Rites of Passage
16 (16th overall)
February 8, 1985
September 6, 1985
"Rites of Passage" is the sixteenth episode of Miami Vice's first season. It premiered on February 8, 1985, and was rerun on September 6, 1985. The episode introduces Pam Grier as NYPD Detective (and Tubbs' former lover) Valerie Gordon.
An old flame from Tubbs' past comes to Miami looking for her sister, who is caught up in the world of high-priced call girls.
On Miami Beach, Diane Gordon is attracting a lot of attention, including that of Lile, who flirts with her and offers to buy her lunch. She accepts, and Lile later takes her to a lavish party organized by his boss, David Traynor. There she meets with Traynor, who claims to run a modeling agency (in fact a high class call-girl service) that is looking for fresh new talent. He suggests that she could earn up to $10,000 per month if she signed with him. Meanwhile, one of the girls gets into an argument with Lile when she refuses to sleep with a client.
Later that night, the Vice squad fishes the rebellious hooker out of the Miami River. Suspecting the Traynor organization, Castillo orders his team to launch an investigation into his activities. The following day, Switek and Zito prepare their "Bug Busters" van before crashing another Traynor party disguised as pest control, using a camera hidden in their equipment to film the guests. Back at OCB, Tubbs is stunned to find Valerie Gordon, an old friend and flame from Brooklyn (and an NYPD detective) in Castillo's office. He learns that Valerie has spent the last six months trying to locate Diane, her baby sister, after she did not return from a road trip with her friends. She finally traced Diane to Miami, where she has been searching for her for the past two weeks. Hurt, Tubbs asks why she never called; Valerie reminds him that they didn't part on the best of terms. Despite this, they spend the night getting reacquainted. The next morning at OCB, Switek and Zito play their "inadmissible evidence" for the rest of the Vice squad. Castillo orders the team to run down the folks on the tape, even though many of them are foreign diplomats with immunity from prosecution. Valerie walks in, planning to say goodbye, but suddenly recognizes Diane on tape with one of the diplomats, Roberto Marquez.
Unaware that her sister is looking for her, Diane enjoys the newfound wealth her association with Lile and Traynor has brought her, buying expensive clothes and indulging in drugs while working nights as a call girl. Meanwhile, Crockett, Tubbs and Valerie go to the consulate to see Marquez, armed with photographs of him and Diane together. Marquez cries diplomatic immunity and refuses to talk, until Valerie explains that the girl in the compromising photos with him is her sister; feeling for her position, Marquez arranges for Crockett and Tubbs (as Burnett and Cooper) to be invited to one of Traynor's parties. At the party, Crockett tries to keep the girls at bay while Tubbs locates Diane and tries to convince her to leave quietly. When she refuses, he drags her from the house, Crockett holding Lile at gunpoint as they take her away. In the getaway van, Valerie is forced to slap a hysterical Diane to calm her down.
They take her to a rehabilitation center, where an unrepentant Diane tells Valerie she's making $1000 per night and her life is one big party. Valerie reminds her there is no pride in being bought and sold for sex, but acknowledges that her life is her own and promises to always be there for her regardless. At OCB, Crockett proposes they get Diane to testify against Traynor, but Tubbs and Valerie both feel she has been used enough and want to take her back to New York. Castillo sides with them and asks Crockett to find another way. Later that day, Diane calls Traynor to let him know that she's leaving town; pretending to be saddened by the news, Traynor gets her address before sending Lile to "take care of her". That evening, while Tubbs and Valerie share a night of passion, Lile goes to the rehab center (under the premise of bringing someone flowers) and gives a sleeping Diane a fatal drug overdose.
Traynor is brought in and interrogated by Castillo, but Tubbs loses his cool and almost assaults the suspect; Castillo admonishes him for his behavior while Traynor is released. Devastated by Diane's death, Valerie states her intention to take her sister back to New York, where she will meet her friend Billie. Tubbs and Crockett see her off at the airport, with Tubbs and Valerie professing their love for one another. Back at OCB, Castillo indicates that the dead hooker pulled from the river has been positively identified as a Traynor call girl, and tells Crockett and Tubbs they are collecting information from the tape to track down other leads. Tubbs then receives a call from Billie telling him that Diane's body arrived, but Valerie was not on the plane.
The two Vice cops rush over to Traynor's place, where Valerie has broken in, her weapon drawn and vengeance on her mind. When Lile spots her he starts shooting, but Valerie incapacitates him with her return fire before continuing her hunt for Traynor. She corners him in his bedroom, but just as she prepares to storm the room, a recovered Lile appears behind her and takes aim; Crockett and Tubbs burst in and gun Lile down, while Valerie gets the drop on Traynor and shoots him dead. Knowing full well she has broken the law, Valerie hands over head gun and asks Crockett to Mirandize her.
- 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
- Pam Grier as NYPD Detective Valerie Gordon
- David Thornton as Lile
- Tery Ferman as Diane Gordon
- John Turturro as David Traynor
- Nancy Valen as "Got a light?" Girl
- This episode marks the first time in the show that Tubbs uses his classic Rico Cooper alias while undercover. Prior to this he has used a variety of aliases, including "Teddy Prentiss" ("Brother's Keeper"), "Leeroy Reese" ("Glades"), "Ricardo Morales" ("Smuggler's Blues") and, most frequently, "Richard Taylor" ("Heart of Darkness", "Calderone's Return (Part II)", "One Eyed Jack" and "The Great McCarthy"). The variation in Tubbs' undercover persona is in stark contrast to Crockett, who almost always operates under the alias Sonny Burnett.
- Pam Grier would return as Valerie in the season 2 opener "The Prodigal Son". Although it would appear Valerie is arrested following her extra-judicial shooting of Lile and Traynor, in her next appearance she is back working her old job with the NYPD; evidently Crockett pulled some strings to clear her name, as Valerie thanks him regarding the events of this episode in "The Prodigal Son".
- The footage of Crockett's Daytona speeding through the night is recycled from "Brother's Keeper", and would be used again in the following episode "The Maze".
- When this episode originally aired, a voice-over during the closing credits announced that Vice fans should "stay tuned, because Miami Vice has been renewed for a second exciting season!"
- Diplomats trying to use diplomatic immunity to protect themselves from their crimes would come up again in the season 4 episode "Baseballs of Death".
- The song "I Want to Know What Love Is" used in the episode was the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 at the time of the episode's airing.
- Nancy Valens' appearance here and in a subsequent episode "Home Invaders" could be considered an example of continuity. In this episode she is a call-girl and later on she plays a prostitute that one of the home invaders beat up. However, Crockett doesn't recognise her in the subsequent episode, but this could be because of the amount of time that has passed and the amount of people Crockett meets in his cases.
- When this episode originally aired, the love scene between Tubbs and Valerie was slightly longer and more erotic. NBC ordered the scene cut slightly in subsequent reruns and it has appeared in this form in syndication, in the DVD Releases, and on all streaming platforms Vice has been on, including Peacock. A similar incident occurred in the third season episode "By Hooker by Crook" with a hot love scene involving Crockett and Christine Von Marburg (played by Don Johnson's then ex-wife Melanie Griffith).
- Throughout the entire sequence set to "I Want to Know What Love Is", there are constant speed fluctuations in the soundtrack, causing very audible distortions in the song.
- When Traynor is roughly interrogated by Tubbs, Traynor's lawyer claims that the police have opened themselves up "to libel and assault." Libel involves something printed that is untrue, not spoken; the lawyer should have said "slander and assault."
- Filmed: January 14, 1985 - January 23, 1985
- Production Code: 59519
- Production Order: 16
- Railway bridge between NW36th Street and NW South River Drive (Dead hooker pulled from water)
- Jose Marti Park 351 SW 4 Street at Miami River (Tubbs/Valerie walk)
- "Come to Poppa" by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band (opening sequence with Diane walking beach and Lile taking her to lunch)
- "Waiting for You" by The Reds (Diane taken to first Traynor party)
- "Beat Away" by The Reds (Switek and Zito "bugging" Traynor's second party)
- "Change Your Ways" by Rockwell (Diane shopping for clothes and doing drugs)
- "Till the End" by The Reds (Crockett and Tubbs at Traynor's third party)
- "I Want to Know What Love Is" by Foreigner (Diane is killed while Tubbs and Valerie make love)
Jan Hammer Music
- "Tubbs and Valerie" (throughout episode, mainly scenes involving Valerie)
- "Maybe it needs some oil!" "Maybe it needs some pollen!" -- Switek and Zito working on their bug van
- "Let's check out Switek's and Zito's new musical comedy, called Inadmissible Evidence!" -- Crockett to Valerie
- "Enough loins in here to stock a meat locker!" -- Crockett at Traynor's party
- "Diane... Diane is dead!" -- Crockett on car phone to Tubbs
- "Read me my rights!" -- Valerie to Crockett after she kills Traynor