Synopsis: Murtaugh and Riggs target a former Navy SEAL. Murtaugh sees a parallel between the suspect and Riggs, and is afraid his connection to the suspect threatens to interfere with the case.
Keeping in mind that the bar isn’t particularly high, this was easily the best episode of Lethal Weapon to date. As I’ve said over and over, there’s still no greater motivation or storyline, but this week was as close as we’ve come.
A former Navy SEAL goes on a destructive crime spree after losing access to an experimental drug that was supposed to help his PTSD. It turns out, his counselor at the VA hospital has turned him onto a clinical trial for a new medication, and the pharmaceutical company wasn’t exactly on the up and up. The drug was shady, and without it, he’s a little bit – pretending to apply for jobs at jewelry stores so he can knock them over with as much damage as possible, and give the bling to homeless people. As you do.
As they track this guy through LA, it comes up again and again how similar he is to Riggs. PTSD, former SEAL sniper, erratic, violent, unpredictable, but still with a moral code. They even look at little bit alike. They bond over their shared experience the first time they meet, and the connection prompts Riggs to actually open up (a little) to Cahill and Murtaugh about his struggles.
We’ve been led to believe, his behavior is the result of the grief for his wife, which may be true, but he also explains that having her looking out for him and making him happy, was the only reason he didn’t succumb to his PTSD when he came home from overseas, like so many others.
The significance of this is also Riggs’ ability to recognize that he’s “crazy.” He does crazy things on purpose, to distance himself from the people around him and the world at large, and hopefully die in the process, not because he doesn’t truly understand the difference.
This distinction is important to Murtaugh and Cahill, who become concerned that Riggs is too close to the situation, until he proves that he knows exactly why he is the way that he is, and he isn’t in danger of snapping like this man did. Not yet, anyway.
Because the episode was so intensely character-driven, it was also one of the funniest yet, despite the weight of the themes. Murtaugh plays basketball with his daughter, and throws a fit when he realizes she let him win. Trish gets a hot new assistant, and Murtaugh makes a show of explaining to him that he’s a cop. A homicide detective. With a gun. When he almost hits a tripwire and believes he’s going to die, he asks Riggs to tell Trish that he loves her, and also that she’s not allowed to date her assistant.
And at the end, when their former SEAL brings a bomb vest into a crowded building, Riggs realizes they probably don’t have time to get him clear before it goes off, and calls for backup. Which he never does. To the point that, when the police captain hears it was Riggs who made the call, he drops everything and insists they send SWAT and the Coast Guard and like, the Marines IMMEDIATELY. It’s hysterical.
In the end, Murtaugh pulls a very Riggs-esque move, by tossing the bomb out of a top floor window, leaping out the window, shooting the bomb in midair, so it detonates without hurting anyone, and landing in 4 feet of water. This comes after a scene in which a suspect leapt off a building onto a moving truck, and Riggs didn’t jump after him. As Cahill points out, maybe Riggs is starting to have something to live for again.
Narratively speaking, those show doesn’t have too much going for it, especially considering the bigger themes are just copied from the preexisting movie franchise, and the smaller ones are no different from any other procedural ever. But, everyone has obvious chemistry, and the show is doing the best thing it can do by making that the main focus.
As I’ve said every week though, we need approximately 300% more of the minor characters; specifically, Cahill, and Murtaugh’s kids. We’re missing out on the potential for some great stuff with his kids, and they’ve been relegated to borderline stereotypical, flat, tertiary characters and it’s a shame.
Let them be involved and let them be funny and smart and maybe chill with the “those dumb millennial and their phones” jokes because you’re alienating the key demographic. It would be a great way to build on the movies, especially considering we have a full TV season to work with, and the show hasn’t really explored any new character dynamics.
Maybe if they did, I could actually find stills from this show that were something other than Riggs and Murtaugh standing or sitting three feet apart in various settings.