This Lethal Weapon review contains spoilers.
Lethal Weapon Season 2 Episode 12
“It’s only a matter of time until your demons caught up with her…”
“Diggin’ Up Dirt” tries to do a lot of things. Fortunately, it happens to do all of these things very well. Lethal Weapon is no stranger to over packing its episodes in attempts to cut down on “dead time.” A lot of the time this results in episodes that feel bloated or entries that only deliver on one or two of their storylines. There’s such a comfortable, confident presence in this week’s episode that “Diggin’ Up Dirt” makes a strong case as to why the series should do more three-pronged narratives. They’re difficult to properly execute, but when they work, they’re electric.
This installment picks up right from the end of the last episode and even though Riggs’ father doesn’t make an appearance this week, his shadow still looms heavy over his son and this episode. Even though Riggs Senior is locked away in prison, he still succeeds in getting under his son’s skin. Riggs is forced to once again trudge down memory lane. This is something that Riggs has done a lot this season, but that doesn’t mean that the barbs still don’t prick him a little each time.
As the episode shines even more light onto Riggs’ father, there’s a welcome flashback to Riggs’ “happy days” when his wife, Miranda, was still alive. As she complains about the small potatoes problems of her own father, she begins to dig into the details of Riggs’ dad. It’s pretty wonderful that Riggs’ go-to lie regarding his father used to be the logline from Sylvester Stallone’s Over the Top. It is an underappreciated classic, but the purpose of the flashback is to show how guarded Riggs used to be over anything that involves his father. Attitudes might not have changed that much here, but at least Riggs is now capable of speaking honestly about the twisted branches of his family tree.
This episode may start off somber, but it’s easy to look past any mistakes in this episode since it’s also the second entry of the season to feature Leo Getz (Thomas Lennon). Even a terrible Lethal Weapon episode that has Getz present is still bound to be a standout installment due to how well Getz fits in within the LAPD and his rapport with Riggs and Murtaugh. It’s also just a delight to watch Getz leap in and out of every frame that he’s in. If Lethal Weapon Season 3 does happen (and ratings are doing fine and remaining steady, so I don’t see why there wouldn’t be), hopefully it will do the right thing and promote Lennon up to series regular.
“Diggin’ Up Dirt” also throws a beautiful curveball into the equation by pairing Getz up with someone new. There’s a great C-Story here where Getz and Trish must work together to solve a crime of their own when a mutual acquaintance, Gene Nakahara, gets himself murdered by the cartel. There’s a brief period where Getz is the person of interest for blowing up Nakahara’s car. It’s a dramatic beat, but both the LAPD and the audience know that this case is not going to conclude with Getz in jail. Proceedings become considerably more interesting when it turns out that before Gene and his car got all explodified that he was supposed to meet with Ronnie Delgado—Riggs’ father-in-law—in prison.
On that note, Riggs’ real father might sit this one out, but Ronnie Delgado is very much involved here. Ronnie’s introduction is met with a brutal fight scene that reiterates how disturbing prison can be. The violent set piece blossoms into a rather vicious shanking, but it at least allows Riggs some one-on-one time with the central figure in this brewing cartel case. It’s not hard to connect the dots and figure out that the same people who blew up Gene are also responsible for the multiple stab wounds that are currently in Delgado’s belly.
Riggs doesn’t seem to have any interest in letting Ronnie become some sort of surrogate father of the year for him, but it maybe wouldn’t be the worst thing for his mental health. If Riggs had some sort of stable person that he could come to in the future—and someone that even connects him back to his late wife, at that—it’d make for a pleasant antidote to the trauma Riggs unearths this season.
As Riggs and Murtaugh are brought deeper into the cartel as they try to unwrap this case and figure out who’s to blame with this string of deaths, Riggs gets put in an awkward situation regarding Miranda. The cartel implies that it’s not just Ronnie that’s tied up with some bad people, but that Miranda also got her hands dirty. Furthermore, apparently Miranda only turned in such a direction when things got dicey with Riggs. This understandably pushes all of Riggs buttons and it’s not long before he beats up some suspects and has his gun drawn like a madman while Murtaugh needs to talk him down. It’s been a while since Lethal Weapon has brought back unhinged Riggs (it used to be every episode), but it works a lot better after it’s had some breathing room. Plus, the stakes of Riggs’ deceased wife are the perfect means to get Riggs back over the deep end.
It’s also a respectable challenge for the series to allow Riggs’ one area of purity to become tainted like everything else in his life. He needs to put that fantasy to rest and move on in some crucial ways. It’s a little bittersweet that it’s Riggs’ own stubborn nature regarding his father that ultimately gets Miranda caught up in her shady behavior in the first place. All the more reason for Riggs to get his shit together and resolve his long-standing daddy issues this season. He does find a sort of peace by the end of all of this.
“Diggin’ Up Dirt” also deftly moves from actual father figures to de facto ones. Murtaugh finds himself eager to try and impress Avery, which isn’t the deepest of storylines for him this week, but it’s mostly harmless. Wayans still kills the material and it makes for a decent change of pace. Avery suddenly has aspirations to become Mayor of Los Angeles and this change of pace means that he won’t be able to be Captain of the LAPD anymore. Accordingly, Avery wants Murtaugh to help single out possible replacement Captains, but Murtaugh is insulted that Avery doesn’t suggest that he be his replacement. Avery has no interest in standing in Murtaugh’s way here—in fact he even thinks he’d be a great addition—but he also believes that Murtaugh just enjoys the detective life too much to leave it behind. This territory doesn’t exactly resolve itself this week, but it’s still appreciated to see the show spend a little time on its long game as it tries to position its characters for where they could be in a season or two from now.
When “Diggin’ Up Dirt” catches back up with Leo and Trish, it’s appreciated that the two of them actually make some real headway with the cartel case and that they’re not just ancillary or comic relief to the proceedings. In fact, they literally crash into Riggs and Murtaugh and as their efforts dovetail together, the episode’s final act has a strong energy to it when everyone must work together to bring this one home. The final details involve the deceased Nakahara wrapped up in a murder of his own (not an affair, as was previously thought) and those that have been wronged receive justice. It looks like the tag-team efforts of Leo Getz and Trish Murtaugh are also far from over, which is the best news that this show has delivered in a long time.
Also, how damn delightful is it to have Thomas Lennon deliver Joe Pesci lines (albeit dialogue that’s from Goodfellas) as Leo Getz? The series continues to figure out fun ways to “remix” this character. Moving forward, every future funeral scene should feature a slimy, tone-deaf Getz as he attempts to network.
“Diggin’ Up Dirt” marries together its disparate storylines effectively into a cohesive episode that doesn’t disappoint. Everyone has something to do here and nothing feels like a waste of time. Additionally, the episode feels like it helps set up several future story arcs while it also provides a few satisfying answers to past mysteries. Getting to spend a little extra time with Miranda is also never a bad thing, too. As the episode comes to a close it looks like even though Riggs’ life is even more complicated than before, he’s somehow making better sense of it all.
He’s slowly getting the monsters under control. Now somebody just get the guy a box spring.