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Hostile Takeover


1 (91st Overall)
November 4, 1988
TV Rating
TV-14 D-L-S-V
Guest Stars
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"Hostile Takeover" is the premiere episode of Miami Vice's fifth season. It premiered on November 4, 1988. It is the second episode of the Sonny Burnett story arc.


Crockett, still thinking he is Sonny Burnett, takes control of a drug cartel by manipulating the family in charge into fighting each other.


Oscar Carrera is having a birthday party for his trophy wife Celeste, while Carrera's son Miguel tries to explain about their sales being down, a rival cartel led by El Gato and his men are preparing for a hit. Carrera steps outside and talks to Sonny Burnett, who is working for him now, about how Miguel knows nothing (as well as his attorney David Sugarman) even with his college degrees and how they know more because they actually worked. El Gato's men (dressed as waiters) walk into the party and begin shooting, Burnett shoots three of them down.

Sonny Burnett is still on the loose.

Castillo is convinced a drug war is in the works, and reviews events since Miguel Manolo was in the picture. Manolo was assassinated by Cliff King on the order of Carrera. King is a stone-cold killer and has connections, making him very valuable to Carrera. Intelligence also confirms Carrera and his son Miguel don't get along. El Gato is really Manolo's brother, Ernesto, who has sworn to avenge his brother's death, has begun moving into Carrera's market. Castillo wants everyone to lean on their contacts and see where the battle lines are drawn, and that Crockett/Burnett is wanted for Jimmy Hagovitch's murder and they lost sight of him after that. Tubbs tells Castillo he & Switek interviewed the help at the restaurant where the shootout went down and the description of the shooter that hit El Gato's men was that of Crockett/Burnett. Carrera and his leading men (including Burnett, King, Sugarman, and Miguel) meet to discuss business, especially new boats to replace their older ones. Burnett agrees with the need for boats, but also discusses the downsides (DEA interdiction, pirating, etc.) Carrera insists on three boats, and refuses to hear anymore from Miguel about them. Burnett listens to Miguel's concerns and lets him know the two of them can hurt El Gato, and to see him when he's ready. King meets Burnett after meeting with Miguel to work together too, and that he controls the transportation. Castillo said an Army train was hit, with two soldiers killed, and stinger missiles were stolen...but they're not sure which side hit the train. Burnett hits El Gato's shooter, which causes him to swear revenge on the Carreras.

Carrera talks to Miguel about ordering the hit, and challenges his son to fight...and King lost a bet to Burnett. El Gato finds out about Burnett and orders a hit on the former Vice cop. Miguel pressures his father to hit El Gato now, but Carrera continues to resist, saying that's not the way to do business. Miguel says his father is a coward and walks out, then King brings in Tubbs (as Cooper) who is stunned to see Crockett/Burnett there, and they discuss business. Alone, Tubbs tries to get through to Crockett by making suggestions about Caitlin and he starts to see memory fragments, then returns to his Burnett persona and shows Tubbs out. Miguel starts putting the moves on his stepmother by the pool while Burnett watches, plotting his next move.

Burnett stands by the water and starts to see memory fragments of Tubbs, his son Billy, and Caitlin. Then sees Celeste come out of the water and they discuss her "act" around Miguel, with his overall plan to break apart the Carreras so he can take over as the head of the cartel. That night, Burnett & King go to meet the boat drivers and pilots to discuss his coup d'etat on the Carreras, so that the working men share in the profits, and they agree to work with Burnett. Back at the Carrera mansion, Miguel's father catches him & Celeste making out, and in the struggle Miguel shoots and kills him, while Burnett cooly picks up the gun.

Miguel proceeds to take to the bottle after Carrera's funeral, angrily goes after Celeste blaming her for his father's death, and Burnett stops him, telling him he fixed the Coroner's report so it wasn't a murder, and has Celeste "baby-sit" with Miguel while he attends to business, meeting King's contact, Comandante Emilio Salazar who needs help with El Gato, who doesn't trust him, in exchange Burnett wants airstrip access and customs clearance. Burnett agrees to the deal, and returns to a slightly drunk Celeste who throws a champagne bottle at him, complains about him being gone, then they make out and Burnett carries her to the bedroom. Tubbs gets his good-faith money and lets Castillo know he will handle Crockett/Burnett if he "gets in the way". Miguel grabs a gun and prepares to kill Burnett for making love to Celeste, then the hitter hired by El Gato shoots from the brush and kills Miguel, then Burnett shoots the hitman down. Burnett meets Tubbs (as Cooper) in a lighthouse, lets him know he's running the show now, and Tubbs again tries to get through to Burnett/Crockett, he has his memory flashbacks, remembers he's Tubbs, and then shots ring out from the lighthouse they were meeting in.


Guest Stars



  • Tim Truman makes his debut as background music contributor with this episode. His sound is grittier and more rock-based, driven by guitar and drums, compared to the smooth synth vibes of his predecessor Jan Hammer. Unlike Hammer, Truman's compositions have never been commercially released on CD or any other format. However, some of his work is available as part of a bootleg soundtrack release, while further cues have recently begun appearing on YouTube.
  • This is the fourth and final episode of Miami Vice to be directed by star Don Johnson. He directed one episode in each of the show's final four seasons.
  • Season 5 started late due to a writer's strike that occurred earlier in the year. Filming started in late September, not in late July-early August as was the norm for previous seasons. This delay led to the scrapping of a 22nd episode from the final season, titled "The Edge".
  • Burnett's hair is done up in a then-trendy ponytail -- it would be gone after the Sonny Burnett arc finished.
  • Compared to his restless portrayal in "Mirror Image", Burnett appears far more comfortable with his place in life in this episode, indicating that his previous sense that he was acting out of character has subsided. Evidently he has shed the subconscious vestiges of his Crockett personality and is now totally comfortable working on the wrong side of the law, to the point where he is no longer satisfied with his role as a mere enforcer and desires the power of becoming a drug kingpin for himself. Of course, this ease of manner starts to unravel in "Redemption in Blood" as memories of his prior life begin to resurface.
  • The totality of the shift of Crockett's personality is again shown in how he has taken to drinking brandy instead of his usual Jack Daniels.

Miguel on Apple IIe PC

  • Castillo uses a very primitive (by today's standards) method of showing photos on a Mac computer.
  • The gritty and "envelope-pushing" tone of the fifth season began with this episode, with the introduction of more regular use of harsh language (such as "bitch" and "bastard", uncommon on television in the 1980s).
  • The episode also pushes boundaries with its depiction of a homosexual relationship; although homosexuality had been discussed in season 1's "Evan", and such a relationship had been heavily implied in the season 4 episode "God's Work", this is the first time a homosexual relationship is explicitly shown on-screen in the series.
  • It's interesting that El Gato (being Manolo's brother) does not know Burnett is a cop, since Manolo had suspicions before Burnett left his organization. It's possible that, despite El Gato's natural grief over his brother's death, the two were never close. (Of course, the reality is the character of El Gato was not written until after "Mirror Image" had been made.)
  • The opening sequence, consisting of cinematic shots of Miami at night and a lengthy nightclub party scene, can be seen as an attempt to convince viewers that the show has returned to the style that made it famous in its first three seasons, particularly after the sometimes wayward scripts and sets of season 4 -- the rolling shot of parked luxury cars in particular references a similar shot included in the opening credits of the first two seasons. Ironically, the fifth season is today almost always cited by fans as having a markedly different tone to the rest of the series.


  • In "Mirror Image", the two-tone SIG-Sauer carried by Burnett sounded noticeably different to the Smith & Wesson usually carried by Crockett as his standard issue. However, from this episode onward the pistol has now adopted the same sound as Crockett's regular issue sidearm.
  • Manolo is repeatedly referred to as Jose Manolo in this episode, but in "Mirror Image" his name was Miguel Manolo. Likewise, when Castillo is reviewing events since "Mirror Image", he refers to James Hagovitch as James Yagovitch.

Production Notes

  • Filmed: September 26, 1988 - October 5, 1988
  • Production Code: 63905
  • Production Order: 91

Filming Locations

  • 3029 Brickell Avenue, Miami (Carrera's house)
  • Rickenbacker Causeway Bridge, Key Biscayne (El Gato and Limo Scenes)
  • Cape Florida Lighthouse/Bill Baggs State Park Park off Key Biscayne (Lighthouse where Burnett/Tubbs meet)



  • "You from around here, from Florida? You've been married?" -- Tubbs trying to jog Crockett's/Burnett's memory
  • "Muscle is for people who can't negotiate!" -- Burnett to King
  • "You're taking quite a risk being here, aren't you? Considering you're under indictment. Of course, I wouldn't want anyone to run a credit check on me either..." -- Burnett to Salazar
  • "Where's your boss?" -- Tubbs to Burnett
  • "I'm afraid Oscar fell down the stairs." -- Burnett's response
Season 5 Episodes:

"Hostile Takeover" "Redemption in Blood" "Heart of Night" "Bad Timing" "Borrasca" "Line of Fire" "Asian Cut" "Hard Knocks" "Fruit of the Poison Tree" "To Have and to Hold" "Miami Squeeze" "Jack of All Trades" "The Cell Within" "The Lost Madonna" "Over the Line" "Victims of Circumstance" "Freefall" (Series Finale)

The "Lost" Episodes:
"World of Trouble" "Miracle Man" "Leap of Faith" "Too Much, Too Late"