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19 (41st Overall)
March 14, 1986
Repeat Airdate
August 22, 1986
TV-14 V
Guest Stars
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"Payback" is the nineteenth episode of Miami Vice's second season. The episode premiered on March 14, 1986, and was rerun on August 22, 1986.


Crockett is accused of having money belonging to a drug dealer.


Crockett makes a 70 mile drive to state prison at the request of Jesus Maroto, whom Crockett put away. After being praised as a "tough cop," Crockett asks Maroto why he called for this meeting. Maroto says "Payback!" and spontaneously kisses Crockett before pulling a zip gun. He points it at Crockett, saying they're going to find out how tough he really is, then suddenly puts it to his head and commits suicide.

A mystery woman leaves a message at Metro-Dade headquarters for Crockett, and then calls all the Crocketts in the phone directory. Crockett and Tubbs are on their way to see Reuben Reydolfo, Mario Fuente's right hand man, regarding a major drug deal. Fuente does all his deals on his boat, anchored out to sea, so that at the first sign of trouble he can dump his stash. Reydolfo refuses to let them see Fuente. Castillo introduces Crockett and Tubbs to DEA agent Earle Hodges and South Beach Vice cop Kevin Cates, who are also investigating Fuente. Hodges and Castillo want Cates to join up with Crockett and Tubbs to get past Rodolfo and see Fuente, and at a bar Cates discloses his plans to do so. Crockett picks up a woman in the bar and takes her to the St. Vitus Dance. When he gets there, his boat has been ransacked, music is blaring, and scrawled on his chart are the words "Where's the Money, Crockett?" The next morning Crockett begins to get anonymous calls on the boat saying "Share the wealth, Crockett".

Tubbs stops by later and Crockett fills him in, concerned about someone knowing his real name, as everyone around the marina knows him only as Sonny Burnett. Cates calls Crockett about a meet with Reydolfo. Tubbs is concerned about Crockett's state of mind after Moroto's suicide. At a restaurant, Cates sets up the meet with Fuente. Back at OCB, Castillo tells Crockett Internal Affairs wants to see him. Crockett doesn't know of any reason for it, and when he goes up to the meeting he finds himself taking part in an underhanded ploy set up to test his guilt. He storms out, refusing to "play this game". Crockett and Tubbs finalize their plans to meet Fuente and head out to his boat. There they meet Fuente and the mystery woman, and Fuente tells a story about how Maroto absconded with $3 million of his "favourite" dollars, reveals he knows "Burnett and Cooper" are really Vice cops, and demands that Crockett give him his $3 million back. Crockett and Tubbs manage to shoot their way off the boat and take Fuente with them as a hostage. Since they have nothing to hold him on, they let Fuente go - by forcing him to swim back.

Back at OCB, Crockett finds that Hodges is an IA mole, sent to investigate why Maroto suddenly wanted to see Crockett, and the messages from the Fuente organization. Crockett didn't know that Maroto was involved with Fuente when he busted him, and knew nothing about the money. It transpires that Cates is the DEA agent sent in to check on Crockett, and fed him to Fuente as part of a bogus IA investigation. Crockett is infuriated, to the point that he punches Cates, but Cates defends him to Castillo, as he has another plan for getting to Fuente. He proposes trading $3 million for 50 kees of pharmaceutical quality cocaine. Tubbs and Castillo feel the plan is too dangerous. Tubbs sends for all info on Fuente and Moroto, and also does a check on Cates: he has been with DEA for 18 years, mostly in the field, with two injuries and four busted marriages to show for it. Crockett now understands what kind of "Payback!" Maroto had in mind; he knew everyone would think Crockett had the money. Castillo relents and lets Crockett go after Fuente to clear his name.

Crockett goes to see Reydolfo and Cates and proposes a deal: Fuente's $3 million in exchange for 100 pounds of Bolivian cocaine, with a promise of no backstabbing. Fuente's word must be given face to face, and the longer they wait, the more they lose, as Crockett wads up $100 bills and throws them on the ground. The plan is set -- Cates will be wearing a wire, with $3 million of DEA funds, and he and Crockett will go out to Fuente's boat to discuss the deal. Tubbs reviews the files on Fuente and Maroto and finds Cates was on Fuente's yacht when Maroto took off with the money, although Cates told them he knew nothing about the money until Internal Affairs called him in - it turns out Cates called IAD and volunteered in the investigation, meaning Cates knew where the money was and took it himself.

Cates surreptitiously disconnects the wire, and he, Crockett and Rodolfo head for Fuente's yacht. When Reydolfo sends him below deck to get a beer, Crockett notices a duffel bag and opens it to find the $3 million. Cates shoots Reydolfo in the back, but Reydolfo falls over the throttle, throwing the boat into high gear. Crockett throws the open bag at Cates to disarm him and the money spills out as they fight. They struggle over the gun and Cates is shot, while most of the money is lost in the water. Cates denies any involvement with the meeting between Maroto and Crockett, and with Maroto's suicide, but admits the rest was his doing. Before he dies, he tells Crockett that Fuente will never stop looking for the money.


Guest Stars



  • Badge Close Up.JPG
    As Crockett walks into the prison, we see a close up of his badge, revealing that he is a sergeant and deputy sheriff of Dade County, Florida, dated June 29, 1984.
  • The opening scene, with Crockett and Maroto walking toward a collision that will leave one of them dead, is justly famed as one of the best openers in the series.
  • Dan Hedaya appeared in the season 1 episode "One Eyed Jack" as Ben Schroeder, a dim-witted Internal Affairs officer.
  • This episode marks one of four times Crockett is investigated for wrongdoing; others include "One Eyed Jack", "Theresa" and "Child's Play".
  • Crockett's "police intuition" comes into play again when on two occasions he feels himself being watched, in this case by the IAD.
  • The lyrics to "Soul Kitchen" by X are relevant to the action here: "Learn to forget". Crockett's problem is that he can't forget.
  • Frank Zappa, known for his avant-garde musical stylings, played a fairly ruthless drug dealer in this episode, in stark comparison to his real life persona.
  • We see Crockett once again picking up a woman from a bar, but having to take a rain check due to the disarray of the St. Vitus.
  • Fuente's pragmatic attitude is shown when, forced by Crockett at gunpoint to jump overboard, he neither blusters nor threatens but simply wraps his coat around himself, holds his nose, and jumps.
  • At the conclusion of the episode, Cates warns Crockett that Fuente still believes he has the money and will hunt him down. However, Fuente never returns in the series and the plot is never followed up. This scenario occurred several times in Miami Vice, with other examples being J.J. Johnston in "The Prodigal Son" and Carlos Cantero in "Line of Fire". In this case, the lack of a conclusion was because actor Frank Zappa retired from acting (except for voiceover jobs) following his Miami Vice appearance due to his poor health.
  • Moreover, it is established that Fuente knows Burnett is really a cop by the end of the episode. Despite the fact the drug lord escapes with this knowledge, Crockett continues to use the Burnett cover name for the remainder of the series without any problems. In reality, information such as this would likely spread fast amongst the criminal community, particularly if it is in the hands of a vengeful drug lord, and as a result the cover would be rendered useless. At the very least, a real-world cop would stop using the blown cover name immediately as a precaution.
  • "Bass and Trouble" is the first song to be used in more than one episode of Vice; it was previously featured in "Bought and Paid For" from earlier in the season. A handful of other songs were used more than once in the series, while the clip show "A Bullet for Crockett" from season 4 had a soundtrack composed entirely of songs featured in earlier episodes.
  • Maroto's suicide in this episode is the fourth to occur in the second season, and the second in two consecutive episodes to happen right in front of Crockett (Judge Roger Ferguson also shot himself in the head at the end of the previous episode, "The Fix").
  • This is one of several episodes that does not end on a freeze frame.


  • What looks like a small mic can be seen in the folds of Crockett's jacket when he and Tubbs discuss Cates at the bar.
  • When Crockett and Cates are fighting on the boat, there is a shot of the money flying out of the bag; the money is obviously fake (it's made of plain paper and printed on only one side).
  • The shots of the money flying out of the bag were done under noticeably different weather conditions from the rest of the scene; during the fight between Crockett and Cates on the boat, it is sunny with clear skies throughout. But the closeup shots of the money in the bag, which are interspersed with the rest of the scene, clearly suggest cloudy to overcast conditions at the time of filming.
  • While riding out to meet Fuente, Cates shoots Reydolfo in the back; yet when Sonny and Cates are fighting there does not appear to be any wounds in Reydolfo's back.

Production Notes

  • Filmed: February 10, 1986 - February 21, 1986
  • Production Code: 60048
  • Production Order: 41

Filming Locations

  • Culver Prison, 14000 NW 41st Street (Prison where Crockett meets Moroto)
  • Frankie and Johnny's, 1492 S.E. 17th St. Causeway, Ft. Lauderdale (Bar scenes with Crockett/Tubbs/Cates/Reydolfo)
  • 20 Harbor Point, Key Biscayne (Reydolfo's house)
  • Miamarina at Bayside, 401 Biscayne Bvd, Miami (St. Vitus Dance)


Jan Hammer Music

  • "Payback" (throughout episode)
  • "Russian Story" (Crockett/Cates/Hodges/Castillo at OCB, Crockett/Castillo at OCB)
  • "The Search" (Crockett/Tubbs/Cates drive to see Fuente)
  • "Crockett's Return" (Crockett on boat, Rico and Castillo at OCB)
  • "Fight on the boat" (Crockett and Cates on the Boat, final scene)


  • "You one tough cop. It takes a tough cop to bust me . . . Now we find out how tough you are!" -- Moroto to Crockett before turning the gun on himself
  • "You spend a couple of hours combing some guy's brains out of your hair, see what that does to you!" -- Crockett to Tubbs
  • "Just once I'd like to know what it's like when a lady asks my name to tell her Crockett and not Sonny Burnett." -- Crockett
  • "The way I figure it, Fuente is like a lid on a jar that's screwed too tight, and you guys worked real hard on that lid for three months...? Cates comes along, and makes the final twist." -- Zito to Crockett and Tubbs
  • "You're tough, Crockett. It's a shame you're a cop."--Fuente
  • "No wonder I felt like I was being watched -- I was being watched!!" -- Crockett
Season 2 Episodes:

"The Prodigal Son" "Whatever Works" "Out Where the Buses Don't Run" "The Dutch Oven" "Buddies" "Junk Love" "Tale of the Goat" "Bushido" "Bought and Paid For" "Back in the World" "Phil the Shill" "Definitely Miami" "Yankee Dollar" "One Way Ticket" "Little Miss Dangerous" "Florence Italy" "French Twist" "The Fix" "Payback" "Free Verse" "Trust Fund Pirates" "Sons and Lovers"