Miami Vice (1985) – Golden Triangle: Part 2, and Smuggler’s Blues

This week we dive further into Castillo’s (Edward James Olmos) with the second part of the Golden Triangle. Written by Maurice Hurley and Micheal Mann the episode debuted on 18 January, 1985.

Castillo works to protect his wife, May Ying (Joan Chen) from General Lao Li (Keye Luke) and his family that run the human trafficking and drug trade that originated in Southeast Asia. They’ve been keeping an eye on her to keep Castillo in check.

Castillo hunts down an old CIA contact, who now works as a security consultant for Lao, and has Sonny Crockett (Don Johnson) and Ricardo Tubbs (Philip Micheal Thomas) bring him in and then work the case to stop Lao and find May Ying.

But it is Castillo’s story, and it reveals more of the character, and lets Olmos have a well-deserved centre stage.

As the team works together to bring down Lao, Castillo, who has every reason to play outside the box, and ignore the rules, reminds them he has to do things aboveboard. In fact, everything in this episode is done so aboveboard that not one of the lead baddies dies in this episode. It looks like they all get arrested and head to prison.

Castillo reaches a level of cool here that had previously been reserved for Crockett and Tubbs.

The episode sees the debut of Switek (Micheal Talbot) and Zito’s (John Diehl) Bug Van, a frequent cover for the pair. And in terms of continuity, the Lombard case is mentioned, and Noogie (Charlie Barnett) makes an appearance.

Music includes Catch the Wind by the Blues Project, Poison Ivy by The Coasters, and Mr. Lee by The Bobbettes.


Glenn Frey’s song Smuggler’s Blues inspired this episode that was written by Miguel Pinero (who played Calderone), and first aired on 1 February, 1985. It also saw Frey guest-starring as Jimmy Cole a Vietnam vet and small-time pilot, who gets caught up in the dangerous business of drug smuggling.

Crockett and Tubbs use Cole to help flush out a DEA leak. Like most episodes, this one is surprisingly gritty, it also was a direct influence on the the Miami Vice feature film in 2006.

While Crockett and Tubbs fly south to make a buy, Trudy (Olivia Brown) remains in Miami as the family bait – it seems the leaks have led to kidnappings and murders of drug dealers, as well as their families by someone in law enforcement.

There are deaths, explosions, and a kidnapping – Trudy hat all needs to be resolved before the end of the episode, as Sonny and Rico delve deeper into the deal, the leak, and the danger.

It’s wonderfully gritty, and glitzy, and is a wonderfully singular example of how good the series could be. The locations are top notch, the cinematography great, and the characters are all on point. It also marked the first time a music star appeared in the series, but it wouldn’t be the last.

The guest cast for this episode doesn’t only include Frey, but an almost unrecognisable Richard Jenkins.

The music in this episode includes Lunatic Fringe by Red Rider, Baja by Mascara, and of course, Smuggler’s Blues – in fact a number of the lyrics are used or paraphrased as lines of dialogues.

Next week more cases, and great tunes, as I continue my ride-along with Miami Vice.


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