Lethal Weapon s2 ep 5

A generously-built man, Howard Trotter, dies at a racetrack. Although we know that he was murdered, there isn’t much evidence of that – it looks like natural causes – until Howard’s friend persuades Murtaugh and Riggs to investigate further. The good news is that Howard’s friend is ethically-challenged attorney Leo Getz (Thomas Lennon), making a triumphant return to the show, this time bringing a giant mancrush on Murtaugh along for the ride. Every scene featuring Leo is, of course, an absolute delight.

But the darker side of Lethal Weapon is never too far away. In an apparently comedic plot development Riggs’s trailer is towed away, effectively leaving him homeless. This leads, though, to Riggs recalling further unhappy childhood events involving his father, and in turn to one scene when he, quite unexpectedly, uses a baseball bat to brutalise a suspect. Although Riggs now seems to have got over his dead wife, it looks as if season 2 is going to involve him confronting the memory of his father. It’s a great episode.

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Lethal Weapon s2 ep 4

In an explicit homage to the legend of hijacker D.B. Cooper, an urbane criminal going by the name of Dan Cooper (Adrian Pasdar) robs the passengers of a private jet at gunpoint, then dons a parachute and jumps to safety. Although while doing so he’s tackled by one of the passengers, a man from whom he took a briefcase, and who ends up dead. Riggs thinks the whole thing is “awesome”.

It turns out that the steward on board the plane was Cooper’s daughter, which immediately suggests an inside job. And fatherhood is very much the theme this week. Murtaugh is having problems with teen daughter Riana, although most of the problems stem from his desperate desire to know everything about her life. Maybe it’s supposed to be endearing, given that it’s Murtaugh and Lethal Weapon, but it’s actually a little creepy. Dude. Back the eff off. Riggs is clearing out his trailer and gets rid of a rifle given to him by his father while his mother was dying. By the end of the episode it becomes clear that the rifle is bound up with another example of Riggs’s Secret Pain. And Santos is kvetching at Avery because he doesn’t command sufficient respect from his detectives, in a storyline for which I do not greatly care. The rest of the episode is great, though.

Lethal Weapon s2 ep 3

Someone is trying to kill pop star Shaye. Thus far they have succeeded in murdering her bodyguard, with whom she was having an affair, which gives her unpleasant photographer boyfriend a motive. And her manager is a possessive creep as well. But it isn’t either of them; Shaye has a Secret Pain, and a secret pain-in-the-ass, both of which are catching up with her. Murtaugh and Riggs do their usual thing, assisted by new detective Bowman (Andrew Creer), who gave every impression of becoming a regular. Which is fine, but Avery (Kevin Rahm) isn’t in this week’s episode at all, and neither is Scorsese (Johnathan Fernandez), giving Santos more room to be a buzzkill. Careful, writers.

Anyway, the action this week is with #Riggsmer, who have graduated to the point where they’re having brunch with Murtaugh and Trish. However, there’s a problem: Palmer, hitherto entirely fine with a light-touch friends with benefits arrangement, has started to think that she might want more, whether from Riggs or from someone else. Recognising that Riggs isn’t the guy who’s going to bring her flowers, she cuts him loose. Except, as the final shot makes clear, he TOTALLY IS THAT GUY. Oh dear. In real life Hilarie Burton needed some time off as she’s pregnant by Jason Crouse out of The Good Wife, so it’s understandable that Palmer had to be written out for the time being, even if it’s clear that no-one involved has given a second’s thought to MY feelings.

Lethal Weapon s2 ep 2

Murtaugh and Riggs – the latter bouncing with unearthly enthusiasm, having decided that life is for living, and not for pining after one’s STUPID DEAD WIFE – are called in to investigate the death of a society plastic surgeon, in a storyline which is typically entertaining nonsense. Its significance, though, lies in the fact that drug dealing is involved, which give Riggs an opportunity to insist that the DEA be brought in. Specifically, DEA Agent Karen Palmer, now on desk duties after giving Riggs the information he needed to pin his wife’s death on Tito Flores. They spar a little, in a manner correctly identified by everyone else as nothing short of foreplay, then they work together, kind of. And then they make out.

Back at HQ, Avery has a new boss, one Gina Santos. The bad news is that Santos is recognisable as the stick-up-the-ass type who gets in the way of everyone’s fun. The could-go-either-way news is that she’s played by Michelle Hurd, who was Shepherd in Blindspot. The good news is that it gets Avery out from behind the desk and into the field. And the surprising news is that, according to the hitherto uxorious Murtaugh, he shares some “history” with her. This, on closer examination, amounts to a “finger-linger” he claims they shared many years ago when partnered up. Santos is properly withering, and if this is going to be a thing I’m not entirely convinced either. I liked the punchline to this plot, though. And I loved the episode.

Lethal Weapon s2 ep 1

We pick up where we left off, give or take a couple of weeks, with Riggs somewhere in Mexico hunting Tito Flores, the drug dealer behind the murder of his wife, so that he can kill him; and Murtaugh, in turn, also searching for Flores, but on the basis that finding Flores will lead him to his partner. And it works, more or less; Riggs is about to put a bullet in Flores, and is entirely relaxed about what it will mean for career and equilibrium. “I love you, man!” Murtaugh blurts out at him, which in an odd way kind of ruins the moment, stops Riggs from killing Flores, and instead results in Flores being hog-tied and thrown into the boot of a car, to be taken back to America to face justice.

However, in closing the boot Riggs manages to sever Murtaugh’s finger. Which is where it all starts to go wrong again: they need to stop at a hospital, and while on morphine Murtaugh tells a nurse that they have a drugs kingpin in their car. She, in turn, tells her brother, a Border Patrol agent; and the consequence of all of that is that when they triumphantly fling open the car boot to prove to Avery that they’ve actually been working in Mexico, Flores is still there, but dead. The Border Patrol agent walks into the station to confess to the killing, but since he does so round about the 35-minute mark we know it wasn’t him.

Bringing the real killer in will take Riggs and Murtaugh – now on “administrative leave” – back to Mexico, something which exacerbates the tension in the Murtaugh household, where his wife responded to his first trip by throwing a party for the kids and allowing their daughter to get a body piercing. But because – thank God! – it’s the Murtaugh marriage, this is all sorted out by the end. As is the identity of the Flores shooter, and – unexpectedly but gratifyingly – Riggs’s fixation on seeking vengeance for his wife. In a beautifully tender scene he visits her grave and buries his wedding ring there, presumably signifying that he’s now ready to get on with the business of living. Well, I say “beautifully tender”, but of course I’ve had it with Riggs’s STUPID DEAD WIFE getting in the way of a PERFECTLY GOOD SHIP. There’s the hint – unless I imagined it? – of flirtation between Riggs and his analyst, Dr Cahill, this week; but I’m much more invested in #Riggsmer, and I want Hilarie Burton’s Agent Palmer, who doesn’t feature in this episode, to reappear at her earliest convenience, please and thank you. Anyway, this episode was of course terrific, balancing action, comedy, and emotion, because this show is THE BEST.

Public Service Announcement 5 of 2018: Lethal Weapon, Bull, How To Get Away With Murder, Outsiders, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction

Some big American network shows return in the UK this week. Top of the bill in this PSA is, of course, the terrific Lethal Weapon. I sat down to watch the first episode with, frankly, low expectations, and was blown away by just how good it was. And then it kept on being good, week after week. It’s capable of being moving, thrilling, charming, and funny, all in the same episode. It has a great ship, a lovely marriage, plenty of big, dumb action sequences, and a sense of humour about all of them. It has proper acting (most notably from Damon Wayans, Clay Crawford, Kevin Rahm, and Keesha Sharp, although there isn’t a weak link in it). And in the engine room it has writers and director who know what the hell they’re doing. In short, it’s one of the best network shows available at the moment, and if you’re not watching you’re missing out. I might even review this time round (tonight, ITV, 9pm).

Then there’s Bull, which is a perfectly passable way to spend an hour: a proper ratings success, as these things go, and a show which feels as if it has quite a lot of potential being held in reserve. I like it (tonight, FOX UK, 10pm).

And… then there’s How to Get Away With Murder, which returned earlier this week for its fourth season, and which I gave up on during its second year when I realised that I didn’t know who any of the characters actually were. Having said that if the rumours of a Shondaland crossover are true, I am THERE for any scene in which Viola Davis and Kerry Washington face off (Tuesdays, Sky Living, 10pm).

A couple of other things. Both seasons of now-cancelled Appalachian family drama Outsiders have made their way to UK Netflix. Reviews for this show were mixed, but there are some trustworthy critics who really, really like it. I suspect it’s worth a look. Also on Netflix: David Letterman’s new talk show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, a six-part series in which Dave goes one-on-one with some seriously big names, He starts with Barack Obama, though, which is likely to provoke the most exquisitely painful nostalgia (both available now).

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.