Miami Vice Wiki

Shadow in the Dark


6 (50th Overall)
October 31, 1986
TV Rating
TV-14 L-V
Guest Stars
Previous Episode
Next Episode

"Shadow in the Dark" is the sixth episode of Miami Vice's third season. It premiered on October 31, 1986.


Crockett tries to catch a bizarre cat burglar by getting into his mind -- a tactic that drove another cop insane.


A cat burglar known as "The Shadow" (Vincent Caristi), with some rather strange habits, is on the loose. He enters by no forcible means, hitting the kitchen first and eating only raw choice cuts while painting his face with flour. The only things stolen seem to be pants - no cash, no jewlery, nothing of value - and despite all his activity he never wakes anyone up.

Castillo assigns Crockett and Tubbs to Lt. Ray Gilmore of Robbery due to increasing public outcry over the lack of results. At the latest hit they find a strange, sinister-looking drawing on the bedroom wall, done in lipstick. Gilmore wants Crockett and Tubbs to review all burglary files as far back as possible in hopes of finding similar hits. While leaving the scene a loud and pushy citizen calls out Gilmore for his lack of progress. Gilmore, infuriated, throws himself at the man before Crockett and Tubbs pull him away, and it becomes clear that Gilmore is on the edge mentally.

That night at Metro, Capt. Cahill takes a moment to kid with Crockett and Tubbs, who have gone through over 600 burglary cases with nothing to show for it. They get ready to wrap up when Gilmore steps in with the names of ex-convicts whose case reports he wants them to pull for cross-referencing. When Crockett tells him the Records room has closed for the evening and Tubbs politely mentions that they work at their own pace, Gilmore forcefully tells them to step up their game. Castillo pulls up just as Crockett and Tubbs are leaving with their files, to let them know Gilmore wants them off the case (he never wanted them on in the first place), but has been overruled by the Department. Castillo tells them to let him know if Gilmore makes any more trouble, while Tubbs argues that "Gilmore is the trouble."

Crockett recalls an old burglar named George Wyatt who had weird idiosyncrasies like their current cat burglar, and decides to check him out. The next morning at a coffee shop, Gilmore stops in and decides to tag along, although he makes clear his resentment at their involvement in the case, treating it as something deeply personal. Wyatt (who's in a wheelchair because he broke his back during his final heist) doesn't have anything to offer because his MO differs from that of the suspect. Gilmore flies into a rage and throws Wyatt out of his wheelchair, and Crockett has to stop himself from punching a superior officer, even as Gilmore eggs him on. This is the last strike for Gilmore, who is taken away in the back of a patrol car. Castillo returns Crockett and Tubbs to Vice, which is now taking over the case. That night they get a call for a prowler at a house within the burglar's zone of operation. Just as they pull up gunshots are heard, and they move in to find Gilmore firing into an icebox, visibly demented. As he's led away to psych lockup the Shadow is seen observing with some amusement.

At OCB, Crockett, Castillo and Tubbs review what little information they have on the Shadow. They follow the progressive pattern of the drawings and realize that the Shadow is gradually getting closer to actually approaching the occupants of the houses. Crockett wants to return to the crime scenes; Castillo says it can wait until morning. Crockett takes the drawings to his boat to study them, which takes up his entire night. Castillo finds him in a coffee shop the next morning, and Crockett echoes Gilmore's belief that to catch this burglar they need to think like him. Castillo urges him to not lose focus or his grip on reality, but Crockett has clearly succumbed to both, to the point that Castillo leaves rather than staying for coffee. Crockett goes back to one of the crime scenes and finds drawings made in the street, on the back of a stop sign, and on a fence, before he is attacked by a shadowy creature; although this turns out to be just a nightmare, it inspires him to compare the drawings to the map of burgled houses at OCB. He calls the rest of the Vice squad to a glass house he believes the burglar will hit next, but nothing happens and they eventually leave. As it turns out, Crockett was partially right - the house next door is hit, and this time the Shadow enters the bedroom when the woman living there is still awake.

The woman is taken to the hospital, badly shaken but not sexually assaulted (because the Shadow was incapable of doing so). Due to her trauma, she is unable to answer many of Crockett and Tubbs's questions or give details of the burglar. Crockett, in desperation, pushes her until she breaks down completely, and Tubbs is visibly uneasy about his partner's aggressiveness. Castillo wants to hand the case back to Burglary if nothing breaks soon, but Crockett demands to stay on because he "knows" the perp. Castillo reminds him that Gilmore "knew" him too, and it cost him his sanity. Crockett continues to act erratically, putting flour on his face and staring at photos of houses. He feels that a certain area is going to get hit, and wants extra people to stake-out multiple houses. Vice gets word that Metro has arrested the burglar/prowler, and they go check it out. Cahill has a guy named Lido Starr in custody after finding him passed out in a woman's house, but Crockett feels that Starr is nothing more than a copy-cat. However, downtown has ordered the case closed, and Castillo sees no reason to disagree, despite Crockett's vehement objections. A call from County Psych Ward informs them that Gilmore wants to see Crockett about something he got in the mail. It turns out to be a copy of the newspaper published after Starr was booked, with a lipstick drawing like the others, proving the real prowler is still at large.

Cahill refuses to re-open the case despite the drawing, which sends Crockett into a rage and Castillo - after Cahill threatens to suspend Crockett - orders him off-duty and tells Tubbs to keep him off the streets. Tubbs attempts to reason with Crockett, who picks out a picture of a house he feels the prowler will hit, and pleads to take the picture to Gilmore. Tubbs feels Crockett is unstable, but agrees to see Gilmore, who picks the same house, so Castillo decides to let them to check it out. As it turns out, it's the right house, and the Shadow is about to attack the woman living there with a knife when Crockett tackles and beats him down. As he is led away the Shadow taunts Crockett: "You live with me, don't you?" Castillo assigns a beleaguered Crockett to desk duty for a couple of days to wind down. The Shadow, while being interrogated, suddenly smashes through the two-way mirror to attack Crockett; it turns out to be another nightmare, but for one moment the Shadow's face and the reflection of Crockett's face are overlaid.


Guest Stars



  • John Diehl (Zito) does not appear at all in this episode.
  • The episode shares many similarities with Michael Mann's 1986 movie Manhunter, the first Hannibal Lecter film, which has an almost identical plot (an investigator struggling to retain his own sanity whilst delving into the mind of a disturbed criminal, who is breaking into people's houses, in order to catch him). The film also shares many stylistic traits with Miami Vice, and features a large number of Vice guest stars -- Garcelle Beauvais (from "Give a Little, Take a Little" and "The Maze"), Bill Cwikowski (from "No Exit"), Chris Elliott (from "Down for the Count (Part II)"), Dennis Farina (from "One Eyed Jack", "Lombard" and "World of Trouble"), Kim Griest (from "Nobody Lives Forever"), Michele Shay (from "Theresa"), Bill Smitrovich (from "Brother's Keeper" and "The Prodigal Son") and Jim Zubiena (from Calderone'♙ Return (Part I)), as well as Miami Vice regular Michael Talbott.
  • The house the cat burglar enters in the opening sequence appears to be the same one where Crockett and Castillo finish off the Home Invader case, and the one he is caught in is the same (though lit differently) as Brenda's house in "Nobody Lives Forever".
  • The burglar's bizarre behavior seems to be a greatly toned-down reference to real-life serial killer Richard Trenton Chase, nicknamed the "Vampire of Sacramento", who among other disturbing things would frequently eat raw animal meat and drink their blood, and went to strange lengths to prevent his heart from stopping or shrinking (one of the burglar's last lines is to ask for tinfoil to protect his heart).
  • Crockett receives the "Castillo Staredown" several times throughout the episode as a result of his increasingly erratic behavior.
  • It's up to the viewer whether Crockett's noticeably crazed behavior during his meeting with Castillo in the coffee shop (with his comment about "sneaking up on" the day) is meant to be real or is part of the nightmare from which he awakens soon afterwards.
  • This is arguably the only episode in the entire series which does not contain any deaths, on-screen or off (except for Gilmore's mention of a thief who was executed for "carving up a woman and her kid").
  • It is interesting to note that Crockett has no car in this episode (except the Testarossa shown in a dream sequence likely filmed after principal shooting had wrapped); Tubbs drives him everywhere in his Coupe de Ville. Why this is so is never explained, however this episode was filmed after "When Irish Eyes Are Crying" (when Crockett's Daytona was destroyed) and before "Stone's War" (when he got his replacement Testarossa) so it may have been intended to air between the two. The network did have a habit of changing the running order of episodes throughout the series, often with detrimental results.
  • This episode has similarities with "Out Where the Buses Don't Run", including the cop driven mad by his obsession with his nemesis and Crockett's "police intuition," as Castillo calls it. Additionally, it is one of several episodes that foreshadows Crockett's dark side, eventually personified when he becomes his criminal alter-ego Sonny Burnett in season 4.
  • In the final confrontation, the woman being threatened cannot tell whether the Shadow or Crockett is the attacker, resulting in his pathetic reassurance -- to himself as much as her -- "I'm a cop... I'm a cop." Usually, every episode left Sonny emotionally shattered. The psychological consequences of this particular walk on the dark side are particularly noticeable in that Sonny's nightmares continue after the Shadow is captured. Given his constant emotional stress, it's amazing that Crockett stayed sane as long as he did.
  • There are many instances of fine direction in this episode, including the close focus on Crockett's unblinking, manic stare as he describes the steps the burglar goes through and the scene in which the figure putting flour on his face, shot from behind, appears to be the burglar, but is revealed in the mirror to be Crockett.
  • The episode was broadcast on Halloween, 1986, very appropriate for its content.
  • This is one of several episodes that does not end on a freeze frame.


  • The bullet holes in the icebox (after Gilmore fires into it) disappear between shots.
  • When Castillo parks his car, he leaves the keys on its roof. 
  • After Crockett and Tubbs see Castillo in the lot and back out in Tubbs' car, the immediate following scene is a sweeping panorama of a city/residential scape.  Looking carefully, there are mountains in the background in both the right and left edges of the panorama; there are no mountains anywhere in Florida, let alone Miami - an extremely poor choice of film footage. 
  • In Crockett's first dream sequence, upon exiting the Testarossa and scoping out the neighborhood, he is drawn to a street sign.  The name of the street on the lower street sign is misspelled: JEFFRSON ST, instead of the correct spelling, Jefferson St.  Or perhaps not - if this were a real Miami street sign.

Production Notes

  • Working title: "Spencer"
  • Filmed: July 11, 1986 - July 22, 1986
  • Production Code: 62003
  • Production Order: 47

Filming Locations

  • 3834 Utopia Court, Miami (First house Shadow walks up to before hitting the house next door)
  • 3840 Utopia Court, Miami (First house Shadow hits)
  • Puerto Antonio, 1649 Washington Ave (Gilmore sits by door while Crockett/Tubbs sit at counter)
  • The Standard 40 Island Ave, Belle Island, Venetian Causeway (Wyatt's apartment)
  • Lincoln Avenue / Jefferson Street, Coconut Grove (Crockett looking for Shadow)
  • 3067 Jefferson Street, Coconut Grove (Home where Crockett gets Shadow)


Jan Hammer Music

  • "Shadow in the Dark" (throughout episode)


  • "In the immortal words of Lt. Castillo: 'That's not our decision!'" -- Crockett to Tubbs after Tubbs tells Castillo that Lt. Gilmore is strung out
  • "He's a sicko, man, that guy is sick!" -- Wyatt after Glimore flings him from his wheelchair
  • "You've got to think like them, eat like them, talk like them, walk like them . . . "--Gilmore after his breakdown
  • "The answer is not in the book, it's in his head!" -- Crockett to Castillo at coffee shop
  • "Two coffees!" "Make it one!" "Cancel the one!" -- Castillo decides not to have coffee with Crockett
  • "You live with me, don't you? Ha ha ha ha ha ha!" -- The Shadow taunts Crockett as he's led away
  • "There's a thin line between hard work and obsession" --Tubbs to Crockett, noting his borderline obsession
Season 3 Episodes:

"When Irish Eyes Are Crying" "Stone's War" "Killshot" "Walk-Alone" "The Good Collar" "Shadow in the Dark" "El Viejo" "Better Living Through Chemistry" "Baby Blues" "Streetwise" "Forgive Us Our Debts" "Down for the Count (Part I)" "Down for the Count (Part II)" "Cuba Libre" "Duty and Honor" "Theresa" "The Afternoon Plane" "Lend Me an Ear" "Red Tape" "By Hooker by Crook" "Knock, Knock... Who's There?" "Viking Bikers from Hell" "Everybody's in Showbiz" "Heroes of the Revolution"