"Touch of Evil" is a true masterpiece of film, but with a couple of interesting flaws. The first is that it was drastically re cut by the studio, diluting Welles' original vision. The version presented here is the "reconstructed version, which was pieced together based on a long memo that Welles wrote to the studio after they had taken it out of his hands. Nevertheless it's a great film even if possibly a little short of what Welles originally intended. The other problem I've had with the film is that I never thought Charlton Heston was convincing as a Mexican. I do have to say however that after my most recent viewing I don't have as much of a problem with it. It makes sense when viewed in light of Quinlan's observations that Vargas "doesn't seem Mexican." His performance is good, and this time that was enough for me.
Based on the visual experience alone, this is a beautiful film. It's work with texture and shadows and character placement is brilliant. The congestion of characters and their separations all echoing the plot, giving it visual reinforcement. And yet, every character is caught in the same net. The black and white (which really give us mostly grey) suit the film perfectly as one of the major themes is the impossibility of living in absolutes. Conflict is everywhere, and nobody succeeds in communicating. The film deals with racial issues, sexual issues, authority issues. If there's a way to misunderstand another person it's in this film.
Putting aside the conflict between Vargas and Quinlan, we start with Vargas and his wife. This is a couple just married before the wedding night. While it's understood that Vargas has a position that requires him to possibly be on duty at all times, he's presented with a problem that he could easily wash his hands of and let the American authorities handle (as they would prefer it) It says much of Vargas, that he not only gets involved, but pushes to get involved, although only as an "observer" at first. He not only chooses his work over his wife, but he practically forgets her, sending her off alone in a town foreign to her, where a car bomb was just planted and he clearly has enemies. There is no choice involved for him. Vargas is the character who sees in black and white. He believes that he has the moral high ground, while not seeing the reckless neglect of his wife except as an afterthought. He eventually thinks to check on her, but not with any interest until she is placed in undeniably real danger. Up until then, he gives the bare minimum effort to keep her pacified. Susan sees this in her husband, and in some respects takes pride in his "authority" practically cheer leading for him when faced with "Uncle Joe." Nevertheless, she rightly feels jilted and tells him so quite directly just before Quinlan shows up to interrupt their kissing. Again he gives no thought to how she'll find or reach the hotel. Once he's in the car with Quinlan, proving himself superior takes precedence over his wife's safety. It's Menzies who steps in offering to take her to the Hotel.
Menzies is the closest character to a conscience in the film, and as such he's relatively quiet, content to be a supporting player to the more powerful personalities. He's good natured and honest but easily fooled, requiring absolute certainty before he can think badly of Quinlan. Menzies has seen the best of Quinlan as well as the worst. Quinlan is a man who took a bullet for him and taught him everything he knows. It's in no small part, thanks to Quinlan that Menzies thinks of himself as an honest cop who does things the right way. It's this belief that forces Menzies to help Vargas.
I think it's also quite intentional that Vargas the Mexican authority is the character arguing for "due process" while the American Quinlan makes his own rules, reversing the stereotypical behaviors of each culture, so that we can't dismiss the characters with those stereotypes. This isn't really a question of right and wrong. The only question is how difficult it is for people to agree on what the right thing is. Quinlan never takes Vargas seriously until Vargas becomes a threat to his career. Unlike the viewers, he can dismiss with the Mexican stereotype although this doesn't work out well for him. Quinlan delights in telling Vargas about procedures, when Vargas demands action on his wife's behalf. It's also the one point where Vargas doesn't care about "going by the book." And yet, the fact remains that Vargas is not required for the investigation and has no authority in it. He could easily attend to his wife himself, and his true interest is determined when he drops the issue with Quinlan.
When he finds his wife is in grave danger, he has himself primarily to blame. By that time he's essentially powerless, and only this bothers him enough to become irrational. He beats on several men at the bar, not because it's necessary to get information, but because he has no choice but to see himself as completely ineffective in his duty as a husband to keep his wife safe. However, even with his wife framed for murder and drugged in a prison cell, he can't abandon his vendetta against Quinlan, reasoning that he's pursuing justice. The Villain in the film "Uncle Joe" turns out to be powerless, except for the temptation he offers Quinlan. He only exists as a go between to accelerate the collision of Quinlan and Vargas. We see that he's terrified of the consequences of Vic throwing acid at Vargas, and Susan is more than capable of putting him in his place in person.
While Vargas appears to be the "hero" of the picture, he only exists to help us look at Quinlan. Welles' performance here is brilliant, the contradictory nature of the character comes through so solidly, that he becomes the character. Quinlan believes in justice as much or more than Vargas does, but he also believes that the system needs a little help to see that justice is done. He couldn't catch his wife's killer, so he has determined that he will catch every killer he can, no matter what. Despite his sloppy, lumbering appearance, he is a great detective. We question his accuracy when we learn about his evidence planting habits, and we question it again when we learn that his hunch about Sanchez was right. As Schwartz and Tanya establish, he's a great detective and a lousy cop. He is also similar to Vargas isn that both men love nothing more than their job. Rather than a wife, Quinlan keeps an addiction, booze first, which he replaces with candy bars. We see the sadness of his character in the brief first reunion with Tanya, their conversation, revealing how he misses who he used to be, before the years took their toll on him. It's well after this moment that Uncle Joe puts a frink in front him, and the man confronted with his reputation (the only thing he has) being ruined, and the reminder of his former self, is ready for drink, because that's what it takes for him to cross the line and become the thing he hates, a criminal and a murderer. Quinlan is doomed the moment he takes the drink, although it isn't until he finally realizes that Menzies is dead that it hits home. Quinlan calling out to his dead partner and friend is powerful moment. He's killed all that was worthwhile in himself and there's nothing to keep him going anymore.
At the end, we're left wondering what was accomplished, other than the fall of Quinlan. Nobody's hands are clean and everyone is damaged. Menzies, the conscience of the film is dead, the Vargas newlyweds will not enjoy their honeymoon, and Mike Vargas will have to live with his part in Menzies' death as well as Quinlan's, knowing that he was wrong and Sanchez was the murderer. He completely neglected his wife to complicate a situation that he would've been justified in leaving alone. He did catch a cop planting evidence, but was his focus worth what it cost? We get no clear answer, other than a bigger mess than we started with and people who will never be the same again. The world isn't black and white. Sometimes all of our speculation leads us right back where we started. People aren't that easy and neither are the reasons for what they do. As Tanya says in the brilliant closing:
"He was some kind of a man. What does it matter what you say about people?"
An unknown person hastily places a crude bomb in the back of a car, as a man and woman approach it from another direction, getting in and driving down a busy downtown street where competing music blasts from various nightclubs. The car passes Ramon "Mike" Vargas (Charlton Heston) and his new wife Susan (Janet Leigh) The newlyweds pass the car as it parks on the street a moment. The car starts moving again in roughly the same direction as the couple stop for a border crossing checkpoint to enter the US. They speak with the border guard. Susan tells them that she's an American citizen. They recognize Mr. Vargas by name, the guard asking if he's "on the trail of another dope ring." and announcing Vargas' presence to another guard. Vargas explains that he's only "on the trail of a chocolate soda" for his wife. They congratulate him on catching "Grandi" but Vargas downplays it by saying he only caught one member of a large family.
The man driving the car has been waiting to get through the whole time, and the guards finally give him their attention with Vargas gone. The main guard states "No purchases, Mr. Linnaker" and asks if the woman with him is an American citizen. The woman in the car complains of a ticking noise she's hearing in her head and they let the car through. The Vargas newlyweds cross the border and Susan remarks that it's the first time they've been together in "her country" Mike responds "Do you realize I haven't kissed you in over an hour?" As they begin to kiss they're stopped by a loud explosion. We see that it's Mr. Linnaker's car just on the US side of the border. Mike Vargas tells Susan they'll have to postpone the soda while he finds out what happened. She follows him anyway and he tells her again to stay back:
Mike: This could be very bad for us.
Susan: For us?
Mike: For Mexico, I mean.
He tells her to go wait at the motel as he tries to talk with the police arriving to find out what happened. He knows one of the men responding who knows he has the Grandi trial coming up later in the week. Vargas explains that he planned to head to Mexico City for the trial, but he isn't sure with the explosion that just happened, since the car and bomb came from the Mexican side of the border.
Susan makes her way towards the motel, but A Mexican man starts following her, and barely stops her from stepping into the street in front of a speeding car. When he makes an advance in Spanish, she asks an English speaking person nearby to "tell him that I'm a married woman and that my husband is a great big official in the government, ready and willing to knock out all those pretty front teeth of his." The English speaking man then says that the boy wants to talk about her husband and he then hands her a note written in English which says "Follow this boy at once, we have something very important for Mr. Vargas." She decides to follow him, saying "What have I got to lose?" and then "Wait, don't answer that."
We return to Mike at the explosion scene, where Al Schwartz, (Mort Mills) the Assistant DA meets up with DA Adair (Ray Collins) who asks for Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles) The DA remarks "An hour ago, Rudy Linnaker had this town in his pocket." Linnaker's daughter, Marcia (Joanna Moore) shows up to identify her father. The DA sees Quinlan's car arriving and tells Vargas "you've heard of Hank Quinlan, our local police celebrity." Vargas says he'd like to meet him, but another guy on the scene says "That's what you think." We see Quinlan getting out of his car, with cigar in mouth, asking gruffly if they threw the bomb or planted it. When asked "Who?" Quinlan responds "Whoever did it, you jack ass."
Susan is still following the Mexican boy to the Ritz Hotel to meet an older man. The man immediately asks her why she called the boy she followed, "Pancho" She answers "Just for laughs I guess." and reminds the man that the note promised something for her husband. He says his name is Grandi, which she recognizes from her husband's case, as well as a local nightclub. He tells her that yes, it is his nightclub and asks the boy for his gun, which he shows to Susan. Grandi explains that some Grandis live on the US side of the border and others in Mexico. Susan isn't intimidated and scolds Grandi, telling him he's seen too many gangster movies, and that her husband won't be intimidated by threats.
Quinlan has quickly taken charge of the crime scene. When the Police Chief asks how he knows it was a bomb, Quinlan remarks "Well. Rudy Linnaker could've been struck by lightning." Quinlan tells them to let Linnaker's daughter go, and to put a tail on her. Quinlan remarks on the DA's "monkey suit." The Chief explains they were all at a dinner. Remarking on the many agencies that happen to be present, Quinlan says "G-Men, T-Men, Quite a little tea party for Rudy Linnaker's bonfire. Yeah, I hear he even invited some kind of a Mexican." The DA says "I don't think Mr. Vargas claims any jurisdiction." Quinlan responds "I should hope not. Two people, Americans, are blown to hash, with dynamite, practically in my own police station...
Vargas interrupts "I wonder, what makes you so very sure it was dynamite?" Quinlan says "My leg." confusing Vargas. They explain that Quinlan gets "intuition" which he feels in his "game leg" Someone adds, that Vargas has a theory that the murder was committed outside of American jurisdiction. The Chief quickly adds that they're all going to cooperate. Vargas adds "I'm merely what the United Nations would call an Observer." Quinlan tells Vargas that he doesn't "talk like one, like a Mexican I mean"
Susan tells Grandi that Mike is probably looking for her and that'll mean trouble. Grandi and the boy laugh and talk in Spanish to each other. Grandi explains that the boy asked if her husband is jealous, prompting Susan to call Grandi a ridiculous, old fashioned, jug eared lopsided little Ceasar. He tells her he didn't understand that and she'll "have to talk slow." She threatens to yell, which Grandi advises against. He rants that this used to be a quiet town until Vargas came along. Susan demands what he promised he had for Vargas.Grandi tells her to tell him to lay off his brother in Mexico city. "That's advice. That's what I've got for him." She asks if she's free to leave then and Vargas explains that no one was keeping her or laid a hand on her. She excuses herself and heads to her hotel.
Quinlan brings his partner Pete Menzies (Joseph Calleia) the Chief and Schwartz into Mexico, although the Chief voices concern about it. Quinlan remarks that tourists do it every day and they're just being tourists. Quinlan says he needs to talk to all the "stripteasers" to check up on the girl who was in the car with Linnaker. Menzies justifies "there's no law against visitors asking questions, is there Mr. Vargas?" only to realize that Vargas is no longer there.
They look and see Vargas in front of his hotel with his wife, who's eager to tell him what happened. Quinlan remarks "Well what do you know, She don't look Mexican either." Vargas leaves the hotel to catch up with Menzies and Quinlan. He doesn't realize someone is following him until hearing his name called, followed by a thrown glass bottle full of acid, just missing him. Vargas chases the attacker but can't catch him. Menzies checks on Vargas while the rest of the group questions the girls, none of whom seem to know the girl in the car. Quinlan says it's a waste of time and notices a fortune telling place place across the street and remarks "Tana's still open for business?"
The group waits outside while Quinlan goes into Tanya's place. He seems surprised that Tanya (Marlene Dietrich) doesn't recognize him. She tells him "You should lay off those candy bars." They talk a little bit about old times and Quinlan asks if she knows anything about the bomb. She says the only thing she heard was the explosion. Menzies tells Quinlan that Vargas got in trouble. Meanwhile the group is questioning Vargas about the incident. Quinlan tells them it must have been Grandi related and Vargas ask Quinlan if his intuition said anything about the trouble his wife just had. Vargas describes the situation, and Quinlan says it was "Uncle Joe Grandi" He admits to Quinlan that she wasn't taken by force or attacked. Vargas demands that Quinlan do something about it anyway, but Quinlan tells him he has to file a charge. Quinlan insinuates that his wife was simply "picked up" on the street. The Chief tries to settle things down between them. Vargas and Quinlan argue about the law, until Quinlan says "Let's get back to civilization" indicating it's time to return to the American side of the border.
Susan is in the Hotel room, which doesn't have a window shade. She's being harassed by a man across the street who keeps shining a flashlight in the window. Vargas returns to the room and finds that she's busted the light bulb in frustration. On the street, Uncle Joe Grandi is chasing Vic, the kid who threw acid at Vargas. "Who told you to throw acid at Vargas?" he asks. When he asks Vic who's in charge of the family, Vic answers "My old man." Uncle Joe reminds him that his father is in prison and that he's in charge until he gets out.
Vargas, meanwhile is explaining to Susan that "this isn't the real Mexico" saying that "border towns bring out the worst in all countries." Susan is determined to leave. Vargas tells her that he'll be glad if she takes the early plane back to Mexico City. She says "I'm very glad you're very glad." but he isn't listening as he has taken a phone call about official business.
Uncle Joe and Vic continue to squabble, Vic revealing that he's worried his father will die if he has to endure prison for ten years. Uncle Joe tells him that his father is as good as convicted but tells Vic to leave Vargas to him. They see Susan in the lobby and Uncle Joe sends someone to deliver an envelope. She opens it and sees that it's a picture of her standing next to the Mexican boy who first brought her to Uncle Joe. When Mike is done with his call, Susan says she no longer wants to go back to Mexico City, although he's convinced it's a good idea. He says he has to meet Quinlan, and she tells him she's going with him. They agree that they'll drop her at the American Hotel Mirador before the meeting.
Uncle Joe vows to get Vargas "where it hurts" without laying a hand on him. Vargas tries to explain to his wife why he's so interested in the car bombing business, ( as opposed to his honeymoon) telling her it could be a real scandal for Mexico. She isn't interested and distracts him in the car by kissing him,which is interrupted by Quinlan pulling up. Vargas leaves her there, getting in with Quinlan, while Menzies offers to take her to the Hotel. Menzies realizes he has Quinlan's cane and explains to her that Quinlan got his leg wound stopping a bullet that was meant for him. He also tells her that Quinlan gave up drinking a long time ago and it was the "bravest thing he's ever done." Menzies realizes that Uncle Joe has been following them and pulls him over, waking Susan up and asking her to identify him, which she does. He reminds them that he's never laid a hand on Susan. Menzies insists that Uncle Joe come with him regardless, until Quinlan decides what to do with him. Menzies remarks that she's probably the only one staying at the motel, which causes a chuckle from Uncle Joe, (who's the Hotel owner.)
Once she gets everything in her room, she hears country music coming from a speaker in the room. She sees the hotel clerk 9Dennis Weaver) out the window. He tells her he turned the music on for her and brought sheets as well. He drops the sheets on the bed and says he isn't going to help make it as he's "the night man" She asks if the day man can help and he tells her there is no day man. He twitches and jumps when Susan moves, clearly not right in the head. He remarks that "her friend Grandi" isn't going to leave her there for long.
Quinlan and Vargas stop at a construction site that reported stolen dynamite. Quinlan asks if they've fired anyone lately and the foreman says they fired a kid named Sanchez who was fooling around with the boss's daughter. Schwartz is also in the car and recognizes a worker, who Quinlan tells him is Eddie Farnum. He asks Farnum how long he's been out and Farnum says three months, also telling Quinlan that his lawyer (also Grandi's lawyer, Frantz) got him the job. They hear a report that Sanchez has been picked up at Marcia Linnaker's place. Vargas asks if it's the same Sanchez that Quinlan's been talking about all day. Arriving at the place Vargas asks Quinlan if he really has anything on Sanchez. Quinlain says "not yet. Just going on my intuition."
They recognize Grandi's lawyer's car outside Marcia Linnaker's place.
Frantz tells Marcia to let him do the talking. Sanchez has heard about Quinlan though and fears he'll be treated roughly as he doesn't have an attorney of his own. When Vargas speaks Spanish to Sanchez, Quinlan reminds him that it's not up to him to interrogate. Quinlan starts talking to Marcia who answers his questions without thinking, until Frantz, reminds her to let him do the talking. Quinlan assumes that she's been living with Sanchez although Marcia's lawyer prevents her answering. Sanchez tries to leave with Marcia and Mr. Frantz, but the police grab him to prevent him leaving. Quinlan asks an officer to look in the desk. Sanchez starts speaking Spanish to Vargas which annoys Quinlan, who demands they keep it in English. Vargas tells Quinlan that Sanchez is worried about some kind of "third degree" and he tells Quinlan he told Sanchez he had nothing to worry about. In the bathroom, Vargas knocks over an empty shoe box, and puts the top back on it, while Quinlan asks Sanchez questions.
Schwartz and Vargas talk while they overhear Quinlan hitting Sanchez. Vargas remarks that the boy could be innocent. When Schwartz asks "Intuition?" Vargas says "Why not? Quinlan doesn't have a monopoly on hunches." Vargas says it could have been Farnum from the construction site, as they all worked for Grandi's company. Quinlan remarks that the apartment is too nice for Sanchez to afford and asks if Marcia pays the bills. He tells Quinlan that this has been going on since Marcia's father had him fired from his construction job. Quinlan says "Naturally,he objected to having a Mexican shoe clerk for a son in law." Vargas remarks that while Quinlan can show motive,he'll need more than that. Quinlan says "We'll get it." Quinlan excuses himself saying it isn't his case (which pleases Quinlan) He finds a store nearby, and asks to use her phone. He's embarrassed when he asks the store keeper for a phone book and she tells him that she's blind. He calls information for the number of the Mirador.
Menzies shows up with Uncle Joe, and tells Quinlan what happened. Quinlan deduces that Uncle Joe thought he was following Vargas, because Menzies was driving Vargas' car. Mike reaches Susan at the Motel. Susan is wearing a negligee,and seems happy to hear from him, although she is quickly disappointed when Vargas only talks about how bad it is that Quinlan is arresting Sanchez. To answer her disappointment, he tells her he really called to say he's sorry and that he loves her, although he clearly feels awkward with the blind girl sitting right next to him. She attempts to have a more personal conversation but looking at the blind girl, he turns businesslike and hangs up. Susan calls the front desk and tells them she doesn't want to be disturbed. We see that Grandi's man is at the front desk.
Vargas returns to the room where they have Sanchez. Quinlan isn't in the room and Sanchez tries to explain that Marcia was chasing him to marry her, not the other way around. Before they get anywhere, Quinlan returns. Quinlan tells Menzies to go search Sanchez's place while they talk. Quinlan insists that Sanchez admit he stole dynamite and blew up Marcia's father, but Sanchez refuses. Menzies yells that he's found something and seems delighted saying "Hank has done it again. He's nailed his man." Quinlan tells them that he's found two sticks of dynamite in the bathroom. Sanchez pleads with Vargas, swearing that there was never any dynamite in the apartment. Vargas asks about what they found in the bathroom and Quinlan points out that Menzies found it. Vargas realizes that the dynamite was found in the shoe box that was empty when he'd knocked it over earlier. He tells Quinlan his thoughts and tells him he knows he framed the boy. Schwartz warns Quinlan that a man of Vargas position testifying could seriously hurt him. Schwartz gets in Vargas' car and tells Vargas that although he didn't see that the shoe box was empty, he believes him.
Uncle Joe tells Quinlan that they're now both looking for the same thing. Initially Quinlan tells Uncle Joe to get lost, but Uncle Joe reminds him that he himself said that someone's reputation would be ruined. "Why shouldn't it be Vargas'?" Quinlan encourages Menzies to leave him and get to work before talking further with Uncle Joe. Menzies watches the two of them walk off together. We see Susan at the hotel, watching as cars start showing up playing loud rock music.
Vargas and Schwartz discuss getting proof about what Quinlan did. Vargas decides to check the records on dynamite sales. Susan calls the front desk to complain about the loud music, although Grandi's man isn't any help.The night man returns and is nervous when he finds the office full of Grandi's men. Susan calls the front desk and asks to be connected to the police department, which of course they don't put through. Quinlan and Uncle Joe keep talking, Uncle Joe putting a drink in front of Quinlan. Quinlan insists that he won't make a deal that involves knocking someone off. Quinlan takes a drink, and Uncle Joe orders him another.
Vargas calls the Police Chief and DA to his room to show them proof of what Quinlan's dynamite purchase. They are clearly behind Quinlan and they reason that he could have needed dynamite for his ranch. Susan gets a warning from someone on the other side of her wall that the men are trying to get in her room and that they're on drugs. Menzies meets with Quinlan, telling him what Vargas has said and that they're taking it seriously. Quinlan tells Menzies that Sanchez was stupid to use dynamite for the murder, reminding Menzies that strangling is the best way to kill someone being silent and clean."That's how my wife died." Quinlan continues. Menzies remarks that Quinlan never talks about his wife when he's sober. He recounts to Menzies that his wife's killer got away from him, but he was the last killer that got away from him. He tells Menzies that if Vargas wants to fight dirty, that's the kind of fight he'll get.
Quinlan shows up in the room where Vargas has the DA and the Captain. Quinlan states that Vargas doesn't care whether killers hang or not.Vargas points out that a police officer is not a dog catcher and that police work is only easy in a police state. Quinlan asks "Where's your wife Vargas?" Vargas asks why he's interested but Quinlan doesn't give a straight answer. Vargas asks insistently about the dynamite saying he's asked at his ranch, and his ranch hands say he used fifteen sticks leaving two unaccounted for. The Chief says "He's just asking." Quinlan gets angry and throws his badge on the desk, saying "That's for letting him ask." After launching into an outburst about his thirty four years of service, the Chief and DA turn on Vargas demanding an apology. They accompany Quinlan out and he tells them that Vargas is a dope fiend who has his wife drugged up at the hotel.
Vargas has Schwartz show him to the records of Quinlan's old cases. Susan meanwhile is terrified to find Grandi's men letting themselves into her room. They restrain her and close the door as she screams. Menzies calls Tana looking for Quinlan. She tells him that he hasn't stayed there for years, since he used to drink. He remarks that Quinlan isn't sober now. Menzies then confronts Vargas in the records room. He demands to know what Vargas is doing. He points out all the cases where the suspect denied the existence of he evidence. Vargas then heads to the hotel and finds the night man not very helpful and the motel empty. The night man mentions a "party" in room number 7 and shows Vargas the room. Hey find the room a wreck, with clothes all over the place, and his gun missing from his briefcase. The night man remarks that the room stinks. He reveals that Susan is now at Rancho Grandi. We see Uncle Joe standing over Susan who is drugged heavily. Quinlan comes to see this, and tells Uncle Joe to turn out the lights. Quinlan pulls a gun on Uncle Joe and makes him call the police station and ask for Menzies. Uncle Joe reminds Quinlan that if he turns him in he'll have "a story to tell" He tells Menzies that Susan is on drugs and to send vice out to get her. Quinlan then strangles Uncle Joe to avoid any threat of blackmail. Susan wakes up just after the murder and runs out on the fire escape in a sheet screaming.
Vargas shows up at Grandi's club and starts beating on Grandi's men, telling them that he's not there as a cop but as a husband. Schwartz finds him there and tells him that they have his wife in jail being charged for narcotics and for Uncle Joe's murder. Menzies watches showing a twinge of doubt. Menzies tells Vargas that there isn't any formal charge against his wife. He also gives Vargas Quinlan's cane telling him he found it in the hotel room with Grandi's body. Quinlan is sitting by the piano at Tana's place. Vargas tells him they need to get him out of there as Menzies has agreed to wear a wire to get information from Quinlan,but the piano is too loud to hear. Schwartz has arranged to get Vargas wife home while they do this.
Quinlan asks Tanya to tell his future, but she tells him, he hasn't got any and that his future "is all used up." and to go home.
Menzies gets Quinlan to come outside and demands that Quinlan tell the truth. He asks Menzies about that "thing you're wearing." which Menzies thinks refers to his wire, but then Quinlan tells him he means his halo, warning him that Vargas will turn him into an idealist. They talk on a bridge while Vargas holds the recording device below it. Menzies remarks that Grandi was strangled just like his wife. He asks Quinlan how many people he framed. Quinlan answers "nobody" then adding "nobody that wasn't guilty." Menzies then calls him out for playing him as a fool making him find the evidence he planted. Quinlan hears an echo from Vargas' recording device and realizes that Menzies is wearing a wire. When Menzies demands Quinlan's gun, Quinlan shoots him, and realizing what he's done, runs down to the water to wash his hands.
Vargas tells him this is something he can't talk his way out of, but Quinlan disagrees telling him he's using Vargas' gun, and he'll say that Vargas killed Menzies. Vargas turns to walk away and Quinlan fires a warning shot. Menzies manages to shoot him before he can fire again. Schwartz shows up delivering Susan to Vargas, and the two drive off. Schwartz plays the tape and finds plenty of incriminating evidence on it. Quinlan hears it as well and when he looks up to talk to Menzies, the reality dawns on him that he's dead, and he falls into the water below, dead himself.
Schwartz finds Tana on the bridge watching and tells her that Quinlan was right about Sanchez and that he confessed to the murder a little while ago.
Tana: Isn't somebody going to came and take him away?
Schwartz: Yeah, in just a few minutes. You really liked him,didn't you?
Tana: The cop did. The one who killed him. He loved him.
Schwartz: Well, Hank was a great detective alright.
Tana: And a lousy cop.
Schwartz: Is that all you have to say for him?
Tana: He was some kind of a man. What does it matter what you say about people?