Miami Vice Wiki
Better Living Through Chemistry


8 (52nd Overall)
November 14, 1986
Repeat Airdates
May 29, 1987
August 28, 1987
TV Rating
TV-14 L-V
Guest Stars
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"Better Living Through Chemistry" is the eighth episode of Miami Vice's third season. It premiered on November 14, 1986, and was rerun on May 29, 1987 and August 28, 1987.


Tubbs' former NYPD partner frames him when he kidnaps a drug chemist trying to produce synthetic cocaine.


At a bar, Crockett & Tubbs are meeting with a man named Wango Mack regarding synthetic cocaine, while Izzy and another man, chemist Henry Luna, are sitting watching the exotic dancers. Izzy goes up to see the DJ, who also works for Mack, and talks about Iacocca and mindless stuff before the DJ chases him off. The DJ suddenly blows Tubbs' cover by announcing to the entire club who he is.

At OCB, Tubbs reveals the man that blew his cover is Clarence Batisse, his former partner in the NYPD; he was fired after he shot a bookie in a numbers bust. NYPD's IAD investigation hinged on Tubbs' testimony (as the only other cop on the scene), which contradicted Batisse's insistence that the bookie had a gun. Castillo wants Luna run down and decides to check with Izzy. Izzy still has the greyhounds he had previously and reveals that he was hired by Mack to try and break through Luna's mental block caused by his preoccupation (or "pre-exhibition" as Izzy says) with sex, which leaves him unable to do his work. Tubbs stops by to see Batisse, who is still bitter about Tubbs' not standing up for him regarding the shooting. After his dismissal, he lost his wife Emeretta to suicide, and his kids went to her mother (because Clarence was not considered a "fit" parent). Now he works for Mack at his club as a DJ, ignorant of the nefarious activities going on around him. Meanwhile, Crockett & Mack meet with a man named Evans, who agrees to purchase the synthetic cocaine, but decides to test it out first. When he does, it kills him in seconds.

Computer readout of synthetic cocaine

At the Police Lab, tests indicate the designer cocaine is the closest anyone has gotten to a pure synthetic yet. All that's needed to make it pure (and legal) is to reduce the potency and clean up the analog to the molecule, and if this is done cost-effectively the entire drug market would be undercut, setting off a messy drug war. Izzy introduces a Hispanic, Sangres, who is interested in becoming a partner to supply the Hispanic market. Mack says he doesn't want any partners that don't speak English, and Sangres makes numerous insults in Spanish before walking out. Batisse (after stopping by Mack's to pick up money for tapes) makes a call to someone, telling them that Sangres can grab Luna at the club that night. Izzy takes Luna out to Mack's bar to watch the dancers, but Batisse leads them out just as a gunfight ensues, killing three shooters (members of Sangres' gang) and some of Mack's men.

At OCB, Castillo wants Mack taken down to prevent a drug war, but Crockett wonders who they are really after, as Batisse is not answering his phone, and apparently knew about the shootout beforehand. Tubbs is upset about Crockett's certainty that Batisse is guilty; Crockett reminds him about his ties to Batisse. Tubbs wonders how Crockett would handle a similar situation if he were the one on the hot seat, which gets Castillo's attention. He gives Tubbs a highly confidential (and off the record) NYPD IAD report that Tubbs was never able to get. Tubbs asks Castillo to go to New York regarding the report; Castillo gives him 24 hours. Tubbs goes to see the bookie that Batisse shot, Lucas (in jail on an unrelated charge), who lied to IAD by saying he hid after his partner went down, when in truth he came out self-confident. Tubbs says he can help Lucas with his current sentence if he tells the truth, and Lucas admits a gun did exist, hidden in the air conditioning vent, exonerating Batisse. Meanwhile, Batisse has Izzy & Luna in a rundown room, trying to get the chemist to work. Izzy calls Mack, claiming he was kidnapped by Sangres (and faking a struggle with Batisse's help), who wants a million dollars in exchange for Luna. Mack refuses unless he has proof - a picture of Izzy & Luna with a headline from today's paper. Crockett calls Castillo to update him and suspects that Sangres doesn't have Luna. Luna then samples his own product, and drops dead. Batisse and Izzy take the picture anyway.

Tubbs goes to Batisse's house and meets his girlfriend Melody who says Batisse doesn't want to see him, so Tubbs fills her in. Later Batisse meets Tubbs, pretending to have spoken with Melody, and tells him that Luna was kidnapped by Sangres' men as part of a setup against Mack; they want to meet Tubbs by the marina at 6:00am the next morning...which is the real setup. Izzy, locked up by Batisse after Luna's death, breaks out and calls Crockett to let him know that Luna is dead at Batisse's hands. Castillo informs Tubbs NYPD will reopen the case on Batisse due to Lucas' statement, and asks Tubbs if he needs backup on his meet with Sangres; Tubbs declines. Mack receives the picture and a ransom note demanding $1 million, to be delivered to Batisse. Mack believes Tubbs is involved and offers Batisse $150,000 to kill him. At home, Batisse calls Mack to let him know about the meet with Tubbs. Melody tells Batisse of what Tubbs did for him, and that NYPD may even reinstate him with full back pay. Batisse is horrified and resolves to set things right.

With Switek and Zito observing, Tubbs is waiting at the marina when Batisse arrives. He lets Tubbs know about the hit on him, just as both Sangres' & Mack's goons begin firing; Batisse, Tubbs & Crockett kill all the shooters, including Mack. Batisse explains himself to Tubbs, who is stunned, saying the Clarence Batisse he knew wouldn't have even conceived of kidnapping someone. Clarence replies that the Batisse Tubbs knew died eight years ago. Tubbs, expressing doubt, takes him in without handcuffs, as a sign of respect for his old partner.


Guest Stars


"Ripped From The Headlines"

In this episode, designer drugs and their dangers are a story focus. Synthetic cocaine and marijuana are a reality today (called "Bath Salts" and "K2", respectively) and are illegal in many states.


  • Saudra Santiago (Gina) and Olivia Brown (Trudy) do not appear at all in this episode.
  • Throughout the episode, the shakuhachi opening refrain of "Sledgehammer" is blended into Jan Hammer's music at appropriate moments. This is not the first time Hammer has mimicked one of the popular songs used in an episode like this -- he did the same in "No Exit", in which some of his score emulates Phil Collins' "I Don't Care Anymore". Tim Truman would likewise copy Eric Clapton's "She's Waiting" in "The Lost Madonna".


  • Izzy escapes his cell by picking the lock, but when he pushes the door open it is plainly obvious there is no recess in the frame for the lock to latch into.

Deleted Scenes

  • A flashback scene was filmed showing the shooting incident that led to the split between Tubbs and Batisse in New York, but was cut from the final episode without explanation.

Production Notes

  • Working Title: "Long Time, No See"
  • Filmed: September 16, 1986 - September 24, 1986
  • Production Code: 62007
  • Production Order: 54

Filming Locations

  • Club Pizazz, 3208 North Federal Highway, Ft. Lauderdale (Scenes inside Batisse's club)
  • 7747 Atlantic Way, Miami Beach (Batisse's Apartment)
  • Las Cuevas Del Sacramonte Restaurant, 1794 NE 4th Ave, Miami (Izzy's house)
  • Old Fire Station, 1000 South Miami Avenue, Miami (Luna's lab)
  • 156 E Flagler St, Miami (Batisse meets Tubbs to admit he kidnapped Luna and set Tubbs up)
  • Bayside construction Biscayne/NE 3th Street, Miami (End shootout)


Jan Hammer Music

  • "Rico's Blues" (Tubbs/Batisse meet at Clarence's home)
  • "Marina" (Tubbs heads to New York/Tubbs walking on the beach talking to Melody)


  • "I conglomerate only with intellectuals--knowledge is power!" -- Izzy to Clarence the DJ
  • "You see, we're Americans. We don't believe in the metric system." -- Evans discussing a synthetic cocaine deal to Mack
Season 3 Episodes:

"When Irish Eyes Are Crying" "Stone's War" "Killshot" "Walk-Alone" "The Good Collar" "Shadow in the Dark" "El Viejo" "Better Living Through Chemistry" "Baby Blues" "Streetwise" "Forgive Us Our Debts" "Down for the Count (Part I)" "Down for the Count (Part II)" "Cuba Libre" "Duty and Honor" "Theresa" "The Afternoon Plane" "Lend Me an Ear" "Red Tape" "By Hooker by Crook" "Knock, Knock... Who's There?" "Viking Bikers from Hell" "Everybody's in Showbiz" "Heroes of the Revolution"