Lethal Weapon s1 ep 18

Season finale; it’s a stormer. After last week’s bombshell – yet also entirely unsurprising – revelation that the drugs cartel was involved in Miranda’s death, Riggs might be expected to go full-on apeshit this week. In fact, the extent to which he exercises just a little bit of self-control – while still doing things which should see him, at the very least, expelled from the LAPD and imprisoned for a long time – is a straw to be clutched at if you wanted to argue for his personal growth over the course of the first season.

It isn’t really much of a straw, though. Riggs asks for permission to “question” Gabriel and is refused. As the next time we see Gabriel he’s being transported in a nominally secure vehicle, we kind of know that he’s going to be extracted by someone, and he is. (First rule of TV procedurals – don’t transport your prisoner. Never works out well.) I thought it might be the cartel who had grabbed Gabriel, leading to lots of Riggsian angst about how he got away, but Riggs has taken care of that possibility by snatching Gabriel himself and chaining him up in his trailer.

When the news of Gabriel’s abduction gets out, Avery and Murtaugh debate who it might have been, although Murtaugh almost instantly – albeit privately – suspects that Riggs was behind it, even if he doesn’t want to believe it. He then provides an inadvertent assist (which at first I thought was deliberate) when he reveals that he’s had to cancel a father-son bonding trip with RJ, meaning that a cabin will be empty, and thus steering Riggs towards the perfect kill room. Sure enough, Riggs takes Gabriel to the cabin, tortures him a little (although not very much) and Gabriel admits giving the order to have Miranda eliminated.

Before Riggs can do too much about it, though, Murtaugh turns up, having tracked Riggs to the cabin. And while they’re debating what to do, Gabriel breaks free. (Second rule of TV procedurals – don’t leave your prisoner unattended. Never works out well.) But Murtaugh finds him and shoots him in the chest, leading to Gabriel falling over a precipice. “Nobody can survive that”, Murtaugh assures Riggs, although with half an episode to go we know better. (Third rule of TV procedurals – they’re never dead unless you see the body, and sometimes not even then. Don’t assume they’re dead. Never works out well.)

So, while we wait for Gabriel to re-emerge, there are a few items of business to be taken care of. Murtaugh covers for Riggs on the whole abduction/torture thing, then requests a new partner from Avery. And, using blueberry pancakes as a plot device, Riggs works out that Gideon lied about giving the order to kill Miranda, then deduces that his former father-in-law, LA City Attorney Ronnie Delgado, is working with the cartel. (I always wondered if he was a wrong ‘un.) So when Gabriel reappears – having been tipped off by Delgado – it’s to capture Murtaugh, then Riggs, and tie them up next to each other, in order to torture Murtaugh with those defib paddles normally seen on medical shows. But they both break free, and Riggs kills Gabriel. Probably. Still no body.

The coda to the episode, and indeed to the season, shifts between Murtaugh successfully making it to his son’s graduation, not deterred by recently having received several hundred volts through his pacemaker, and Riggs heading off to Mexico to confront Tito Flores, head of the cartel, and positively relishing the fact that it’s a suicide mission. Murtaugh, of course, goes after him.

It’s a tremendous episode – all that’s missing is Agent Palmer, meaning that Riggs’s STUPID DEAD WIFE is, once again, getting in the way of a PERFECTLY GOOD SHIP – and a fitting end to the first season of the most surprising new show of the year. I really didn’t expect Lethal Weapon to be any good, never mind this good. But it’s delivered on every level: well scripted, acted, and directed; snappy dialogue; great big dumb action scenes; genuine emotion. A triumph.


Lethal Weapon s1 ep 17

Murtaugh and Riggs are called to a murder scene, and Riggs recognises the body as someone he saw earlier that day, at that point significantly more alive, talking to Palmer. He’s identified as a foot soldier for Tito Flores, the head of the drug cartel, and this leads to the conclusion that he must be Palmer’s man on the inside, her informant in the cartel. This fires the starting pistol on an entertaining romp involving a DEA undercover agent gone rogue.

During the murder investigation, though, Palmer goes missing, and when Murtaugh and Riggs search a DEA safe house and find her phone and some blood, Riggs’s panic levels start to spike, as a result of which he punches out an obnoxious squirt of a DEA agent, and is consequently suspended by the Los Angeles City Attorney. (Who also happens to be his former father-in-law.) Riggs’s evident level of investment in Palmer’s well-being, however, simply confirms what everyone knows: he likes her. And once everything is sorted out they even arrange to go on an actual date, having established their compatibility by sleeping together a few times first. But when Palmer glimpses a photo of Riggs’s wife she realises that she’s seen Miranda before, and she’s got some news to break to Riggs before they can order dinner. First, Miranda’s death wasn’t an accident. (Well, accidental TV deaths rarely are.) Second, she was killed by the cartel, and the person responsible is the one they’re holding in custody for the murder of Palmer’s informant. Riggs, understandably, loses his appetite and leaves the restaurant; but that of course means that, once again, Riggs’s STUPID DEAD WIFE is getting in the way of a PERFECTLY GOOD SHIP. Tsk.

And meantime, Trish accepts an offer to become in-house counsel for Morris O’Brian from 24, now a billionaire “businessman” with a private jet, in a move which – more clearly than anything else in TV history ever – won’t end well.

Lethal Weapon s1 ep 16

In the Case of the Week, Jesse, a high school American football star, and his cousin Steven are shot at as they leave a party. Steven dies; Jesse survives, but his injury will end his football career, which has some resonance for Murtaugh who went through the same sort of thing while at college.

He gets little sympathy – or even interest – from Riggs, though, who is distracted by this week’s really big question: what to do about Agent Palmer, with whom it is revealed he spent the night? (SQUEE!) Now, this really shouldn’t be difficult. One word: Hilarie. She’s even leaving him cute little jokes on a business card. But this is Riggs, who is now torturing himself because, at bottom, he doesn’t think he deserves to be happy. This even manifests itself in physical form: once when he headbutts a mirror, and once when he goads a former heavyweight boxer into punching him on the jaw. And underlying all of this, of course, is guilt about the death of his wife. Let’s be clear about this: to be entirely honest, Unpopcult is FED UP with STUPID DEAD WIVES coming along and RUINING PERFECTLY GOOD SHIPS.

The crime is solved, of course. Murtaugh is offered a new job, which he contemplates because Trish is still out of work, and loving it, but he turns it down. And Riggs makes the only sensible decision he can, which is to hook up again with Agent Palmer. Great stuff.

Lethal Weapon s1 ep 15

A few days ago I was quite nice about Bull, which has finished its first season. It’s not my favourite new network show, though, because that, of course, is Lethal Weapon; which, if I’m being honest, is pretty much my favourite anything at the moment. When I reviewed the first episode I admitted to being amazed at how good it was, and week after week I’ve been amazed over and over again.

It’s not difficult to work out why. The script is great: action, laugh-out-loud zingers, real emotion, and an ability to switch mood without feeling too manipulative. Which, in turn, is where the actors comes in. Damon Wayans is a terrific Murtaugh, and he and Keesha Sharp (who was Mrs Johnnie Cochran in The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story) as Trish, his wife, are a supportive, affectionate, and sexy midlife married couple. Clayne Crawford is occasionally remarkable as the recently-widowed Riggs; capable, particularly in the earlier episodes, of moving me to tears as the depth of his loss was made apparent. And first among equals in the supporting cast is Kevin Rahm as Captain Avery, who I’ll watch with pleasure in anything, and who is really great here: the episode in which Avery’s career was under threat was a season highlight.

And this episode, ‘As Good As It Getz’, might have been one of the best so far. It had The Odd Couple’s Thomas Lennon turning in a dazzling cameo as ambulance-chasing lawyer Leo Getz, suddenly on the wrong side of a drug cartel; and, more significantly, the return of Hilarie Burton as DEA agent Karen Palmer, who has chemistry with Riggs, as all of the other characters have noticed. Which is great news, because the one thing this show has been lacking until now is a proper ship. In fact, just as I was writing down the words “you guys, I am ALREADY shipping them SO HARD” they – in all likelihood – made out in a lift. Squee! I am SO ON BOARD with #Riggsmer, as is everyone else in the show.

It continues to be the case that Lethal Weapon isn’t “great TV”. It isn’t edgy cable fodder with a tortured male antihero, it isn’t a streaming service’s latest “bingeworthy” (oh God oh God how I hate that concept) drama. But this was a seriously brilliant hour of TV. So I don’t just like this show, I like like it. In fact I would happily marry Lethal Weapon, move to the suburbs with it, and bear its children.

Lethal Weapon s1 ep 1

The setup is familiar: LAPD detective Roger Murtaugh (Damon Wayans) returns to work after a near-fatal heart attack, to find himself paired with newly-transferred SEAL-turned-Texas cop Martin Riggs (Clayne Crawford). Riggs’s wife and unborn child died in a car accident, and in consequence Riggs is reckless; he doesn’t care whether he lives or dies, which means that he handles delicate situations, such as hostage negotiations, with an unruly but effective panache.

I wasn’t in the best of moods when I sat down to watch Lethal Weapon, and I was expecting it to get on my last nerve. Instead, though, I was surprised – occasionally verging on amazed – by how much I enjoyed it, and how good it was. Two important qualifications here: firstly, the Case of the Week was perfunctory at best, although in the show’s defence it’s the first episode and a certain amount of time had to be given over to backstory exposition. And, secondly, by “good” I don’t mean good good, in the Mad Men/West Wing/Good Wife sense; this isn’t going to win any critics’ awards. But Wayans and Crawford are attractive and charismatic leads; the always-welcome Kevin Rahm is in there as well, as their boss; the bodycount was reassuringly high; and I was charmed, amused, entertained, and unexpectedly moved. I don’t imagine Unpopcult will feel the need to review this show on a weekly basis, but I expect to keep watching.