Michael Diamond, a mobster rather than a Beastie Boy, is found dead. Murtaugh immediately recognises it as having the signature of a hit carried out by sniper-for-hire Frankie Kelso, someone he’s been trying to capture for most of his time in the police. (And someone who had the chance to kill Murtaugh, but didn’t, on the day Riana was born.) Kelso is tracked down fairly quickly but, as it turns out, only because he wanted to be: he quickly turns the tables on Murtaugh and takes him hostage, insisting that he’s now a retired sniper-for-hire and that someone is fitting him up. Murtaugh believes him. As, in due course, does Riggs, even after Kelso confesses.
Riggs, meantime, is still fighting his own demons, and specifically those relating to his father, who seems to want to… reach out to him? I can’t imagine how that must feel after the abuse he suffered as a child. Anyway, Riggs actually asks his father for help with the investigation when it appears that one of Kelso’s old contacts was in jail with Riggs pere, something for which the latter will suffer, which will presumably heap more guilt and agony onto Riggs’s shoulders. It’s a great episode, elevated by Jude Ciccolella’s pitch-perfect world-weariness as Kelso.
The episode title, ‘The Odd Couple’, rather gives the game away that one of the week’s plots will be the consequences of Murtaugh sharing Riggs’s trailer while he and Trish are at war. Riggs is keen for Murtaugh to go home; Murtaugh, however, isn’t willing to apologise to Trish, and things are made worse when a murder suspect requires to be arrested at a public event related to Trish’s work. As a result a key client withdraws from a huge deal, although Riggs persuades him to hang around by promising him the best barbecue he’s ever tasted. As this is a reference to Molly’s barbecue, Riggs needs to go cap-in-hand to Molly, who, quite rightly, isn’t in a forgiving mood. There’s an eye-rubbingly absurd stunt towards the end, when Riggs and Murtaugh jump out of a plane without a parachute but manage to survive, which is of a piece with a sparky but ultimately inconsequential episode.
Edit: The latest, and on the face of it most comprehensive, piece unravelling what went wrong.
‘Lethal Weapon’: Inside the On-Set Clashes That Nearly Killed the Fox Series (EXCLUSIVE)
Lethal Weapon has had a week off in the UK. The offscreen action has been continuing, though: specifically, the news that the show has been renewed for a third season, but – reputedly after a number of actors declined the offer – with Seann William Scott stepping in to replace Clayne Crawford, albeit playing a different character.
Now… I should again stipulate that I have no idea whether Crawford’s behaviour merited dismissal. (Actors and crew members who have worked with him on Lethal Weapon and elsewhere have continued to offer support, mind you; which suggests, again, that there might be more than one side to this story. Or that Crawford, like all of us, contains multitudes.) And I’m entirely unfamiliar with Scott’s recent work. But replacing Clayne Crawford with Stifler out of American Pie doesn’t strike me as necessarily the best move.
We’ll see. (Or rather, we won’t; I’m not at all sure I’ll be watching.) Meantime, this week’s episode starts at a police gun buy-back event, at which a gang jumps in to steal the guns, around 400 of them. Riggs and Murtaugh locate the gang leader, Booker, fairly swiftly, but he claims that he’s an undercover ATF officer. Which is true as far as it goes, but Booker’s boss says that he’s gone rogue since his partner was shot. Meantime, Murtaugh is reading Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art Of War’ in order to navigate his ongoing battle with Trish. And Ruth has parked next to Riggs’s trailer for the time being; the two of them hang out, bicker, and play Mahjong; all of which, as Riggs is well aware, is providing him with a level of emotional support which is keeping him off alcohol.
It’s a reasonably good episode, but no more than that: it doesn’t sting like Lethal Weapon at its best. And it looks as if that’s the last we’re seeing of Ruth for a while, which is a shame: Swoosie Kurtz has an engaging way with salty dialogue.
The boys are off their respective games this week: Riggs is trying to stay away from the booze, and Murtaugh is mistaken for a grandfather at a playground, driving him to take ever greater risks to demonstrate to himself and everyone else that he’s not yet old. Fortunately, this week’s case isn’t the most taxing: an armed robbery at a jewellery store is interrupted when one of the perps is shot by RV-dwelling woman-of-a-certain-age Ruthie Krumholtz (the reliably superb Swoosie Kurtz), also a recovering alcoholic, who kind of mentors Riggs throughout the episode, then parks up next to him. So presumably we’ll see her again.
Trish, meantime, is less than impressed by her husband’s behaviour, and just at the point where I – and she – thought they were going to make up, it all becomes much darker and messier. It’s one of the best episodes of the season, although the news that Clayne Crawford has indeed been sacked from the show lends it a degree of melancholy which wouldn’t have been there otherwise. (I should say, once again, that I have no idea whether Crawford’s treatment is deserved.) I’m not at all sure Lethal Weapon will be renewed; and, if it is, I’m not at all sure I’ll be watching it.
If Lethal Weapon has a fault, it’s that it sometimes focusses too much on the Murtaugh/Riggs partnership to the exclusion of a very talented supporting cast. (This, of course, might not be a problem for too much longer.) Which makes this episode, ‘A Double Shot Of Baileys’, particularly welcome, as it pushes Detective Sonya Bailey (Michelle Mitchenor) front and centre. Her younger sister Jess’s boyfriend is killed after an altercation in a nightclub, and initially – with Riggs’s support – Bailey covers this up, because Jess is a little less straight-and-narrow than her big sister.
Meantime, Riggs’s behaviour continues to be self-destructive – he’s been invited to his father’s parole hearing, and is still haunted by childhood memories. And in an excellent example of the sort of subplot which really shouldn’t work, but on Lethal Weapon frequently does, Riana suspects her boyfriend of cheating. With Trish out of town, Murtaugh’s in charge of crisis management, and he responds by making use of the facilities and resources of the LAPD. It’s funny, sweet, and a little touching. All in all it’s a good episode, although I was somewhat distracted by trying to work out which actors don’t like each other offscreen.
Well. It’s the behind-the-scenes drama which has been hogging the Lethal Weapon headlines this week, with breaking stories about how renewal for a third season is in jeopardy because of the misconduct of Clayne Crawford, later confirmed to a limited extent by Crawford himself. Obviously one doesn’t condone unacceptable behaviour. At the same time, though, one cannot help but notice that numerous cast members – mostly without addressing the allegations directly – have been generally supportive of Crawford on social media, which suggests that there might be two sides to this story.
And what this week’s excellent episode demonstrates, yet again, is that while there are many reasons why Lethal Weapon is a cut above the average procedural, the casting of Crawford is right at the top of that list. One of Dr Cahill’s patients, the previously non-violent Stanley, takes her hostage and escapes from a secure facility. He then turns up dead, and a second patient of hers dies when he falls from height, as Riggs tries to talk him down. Meantime Riggs himself behaves like a total asshole towards a deputy mayor of LA, all of which leads Cahill to doubt her abilities: why did her patients do what they did, and why is Riggs still so angry?
As is generally the case, the episode is much, much better than it needs to be. Crawford is generally terrific throughout, convincingly on the edge, both metaphorically and not. But Murtaugh’s passionate explanation to his son about how worried he is, all the time, despite appearing to have his life sorted, was possibly the best scene of the week. And there’s your problem: Crawford is a better actor than Damon Wayans, but from where I’m sitting both look indispensable to the show. I have no idea what happens next.
Gene Nakahara, an ADA and old friend of Trish’s who is planning to run for Mayor, is assassinated just after they have lunch. He had been prosecuting a drug cartel, and was just about to visit Riggs’s father-in-law Ronnie in prison. This drags Riggs and Murtaugh back into the world of Riggs’s family: his father, his wife, his father-in-law. This is almost always fertile ground for Lethal Weapon and it’s a terrific episode, one of the best of the season.
On top of that, the episode is enlivened by the return of Leo Getz (Thomas Lennon, in particularly good form this week), who works in partnership with Trish to investigate O’Brien, Nakahara’s opponent in the Mayoral race; and by the appearance of Cho out of The Mentalist (Tim Kang) as a deadpan PI-cum-fixer, who reveals to Riggs that his wife had hired him to investigate Riggs and his family before their wedding. Great stuff.