18 (40th overall)
March 7, 1986
At a zoo, the Vice cops are waiting for a dealer named Ortega to complete a drug transaction, but it turns out to be a rip-off. One of the dealers is shot dead and Tubbs kills the shooter. Zito and Switek locate the limo Ortega is in. Switek is shocked to discover that Ortega is a woman.
Ortega's lawyer, Benedict meets Judge Roger Ferguson at a local racetrack. He says that Ortega was picked up by Vice earlier and she's worth a lot of money. Ferguson walks off in annoyance, on his way to bet -- and lose -- heavily on the dogs. At Ortega's bond hearing, Benedict gives a sappy appeal and Ferguson sets her bond at $7,000 (an easy sum to raise) instead of the $2 million the prosecution requests. Crockett and Tubbs are stunned by this turn of events and immediately begin to suspect Ferguson has gone bad, especially after reviewing cases in which Ferguson was the presiding judge. Tubbs compares notes with Ebersole in Homicide; each case either fell into ROR or was dismissed outright, to the point that Ferguson earned the nickname "Let-em-run Ferguson." Castillo agrees after hearing the results of the hearing as well as Tubbs' and Crockett's input, and sets up a meeting with Justice. Crockett can't understand how Ferguson -- who grew up in a bad neighborhood and worked his way to a basketball scholarship, even going All-Pro and having a son who is becoming another basketball star -- could possibly turn bad.
Crockett and Tubbs speak to Ortega's simple-minded gofer Berlioz, who says that Benedict can get a verdict he wants from Ferguson if the client is willing to pay. Crockett and Tubbs go check out Ferguson's son Matt, who plays for the Sunblazers. During the game, Judge Ferguson is approached by a man who takes him out of the building and to a boat at the marina. It's revealed Judge Ferguson is addicted to gambling, having lost large sums of money at the horse and dog tracks; to pay off the enormous debt he borrowed money from a racketeer named Pagone, who demands that Ferguson pay him back by forcing his son to throw the playoff game, giving him two days to convince him. Castillo gets authority to bug Benedict's office and have Berlioz meet with him, in an attempt to prove that Ferguson is on the take.
Gina (disguised as a security guard) and Trudy (disguised as a phone repairman) go to Benedict's office and are able to bug his phone before he returns. Beriloz offers Benedict cash in exchange for taking him on as a client and seeing if he can get a favor from Ferguson. Ferguson speaks to Matt about fixing the playoff game and Matt storms off in disgust at his father's request. The judge is driving along when he swerves off the highway and stops at the edge of the river, driven to tears with guilt.
Crockett and Tubbs pick up Pagone's goon Marco, and use his information to get authority to bug Ferguson's home. They stop by to see Matt about his father, but he refuses to answer their questions. Benedict goes to see Ferguson (while Switek and Zito listen in) and asks for another favor for Berlioz, but Ferguson throws Benedict out, telling him they are through. Matt offers to sit out the game rather than play poorly. Ferguson passes this on to Pagone, who says that sitting out is not an option -- Matt must make sure the Sunblazers lose.
Crockett meets with Ferguson in an urban neighborhood and tells him that Benedict has been arrested. They talk about the judge's rise from rough surroundings to where he is now, the problems he's had, and how he could pull himself out by giving them Pagone. Ferguson declines, saying he will get himself out of the problems he's in. Ferguson calls Matt before the game and tells him to play his heart out, because all their problems will soon go away. Zito relays this to Crockett and notes that Ferguson left for the marina. Crockett heads there while Tubbs goes to the game to watch over Matt. The judge uses a gun to force his way onto Pagone's boat and shoots him. When confronted by Crockett, he says he finally broke even, before putting the gun to his own head and pulling the trigger.
- 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
- Harvey Fierstein as Benedict
- Paul Greco as Berlioz
- Michael Richards as Pagone
- Bernard King as Matt Ferguson
- William F. Russell as Judge Roger Ferguson
- At one point, Tubbs mentions to Crockett that he discussed Judge Ferguson's apparent leniency with select criminals with "Ebersole" from homicide. A Detective Ebersole previously appeared in the season 1 episode "The Home Invaders", although he was part of the robbery division, not homicide. It's not clear if the Ebersole mentioned in this episode is meant to be the same character, evidently transferred to a new department, or if the similarity in names is merely coincidence.
- Bill Russell was credited by his full name, William F. Russell, in this episode.
- The University of Miami reinstated basketball at the school starting with the 1985-86 season after a 14 year hiatus.
- From 1968-72, Miami was home to the Floridians of the American Basketball Association (most famous for their scantily-clad "ballgirls"). Two years after this episode, Miami would have their own NBA team, the Heat (which barely beat out Miami Vice as the team's name in a fan survey), who as of the 2020-21 season, have won 14 division titles, six Eastern Conference titles, and three NBA championships (including two consecutive in 2011-12 and 2012-13). The 2010-14 version of the team (with NBA superstars LeBron James -- who appeared in a shoe commercial with Don Johnson in his Sonny Crockett persona -- Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh) was often referred to as "Miami Thrice". The team also has special uniforms (since the 2017-18 season) that pay homage to Vice with their color schemes of pink, light blue and black, and are among the most popular uniforms in the NBA.
- Bernard King was a star NBA player for 16 years, playing with the New York Knicks at the time of this episode.
- Michael Richards plays a rather ruthless character compared to his goofy persona of "Cosmo Kramer" in Seinfeld.
- Considering Russell's tall stature, he seemed uncomfortable driving a compact Mercedes convertible.
- This was the first episode of Miami Vice not to receive a rerun on NBC (and the only one from the first two seasons).
- This episode's visual quality is significantly lower than any other on the UK DVD release of season 2, with the image appearing blurry and poorly defined. The reasons behind this are not known.
- When Crockett and Tubbs are driving to the college basketball game in Crockett's Daytona, a shot of the car driving over a bridge shows the brake lights illuminating, yet at the same time the car's engine can be heard increasing in revs, indicating it is accelerating. The two are clearly incongruous, and would require the brake and accelerator pedals to be pressed simultaneously, something no driver would do. The error is a result of the fact the Daytona's engine sounds on the show were overdubbed in post-production, due to the fact it was a kit car based around a Corvette rather than a genuine Ferrari.
- The echo of the director or someone else on the crew yelling, "Action!" can be heard at the beginning of the scene inside the college basketball arena where Matt Ferguson is at practice and isn't performing at his best.
- Filmed: January 31, 1986 - February 7, 1986
- Production Code: 60004
- Production Order: 40
- Metro Zoo, 12400 SW 152nd Street, Miami (Opening drug deal)
- Hollywood Greyhound Track, 901 S Federal Hwy, Hallandale (Ferguson at track)
- SE Financial Center, 200 South Biscayne Boulevard (54th Stock, Suite 454), Miami (Benedict's office)
- FIU Tamiami Campus, North Runway Ave, Miami (Sunblazers Basketball Arena)
- 6001 SW 116th Street, South Miami (Ferguson's house)
- Watson Island on MacArthur Causeway (Pagone's Yacht)
- Coconut Grove Mini Park, Corner of Percival Ave/Plaza Street, Coconut Grove (Crockett/Ferguson meet)
- "Gambler (Instrumental Remix)" by Madonna (Ferguson at track)
- "p:Machinery" by Propaganda (Crockett and Tubbs watch Matt play basketball)
- "The Water's Too Deep" by Jim Gilstrap (Ferguson on basketball court)
Jan Hammer Music
- "Cool Runnin'" (Opening)
- "Tension" (throughout episode)
- "Dutch Oven" (throughout episode)
- "New York Theme" (Crockett and Ferguson talking in the park)
- "Ortega was wearing that much ($5000) on her ears when we busted her!" -- Crockett during the bond hearing
- "He (Ferguson) practically gave Ortega a ticket to Bogota at the bond hearing!" -- Tubbs to Castillo
- "What you've been doing is wrong, but it doesn't make you bad!" -- Crockett to Judge Ferguson
- "I'm breaking even, Crockett, I'm finally breaking even!" -- Judge Ferguson to Crockett before committing suicide