Vietnam), but Tubbs is an exception and he intends to wait for him. Meanwhile, Tubbs is sitting in jail when policia Lt. Todo reviews his false file and is satisfied Tubbs is clean, revealing himself as a sort of screener for Grocero, who will meet Crockett and Tubbs in 20 minutes. They go to Grocero's smoke-filled club, and after some gun-drawing and a heated exchange, they set up the deal involving two cars, parked trunk to trunk, one with the cash, one with the drugs, and the switching of keys.
The key exchange is made in a cemetery, with Grocero checking the money and Tubbs checking a key of drugs for purity. Tubbs drives the car with the drugs to the airstrip where Jimmy is waiting, but before they can take off Grocero's men storm the strip, trying to rip them off. Crockett takes the car and rams Grocero's cars together, allowing them to escape in a hail of gunfire. They drop the drugs in the predetermined spot and after landing go back to retrieve it, but Wavey Davey and his accomplice Bruce stop Crockett and Tubbs at gunpoint, telling them they need to pay $500,000 in the next three hours if they want to save Trudy. Jimmy shows up and saves the Vice cops, getting shot in the process but survives; Crockett subdues Bruce and Tubbs shoots Davey in his car (with the gun under the bumper) and they force Davey to tell them where Trudy is. He doesn't know but takes them to the phone booth where he receives a call from the kidnapper and confirms the husband will be in the hotel room in three hours to get the call about where to drop the money. Sonny gets a call. They were able to find Trudy, due to the homing device. She's in a rigged-up trailer on a construction site. Gina wants to go in and help Trudy, but Castillo ignores her. Crockett takes Bomb Squad specialist Sam with him to see what type of bomb is inside. They find Trudy tied up to a chair, with a radio controlled bomb, and an anti-motion trembler --any sudden moves and they're "wallpaper". The hotel was able to forward the call from the kidnapper, and Tubbs finds out where to drop the money -- off the same bridge that Morales used. Crockett tries to calm Trudy down by telling her about his trip while Sam works to get her out of the bomb. Tubbs drops the money into the boat, but knowing what will happen next jumps in himself. He and a man in a diving suit fight as Sam manages to disarm the trembler. The masked man tells Tubbs that he will blow the trailer up unless they let him walk; Tubbs points out he's surrounded by police on every side. The man activates the device, blowing up the trailer, and Tubbs shoots him down. Crockett calls Tubbs to let him know he, Trudy,, and Sam got out OK. They pull the dead masked man out and find it's Lt. Jones from Homicide, the "Miami Dolphin fan". Waters can't believe a fellow cop would turn bad, but is reminded by Tubbs that the power of money can do anything to a person.
- 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
- John Diehl as Metro-Dade Detective Larry Zito
- Olivia Brown as Metro-Dade Detective Trudy Joplin
- Edward James Olmos as Metro-Dade Lieutenant Martin "Marty" Castillo
- Richard Jenkins as DEA Special Agent Ed Waters
- Jaime L. Sanchez as Grocero
- Richard Edson as Wavey Davey
- Ron Vawter as Metro-Dade Homicide Lieutenant Jones
- Glenn Frey as Jimmy Cole
- Coati Mundi as Tucker Smith
- John Garcia as Cartagena Policia Lieutenant Todo
- John Girard as Bruce
- Raul Martinez as Roberto Morales
- Nelson Oramas as Metro-Dade Bomb Squad Specialist Sam
- This episode was inspired by Glenn Frey's hit song "Smuggler's Blues", the lyrics of which discuss the issue of drug smuggling through Florida. Michael Mann heard the song on the radio and, noting its obvious connections with the primary focus of Miami Vice, asked Miguel Piñero (who played Esteban Calderone in three previous Vice episodes) to write an episode based around it. In fact, several of the song's lyrics are repeated or paraphrased in the episode's dialogue.
- Frey would write another song, "You Belong to the City", specifically for Miami Vice, namely the season 2 opener "The Prodigal Son".
- Beginning with this episode, the episode title and opening credits appear near the bottom of the screen, and will do so through to the middle of season 3. Previously this text appeared in the middle of the screen.
- One recurring theme in Miami Vice is the presence of police leaks helping drug dealers. This time it's a police lieutenant that is the leak, not a judge, line officer or a clerk (as was the case in previous episodes).
- An acoustic version of "Smuggler's Blues" can be heard at the end of the episode. As of yet it has never been commercially released.
- The convertible top on Tubbs' Coupe de Ville is seen raised during this episode, one of the few times this was done in the series.
- "Trust Fund Pirates" from the second season was to be a direct sequel to this episode, but Glenn Frey was unavailable to reprise his role as Jimmy. Consequently, the script was changed to feature a smuggler friend of his (Jackson Crane, played by Gary Cole) who had taken over his hangar (Jimmy retired after the events of this episode) and knew all about "Burnett and Cooper".
- Nelson Oramas would return as a bomb expert in the season 2 episode "Sons and Lovers", and co-wrote the fourth season finale "Mirror Image".
- Much of the plot of the Miami Vice film is based on this episode, and certain lines are even repeated almost word for word. The subplot about Trudy getting captured and placed in a booby-trapped trailer also takes place in the movie.
- Another plot similarity concerns the first half of the series finale, "Freefall" (which takes place four years later). Both "Freefall" and "Smuggler's Blues" feature Crockett and Tubbs being sent to Latin America by a third party.
- In some DVD releases, this episode's visual quality is much grainier and more aged than the rest of the season 1 episodes. The reason for this is unknown.
- The yacht blown up in the opening sequence used to belong to actress Bette Davis, called the Christmas Tree. Once used by Davis to entertain guests in the 1930s, by the time of its' destruction it was held in Watson Marina, requiring four pumps to prevent it from sinking into Biscayne Bay, and was sold to Vice producers for $500. It's planned destruction before Christmas Day, 1984, was delayed due to government red tape (caused by environmental concerns), Don Johnson's illness, and a no-show by singer Iggy Pop for a role in the episode which held up filming.
- This episode features one of Crockett's rare trips out of state on Miami Vice. Over the course of the series, he also travelled to Saint Andrews Island (in "Calderone's Return (Part II)"), New York (twice, in "The Prodigal Son" and "Heroes of the Revolution"), Los Angeles (in "Rock and a Hard Place") and Costa Morada (in "Freefall"), as well as a second trip to Colombia in "The Prodigal Son". He also mentions trips to Orlando and Atlanta that happen off-screen.
- The engines on Jimmy's plane are fitted with three-blade propellers, but in the closeup shot of one of the engines starting, it is suddenly fitted with a two-blade propeller.
- In all shots of Jimmy's plane in America, including during the aerial drop on the return trip, it has a twin tail, with an oversized horizontal stabilizer and two small vertical stabilizers at the tips. In all shots of the plane in Cartagena, it has a more traditional single vertical stabilizer design. The latter plane is also fitted with twin-blade propellers, unlike the former's triple-blade propellers, indicating two totally different aircraft were used for filming.
- During the shootout in the swamps, Jimmy is hit by a mystery gunshot fired after Davey and Bruce have been subdued. It seems he is supposed to be hit by the single round Bruce gets off at the start of the shootout, before Crockett subdues him, but Jimmy being struck by the bullet is not shown until 6-7 seconds later, after Tubbs has recovered his concealed gun and dealt with Davey inside the car. The editing mismatch also means Crockett suddenly jumps from being at the front of Tubbs' car to standing beside Jimmy helping him up at the end of the shootout.
- When Tubbs is waiting to make the delivery on the bridge, a piece of footage of him nervously pacing is clearly shown in reverse before then immediately being played again forwards.
- There is an awkward jump cut between the first and second explosions at the trailer, during which time the entire trailer tilts significantly backwards, exposing the edit.
- In the scene at the beginning where the yacht blows up, it's clearly visible that the explosion starts all the way in the front of the boat, while the hostage is tied up in the back, a good 25 feet away.
- At the very beginning when everyone is briefing in the conference room, Zito answers the phone, then pushes the 'Hold' button on the office telephone to place the caller on 'Hold' for Castillo, Castillo answers but forgets to re-push the 'Hold' button to take the 'Hold' off the call.
- Filmed: December 12, 1984 - January 11, 1985
- Production Number: 59514
- Production Order: 15
- Brickell Key Bridge to Claughton Island, Miami (bridge used by Morales in opening and Tubbs at end to dump drugs)
- San Juan, Puerto Rico and Fuerte San Felipe del Morro (Colombia and jail scenes with Tubbs)
- La Perla District (Establishing shot of Colombia)
- Cementario Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis (drug/cash exchange point)
- SE 500 South Miami Avenue, Miami (Trailer with Trudy and bomb)
- "Lunatic Fringe" by Red Rider (Opening sequence with Morales)
- "Baja" by Mascara (Crockett and Tubbs go see Tucker Smith)
- "Smuggler's Blues" by Glenn Frey (Tubbs, Crockett and Jimmy fly to and from Cartagena, Tubbs caught by police in Cartagena, and at end when Lt. Jones is pulled from water)
- "The politics of contraband doesn't involve killing children!" -- Crockett to Lt. Jones
- "I ain't John Wayne and I don't have an "S" on my chest, so be brief about your business when you get there!" -- Jimmy to Crockett and Tubbs
- "I always like to take a good-bye look at America, just in case it's my last!" -- Jimmy
- "This place is like Dodge City, 1985" -- Crockett about Cartagena
- "I'll call room service, have them wipe up the furniture." -- Crockett
- "How about if I just blow that coke right back out of you, amigo?" -- Tubbs to Grocero
- "Bottom line is M-O-N-E-Y!" -- Tubbs to Waters when he asks the motivation for Jones to turn bad
- "We took your wife outta the motel this afternoon.... we'll put her back for five hundred grand" "Take the coke... it's worth twice that." "We ain't in the coke-sellin' business, we in the CASH business, you got three hours to raise it." -- Wavey Davey and Tubbs