Forgive Us Our Debts
11 (55th Overall)
December 12, 1986
New evidence in the case against a convicted murderer that Crockett helped put on death row may exonerate him, but an election-aware D.A. doesn't want to cooperate.
In 1980, Crockett drops off his then-partner Frankel at his house, as they discuss the case they have built against a suspect named Frank Hackman. Frankel is about to sit down to dinner with his wife and two kids when the doorbell rings. When he opens the door a masked man puts two shotgun blasts into his chest, killing him.
In 1986, Crockett is on the St. Vitus Dance with a girl named Donna, watching an electoral debate for Attorney General between Thomas Waldman, who is in favor of the death penalty; Police Chief Walter Davis, who favors public executions; and Michael Clayborn, an ACLU attorney who is against the death penalty. The news broadcast then features Hackman, who states he is innocent but that he believes his execution is right and just (calling it "God's will"), and wants it to count for something, explaining that he hopes with his death people will someday realize that killing even in the name of justice is wrong. Crockett switches the TV off in disgust.
In a local cafe Crockett and Tubbs are having breakfast when Castillo stops by and wants Crockett to see Father LaFrano from St. Ives Church about new information in the Hackman case. LaFrano says a parishioner confessed to being with Hackman in Daytona on the night of the murder; he is afraid an innocent man will be executed. This person apparently came forward because they are dying and cannot live with their conscience any longer, but LaFrano refuses to give a name. Crockett is highly and understandably skeptical, especially when the Father says that the person feared for their and their family's life if they went to the police. Crockett makes no secret of his skepticism to Castillo; Insisting that the father is being played, and asserting his belief that Hackman murdered Frankel in front of his family and deserves to be executed.
Crockett later explains to Tubbs that in 1979 he and Frankel were assigned to the case of the robbery of an armored car committed by Hackman's crew; They went under and had a deal set up with Hackman, but Frankel's cover was blown and he was killed before they could finger Hackman for the robbery, which put Hackman on Death Row. Crockett again expresses confidence that Hackman is guilty.
Crockett and Tubbs go to see Waldman and disclose what Castillo and the Father have told them. Waldman is convinced of Hackman's guilt, even though most of the evidence was circumstantial, and does not want the case reopened, especially with an election coming up. Castillo wants round-the-clock surveillance of the church to see if any of Hackman's gang is involved, and hands Crockett a note to see Hackman in Raiford prison, though Crockett wants no part of it. Hackman tells Crockett he doesn't hold him accountable for his death, that he's found God, and admits to having killed other people (but not Frankel), and so being put to death is atonement for those crimes. Crockett tells him he's getting what he deserves and leaves.
Gina, dressed as a nun, tracks cars going into St. Ives and relays plate numbers to Switek and Zito. Trudy takes pictures of the people inside the church. Using face recognition technology, they find the confessor to be Gus Albierro, a man with a very long rap sheet and at least fourteen ties to Hackman. Crockett and Tubbs speak with Albierro, who testified to Hackman's intent, but not that he actually saw him kill Frankel. Gus insists he and Hackman were in Daytona the night of the murder, and is recanting his testimony because he's dying of pancreatic cancer. Waldman refuses to reopen the case unless Crockett and Tubbs can locate two corroborating witnesses to Albierro's story. Albierro tells Crockett and Tubbs to go see Tommy Barkley, who disappeared around the time of the trial and couldn't testify. Trudy determines Barkley died in a prison riot in 1983. Albierro's wife Carmen takes their children and leaves because of a picture he has received. Later, a woman shows up and shoots Albierro three times in the face, killing him.
Homicide shows no witnesses and Carmen is clear. Crockett and Tubbs find the picture and take it to Carmen, who ID's the woman as Albierro's ex-wife Felicia (who Hackman had a fling with that caused their divorce) that she tried to keep Albierro away from her. At OCB, they determine the picture was sent from Stuart; Switek directs them to the Venus Clam Trap food truck near the stadium (the place where the picture was taken). Crockett and Tubbs stop by to see Waldman who continues to resist any efforts to reopen the case because the detectives have nothing new. In Stuart, Crockett decides to wait until the place closes up before asking Felicia, but she makes a call to someone named MacGruder, when the place closes FBI agents show up, and escort Felicia and a very much alive Tommy Barkley into a car. Castillo reveals Barkley is in the Witness Protection Program and his death in prison was faked. He is a prized FBI informant bringing down networks, money launderers, etc. Castillo says he will get them Barkley's address. Hackman offers a guard his watch after getting his last meal as his execution time approaches, and he is prepped for the chair. Crockett and Tubbs visit Barkley's house, but have weapons drawn on them by both him and Felicia.
After ID'ing themselves as cops, Crockett takes Barkley for a walk and tries to coax the truth out of him in a civilized manner. However, Barkley taunts Crockett and says that cops have gone soft and no longer have the ability to make a suspect talk. Crockett suddenly snaps and proceeds to knock Barkley around, throw him in a pool, put his head underwater, and threaten to call Chicago and expose him to the criminal underworld there if he doesn't tell Crockett who really killed Frankel. Barkley caves and says a man named DeSantis killed Frankel, explaining that everyone knew Frankel was a cop and a lot of people wanted him dead. This corroborates the story that he and Hackman were with Albierro in Daytona, and Barkley says Felicia is the reason he didn't testify. With a little under an hour before Hackman is to be executed, Crockett takes his boat to see the Governor on the marina and lets him know about the depositions to exonerate Hackman. Over protests from Waldman, the governor pardons Hackman. Crockett later visits Waldman one last time, who tells Crockett that getting Hackman pardoned will most likely hurt his chances for re-election, but Crockett insists he only did what was right; Waldman says that Hackman is a "slug" and that the world would be just a little better off with him dead, but Crockett tells Waldman it's not his call to decide who lives and who dies and then leaves.
Hackman is released from prison and is met by Crockett. Hackman thanks Crockett for saving his life and tells Crockett he knew he would do his job. Just then, Barkley and Felicia drive up to pick Hackman up. When Crockett sees them he realizes the truth: Hackman did kill Frankel, which Hackman gladly admits to, as well as buying Albierro's confession, because Albierro wanted his family cared for. He gives Crockett the cross he wore in prison, and leaves with Barkley and Felicia. Crockett watches him go, seething with anger.
- Don Johnson as Metro-Dade Detective James "Sonny" Crockett
- Philip Michael Thomas as Metro-Dade Detective Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs
- Saundra Santiago as Metro-Dade Detective Gina Calabrese
- Michael Talbott as Metro-Dade Detective Stan Switek
- John Diehl as Metro-Dade Detective Larry Zito
- Olivia Brown as Metro-Dade Detective Trudy Joplin
- Edward James Olmos as Metro-Dade Lieutenant Martin "Marty" Castillo
- Guy Boyd as Frank Hackman
- Bill Raymond as Tommy Barkley
- D.W. Moffett as Attorney General Thomas Waldman
- Gy Mirano as Carmen Albierro
- Lazaro Perez as Father LaFrano
- Olga Karlatos as Felicia Diaz
- Val Bisoglio as Gus Albierro
"Ripped From The Headlines"
In this episode, the possibility of new evidence exonerating an executed (or near-executed) criminal is explored, which was a major news story then and now, as the debate over the death penalty continues.
- Beginning with this episode, the episode's title and opening credits appear mid-screen, just as they did for the first 14 episodes of season 1. Starting with "Smuggler's Blues", this text was moved towards the bottom of the screen. The opening credits will remain at mid-screen for the rest of Vice's run.
- Crockett will live to regret his actions in the season 4 episode "Deliver Us from Evil", which takes place a year and a half after this episode concludes.
- The episode would be repeated one week before "Deliver Us from Evil" premiered in April, 1988.
- Most of Jan Hammer's soundtrack for this episode was previously used in the episode "Buddies", especially the haunting "Dorothy Bain" theme.
- During the opening flashback to 1980, Crockett drives a Porsche 911, evidently having not yet received his beloved Daytona. He is also wearing a ballcap to hide his 1986 spiked haircut.
- Crockett's girlfriend Donna only appears in the beginning of this episode. Perhaps she was turned off by his apparently harsh (but in the circumstances, understandable) attitude toward the death penalty.
- Normally, a Death Row inmate takes over ten years to execute with all the appeals open to them. In this episode, assuming the trial and conviction took place in 1980, it took only six years to get Hackman to the death chamber.
- "Forgive us our debts" is a passage in The Lord's Prayer (though some translations interpret this portion as "Forgive us our trespasses".)
- Face-recognition technology has come a long way from faxing photos and getting a report printed on a dot matrix printer, as was the case in 1986.
- In a touch of continuity, Frankel and his wife mention Sonny and Caroline Crockett are still married and their son Billy is just a baby that needs a sitter.
- Donna Rice (in an uncredited role) played Frankel's wife in the opening. This episode aired five months before the scandal involving her affair with presidential hopeful Gary Hart broke, and was rerun on June 12, 1987, just over a month after it made headlines. This incident reportedly inspired the season 4 episode "Vote of Confidence".
- In the episode "Stone's War", Crockett tells Ira Stone he doesn't own a TV. By the time of this episode, he must have purchased one.
- Luke Halpin, despite playing the rather integral role of Frankel, does not receive a credit.
- Florida gives Death Row inmates the choice to die by lethal injection (the preferred method) or the electric chair. The last inmate to be executed in the electric chair was Allen Lee Davis on July 8, 1999, amid much controversy about how he died.
- Michael Mann's short-lived series Robbery Homicide Division had an episode entitled "Had" with a plot similar to "Deliver Us from Evil".
- Gustave Reininger, who wrote this episode, and Chuck Adamson, who wrote four episodes over the first three seasons, were co-creators of the series Crime Story; Michael Mann left Vice to produce that show, which lasted two seasons (1986–88).
- This is one of only three season 3 episodes in which Tubbs is shown brandishing his shotgun; the others are "Cuba Libre" and "Viking Bikers from Hell". Despite its appearance in these episodes, he never fires the weapon once in the entire third season.
- Frankel is the second of Crockett's partners to be killed in the series; his partner Eddie was also killed in "Brother's Keeper" (although chronologically this was after Frankel's death).
- Again, Crockett takes the long drive to betrayal.
- The angst-wrought ivory cross which Hackman rips off his neck and hands to Crockett at the conclusion outside the prison gate will complete the arc of this story when Crockett gathers it up off his table on the St. Vitus Dance and then drops it on Hackman's chest before shooting him dead in the penultimate season 4 episode, "Deliver Us from Evil".
- Symbolically, when Hackman hands Crockett the cross, he crucifies Crockett, who has only tried to do the right thing.
- Perhaps the only good result of this morass is that the amoral Waldman will not become attorney general.
- When meeting with Father LaFrano, Crockett scoffs at the priest's insistence that his unnamed source fears for his family's safety, after which Castillo can clearly be seen saying something to Crockett, yet we do not hear any words come out of his mouth. Crockett even responds to Castillo's silent statement with, "Sure."
- Partway through the scene where Crockett is talking to Hackman in prison, Hackman's hairdo noticeably changes style and color, before switching back later in the scene.
- When Switek is using the State of Florida Department of Motor Vehicles database in the van, the word "RETRIEVING" is misspelled on the monitor as "RETREIVING".
- When Switek is using the "face-recognition" technology in the Bug Van, the word "asynchronous" is misspelled on the monitor as "ASYNCRONIS".
- Switek mispronounces the second name coming out of the dot matrix printer report as "KRI-kul", when the subject's last name is spelled "KIRKL", which should have been pronounced "KER-kul".
- When Felicia calls up her protection agents, she begins speaking into the phone as soon as she has pressed the last digit of the phone number, long before anyone could conceivably have answered on the other end.
- When Crockett sneaks into Barkley's house, Barkley jumps out at him and we hear him cocking the SPAS-12 he is holding, yet his hand clearly never moves the pump handle.
- The execution chamber is clearly a set -- the electric chair is out in the open in the same room as the benches where the witnesses would sit. In reality executions would always take place in a separate room to the witnesses, with glass separating them from the condemned.
- Working Title: "The Gang's All Here"
- Filmed: September 25, 1986 - October 3, 1986
- Production Code: 62013
- Production Order: 55
- 3842 Leafy Way, Coconut Grove (Frankel house, teaser)
- Culver Prison 14000 NW 41 Street (Raiford Prison exteriors)
- The South Florida Evaluation Center 2200 NW 7th Avenue (Raiford Prison interiors)
- 2424 South Dixie Highway, Miami (Waldman's office)
- The Spanish Monastery, 16711 West Dixie Highway, North Miami Beach (Castillo speaks with Father LaFrano/Vice stakeout on church running license plates)
- Los Dos Hermanos, 766 W Flagler Street, Miami (Albierro's car shop)
- The Miami Baseball Stadium 2500 NW 10th Avenue (Felicia's food truck)
- Sunset Drive and West 23rd Street, Sunset Island 3, Miami Beach (Barkley's house)
- End of William Island Blvd on Biscayne Bay, North Miami (Crockett/Tubbs speak with Governor)
- "We Do What We're Told" by Peter Gabriel (Crockett drives to prison to meet Hackman and end sequence when Hackman leaves prison)
- "Morir Soñando" by Fernando Villalona (In auto shop with Albierro)
- "Standing on the Outside" by Meat Loaf (Aliberro is killed and Hackman's last request)
- "Nothing that 20,000 volts won't cure!" -- Crockett to Donna when she asked him what was wrong after seeing Hackman on TV
- "He's got a sheet as long as my arm!" -- Switek after getting the printout on Albierro's picture
- "If you reopen this, and we don't have enough evidence to reconvict, that maggot's gonna walk, and that will be on your heads!" -- Waldman to Crockett and Tubbs (a rather prophetic statement)
- "I'm just trying to find a little objectivity and do the right thing"--Crockett (making the conclusion particularly poignant)
- "Why do you care?"--Waldman to Crockett.
- "Because I'm the cop that put him there!"--Crockett to Waldman
- "I'm the lawyer, and my conscience is clear."--Waldman to Crockett.
- "No, no, you're a politician, a conscience is optional!" -- Crockett to Waltman
- "You killed Frankel...!" "Yeah!" -- Crockett realizes he's exonerated his partner's murderer