Miami Vice (1985) – Rites of Passage, and The Maze

Rites of Passage was penned by Daniel Pyne and first debuted on 8 February, 1985.

The story finds Ricardo Tubbs (Philip Micheal Thomas) rekindling a romance with an old flame, when Valerie Gordon (Pam Grier), a fellow cop from New York, comes down to Miami in search of her sister, Diane (Tery Ferman), to save her from prostitution in a ring run by David Traynor (John Turturro) and his right hand man, Lile (David Thornton).

Traynor uses the cover of a modelling agency to woo the women with their earning potential, and then pushes them into hooking.

Switek (Micheal Talbott) and Zito (John Diehl) do a little undercover investigating as BugBusters, and come out with some information and faces on the ring.

As a side note, something I never appreciated as a kid, and while it’s sad that Switek and Zito were mainly played for the comedy (sometimes to a silly extreme) I didn’t realise they were very much a Laurel and Hardy duo. Course back when the show first aired I had no idea who that iconic comedy pairing was.

Of course, the story plays out darkly – with Crockett (Don Johnson) having to deliver some horrible news – and goes for the downer storyline, and making each moment work, both poignant and vengeful. The ending is perfect. And so is Grier, as always. She turns in a great performance and it’s always wonderful to see her on the screen.

The music includes a number of songs by The Reds, including Waiting for You, Beat Away, and Til the End. It also features Bob Seger’s Come to Poppa, Change Your Ways by Rockwell, and Foreigner’s I Want to Know What Love Is.


The Maze was written by Micheal Eric Stein and first aired on 22 February, 1985. When a cop is killed on a robbery gone wrong, Crockett and Tubbs attempt to run down the criminals responsible, a gang known as The Escobars, but it put our heroes in the line of fire.

As they attempt to track down the thieves turned killers, they learn they are holed up with a group of homeless in an abandoned building, laid out in a labyrinthine style. Tubbs goes inside, undercover, but things go sideways when the cop’s partner, Duryea (Jay O. Sanders) attempts to go in with SWAT, wanting to storm the building in his signature John Wayne style. Tubbs end up a hostage of the Escobars.

Can Crockett stop them, and can Tubbs survive inside?

The episode features an early appearance by Ving Rhames as well as Joe Morton. It also sees Philip Micheal Thomas in his shoddiest outfit in the series when he has to pretend he’s a vagabond.

I know Johnson and Edward James Olmos didn’t get along on set, but their frisson on screen always adds a nice tension to the series. You know he can be a hardass, but you also know he’s always doing it by the book, he keeps his detectives in line, and on the straight and narrow – sometimes just with a steely eyed glare.

Music featured in this episode includes Renegades of Funk by Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force, as well as Tea in the Sahara by the Police.

Both the episodes this week are solid and entertaining. The first season of this series is incredible solid, well-crafted, and hit the ground running. Something that not all television series can do.

Next week, more Vice…




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