You know what I hate about later episodes of shows, the show and character changes. The list is long including Dead Michael DeFino, Ghost Gary playing Nerf basketball at Michael Steadman's office and this, Ricardo Tubbs losing his damn mind. And not by coincidence Sonny Crockett "checked out" of this episode by the first scene, going to see Billy and miles away from this fetid disaster zone.
The Cell Within is about a killer John Manning who did a bid in the joint and wrote a book about his time. Of course Rico was the cop who arrested him. At this point Manning is part of the jet-set and Tubbs is there at his book signing just like a little school girl. Bogus. After talking a while, Manning invites our Rico for a dinner party at his pad. Bad idea. Tubbs talked it over with Sonny, Sonny wasn't having it. Castillo? You know how he is. He broke it down that Manning killed some folks (two to be exact) and was the suspect in another 7. Unthwarted Rico decided to go to his new crushes house for dinner.
Can I take a break from this review and say how stupid this is? The character of Ricardo Tubbs would have never done this--and now we had to see him go to a mansion by boat with the help of a Manning's punch drunk boxer-friend/assistant. Good god. Tubbs arrived and after a really off putting joke about the boxer (low, very low) the "grown-ups" went off to talk about "issues of the world." I wish I could scrub my brain of this episode. Anyway, Manning and Rico talked about ecumenical foolishness and before you know it, Tubbs was shot with a poison dart.
Turns out, Manning's creepy house was also a holding cell for people he deemed "the problem" in the grand solution. He made a makeshift jail and had a psychologist, a dope dealer and a prostitute all behind bars. Guess who else was joining them? One dumb cop. Thinking back on it, he really did have a cornucopia of folks in the holding tank. I was most surprised seeing the lady who played Paul Reiser's sister on Mad About You. She played a psychologist, she just like popped up. Whoops!
Since Gina and Trudy didn't see Tubbs's hooptie burning oil in the parking lot, they knew trouble was brewing. Tubbs had a night and morning full of surprises. Perhaps there was nothing sadder than the prostitute he elicited for help in a botched scheme. That worked out real well. Manning had a crude electric chair in the quarters. Now that worked.
The Last Scenes: Castillo didn't like not seeing Rico in the office. He didn't like it one bit so he finally went to Manning's crazy lair to find Tubbs and the rest of the folks. Tubbs said some words to Manning as he was doing the patented Miami Vice Last Scene Fade Out deal. Sadly Crockett was somewhere in Georgialina playing his Allman Brothers tapes and missed out on this goodbye.
My Take: Really? Miami Vice was circling the drain at this point. This episode was first broadcast in March of 1989. There were only a handful of episodes left and after a show like this, longtime fans were all but begging for it to end.