This Lethal Weapon review contains spoilers.
Lethal Weapon Season 2 Episode 15
“I did not see that coming.”
Procedural television series like Lethal Weapon are predicated on the fact that their characters are easily reducible to strong singular traits or vices. These characters are these extremes and many premises function by watching these stereotypes intermingle. In Lethal Weapon, Riggs is the edgy loose cannon and Murtaugh is the reluctant veteran. However, “An Inconvenient Ruth” poses the fascinating question of what happens when you strip these characters of their defining trait. In the case of Riggs, it leads to some humble soul searching.
This week Riggs and Murtaugh also have their work cut out for them outside of the line of duty. Riggs appears to truly be committed to his recent vow to quit drinking and work on his sobriety. “An Inconvenient Ruth” focuses on how difficult this transition will be for Riggs, but it’s comforting to see the series not back down from the grave nature of this sort of storyline. It’s never a laugh riot to watch characters battle for their sobriety, but after the recent string of bad behavior that Riggs has been on, this feels like a necessary development for his character. That being said, Riggs’ drunken, dysfunctional nature is a crucial aspect of his character. Many might even argue that Riggs isn’t Riggs if his blood-alcohol level isn’t somewhere disgusting. Riggs needs alcohol in the same way that Popeye needs spinach, as he so eloquently puts it.
This opens an enlightening discussion for where Riggs’ character is headed. It’s no fun to see Riggs battle to get better and then give up on his mission, but at the same time the show can’t radically reinvent who he is. It seems like the best approach here is to highlight how messy Riggs’ road to recovery is, while the show uses other fodder (ie. Riggs’ brimming daddy issues) to contribute to his loose cannon reputation. Riggs has already had a very difficult year that this journey could be the light at the end of the tunnel that he needs. At the same though, Murtaugh still requires a wild card to help balance him out. As Murtaugh happens to point out, Riggs doesn’t need booze to be crazy and that he’s biologically incapable of following rules, whether he’s sober or not. Kudos to both Riggs and Lethal Weapon for their decision to embrace this tricky path. Just hopefully Riggs won’t trade his alcoholism for heroin or something worse…
Riggs battles with some serious demons here, but Murtaugh finds himself caught up in an infinitely pettier situation. Murtaugh is out with Harper at the playground where he gets in some valuable time with the kid. Everything seems to be great until another parent erroneously refers to Murtaugh as “grandpa.” Riggs is the sort of individual who could laugh off such a simple mistake, but Murtaugh is a giant ball of neuroses and of course the innocent statement sends him into a spiral of insecurity. It doesn’t help that the episode’s cast involves the dark web and cryptocurrency that Murtaugh has no hope of understanding. Thank God for Bowman.
This is all clearly meant to be in good fun and a balance to the considerably heavier material that Riggs is involved with, but the light material still lands. Damon Wayans Jr has really made this role his own at this point and he’s always committed to his performance, even when it’s something silly like this. In clumsier hands this storyline could really stick out and slow down this installment, but instead it helps complete the picture and reflect the episode’s theme of inner strength. This all also leads to an entertaining moment where Murtaugh tries to become the wild card bad cop while the sober Riggs plays it cool in this amusing role reversal.
After some fairly elaborate and complicated cases over the past few episodes, Lethal Weapon attempts to simplify its crime of the week in “An Inconvenient Ruth.” The LAPD find themselves on the hunt for a thief from a local jewelry heist, but even though the case may look fairly pedestrian from the jump, Riggs and Murtaugh soon get a reminder that all that glitters is not gold and suddenly this open and shut jewel heist begins to evolve into something deeper.
One of the biggest ways in which this case develops is with the presence of Swoosie Kurtz’ character, Ruthie. Ruthie’s present at the jewelry robbery and she immediately proves that she’s a force to be reckoned with that won’t be pushed around. Ruth gets a shot at one of the thieves, only moments before he gets sidelined by a truck that finishes off what she started. These sorts of truck collisions that come from wide camera shots can sometimes be very predictable, but this one manages to come as a surprise. Furthermore, Riggs’ glib comment where he guesses that the victim was poisoned when he’s clearly been pancaked by a truck is pretty fantastic.
Ruthie becomes a running source throughout the episode as well as a persistent thorn in the LAPD’s—but particularly Rigg’s—side. She also surprisingly sidles into the role of de facto therapist for Riggs as he tries to figure out how to function without alcohol (and dissuade her from running up the room service tab). The two also cut the bullshit and talk about how they both self harm as a means of distraction from their addictions and the two find a real tender honesty with each other.
Ruthie is definitely a character that I could see return in a recurring capacity as a criminal informant or something of that ilk. Ruth and Riggs have a real chemistry together and she already knows how to push his buttons, which is seriously most of the work. If she doesn’t become an official asset to the LAPD then a crotchety neighbor for Riggs will also do.
The LAPD’s efforts eventually reveal that people from off the dark web have been hired to kidnap the people involved with the jewel heist. The LAPD try to put everything together before anybody winds up dead. Add to that a hefty life insurance policy on Herb, the main suspect, and a few final twists in the last act and this case manages to have a lot of bumps in the road that make it work, even if it isn’t overly complicated in nature.
“An Inconvenient Ruth” is also one of the more action-packed episodes of the season. The entry starts off with a shootout and it only builds from that. There are several bullet-riddled scenes and Riggs even gets to wield a shotgun. There is also a pretty crazy, sprawling car chase situation where Murtaugh rides on top of a self-driving vehicle with the whole thing set to the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” at that. Later on a car explodes courtesy of a bomb in a huge, fiery mess to up the stakes even further. This season is probably 10/15 for car explosions at this point, so good on their budget!
“An Inconvenient Ruth” knocks the explosion quotient up another notch with its final set piece. The scene revolves around an entire building that blows up while (grandpa) Murtaugh leaps through a window. Avery points out its obvious badassery. That being said, not everyone views it in this positive light and Murtaugh’s reckless actions here actually have serious repercussions with Trish that look like they’ll carry over at least into the following episode’s storyline. This might be an unexpected piece of conflict for the episode to go out on, but it’s a believable one all the same.
Beyond the satisfying action scenes and rewarding character moments, this is also an episode of Lethal Weapon that’s really freaking funny. There are many exchanges that are a delight, but the extended aside about Knight Rider is beautiful and Riggs call to 9-1-1 because he doesn’t know the right number to call for back-up support is amazing. Avery’s dark web face cream is also something I need to know more about immediately. “An Inconvenient Ruth” may ultimately play it safe with its crime this time around, but that doesn’t mean that the episode still can’t deliver.
Oh, and Murtaugh gets stuck in a piece of playground equipment and the fire department need to be called in to set him loose. We all have our Kryptonite.