Saturday, August 22, 2015

31 Day Miami Vice Challenge, Day 22: Best Episode

A lot of fans credit Season Two's "Out Where the Buses Don't Run" as the single best episode of Miami Vice, and I can say that, on some levels, I agree with them. It was well-written and full of twists and turns that even I, almost an expert at seeing these things coming, did not expect. And it makes you feel for the characters, as annoying as the guest star, Bruce McGill, was.
And that's why I cannot choose that episode as my favorite. McGill's impressions were just too over the top for me, and I feel like the camaraderie between partners in the police force was well-trod with Sonny and Rico. Sure, the ending was powerful, but it was so difficult to enjoy with the specter of his overacting. I know I'm in the minority here, and I'm okay with that.
Via Miami Vice Wiki
The best episode happens to be Season One's "Evan," in which Miami Vice tackles the very taboo subject of homosexuality. The plotline is standard Vice fair - dangerous, illegal weapons being dealt on the streets, a federal agency causing issues with the local crew, blah blah - but the real story is between Evan Freed and Sonny Crockett. They have a history together, both tied with the fate of an officer named Orgel, a closeted homosexual who was driven to suicide after Evan outed him and Crockett did nothing to defend the man. Both men deal with their guilt in different ways; while Crockett has carried his with a dedication to being as open as possible about any grievances he might have, Freed is erratic and violently unpredictable, as if he has his own death wish. The episode concludes with Evan taking a bullet for Crockett - thus ending his longstanding torment - and with his final breath, pictured above, he tells Sonny that the bullet that will end his life is waiting for him.

Sympathetic portrayals of homosexuality during the 80s was not a common occurrence, but Miami Vice dove right into it, although the story is told through the lens of two heterosexual men and how his death affected them. Even though it could have been better, that's still a bold step from just not mentioning them at all or presenting them as crazy or evil*. It's no Daley Wong from Bubblegum Crisis, but I'm glad that the topic was at least brought up.

The episode also paints Sonny in a much better light in terms of a more progressive outlook. He could have held similar opinions or at least mimicked them in public, and yes, he could have stood up for Orgel; instead, he carried around an immense burden for years and chose to distance himself from Freed. I'm not saying that I agree with his actions, but seeing his reaction to Orgel's oppression and eventual suicide (by allowing himself to get shot by a drug addict) was enough to sympathize with him and his struggle.

If you really want to see the best that Miami Vice can offer, I highly suggest you check "Evan" out. Of course, you can also watch "Out Where the Buses Don't Run," but you may find yourself getting irritated and shutting the TV off.


* More often than not, their homosexuality wasn't even overtly mentioned; it was subtly alluded to in a sort of *wink wink* manner, but it was always a character flaw. 
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