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Over the Line


15 (105th Overall)
April 28, 1989
TV Rating
TV-14 L-V
Guest Stars
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"Over the Line" is the fifteenth episode of Miami Vice's fifth season. It premiered on April 28, 1989.


A team of vigilante police officers attempt to recruit Crockett and Tubbs to their cause.


Crockett and Tubbs are on a stakeout for a minor dealer named Tommy T., hoping to bust him and get a line on his new source. The deal is going down and they move in (without backup) when an ice cream truck comes down the street, and the driver, Dr. Dinky, warns Tommy and the others about the cops. Everyone inside runs off and the ice cream driver gets away after knocking Tubbs from the truck.

Castillo and Captain Richard Highsmith are having breakfast and discussing the department's budget. Highsmith, who has political aspirations for County Supervisor, wants to have cutbacks as well as eliminate desk jobs, including himself and Castillo. Castillo reminds Highsmith they can't fight drug wars with PR, which annoys the Captain. At OCB, the team tries to figure out who tipped off Tommy, and they find out the ice cream truck was stolen. Then they review the proposed budget cuts, and the team is upset they are expected to do their jobs with reduced resources and funding; Crockett storms out in frustration.

Izzy is pitching (actually reading off a card) some Repti-Gel sunblock products when Crockett and Tubbs stop by to get information on Tommy; Izzy knows he works for Reginald Hawkins (who Tubbs knows as a dealer from New York), but doesn't know why either Hawkins or Dr. Dinky would have tipped him off. They go check Hawkins out and (as Burnett and Cooper) offer to pay top dollar for a new shipment. Just then the ice cream driver Johnny shows up and tells Hawkins that they ripped off Timmy (but doesn't blow their cover), and threatens to kill them unless they leave. Outside, a battery of suited men take Crockett and Tubbs away in government-looking cars.

The group of men, led by Walter Stevens, are also law enforcement officers that are tired of the system as it is now, letting criminals free at an alarming rate for nothing. They have been watching Crockett and Tubbs and are impressed, knowing they are as frustrated with the system as the shadow team (as it turns out, they were the ones behind the ice cream truck tip). They ask Crockett and Tubbs to join their cause, and say they'll be in touch.

Hawkins meets Victor Escalante at a golf course and gets an order for arms that he'll fill in 48 hours (but in reality doesn't have). Hawkins arranges for his team to steal the arms (including plastique) for the deal. Tubbs gets a call that Stevens' group will put on a demonstration that afternoon. They are picked up in a limo and taken to a meet where Hawkins steals the weapons for his deal with Escalante (with Johnny's help), and Stevens again asks the Vice cops to join. If they decide not to, they will be let out of the limo, no questions asked; if they do join and the mysterious men are revealed, they can never get out. They agree to join, and Stevens reveals himself.

Castillo meets with Crockett and Tubbs in a remote location (having had his office swept for bugs) and the Vice cops discuss Stevens' group. Castillo fears people could get hurt because they won't be able to get them all, and allows them to get inside as far as they can safely. Johnny reveals to Stevens that he isn't sure what they do is the right thing. Crockett relates a story about Escalante hitting a Contra arms dealer in a crowded mall, killing him and 11 others, including children, and doing no jail time. Crockett feels conflicted about playing both sides in this, and Tubbs goes to see Johnny to encourage him as a good cop. Johnny tells a story about a PCP dealer blowing his partner away from behind a door, and getting off by way of a public defender. After he joined Stevens, they planted heroin on him and he was sent to jail for 15 years; he was killed two months ago in prison.

Stevens tells Crockett he started this operation after he was shot on duty and transferred to records; he was never recalled to duty because he had "little leadership potential", so he put together his own team, and wants Crockett to see who his players are. They are driven to where Johnny and Hawkins are dealing for the plastique, while two policemen are conducting campaign activities for Highsmith. The dealers see the cops outside and they panic; Hawkins shoots them down, as well as the arms dealer for shortchanging him. Crockett instinctively wants to radio for help, but Stevens asks him not to, as it would arouse suspicion as to why they were there and why they took no action. Crockett insistently makes an anonymous call.

Castillo surveys the crime scene and blames himself for one of the cops dying. Highsmith is angered that Castillo let things get this far, and Castillo lets him know about his suspicions and that everyone involved will go down that night. Johnny, agonized over the cop shootings, wants out; Stevens lets him go with his vow of silence. Tubbs tries to keep Johnny around until after the meet that night, but his mind is made up. Stevens talks to Crockett about how tough it is to make the hard decisions, and how he became a cop; outside, Johnny is shot down in a drive-by shooting, and Crockett hears the shot and screeching tires.

Castillo and the team are staked out at the meet location, but there also is a battery of Stevens' men, including Crockett and Tubbs, who stop them cold; Tubbs moves in to arrest Hawkins and Escalante, and a shootout takes place between Stevens' men that weren't arrested, Hawkins' men and SRT/Vice. Numerous rogue cops and bad guys are killed. Stevens is leaving with some drugs to continue funding his organization when Crockett moves in to arrest him. Stevens tells him the organization goes to levels he wouldn't believe; suddenly, Highsmith shoots Stevens down, claiming to have saved Crockett's life, despite his protests to the contrary. Highsmith is on TV that evening gloating about his accomplishment, which gives Crockett an idea of just how high it goes as he turns off the TV in disgust.


Guest Stars



  • This episode's plot is very similar to that of the second Dirty Harry film, Magnum Force, in which a group of motorcycle cops take the law into their own hands and begin executing criminals, and also attempt to recruit Clint Eastwood's character to their cause.
  • This episode contains another example of a "fake" song composed by Tim Truman filling in as popular music in one or more scenes -- specifically, the Latin instrumental playing at the pool where Izzy tries to con the two old ladies. Such tracks would appear quite frequently throughout the final season, no doubt indicative of the show's shrinking music budget.
  • Robert Fields would return as Highsmith, promoted to Chief of Police, in the series finale "Freefall".
  • In the opening sequence, Tubbs is not behind the wheel of his usual light blue Coupe de Ville, but rather a black Chevrolet Impala convertible. The reason for this is not explained and is not known if the viewer is supposed to notice it's a different car.
  • This is one of several episodes that does not end on a freeze frame.


  • The Hatch Act prevents U.S. government employees from participating in partisan political activity, meaning the two officers who are collecting signatures for Highsmith's County Supervisor bid are in fact breaking the law. Castillo later claims they were in fact off-duty, but if this were the case they should not have been in uniform.

Production Notes

  • Filmed: February 6, 1989 - February 14, 1989
  • Production Code: 63918
  • Production Order: 106

Filming Locations

  • 3346 William Avenue, Coconut Grove and grass on Grand Ave and Hibiscus St., Coconut Grove (Opening with ice cream truck)
  • Fairmont Gardens Restaurant, 1000 Collins Ave, Miami Beach (Lunch with Castillo/Highsmith)
  • Raleigh Hotel 1777 Collins Ave, Miami Beach (Izzy selling Repti-Gel)
  • Hamilton on the Bay Condominiums at Biscayne Bay (Crockett/Tubbs meet with Hawkins-exterior)
  • China Club, 1450 Collins Ave, Miami Beach (Crockett/Tubbs meet Hawkins-interior)
  • Gibson Hall Christ Episcopal Church, 3481 Hibiscus St., Coconut Grove (Crockett/Tubbs see mug shots)
  • 326 21st Street, Miami Beach (Crockett/Tubbs enter Stevens' limo)
  • South Douglas Road/Main Highway, Coconut Grove (limousine scenes)
  • Warehouse 471 NE 79th St., Miami (Crockett/Tubbs watch warehouse robbed)
  • NE 81st Str. Canal Bridge (Crockett/Tubbs meet Castillo outside the office next to the water tower)
  • Beach at 18th Street, Miami Beach (Hawkins negotiates with Escalante)
  • Beachway Apartments, 701 14th St. Miami Beach (Off-duty cops killed)
  • 3540 Bay Homes Drive, Coconut Grove (Stevens' house)
  • 3952 South Douglas Road, Coconut Grove (Escalante's house, bad cop/Vice/SRT shootout)


Tim Truman Music

  • "Over the Line 2" (throughout episode)


  • "I wonder why the people in the dope business are never on time? -- Tubbs at stakeout
  • "Well, maybe Slick (Highsmith) would like to come out of his mink-lined office and live with us in the gutter out here for a week!" -- Crockett about the budget cuts
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"