Tuesday, August 18, 2015

31 Day Miami Vice Challenge, Day 18: Favorite Storyline

Seeing as Miami Vice was never big on arcs, this is actually kind of difficult for me to pick one of the few. If I look at the series as a whole, really the only true "arc" is the one that involves Sonny thinking he's Burnett, and we all know how I feel about that creative choice (hint: it was stupid). But even the series could be considered to be one long arc about the nature of fighting vice-based crime: it's the equivalent of playing Whack-A-Mole.

But by calling the whole series a storyline would be cheating, and I told myself I wasn't going to do that on this challenge.
Via Miami Vice Wiki
So I'm going to go with Castillo's history prior to joining the vice squad because a) it involves Castillo and b) there's still a ton of mystery behind it. Granted, every time it's brought up, you know it's going to be Asian themed, complete with passive racism*, but hey, it's Castillo; any instance in which I can watch Olmos in anything is a happy moment for me.

Castillo's backstory highlights that greater theme - the idea that crime can never truly be vanquished, no matter how dedicated its opponents may be - but in a grander scope. Castillo is the kind of cop whose commitment does not waver - unlike Crockett and Tubbs, who at the end of Season Five leave the force due to burn-out - so they always seek him out for revenge or kind of like a Wild West ace gunslinger that always has to face people trying to best him. He always wins, naturally, but that doesn't make any of the bullshit he deals with any easier.

Take the final episode that focused on him: in Season Five's "Heart of Night," from which the above photo comes, Mai Ying, his former wife (this time played by Rosalind Chao of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine fame), returns, asking for help to escape her husband, who has turned into A Bad Guy. Now, like the rest of the fifth season, this is a pretty shitty episode - Mai Ying is presented as a big idiot, Ma Sek (her husband) isn't much better, and nobody is happy at the end (even though Mai and Castillo reconcile and admit they still love each other, she leaves ... for reasons?) . But Castillo figuratively beats the shit out of Rivas (Sek's boss) and literally with Ma Sek, and he goes back to his life as the worst enemy crime could ever have.

Now, yes, based on my short kind-of review of "Heart of Night," you would think that I hate Castillo's storyline, but I don't. I just wish the ending had been handled better, which is my main issue with the final two seasons. Things could have been dealt with so much more cleanly and, well, writerly. It seems like everybody by Season Five was just like, "What the fuck, let's go CRAZY. We already did the alien episode. Might as well go full-boar nutso."

But they could not ruin the legacy that was Castillo. Even if they tried. And oh, they tried.


* I mentioned this back on Day 2 about how a Thai woman was played by two ethnically Chinese actresses, and it still makes me mad. It doesn't help that Hollywood in general has not improved in this area, such as Disney casting a Korean-American in a Chinese role (Mulan, probably one of my favorite characters from the last twenty years of Disney movies) in Once Upon a Time
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