Beyond a Shadow of Doubt

Beyond a Shadow of Doubt (Portland Vice)

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"Beyond a Shadow of Doubt"
Portland Vice episode
Original title screen of the episodespacer
Episode no.
Season 1
Episode 14
Directed by Lombard Hendricks
Teleplay by
Bower Glean
Thomson Wulf
Based on

Shadow of a Doubt
by Jacob Conwell
and Thomson Wulf
Original air date January 11, 1986

Guest appearances

Matt Frewer as Victor "Deak" Dawkins
Nancy Klevock as Rally May
Robert Davi as Enrique Sandoval
Desi Arnaz, Jr. as Phil Lachtmann

Episode chronology

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"Form of Sin, Part II" "A Violent Temper"

Portland Vice (1986 TV series, season 1)

List of episodes

"Beyond a Shadow of Doubt" (re-syndicated as "Shadow of a Doubt") is the fourteenth episode of the first season of American police procedural television series Portland Vice. It first aired on January 11, 1986 on NBC. The episode was nominated for six Emmy awards — of which it won four — and was the second highest-viewed episode of the season.

The episode featured Matt Frewer as a San Diego-based AVWN agent cooperating with PortMetro vice detectives Beatrice Ross and Damien Creed in order to apprehend a cartel lieutenant working alongside an arms gunrunner. It was one of the episodes based on several original pitches from novelist Jacob Conwell to NBC and Michael Mann with the idea of creating a West Coast spinoff of Miami Vice.


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PortMetro detectives Beatrice Ross (Lauren Holly) and Damien Creed (Rex Smith) are introduced by their boss — Lieutenant Holdman (Antonio Pasumarthai) — to Department of Anomalous Vice, Weapons, and Narcotics (AVWN) agent Victor “Deak” Dawkins (Matt Frewer), who is “on loan” to Squad Tau-51 in order to conduct a joint operation. Both organizations are after Enrique Sandoval (Robert Davi), an anomalous drug cartel lieutenant who escaped arrest in San Diego and is now working in Portland with infamous gunrunner Rally May (Nancy Klevock). Dawkins is plagued by a recurring flashback of a failed sting to catch Sandoval which resulted in the death of his partner, Phil Lachtmann (Desi Arnas Jr.). He is also tormented with the thought that he must find a specific trunk in the possession of Sandoval.

Ross, Creed, and Dawkins manage to track down Rally May using local informants; to their surprise, someone else had inquired about May prior to them. Ross and Creed — posing as potential buyers — set up a meet with May in a local club. At the meet, the detectives learn that May inadvertently received 20 kilograms of the anomalous drug ochorvate, a variation of cardocran, and is negotiating with Sandoval to offload it. Dawkins, intruding on the meet as a “local distributor”, pushes for May to cut them in instead, explaining that Sandoval is on ‘foreign turf’ and will be ineffective in paying and distributing the ochorvate. May is skeptical of his claims, but agrees to consider it if he beats her in a race around Portlands. The three accept.

Dawkins arrives in a civil forfeited Chevy Corvette, while May arrives in a Lamborghini Countach. Ross and Creed monitor Dawkins. During the race, a van pulls out and attempts to ram both Dawkins and May off the road before its occupants start firing on the two with MP5k submachine guns. The detectives chase after them in their own car, managing to stop the van after Ross uses her thaumaturgic power to shock it with a strong burst of electricity, causing the van to ignite and explode. Dawkins and May continue the race, with Dawkins pulling out in front after the Countach suffers a blowout. Rally May agrees to do business with the trio, citing Dawkins’s win and incensed over the fact that the submachine guns used against them were bought by Sandoval to encourage ‘good relations’ between him and May. She tells them that she will call when she’s ready to get everything together.

While Dawkins is out notifying AVWN about the case progress at his hotel room, Ross and Creed trawl through surveillance footage of the race captured by fellow detective Jeff Dwyer. Although neither of them are able to identify the van’s license plates, Creed becomes suspicious of a partially-visible man on the roof of a neighboring building watching the race with binoculars. Ross is also suspicious after inspecting the shot up Corvette: some of the bullet holes suggest that Dawkins should have been wounded, but he remained unscathed despite not being a thaumaturge himself nor having received any prior known protection. She calls Dawkins down to the station. He claims to have been wearing a bulletproof vest during the race as ‘insurance’, and also identifies the suspicious roof-watcher in the surveillance footage as his former partner Lachtmann.

May phones the group and requests their assistance; she plans to double-cross Sandoval since he believes she is unaware of his attempted betrayal. She explains that she has enough firepower but a lack of manpower — if they assist her in getting rid of Sandoval, she will sell her stock of ochorvate to them at a major discount. They agree to help her out and May promises to call back. Dawkins is ecstatic about the break in the case, assuming that Lachtmann faked his death and has been radio silent in order to work covertly. Creed — under the pretense of another case — asks Holdman to surreptitiously run a check on Dawkins. Ross strategizes with Dwyer and another co-worker Nina Lawson to create a plan of attack for Tau-51 to apprehend both Rally May and Enrique Sandoval at once.

Sandoval finally agrees to a meet with May, and she notifies the group to meet her at a disused industrial warehouse that night. Creed privately talks to Ross while Holdman instructs the rest of Tau-51 and Dawkins on the arrest plans. The group conducts the event; Ross fronts with May, while Creed and Dawkins hide to ambush Sandoval. Although the plan seems to work initially, Sandoval reveals that he is aware of May’s deception and opens fire on them with a concealed M-10. A firefight ensues between the enclosing PortMetro officers, Sandoval and his men, May, and Creed and Dawkins. Ross uses her thaumaturgy to assist her colleagues. She briefly spots Lachtmann marking Sandoval with a tracking sigil at the shootout as well. Despite the police cordon around the warehouse, Sandoval is able to escape in his car during a lull in shooting. May also similarly retreats in her repaired Countach.

Ross is able to identify the license plate of Sandoval’s car, and a priority trace on the registration connects the car to a partially-secluded mansion in the outskirts of Portland. Tau-51 and Dawkins prepare to mobilize in order to catch Sandoval before he is able to escape again, but May suddenly calls and asks to see Dawkins alone at her condo. Dwyer outfits Dawkins with a bug, and he rendezvous with her while Ross and Creed head to Sandoval’s location.

May reveals that she is aware that Dawkins is law enforcement and simply wants out of the situation, even offering to work as a bait informant for them. She shows him a gutted bathroom where she has stored the ochorvate. Dawkins agrees to temporarily take her into custody and allows her to grab some belongings from her car. However, when May opens the driver-side door and climbs in, the Countach explodes. Dawkins is stunned. Saddened, he continues on and re-enters May’s apartment to secure the ochorvate until backup arrives.

He is still shaken and caught unaware when Sandoval sneaks up behind him and holds him at gunpoint. Dwyer notifies Ross and Creed that Sandoval has appeared; Tau-51 quickly surrounds the condo and all exit methods, revealing that Ross had previously informed the squad that it was likely Sandoval would be directly going after Rally May. Dawkins turns around to face Sandoval, which extremely agitates the lieutenant once he sees Dawkins’s face. Sandoval, clearly terrified, shoots at Dawkins near point-blank several times — Dawkins remains unharmed and eventually fires back, killing Sandoval. He is confused about Sandoval’s extreme reaction to him, since he had believed that the lieutenant had never seen him directly.

Ross and Creed enter, followed by Lachtmann and Holdman. Lachtmann begins to immediately tear up and starts profusely apologizing to the still-confused Dawkins. Ross hands Dawkins the result of the covert check done by Holdman: the document describes a Victor Deacon Dawkins, thaumaturge, but the picture is of the man originally presumed to be Lachtmann. Lieutenant Holdman receives a call from officers at the Sandoval estate.

The officers there have retrieved the trunk in Dawkins’s visions: inside of it is the corpse of the man working with Ross and Creed, riddled with bullet holes. He finally realizes the reoccurring flashback of the failed sting had resulted in his own death: he is actually Phil Lachtmann, not Victor Dawkins. The real Dawkins continues to apologize, stating that he had accidentally exposed Lachtmann to the organization while conducting surveillance on a cartel dealer on the street. Lachtmann forgives Dawkins, saying that he understands and it had never occurred to him that his partner had intentionally 'burned' him.

Lachtmann congratulates Tau-51 on the successful case and bust, wishes the best for his partner, and expresses a desire to “take a walk”; the detectives let him do so in silence. He starts to walk down the stairs towards the lobby.

The episode closes on a ten-second-long shot of the now-empty staircase.


"Beyond a Shadow of Doubt" was directed by Lombard Hendricks, who had previously worked closely with Anthony Yerkovich and was recommended by Lee H. Katzin to be brought onto the crew of the spinoff. Cinematographer Poull Mendelez joined Hendricks and left the Miami Vice crew after NBC prioritized it as a star-maker by replacing industry mainstays and bringing specially curated younger ‘talent’. Hendricks and Mendelez would often work together throughout the show’s entire run. The episode was based off of one of the pitches given by novelist Jacob Conwell to NBC; it was adapted to screen by Bower Glean and Thomson Wulf, the latter of whom was credited by Conwell as having assisted him in creating the story.

Much like its parent show, Portland Vice often used major artists’ music to accompany scenes. The episode featured international synth-pop; Cheri Cheri Lady by Modern Talking, Touch in the Night by Silent Circle, Hurricane by Tapps, and Don’t Go by Yaz are the most prominent examples. All other incidental music was handled by show composer Jackson Cook, with stylistic assistance from Jan Hammer and Tim Truman (who would replace Hammer on the fifth season of Miami Vice).

The casting of Matt Frewer as Victor “Deak” Dawkins was praised alongside with his performance, and he would receive an Emmy nomination later that year. Many of the crew were greatly impressed by Frewer’s take on the at-the-time twist ending. He reported that his portrayal of Dawkins was inspired by an anecdote told to him of a man being caught up in a car crash that was incensed at several paramedics' insistence on assisting the man, only for him to later realize that he had been bisected at the lower torso.

Nancy Klevock’s performance as Rally May, a West German gunrunner, was also well-received by audiences. The role of Rally was originally written for Meg Foster after writer Bower Glean saw her portrayal as Ali Tanner in The Osterman Weekend; she originally accepted, before having to pull out due to conflicts with the filming schedule of The Wind. Klevock had been on-set to visit her boyfriend, who was part of the style department and had asked her to test some of the outfits for him. Hendricks saw her and asked her to audition for the part — both him and Glean agreed she was very close to how they had envisioned the character. Klevock credits the episode as her breakout: her role as Rally May was cited as one of the main reasons for landing the title role as antihero Serena Shanagan in the TV series Shanagan, Hired Gun.

It was also notable for the inclusion of an explosion stunt involving a real Lamborghini Countach LP500S, which retailed at $118,000 (approximately $320,500 in 2022). The production crew of Portland Vice had contacted Lamborghini in hopes of landing one of their cars — as Miami Vice had an agreement with their competitor, Ferrari — and were allowed to use an off-the-shelf Countach LP500S. Episode director Hendricks inquired about using a third-party bodykit for the stunt, to which Lamborghini firmly denied; instead, they stipulated if NBC paid them half of retail they would allow the crew to destroy the provided car. The studio eventually paid a total of $120,000, and Lamborghini responded by providing the show with an extra Countach as well as the agreed upon one.

Episode notes


Re-syndicated title screen of the episode

The reason for the episode’s new name on re-syndication was debated, with the initial leading theory being that NBC didn’t want to conflate the episode with the similarly-titled Miami Vice episode “Beyond the Shadow” (despite the Portland Vice episode debuting first). However, Wulf explained in a 1996 interview that it was caused by a mistake in naming the teleplay after the pitch’s first draft (which had been retitled by the time it was adapted). In turn, titles designer and editor Harrison o’Graeme used the erroneous title without being informed of the mistake until after it reached syndication. Conwell also confirmed Wulf’s statement, saying that “Shadow of a Doubt” had always been the intended episode name.

This was the only episode in Portland Vice where actors (both Matt Frewer and Desi Arnaz Jr.) were not credited with the actual name of their characters in order to not spoil the plot of the show.

The episode was one of the first in Portland Vice to include multiple guest stars in a single story; all four listed guest stars were included in the opening titles. It was also the first Portland Vice episode to be moved to its new, permanent timeslot — Monday nights at 9 P.M. — both to avoid internal competition with Miami Vice and external competition with the highly-popular CBS show Dallas. A new color scheme of the logo debuted with the new timeslot, replacing the previous cyan/pink coloration with a teal/violet one.


The updated teal/violet color variation of the Portland Vice logo

2022 remake

A remake of "Beyond a Shadow of Doubt" was produced for the Portland Vice (2022) reboot series, appropriately titled as “Shadow of a Doubt”. The episode remained largely unchanged besides updates in technological advances. Scenes with the original Countach LP500 were substituted with the limited-production electric 2021 Countach LPI 800-4. Similarly, Chevrolet provided a 2021 Corvette C8 to replace the episode's C4 Corvette. Lamborghini opted to produce a faux bodykit for the recreation of the Countach’s explosion instead of destroying a production model, citing the low numbers of LPI 800-4s in circulation. NBC had originally wanted to replace the notable ending of the episode but it was kept for the remake.

Several other changes were made to reflect the modern-day setting such as updating the firearms used in the original series. Agent Dawkins's assigned Browning Hi-Power was replaced with a Ruger SR45, and Detective Ross’s personal Smith & Wesson Model 49 “Bodyguard” was replaced with the S&W Model 640. The notable exception was the LAR Grizzly Win Mag carried by Rally May — it had been the personal firearm of actor Rex Smith, who loaned it back to production for filming of the episode.

Awards and nominations

Year Result Award Category Recipients
1986 Winner Emmy Award Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series Jacob Conwell, Bower Glean, Thomson Wulf
Winner Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series Lombard Hendricks
Nominated Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series Matt Frewer
Winner Outstanding Music Composition for a Series Jackson Cook
Nominated Outstanding Individual Achievement in Costume Design for a Series Urich Romaninov
Winner Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series Poull Mendelez


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