This Lethal Weapon review contains spoilers.
Lethal Weapon Season 1 Episode 3
“You don’t owe me. It’s the job. Do the job.”
Who needs a plan, right?
Lethal Weapon decides to get a stew going this week by throwing a ton of disparate elements—drugs, robbery, decapitation, and plenty more—at this episode. Then it turns the heat on and hopes that this very busy installment ends up coming together in the end. It does, and it’s because three episodes in this show has found a comfortable rhythm to fall into at a surprisingly quick rate. This is a very plot-heavy episode technically, but in the end it’s all coming down to character and it’s a smart play on this show’s part.
Astute guessers and novice punmakers might be quick to figure out that “Best Buds” is a 4/20 friendly installment of Lethal Weapon. The case-of-the week involves the robbery of a dispensary (their money, not their green—you know what I mean) and the undertone of weed that’s coursing through the episode is a delightful touch. It also allows scenes like the following to take place, where Murtaugh is interrogating people while they’re getting blazed and blowing smoke in his face. “I’m getting too high, for this shit, am I right?” And on that note, Murtaugh also reveals here that he’s never smoked pot before. I’m not sure if that’s consistent with the canon of the films, but someone should check with Shane Black about this as soon as possible. Inquiring minds, and all that.
The episode continues to lay into this aesthetic for the episode. The prime players of the case are even named Lonnie and Donnie, as if they themselves are some absurd apparitions from a drug trip. P.S. This episode’s portrayal of dispensary workers is downright disrespectful and an unfortunate generalizing stereotype. Dispensary workers are a community that have been struggling for a voice for a while now and stuff like this is only holding them back. It’s 2016, Lethal Weapon, let’s try a little harder and act a little more progressive here.
Also, the “Rigg’s Wife is Dead” Counter hits some unfortunate highs this week. In this episode a commercial for Cialis ends up making Riggs think of his dead wife and send a bullet into his television accordingly. Later on Riggs is also straight up seeing Miranda and mistaking people for her. Like at least wait until he’s high if you’re going to try to pull this sort of heavy-handedness. This is still the clunkiest material on the show in my opinion and the series needs to move on from it sooner rather than later, but it’s at least making for a fun drinking game at the moment.
It’s not all doom and gloom for Riggs this week though. He has plenty of stand-out moments that continue to help define this version of the character than the one that was a loose cannon in cinemas. Riggs’ method of getting Paco to cooperate with him is a wonderful little scene, for example, and yet another piece of inspired creative wrecklessness from our favorite wild card.
One of the many things that keep this episode occupied is its focus on supporting players, specifically those from Murtaugh’s past with “Best Buds” introducing Ned Brower, Murtaugh’s former Training Officer, and one of the victims this week. The episode also introduces Cruz, a fellow member of the LAPD with cartel experience, but he comes and goes so quickly and bears so little important on the episode I’m a little confused why he was brought in at all. Brower on the other hand does make his presence felt. He’s given just as much personality as Riggs and Murtaugh (throw some of that character development Scorsese’s way, would ya’?) and his previous connection with Murtaugh is felt.
Brower and Murtaugh have a particularly sweet dynamic together and it’s even more touching to watch Brower pass the torch over to Riggs, so to speak, and tell him how important the man is to him. This bromance will be the end of us all by season’s end. Like most shows of this nature that bring up some former partner or past alliance, “Best Buds” moves in the expected direction where Murtaugh is put in a difficult position with Brower and is left to make a decision that could be compromising. This all moves the episode along quickly enough while still managing to throw a few surprises at you, too.
Murtaugh spending so much time with Brower also gets him thinking plenty about how much his job is dominating his life, with his time with his wife suffering as a result. On top of that, I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but Riggs’ wife is dead, so that’s also getting projected on Murtaugh and he begins to try and shift his priorities. I mean, he and his wife barely have time to pull off date night anymore! This whole job versus family life is also inevitable territory for a show like this but Lethal Weapon manages to pull it off largely due to the chemistry between Damon Wayans and Keesha Sharp. These two are just fun to watch and you happen to care about their relationship. The scene that they share at the end of the episode is incredibly endearing. Sure, this isn’t gunplay and explosions, but the emotional fodder is at least resonating.
But let’s get into the gunplay and explosions and break down this week’s contributions in the action department. There are plenty of car chases and shoot-outs here that satisfy and fill the episode’s mandated adrenaline quota. A lot of this resembles the actions elements that we’ve gotten in previous episodes so far, however, there’s a particularly bad-ass car crash where a truck flips over and shreds a vehicle to pieces. Additionally, Murtaugh’s “Riiiiiigs!” near-falsetto yell needs to become a regular occurrence on this show.
“Best Buds” aims for the middle and has a lot of fun while it’s doing it. I say the first five episodes of any procedural like this are still finding their footing and changing their voice with each new episode. That being said, Lethal Weapon has already found a formula and balance that is at least working for it so far. This isn’t Breaking Bad but it’s pretty damn fun and I’m at least looking forward to it each week now.
Now excuse me, I’ve got a date with Jack the Ripper, if ya’ know what I mean…