Too Much, Too Late
21 (111th Overall)
January 25, 1990
"Too Much, Too Late" is an episode of Miami Vice's fifth season that was not aired by NBC due to its' content, and is the last of four "lost" episodes aired after the series finale "Freefall" aired. The episode premiered on January 25, 1990 on USA Network.
Valerie Gordon, Tubbs' old flame, returns to Miami to help her friend and goddaughter. While Tubbs is interested in rekindling their romance, Valerie may be covering up a murder.
In a rough section of Miami, Yvonne (C.C.H. Pounder) is desperate for a drug fix from dealer Billy Swain (John Toles-Bey), but she has no money. Swain is so incensed that Yvonne would try and con him out of a fix that he starts tearing the house apart. Yvonne's daughter Lynette (Malinda Williams) calls up her godmother Valerie Gordon (Pam Grier) in New York to let her know what's going on. Valerie immediately sets out for Miami, and in the meantime she calls Tubbs for help. Swain becomes violent with both Yvonne & Lynette before Tubbs storms in; Swain manages to escape while Tubbs tends to Yvonne and Lynette.
In the ER, Yvonne blows off Tubbs' concern and refuses to name her attacker, demanding to be released from the hospital ASAP. Lynette wants to tell the truth, but Yvonne's addiction has such a hold on her that she desperately talks Lynette into keeping her mouth shut. Valerie's plane arrives in Miami. Crockett has the surveillance logs from the Morelli case and decides to check it out while Switek is attending a G.A. meeting, but Tubbs' mind is elsewhere after last night. Valerie arrives at OCB, thanking him for what he did. Valerie & Yvonne grew up in the same neighborhood and Valerie was made Lynette's godmother. She wants to talk with Yvonne, but first Tubbs asks her to dinner that night, "for old time's sake". Yvonne refuses police assistance, but wants Valerie to get her into a program...and asks for money. Valerie reluctantly gives her some to tide her over, despite suspecting there is truth to Lynette's insistence it will only go to Swain. Switek lies that he's working on his gambling problem, having called in a bet before Crockett stops by his desk. Tubbs & Valerie have dinner at Raoul's, looking at rekindling their romance. Yvonne pays $300 to Swain, but he says he's through dealing with her. She is reduced to offering herself as payment, but Swain wants more—he wants Lynette, which Yvonne gives in to. Tubbs is happy about his dinner date but he then gets a call from Valerie, who has found Yvonne stabbed to death.
Valerie is extremely distraught about Yvonne. A neighbor saw Lynette running out of the apartment after hearing some screams, but after that, nothing. Valerie, Tubbs & Crockett split up to find Lynette. Izzy and Manny are on the beach running a dance-lessons-with-complimentary-financial-advice scam when Tubbs & Valerie stop by for info on Swain; although he has nothing for them he promises to check up on it. Switek attends another G.A. meeting, hearing about how others are trying to beat their addictions, but walks out and makes a bet. Valerie is still having trouble dealing with Yvonne's death and Lynette's disappearance, and finds solace in Tubbs' arms. Tubbs is estatic about his rekindled romance, and is considering marriage. When Crockett advises him to slow down, an annoyed Tubbs responds rather coldly that since Caitlin died Crockett has lost touch with his own feelings; Crockett takes umbrage at the remark, calling it "out of line." Tubbs and Valerie, at her suggestion, find Lynette in a local park. She runs into Valerie's arms, saying "He raped me!" over and over.
Dr. Ellen Hardy (June Gable) stops by Metro to talk to Lynette but Valerie feels she's in no condition to talk to anyone, and she herself is upset that Swain hasn't been arrested yet. Switek's gambling streak is hitting new lows; while brooding at home he hears his car alarm go off, and finds his T-Bird is being towed as compensation for gambling debts. Switek forcefully commandeers the tow truck and drives off with the T-Bird still attached, yelling at the thugs to stay out of his life. Tubbs broaches marriage with Valerie, but right now she only cares about Lynette. Tubbs presses her further asking if she heard what he said. She says that she heard him. Picking up the drift, Tubbs stands up and backs away. Feeling utterly dejected about his rejection, tears begin welling up in his eyes as he stares back at Valerie. Tubbs arrives at a bar where he finds Crockett waiting for Izzy. Crockett sees that Tubbs is obviously distraught. When Tubbs recklessly goads Crockett into more relationship advice, his partner pauses and tactfully moves the subject back to the case at hand. Crockett expresses concern about Valerie's involvement in the case, keeping Lynette away from the police and knowing where, in all of Miami, Lynette would be. Tubbs gets angry and storms off—right into Izzy, who has the address of a crack house where Swain picks up his stash, and the car he drives. Tubbs brusquely takes the address and storms off, leaving Crockett to offer some humorous gratitude to their informant. Switek wakes up to four heavies in his house, in regards to his stealing the tow truck. "We own you," their leader tells him. At Manuel's crack house, he and Swain are arguing over Swain's checking every dime bag like he's afraid of being ripped off. Swain puts a knife to Manuel's throat, saying he'll kill him for questioning how he does business, and that he's moving up in the world while Manuel is on his way out. As Swain leaves, Crockett & Tubbs pull up and take him in.
They bring Lynette to the station, but she fails to identify Swain in a lineup. Crockett is still concerned Valerie is hiding something, because she immediately removed Lynette after the failed ID and continues to keep Dr. Hardy at bay. Tubbs decides he has to confront her; she admits to harboring Lynette, buying time until they could find Swain, but Lynette has now disappeared on her own. While Tubbs calls Metro-Dade to get Swain's address, Valerie discovers her gun is missing, and suspects Lynette has gone to Swain's house, which she has, under the pretense that they're going to party. Lynette pulls Valerie's gun, admitting she killed her mother after Swain raped her; Yvonne wanted a fix so bad she didn't care about selling her child to Swain. Just then, Tubbs & Valerie bust in; after a tense moment, Lynette hands over the gun and Swain is arrested. Lynette is handed over to Child Services, with murder charges being unlikely.
Tubbs confronts Valerie in an interview room back at OCB, angry that she lied to him and tried to frame Swain for murder, especially given how he would have gone down for the statutory rape charge he now faces anyway. Valerie confesses that she did it because she didn't think Lynette could survive prison. She tells Tubbs that she's burned-out as a cop and that she plans to return to New York to turn in her badge, apologising for how she has led him on and saying that it's too late for their relationship. She walks out, turning out the lights and leaving Tubbs completely alone.
- 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 (credit only)
- Michael Talbott as Metro-Dade Detective Stan Switek
- Olivia Brown as Metro-Dade Detective Trudy Joplin (credit only)
- Edward James Olmos as Metro-Dade Lieutenant Martin "Marty" Castillo (credit only)
- Pam Grier as NYPD Detective Valerie Gordon
- Malinda Williams as Lynette
- John Toles-Bey as Billy Swain
- Martin Ferrero as Izzy Moreno
- June Gable as Dr. Ellen Hardy
- C.C.H. Pounder as Yvonne
- Frank J. Adler as Sal
- Jay Cannistraci as Speaker in GA meeting
- Andrew Castillo as Eddie
- Dee Dee Deering as Edna
- Paul Garcia as Cordera
- Carolyn Hurlburt as Doctor
- Florence McGee as Mrs. Channing
- Robert Small as Metro-Dade Lieutenant Williams
- Duke Vincent as Fuentes
- Unknown as Manny
NBC did not air "Too Much, Too Late" with the other fifth season episodes because it felt the child molestation subject matter was inappropriate for television in 1989 (although the show did push the envelope with its violence and use of language). Per contemporary TV listings, it was scheduled to air on July 5, 1989 (which would have made it the last first-run episode aired by NBC). Instead, it was aired when USA Network (now part of Comcast-NBC-Universal) began running Miami Vice fifth-season reruns in the fall of 1989 (the network began reruns of Vice in 1988). The episode continues to air in syndication, though it usually airs before the finale "Freefall". Ironically, one of NBC's highest-rated shows, Dick Wolf's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, is centered around subject matter such as rape, child rape & molestation, murder involving sexual circumstances (such as mutilation or sodomy) and child pornography—subjects "untouchable" when Miami Vice was on the air, but fairly commonplace in many of the grittier police and forensics-related shows today.
- Saundra Santiago (Gina), Olivia Brown (Trudy) and Edward James Olmos (Castillo) do not appear at all in this episode.
- The opening sequence, with its montage of nighttime shots showing prostitution, dealing and destitution in the seedy areas of Miami, all set to music, recalls the early seasons of the show, which featured several episodes that began in a similar fashion.
- Despite not being aired by NBC due its content, this is often considered one of the best episodes of season 5 due to its mature plot and deep characterization.
- Once again, this episode features one of the leading duo becoming involved in a romantic relationship with a woman linked to the case that inevitably ends in heartbreak by the end of the episode, a recurring plot point in the series. Yet again, it is Tubbs who falls into this trap, rekindling his feelings for Valerie and falling for her harder than ever, only for her to (somewhat coldly) leave him once again. Surprisingly, despite Crockett arguably being more famous for this, every instance of this trope in season 5 has involved Tubbs. Perhaps, after Caitlin, Crockett has simply elected to steer clear of women for the time being.
- Tubbs' rejection by Valerie here also gives more basis to his decision to quit the police force alongside Crockett in "Freefall", an act that otherwise seems like a somewhat impulsive move, especially as Tubbs has often been portrayed as a more upbeat counterpoint to Crockett's feelings of burn-out and futility across fifth season.
- "Too Much, Too Late" is technically the last "Tubbs episode" of the series (although "The Cell Within" was the final Tubbs episode to be broadcast on NBC as part of the show's original run).
- This episode contains a final example of a "fake" song composed by Tim Truman filling in as popular music in one or more scenes -- specifically, the track playing in the bar where Crockett and Tubbs discuss Valerie's role in the case. Such tracks appeared quite frequently throughout the final season, no doubt indicative of the show's shrinking music budget.
- Pam Grier makes her final Miami Vice appearance as NYPD Detective Valerie Gordon, who previously appeared in season 1's "Rites of Passage" and season 2's "The Prodigal Son", before appearing in Michael Mann's Crime Story for several episodes.
- Before his conversation with Crockett at their lockers, Tubbs is heard singing "I Got You (I Feel Good)" by James Brown; both the song and Brown previously appeared in the episode "Missing Hours" in season 4.
- Just before his T-Bird is towed, Switek is seen playing with one of Zito's old snow globes.
- Despite the fact Switek's girlfriend Holly from "Hard Knocks" promised to stay and help him through his gambling addiction, the lonely nature of the scenes showing Switek at home imply she did in fact leave him, presumably unable to cope with his problems (which have only gotten worse).
- Because NBC refused to air this episode, the scene involving Switek placing a bet from a payphone was moved to the series finale, "Freefall", to help explain why Caesar Montoya is able to exert influence over him.
- The general tone of burnout in season 5 is personified here by Valerie, who makes it clear that she has had enough of police work and intends to hand in her badge.
- This episode references many important plot points from earlier episodes of the show -- as well as providing closure for the Tubbs and Valerie relationship, it references Caitlin, Crockett's second wife who was killed in season 4, and Zito, Switek's partner who was killed in season 3.
- Tubbs' occasional tendency to jump in without thinking (as in "Tale of the Goat" and "Walk-Alone") is shown in this episode in his relationship with Valerie. Ignoring Crockett's advice to "go slow" given his track record with Valerie (and her tendency to skirt the law), he not only proposes within 48 hours of seeing her again, but does so while she is still dealing with the traumatic death of her childhood friend and her god-daughter's rape.
- The conclusion, with Tubbs sitting alone in the interrogation room as the lights dim and "Help Me Through The Night" plays, then his head drooping in despair just as the frame freezes, is a dramatic and unique episode ending.
- This is one of several episodes (the last in the series) that does not end on a freeze frame.
- Filmed: March 21, 1989 - March 30, 1989
- Production Code: 63903
- Production Order: 110
- "Help Me Through The Night" by Tim Truman and Phil Perry (Swain beats up Yvonne and end of episode)
- "Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl" by Mink DeVille (Valerie and Tubbs checks park for Lynette)
- "You Gonna Get Yours" by Public Enemy (at crack house)
Tim Truman MusicEdit
- "Money on the Table" (Swain talks about "buying" Lynette from Yvonne for drugs)
- "We own you now, Stanley. You must understand that. We own you." -- Mobsters to Switek
- "Tell me this: you never once, never once wanted to frame anybody?" -- Valerie to Tubbs
- "I'd be lying if I said that...but I never did! You're a cop, Val!" -- Tubbs in response