There are very good reasons why operatives avoid involving civilians in their operations. It's too dangerous, too risky, and more often than not, the civilian ends up dead or injured.
And there's the fact that they can be an enormous pain in the ass when you're trying to put a stop to an illegal secondhand car dealership.
1. Civilians get in the way of acquiring essential evidence of a crime being commited.
“What do you mean, the car is gone?” Michael asked, as Fiona sat on the passenger seat of his Challenger. She was supposed to be in the driver's seat of a Camaro, one from a very shady secondhand car dealership, one that specialised in selling stolen cars.
They had a tip-off from one of Sam's police buddies, but the police was bound by law and couldn't acquire the evidence necessary to bring 'em in. Hence the plea to see if Michael could help out, and well, once Michael had heard about the way the gang terrorised the local neighbourhood to make sure they kept quiet, he was in.
The Camaro was supposed to have been solid evidence, as the people responsible for getting it ready to be sold hadn't been as scrupulous as they usually were. It was evidence that the dealership was selling stolen goods, and now the Camaro was gone.
“It's gone, Michael,” Fiona told him. “Sold to some Brit with a small camera crew. Some car show doing a special on driving from Miami to New Orleans in a cheap car. What do we do?”
“Find the Brit,” Michael said. “Convince him to sell us the car for a good price. If he just wants a decent, cheap car, we can get him that. Didn't Sam know someone who wanted to get rid of a Caddy Brougham?”
2. Civilians don't listen to reason.
“So, you're saying that this Camaro has been stolen, and that the gang who wants to sell it probably trying to find it right now so they can finish getting it ready for a proper sale?” Jeremy Clarkson asked him.
“Exactly,” Michael told him. “So, you can see how you're in danger. You'd make it a lot easier for yourself if you sold the car to us. We even know a guy who wants to get rid of a Brougham if you need some new wheels.”
Jeremy snorted. “Are you kidding me? Followed by a crazy gang of car thieves in Miami? It'd make brilliant television. Can't we help you out or something, in exchange for letting us film it?”
Michael stared at him for a moment. “No. A Crazy gang of car thieves is going to come after you unless you sell us that car. They will probably kill you.”
Jeremy wasn't impressed.
“Michael?” Fiona asked, from where she was leaning against his Challenger, Jeremy's co-presenter standing next to her and eyeing the car with admiration. “Would you sell the Dodge for under a thousand?”
“No,” Michael told her. “Of course not.”
Richard sighed. “Shame. Anyway, is that gang of car thieves getting here soon, and d'you think they can get me a cheap car?”
Michael shared a glance with Fiona. It was going to be a long day.
3. Civilians insist on being helpful.
Michael wasn't sure why he had let Richard and Jeremy in his loft, let alone explained some of the things they usually did to help people out. He had thought it would make them realise just how dangerous the situation they were in was.
It didn't really have the desired effect.
“That is so cool,” Richard said, grinning. “Seriously? With explosions and everything?” He looked at Fiona. “Where were you all my life?”
“Save the charm for the housewives, Hamster,” Jeremy told him. “Look, I've been up against the British army, all right? I can handle myself.”
Richard scoffed at that. “The British army was playing nice, Jeremy. This gang won't. You need someone young and fit to help you out.”
“We don't need anyone to help us out,” Michael told them, and they were interrupted by a knock on the door. “Fiona, tell 'em, I'm going to let Sam in.”
Sam wasn't alone, and Michael eyed the newcomer, a scruffy man about Sam's age, with some suspicion.
“You'll never believe it, Mike, but this guy is with your guys,” Sam explained, pointing at the man behind him. “I met him at a bar, and he explained he was looking for some wheels, so I told him about the Brougham. And then Fiona called to tell me about your two new friends and I thought, hey, what're the odds of two different British car shows doing an American special, right?”
“Are you more sensible than they are?” Michael asked the newcomer.
“Slightly,” came the reply. “Why?”
4. Civilians are terrible at pretending to be someone they're not.
“We can definitely be a scary new British gang,” Richard insisted. “And intimidate them into leaving. Come on, we're scary, right?”
Michael sighed. Jeremy was tall and looked imposing, but he'd quickly discovered that Jeremy was the first to shrink back from a physical fight. James seemed to be too polite to intimidate a gangster, and that left Richard. Richard, who could probably hold his own in a fight against one gang member, but not an entire gang.
But, well, Fiona was busy with a deal to get explosives, Sam couldn't turn up as Chuck Finley talking about a new gang in town without a gang turning up, and he had to make the detonator for the explosion they were going to use as a distraction to get the gang away from their own headquarters if the intimidation plan didn't work.
“Okay, fine, but Sam,” Michael turned to Sam, who had been talking to James about where in Miami he bought his shirts. “Sam, you keep an eye on them. If it starts getting dangerous, you get them out of there.”
“Of course, Mikey, no problem,” Sam said. “You want to talk to the plan through properly now?”
“I still don't see why I can't be the leader of our gang,” Jeremy said. “I already am anyway. Besides, I'm authoritive.”
“You're not the leader of us,” Richard argued. “I am. I could beat both of you in a fight.”
“Which is why you're the muscle,” Michael told him. “You're the guy the boss turns to if he wants someone beaten or dead. That's your job. You look intimidating, make a couple of vague threats, and leave the actual planning to the brains of the operation.”
“Me,” Jeremy said. “What does that make James? My accountant?”
“I think James should be the gang leader,” Sam said. “Look, Jeremy, you look intimidating, even if you wouldn't punch someone. You can loom properly, you know? James here can't.” He slapped James on the shoulder for emphasis. “James can do the Bond villain thing. Cool under pressure, that sort of thing.”
“I have to be a cliché Bond villain?” James asked. “Are you sure that's even remotely intimidating to criminals over here?”
“That's why you've got Sam,” Michael explained. “Chuck Finley is starting to get a reputation around here.”
Sam grinned at that. “Told you using the same name all the time was a good thing.”
“So, Chuck Finley, who they know is dangerous, being worried about you guys turning up to set up shop here, that's going to work. Besides, these first meetings don't usually end in violence. It's mostly talk, sort of a warning. They'll probably back off so we can get the evidence to bring them in,” Michael explained.
“And from our recon, they're not that well-organised,” Sam added. “Good at intimidating the good folks in the neighbourhood, but they're small and unprofessional. The idea of proper criminals moving in should send them running.”
“Well, if you put it that way, it sounds reasonable enough,” James said. “And I am better at threatening that Jeremy is.”
“You are not!” Jeremy scoffed. “I'm more creative than you are.”
“I have killed before,” James said, in a way that told Michael he was quoting Jeremy. “That's what you said. That's rubbish threatening, that is. Just be quiet, and loom, or I'll have you fed to my radioactive sharks.”
“Maybe you should not mention any radioactive sharks,” Michael said, already mentally preparing what he was going to say to the families of these men when he would have to call them to let them know how they'd died.
5. Civilians get smug when they've done something right.
“Just admit that you would've been completely useless without us,” Jeremy said, smirking.
Michael was very tempted to punch him in the face, but the truth was that they had been more helpful than expected. Admittedly, their attempt at intimidating the gang had failed, as the gang leader was cocky and arrogant, so they had gone with the explosives plan to distract the gang so Michael could sneak in to gather evidence.
Richard, however, had run after one of the gang members trying to get away, and tackled them rather enthusiastically to the ground.
And, well, the police always did prefer it if you could give them a criminal rather than a paper trail.
Still, helpful or not, Michael was definitely not sad to see them go. Jeremy in the Camaro, James in the Brougham from Sam's friend, and Richard in a pick-up truck they'd found in the gang's headquarters. It had actually belonged to one of the gang members, the only car there that hadn't been stolen, so Richard had happily claimed it, deciding that was his reward for catching a dangerous criminal.
He could hear Jeremy and Richard argue over just how dangerous the criminals had been, as they left the parking loft.
“Never again,” Michael said. “Seriously, we are never again involving civilians.”
“That's what you said last time, and the week after that we asked your mother for help,” Fiona reminded him. “Face it, Michael, you can't do everything by yourself.”
Michael remained silent, and hoped that Top Gear would never again return to Miami.