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Victims of Circumstance


16 (106th Overall)
May 5, 1989
TV Rating
TV-14 L-V
Guest Stars
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"Freefall" (Series Finale)

"Victims of Circumstance" is the sixteenth episode of Miami Vice's fifth season. It premiered on May 5, 1989.


Crockett and Switek infiltrate a white supremacist group that may be linked to the murders of concentration camp survivors who were scheduled to testify against a Nazi fugitive.


An old man cowers in fear, holding a knife, as someone pounds on the door of his house. He uses the phone to call someone, asking them where they are. Meanwhile a group of men, among them Angelo Alvarez are at a restaurant talking about someone named Chuey, who left work because he went "fishing", acting as the bait. Alvarez leaves to check his franchises (crack houses) for skimming. Crockett and Tubbs, who have been observing, follow him. A masked man, armed with a shotgun, bursts into the restaurant and shoots everyone inside, including the two men Alvarez was dining with and Sy, the owner. Crockett and Tubbs hear the shooting and head back, but all they find is the carnage the gunman left behind. A visually shaken Crockett sits down in a booth in the midst of the murder scene while Tubbs mutters "oh my god" behind him.

Officer Bailey looks over the carnage, ruminating about how hit jobs have changed. The two men with Alvarez that were killed turn out to be his brothers, Ernesto and Enrique. Bailey talks about how Sy took care of people and brought workers in from off the street. He has a number tattooed on his arm, signifying that he was in a Nazi prison camp during World War II.

Crockett & Tubbs track down Angelo and inform him about his brothers' murder. He is crushed and insists he had nothing to do with it, vowing revenge. Alvarez asks about the Diablos, a new gang of rip-off artists who are moving in on his turf, and tells the cops the Fuentes gang is getting a new load the next day. Crockett and Tubbs watch the delivery of the drugs (inside tires) and payment, before the Diablos show up for a rip-off. The Fuentes' are killed and the Diablos drive off...right into the cops, who pump shots into the van until it is stopped. One of the Diablos is killed and the other is arrested. The survivor is taken to OCB for intense questioning; he claims he was at a wedding at the time of the Alvarez hit, and his alibi is backed up by the Mother of the Bride and the priest who presided over the wedding. Gina brings a message from Bailey of another hit similar to the first, while the old man still hears the pounding at his door. The dead are Art and Sylvia Kravitz, an elderly couple and a kid. Crockett discovers that both Kravitz' have Nazi prison camp numbers tattooed on their arms. Unbeknownst to Crockett and Tubbs, someone observes them from a car at the crime scene.

Crockett, Tubbs and Bailey go see Dr. Leo Krebbs who is the head of the Krebbs Foundation which tracks down former Nazi's wanted for war crimes. He says that Sy and the Kravitz' were witnesses against a Nazi officer named Hans Kozak, who is being prosecuted for war crimes. All three were to testify, and Krebbs has received a death threat from the "Patriotic Brigade"—a neo-Nazi group run by a former Klansman named John Baker -- warning him not to make a speech about his time in the concentration camp. Krebbs says he has two remaining witnesses, Jacob Hoffman (who is in a nursing home and under guard) and Krebbs himself.

While someone in a car watches outside, Krebbs makes his speech about the Holocaust, then and now (now being in Russia, the Middle East, and in Miami). Suddenly Brigade members come inside chanting white supremacy propaganda, and Baker himself shows up ready to start trouble. Crockett, Tubbs and Switek play up to the Brigade and instigate a brawl, during which Crockett punches Tubbs in defense of Baker. In jail, Crockett (as Burnett) and Switek (as Stan Rogers) talk with Baker about the Brigade while pretending to be white supremacists. Baker agrees to bail them out along with his men. A reporter sympathetic to the Brigade named Helen Jackson wants to interview Baker, and when he brushes her off she asks Crockett and Switek to arrange an interview. Crockett and Switek shoot up a Jewish delicatessen (a fake set up by the team) and destroy it with pipe bombs, to show Baker and the Brigade their enthusiasm for the cause.

Baker discusses the intricacies of managing his Brigade with Crockett. Baker shows off his highly detailed computer database which includes information of all the enemies to their cause. Crockett proposes getting their message out to the public using Helen Jackson's interview with Baker as a springboard, and gives him her number. Baker and Helen have their interview at her hotel room, which Crockett, Tubbs and Switek record from another floor. Baker tells her of his history and spouts off his neo-Nazi beliefs, but before announcing his next target he is called away to a strategy meeting for his Brigade.

The Brigade (including Crockett and Switek) go to a rally which includes Klansmen and other white supremacists. Crockett realizes the whole thing is little more than posturing and speeches and concludes they are onto the wrong people. Meanwhile, someone breaks into the Brigade HQ and uses the computer to locate Jacob Hoffman and Leo Krebbs. The old man continues to hear pounding on the door. Hoffman (the other witness) resists his son's requests to go with him under guard, electing to stay at the nursing home, but when called to therapy the nurse who wheels him away is Helen Jackson.

Baker discovers the break-in and the files that are missing; he thinks it's Krebbs' work and suggests Crockett take care of it in order to prove himself. Gina tells Crockett that Hoffman was killed at the nursing home, despite all the protection. The old man pounding at the door turns out to be Helen's father, Hans Kozak; Helen is the one behind all the murders, and Kozak wants Krebbs killed to stop the nightmares of the door pounding. The Medical Examiner tells Crockett that the nurse who was supposed to be caring for Hoffman was killed 10 hours before he was. A witness gives a description of the nurse that sounds very much like Helen, and they realize Krebbs is next on the list.

Helen walks into a banquet hall, where a humanitarian award will soon be given, and asks to interview the recipient—Krebbs. She claims that her father was in the same camp as Krebbs in order to get him to speak with her. She asks him about Kozak, who he wants to bring to justice, and she suggests that he was simply a man doing his job, which Krebbs vehemently disagrees with. Baker storms in and accuses Krebbs of stealing his files; Helen admits to it before shooting Baker and his fellow Brigade member. She reveals her heritage to Krebbs, along with her role in the murders. She tells him that she killed Hoffman just a few hours before and defends her fathers actions. Krebbs tells her how he watched her father shoot a mother and her two children for his own enjoyment, and that in her quest to end his nightmare she has let herself be corrupted by him. Crockett and Tubbs arrive in time to stop Helen from killing Krebbs and take her into custody. Helen tells Crockett she did all of this to protect her father whom she idolized, and there is no one in the world like him.

Alvarez walks up and gets his revenge on Helen by shooting her; he attempts to flee before Crockett shoots him in the leg and Metro-Dade officers take him into custody. Crockett laments that Helen essentially died when her father became the war criminal Krebbs condemned him as, yet all the hate and prejudice she stood for continues.


Guest Stars



  • The off-kilter architecture and chiaroscuro (contrast of strong light and intensely dark shadows) in the opening sequence are a tribute to the German expressionist classic The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. This is appropriate both because the film's warped reality reflected the unease in Germany at the rise of the Nazi movement and because the film featured an unlikely killer who had been conditioned to destroy his victims, much like Kozak's daughter.
  • It is ironic that viewers at first assume that the man cowering from the threatening knock on the door is one of the concentration camp victims fearing the return of his Nazi captors, when it is actually one of the killers cowering in fear of his victims.
  • The series has explored many forms of psychological dysfunction, such as multiple personality disorder and fugue state; this episode hinges on what Freud called the Electra Complex, the over-attachment of a daughter to a father. Kozak's daughter puts it succinctly when she says, "There's nobody like my daddy."
  • As Kozak's daughter is clearly pushed by him to kill the witnesses to his crimes regardless of her own safety, it could be said that she is his final victim.
  • This episode bears a resemblance to the original Star Trek episode "The Conscience of the King", which also features a daughter who is the unlikely killer of those who witnessed her father's war crimes. The original Star Trek series was in near-constant syndication during the time this episode would have been written.
  • Among the finer touches in Crockett and Switek's attempts to ingratiate themselves with the Patriotic Brigade is the fact that they drive to the Jewish store they destroy in a Chevrolet Corvette C4 (a US-made car) rather than Crockett's usual Ferrari Testarossa (a foreign import).
  • This was the final new episode of Miami Vice to be broadcast on a Friday night. "Freefall" would be shown on a Sunday night and the "lost" episodes on Wednesday nights.
  • The episode features many long, mobile, handheld camera shots, a technique rarely if ever seen elsewhere on the show, creating at least one notable judder.
  • John Leguizamo previously portrayed Tubbs' nemesis Orlando Calderone in the season 2 finale "Sons and Lovers" and season 3's "The Afternoon Plane". Paul Guilfoyle previously appeared as Milton Glantz in season 4's Death and the Lady, while Xander Berkeley played Tommy Lowe in "Like a Hurricane", also from season 4. More examples of the show recycling guest stars.
  • The Royal Palm hotel (shown in the scene where Jacob Hoffman's body is found) was another of the South Beach Art Deco hotels that was renovated after Vice went off the air and is now a luxury hotel.
  • This is one of several episodes that does not end on a freeze frame.


  • When the Diablos attempt to flee in the van, Crockett and Tubbs pull up in the Testarossa to block them and someone is heard to shout, "Police officers! Stop!" The voice is clearly not that of either Crockett or Tubbs, yet there are no other officers present at the time; backup does not arrive until after the van has crashed.

Matted car image

  • During the scene where Crockett and Tubbs investigate the Kravitz killings, the shot from a passing car is clearly just a (rather crudely) cut-out photo of a car interior matted over the scene.
  • The same happens again later, when Crockett and Switek go to watch Krebbs' speech.

Production Notes

  • Working Title: "Innocent Bystander"
  • Filmed: February 28, 1989 - March 8, 1989
  • Production Code: 63915
  • Production Order: 105

Filming Locations

  • 1608 Alton Road, Miami Beach (Café where Alvarez brothers are shot)
  • Royal Palm Hotel, 1545 Collins Ave, Miami Beach (Jacob Hoffman's body found)


Tim Truman Music

  • "Innocent Bystander" (Crockett/Tubbs questioning Angelo Alvarez)
  • "Dope in the Bag" (Diablos attacking smugglers)


  • "No professional pride, just aim, and splatter!" -- Crockett about the hit job
  • "Poor little fascist.  Nobody understands him." -- Crockett listening to Baker's interview
  •  "We've landed in a fascist pep rally!"--  Crockett to Tubbs at Baker's mass meeting
  • "She's been dead a long time, since her father executed all those people in the death camps; unfortunately what she stood for didn't die with her!" -- Crockett about Helen Jackson
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"