Golden Triangle (Part II)
14 (14th Overall)
January 18, 1985
June 14, 1985
Castillo is at his home reminiscing about his wife May Ying, whom he thought had died; in truth, she has recently been brought to Miami by Castillo's old adversary General Lao Li. Crockett and Tubbs come to see their boss and offer to help locate his wife, but Castillo is reluctant to take them off their assigned cases. Crockett points out that Lao Li is a powerful drug dealer who may be in Miami to expand his operation, and that if May Ying is involved, she is their business. Finally the Lieutenant relents, telling Crockett and Tubbs that Li was likely brought the Miami by Dale Menton, the General's former contact in the CIA; the Vice cops locate Menton cavorting with Asian women and bring him in.
At OCB, Menton and Castillo briefly reminisce about their days working in the Golden Triangle. However, the conversation turns ugly when Castillo asks who was responsible for his DEA team being ambushed and wiped out. Menton reminds Castillo that DEA agents in the area had been specifically ordered by the CIA to leave Lao Li's heroin alone, as his product was being financed by local politicians friendly to America. However, Castillo had refused to follow these orders. Eventually, Menton admits that it was he who sold out Castillo's team, giving Li his position and strength so that the General's men could hit them from behind; enraged, Castillo grabs Menton by the throat and begins choking him, before Crockett and Tubbs restrain him. Brushing himself down, Menton mockingly tells Castillo that he's no threat to anyone anymore, writes Lao Li's contact information on the board and tells him he's waiting for Castillo's call.
After Menton leaves, Castillo tells Crockett and Tubbs of the circumstances of his wife's "death" -- he had set up an ambush to intercept one of Lao Li's convoys when they were attacked, and most of his men were killed in the assault; Castillo himself was wounded and barely escaped with his life. Learning that he had survived, the perpetrators later destroyed his house with grenades, and Castillo was told May Ying had died in the explosion. Crockett cannot believe two American agencies would betray each other like that, but Castillo points out they had different objectives. Crockett labels the situation "nuts", but Castillo corrects him, pointing out that "it's Southeast Asia".
Castillo goes to a private meeting with Lao Li in the back of the General's limo. The Lieutenant orders him out of Miami, but Li responds that he is there to retire and, as he has broken no laws in the city, Castillo can do nothing about it. He gives Castillo May Ying's address; when Castillo points out the General has only brought her to America so that she can serve as an indirect hostage, preventing him from taking any action against his adversary, Li responds the he has no intention of harming her as "it is against the law". Later, at his home, Lao Li gathers his family and tells them that until Castillo loses interest and moves on they must adhere to all laws with the strictest compliance.
Across the city, Castillo visits May Ying, and is shocked to find she is now married to a man named Ma Sek and has a son. She tells him her husband was offered a job with a textile firm in Miami, prompting their move. Despite Lao Li's warning, the General's grandsons visit a Thai restaurant owned by Howie Wong, with whom they are planning to start dealing drugs. At OCB, Castillo orders the Vice squad to blanket Lao Li's family and track their every move, hoping they will uncover some evidence of criminal activity, while he protects May Ying. Their continual surveillance, however, proves to be fruitless. In a meeting at Lao Li's house, Menton tells the General that Castillo's surveillance is nothing to be worried about, so long as his family adheres to the law. As Menton leaves, he finds Lao Li's grandsons fitting a musical air horn to their new Lamborghini, and warns them against being so outlandish, but they ignore him. The OCB team have their own meeting over dinner, at which Castillo admits he cannot justify dedicating all their time to this one case, and states his intention to return them to their regular assignments if nothing breaks in 24 hours. When Crockett asks what that means for Lao Li, Castillo says he will handle Lao Li on his own, even taking a leave if necessary. That night, Gina and Trudy find Noogie Lamont in a strip club and ask if he's heard of any drugs coming in from Asia, but he has nothing for them.
The next day, Switek and Zito, driving their new "Bug Busters" van, spot Noogie at a drive-in burger joint, and after a little convincing he tells them about a supply of "China White at a price that's right", courtesy of Howie Wong. At Howie's restaurant, Lao Li's grandsons arrive with a sample of their product for him to test, leaving it with him as a gift. Switek and Zito pull up across the street just in time to see the grandsons leave, before heading inside the restaurant and bringing Howie in. At OCB, Howie -- who now faces a possession charge -- tells the Vice squad that the deal is going down that night. The team plans and executes a raid on the restaurant; the dealers are shot down and the grandsons arrested. Afterwards, Castillo goes to Lao Li's home to personally inform him his grandsons have been arrested for dealing heroin, before arranging a protection detail at May Ying's house. Meanwhile, Crockett and Tubbs go to Menton's place (where he and another man are once again cavorting with Asian women) to inform him of the bust; he tells them to get out, but the Vice cops point out they will use the confiscation provisions of the Omnibus Crime Bill to take all of his assets because of his connection with Lao Li and his grandsons. At May Ying's house, Castillo tells May Ying and Ma Sek the truth behind the job offer in Miami, the threat Lao Li presents, and the cooperation the police need from them. At OCB, Castillo orders the grandsons put back on the street instead of in jail, much to everyone's surprise.
Before long, Lao Li's goons snatch the newly released grandsons and take them to a warehouse, where Lao Li is waiting to hear an explanation for their actions. When they instead show defiance and demand to know why they cannot start their own drug dealing dynasty, Li orders them killed. Lester catches the execution order on tape and the Vice squad move in as thugs start to strangle the grandsons. A gun battle breaks out, after which Lao Li, Menton and the other survivors are all arrested. As he is led away, Menton threatens to call Washington, but Castillo flatly reminds him he is in America, not Asia, and that he has broken the law. Outside, Lao Li tells Castillo that old enemies come to know each other very well over the years, and that with that familiarity comes respect, even for an adversary. He then states that maybe their relationship will continue. Showing no emotion, Castillo asks if he means the adversarial part. Lao Li chooses not to answer and is led away.
Later, Castillo puts May Ying and Ma Sek on a plane back to Thailand. Getting into Tubbs' Coupe de Ville afterwards, Crockett suggests they go for a drink. Castillo reminds him that in all the months they have known each other, he has never once implied he needs a drink, before asking them to take him to a bar.
- 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
- Keye Luke as General Lao Li
- Peter Kwong as Second Grandson
- Kevin Gray as First Grandson
- John Santucci as Dale Menton
- Joan Chen as May Ying
Special Guest StarEdit
- This episode was simply called "Golden Triangle" (with no part number) when it originally aired, but the name was changed to "Golden Triangle (Part II)" when it went into syndication, presumably to better link it with the preceding episode, which begins the story. This second title is now it's official one, and has been used on the show's VHS and DVD releases, and online.
- The opening sequence of this episode is one of the very few times in Miami Vice you see Edward James Olmos in attire other than his black tie, pants and white shirt.
- When Menton puts up Lao Li's phone number in the OCB meeting room, you can see the first digits are "72..."; typically on television and in movies, a "555" exchange is used for phone numbers.
- Lao Li's assertion that he has committed no crimes in Miami is somewhat ironic, given that in the previous episode he orchestrated Albert Szarbo's hotel robbery and then hired assassin Boon Phratek to kill and butcher those responsible.
- In a touch of inter-series continuity, Crime Story's second season episode "Byline" makes reference to Lao Li running "China White" in the Golden Triangle, albeit in the 1960s (since that's the timeframe of Crime Story).
- Early in the episode, Menton angrily calls Castillo an "arrogant bastard". While it is commonplace today, "bastard" was considered rather strong language for a television show in the 1980s -- the fifth season of Vice "pushed the envelope" when, among other things, it made frequent use of the words "bitch" and "bastard".
- May Ying and Ma Sek would return in the season 5 episode "Heart of Night", although they would be palyed by Rosalind Chao and James Saito (who played Howie Wong in this episode), respectively.
- John Santucci, who plays Dale Menton in this episode, was a real-life jewel thief before being hired by Michael Mann to serve as technical advisor on Mann's first film as a director, 1981's Thief; Santucci also appeared as a corrupt detective in the movie. He continued to work with Mann throughout the 1980s, particularly on the show Crime Story (starring Dennis Farina, who was a cop before becoming an actor and in fact arrested Santucci at one point).
- Castillo's house makes its debut in this episode. It would appear again in "Bushido," "Heart of Night" and "Borrasca".
- Also appearing for the first time in this episode is Switek and Zito's "Bug Van".
- The "Golden Triangle" episodes provide insight into Castillo's character, which up to that point had been very mysterious. Notably, Edward James Olmos does not speak in Castillo's normal mumbling voice, expresses anger when he tries to choke Menton, and even goes so far as to shout (albeit just a single word, "Wrong!") at Menton after the final confrontation.
- Switek and Zito borrow Crockett's Stinger to perform surveillance on Lao Li's family, the only time in the series anyone other than Crockett would drive one of his boats (although they are never actually seen piloting it, just fishing/performing surveillance whilst anchored offshore).
- While discussing the Lao Li case over dinner, Castillo mentions putting Crockett and Tubbs back on the Al Lombard investigation if they don't find any evidence against Li soon, indicating the department is still after the mobster. Lombard would be mentioned in passing again in "Nobody Lives Forever", before the Vice team's investigation into him finally reaches its conclusion in the season finale, "Lombard".
- The episode is somewhat unusual for Miami Vice in that none of the major villains are killed; all of them live to (presumably) serve prison sentences.
- Jan Hammer's "Golden Triangle" music, used during the drug bust and the end arrest of Lao Li, would also be used in several other Asian-themed episodes.
- Julio Oscar Mechoso makes his final (uncredited) appearance as electronics whiz Lester Kosko in this episode. Most of his functions (setting bugs, electronic surveillance, etc.) are assumed by Switek and Zito from this point on.
- The "Omnibus Crime Bill of 1984" Crockett references gave law enforcement the power to confiscate drug dealers' assets, especially those of "ill-gotten gains". This is the law that is referenced as an inspiration for the series' creation.
- During the scene at OCB where Castillo points out he wants Lao Li's grandsons back on the street, a photo of Crockett's son Billy can be seen on Crockett's desk.
- Along with "The Prodigal Son" and "The Maze", clips from this episode formed the basis for the music video to Jan Hammer's "Miami Vice Theme".
- The ambush that decimated Castillo's anti-drug taskforce in Southeast Asia is mentioned again in "Bushido", wherein it revealed that Jack Gretsky also survived the incident, although Castillo thought that he had been killed.
- This is one of several episodes that does not end on a freeze frame.
- Dale Menton is shown arriving at Lao Li's residence by helicopter. Yet when he leaves again, he does so in his own car. Also, when Dale Menton emerges from the helicopter, he is wearing a light grey blazer and dark trousers and carrying a brown attaché briefcase. Then in the next scene while talking business with Lao Li, he is seen wearing light grey pants, and instead of a brown briefcase, he has a black portfolio case.
- After Switek and Zito pull up at the diner in the Bug Van, they disappear in the frontal shot of the van.
- When Crockett and Tubbs find Dale Menton in bed with several men and woman at his apartment, he gets up and puts on a robe, tying it so that it is open at the front, his gut visible. In the next shot, the robe is pulled closed around him. For the remainder of the scene, it switches from open in closeups to closed in wider camera angles.
- Filmed: December 3, 1984 - December 11, 1984
- Production Number: 59516
- Production Order: 14
- 485 W Matheson Drive, Key Biscayne (Lao Li's Home) (the same location where some scenes from Scarface were shot, notably Frank's house)
- Flora's Eastside Pizza 731 NE 79th Street, Miami (Drive-in where Switek/Zito meet Noogie)
- Ma Kao Restaurant, 79th Street/Biscayne Boulevard, Miami (Howie Wong's hangout)
- Storage area near SW 2nd Ave (Confrontation of Lao Li and his grandsons, also final shootout)
- "Catch the Wind" by The Blues Project (opening flashback to Castillo and May Ying at the beach)
- "Watermusic II" by Fast Forward (Vice team has dinner)
- "Poison Ivy" by The Coasters (Noogie at the strip club)
- "Mr. Lee" by The Bobbettes (Switek and Zito at drive-in)
Jan Hammer MusicEdit
- "Golden Triangle" (throughout episode)
- "The Trial" (Lao Li's grandsons taken to warehouse and final shootout)
- "I ratted you out, you arrogant bastard! You set up to ambush the caravan. I gave 'em your position, your strength, and they hit you from the back!" -- Menton to Castillo
- "You see the world through a narrow moralistic perspective. That is why you will always be a local policeman". -- Lao Li to Castillo
- "I'm a policeman, I enforce the law, equally applied, no special cases." -- Castillo
- "Let's get him (Noogie) a solid gold eggroll!" -- Zito after finding Howie Wong
- "Bite the asphalt!" -- Tubbs to Lao Li's grandsons
- "What we're gonna do, buddy, is we're gonna associate you to these two guys (grandsons) and their little drug deal, you see. And then we're gonna show receipt of I.G.G.: ill-gotten gains. And then guess what? We're gonna start confiscating - - - all your assets!" -- Crockett (and Tubbs) to Menton
- "One phone call to Washington, Castillo--!" "WRONG! You broke the law. This is Miami, Menton, NOT Asia!" -- Menton and Castillo after bust
| Season 1 Episodes:|
"Brother's Keeper" (Pilot) • "Heart of Darkness" • "Cool Runnin'" • "Calderone's Return (Part I)" • "Calderone's Return (Part II)" • "One Eyed Jack" • "No Exit" • "The Great McCarthy" • "Glades" • "Give a Little, Take a Little" • "Little Prince" • "Milk Run" • "Golden Triangle (Part I)" • "Golden Triangle (Part II)" • "Smuggler's Blues" • Rites of Passage • "The Maze" • "Made for Each Other" • "The Home Invaders" • "Nobody Lives Forever" • "Evan" • "Lombard"