This Lethal Weapon review contains spoilers.
Lethal Weapon Season 2 Episode 22
“Sometimes change is good, but the beauty is that we always have the memories.”
Against all odds, Lethal Weapon season 2 has not only been an overall improvement on the show’s first year, but it’s turned into one of the most entertaining procedural cop shows on television and it’s a ratings hit, at that. “One Day More” is an exceptional season (series?) finale that expertly wraps up all of the season’s lingering plot threads in an impressive way. The consistent source of drama that comes from Riggs’ relationship with his father gets to be put to rest, but all of this progress can’t help but feel a little bittersweet.
Earlier today the news broke that Clayne Crawford has been fired from Lethal Weapon and that the series is in search of a replacement in case a third season renewal happens (which was a sure thing at one point). This is seismic news for the show, which is now seriously in jeopardy because let’s be honest, it’s all about the chemistry between Crawford’s Riggs and Wayans’ Murtaugh. Many were initially skeptical that this show would be able to succeed under the shadow of its movie franchise counterparts, but Lethal Weapon has slowly grown into something that’s different and special. To try and recreate that magic again just seems like a lost cause. So while “One Day More” is the perfect, fitting swan song to Lethal Weapon’s second season, it might also be the end of the show for most of its audience.
“One Day More” starts off on quite the dramatic note with an eerie dream sequence set at Miranda Riggs’ grave. The dream digs up Riggs’ feelings over his dead wife, but it seems more interested in prophesizing Riggs’ own death. It’s a foreboding, grim way to start the finale, but it’s also certainly how Shakespeare would begin this episode of Lethal Weapon. Floriana Lima even briefly returns as the ghost of Miranda Riggs, which is right up the bard’s alley. The episode then quickly shifts from this morbid, fatalistic prologue to Molly’s bright speech about the future. The Hendricks have come into some money and Molly is quite keen on putting those funds towards buying a home back in Texas for her, Ben, and hopefully Riggs, to live happily ever after in. And if Riggs can’t commit to the move, he at least now finally has an underwear drawer at the Hendricks house. Lethal Weapon clearly saves the big events for the finale.
This calm moment between Riggs and Molly turns out to be one of the few quiet scenes in the episode, as this finale doesn’t hold back with its attempt to deliver what feels like non-stop action. Take for instance the scene were Murtaugh pays Riggs a visit to inform him about his promotion to Captain. What should be a simple celebration between friends very quickly turns into a barrage of bullets. Riggs and Murtaugh take cover for their lives and everything goes to hell and pretty much stays that way until the end credits roll.
The episode’s focus then becomes the LAPD’s attempts to figure out who wants to kill Riggs there’s a lot of fun to be had as the detectives run through all of the possible people that might have beef with the volatile guy. It’s also quite enjoyable to see Murtaugh get to play Captain for the episode and if more of the show doesn’t happen then this is at least a nice little glimpse of what could have been. The LAPD put together some great suspects under Murtaugh’s direction, but the best part of all of this is that it’s actually beautiful misdirection. Riggs wasn’t the intended target in that shootout after all (which also means that the Boston cream donut guy is not guilty).
It’s honestly a little surprising that nobody thinks to accuse Nathan Riggs as a possible suspect in the assassination attack. Not only does it make the most sense, but after everything that went down in the last episode with Garrett, it seems even more likely. Sure enough, Nathan does play a part in this, but not in the way that you’d necessarily expect. Essentially this episode boils down to the toxic bond between Martin Riggs and his father. This has often been the focus through the show’s second season, but this finale really goes in deep and tries to put this vicious relationship to rest. Dr. Cahill even gets Riggs to examine why he didn’t kill his father when he was younger and the doc gets her therapy badge for the season as she talks Riggs through his trauma. That being said, these realizations and resolutions that they reach are pretty pat and have been on the surface for weeks now, but it’s at least comforting to see Riggs figure these things out.
The finale also delivers some great action set pieces that help compliment the installment. At one point Riggs drives a motorcycle through a bar to make a flashy entrance and figure out who’s trying to kill him. This then transforms into a very awesome motorcycle chase scene through Los Angeles that features a great soundtrack and ends with a pair of impressive stunts. This all makes for entertaining material, but Lethal Weapon truly tries to make its final act carry a bit of surprise with the direction that it takes here. It’s one thing to feature misdirection that makes it look like Roger is actually the target, but to then go one step further and have an additional misdirect that says that Trish has been the target all along due to her recently learning that one of her co-workers is actually a money launderer who’s in cahoots with Nathan Riggs. This turns out to be a super satisfying reveal and the double fake-out is the perfect way to make this finale feel even bigger and more unpredictable.
Something else that “One Day More” does that really works in its favor is that it momentarily creates the ultimate conflict between Riggs and Murtaugh and the crime and family aspects of this show. The series really hits its boiling point when Riggs’ dad decides to kidnap Murtaugh’s wife and very nearly kills her. Wayans’ performance here as his world unravels and panic sets in is some of the best work that the actor’s done in the show and it’s a reminder to how far both he and Crawford have come in these roles.
With Trish’s life on the line, this all becomes an even bigger situation of an eye-for-an-eye when her life is bartered for Garrett Riggs’, Martin’s newly discovered half-brother. Nathan makes Riggs promise that he’ll let Garrett and him get away from this, otherwise he’s likely to do something to Molly and Ben. This is a pretty terrible trick to pull, but it’s one that works. As manipulative as this is, it’s still better than the idea of Molly and Ben constantly under the threat of danger or that they can turn into possible fatalities whenever it’s convenient.
It gets a little touch-and-go for a while here and there are genuine moments towards the end of “One Day More” where it looks like Martin Riggs and the LAPD are going to fail. During the episode’s cold open, Riggs and Murtaugh come open a grenade in Riggs’ trailer, but the duo don’t get to enjoy any sort of explosion. Clearly this is meant to be a Chekhov’s grenade situation, as the artillery saves the day towards the end of everything. At least the show doesn’t try to rid the audience of their right for explosions! All of this testosterone culminates in an all-out brawl on the beach that places all of the Riggses in a quarrel together.
When it comes time to really make the hard decisions, Riggs doesn’t hold back from attacking his dad in order to save his partner and his family. This is clearly meant to act as the end to the whole Nathan Riggs saga, especially since Martin doesn’t get to administer that final hit to his father. As lame as it may be, I’d have to guess that the show will go down the extended coma route for Nathan Riggs, rather than outright killing him, just so he has the potential to return if need be. Besides it would likely be too much to bear if someone else were to die in this episode because the finale also marks the highly emotional ends to Riggs’ trailer! His humble home blows up from that grenade, so at this point he might as well just move to Texas, whether he’s ready or not.
Lethal Weapon makes sure that a lot happens in this finale and that many lives are on the line, but “One Day More” is a dense, focused finale that never drags or has dead weight. Furthermore, this is an episode that feels especially final-like, even for a finale. Murtaugh becomes Captain and will no longer be Riggs’ partner and Riggs is ready to leave Los Angeles and start a family in Texas. Those could very easily make for plausible exit points for the series. Furthermore, this finale becomes a little extra poignant as Riggs says all of his goodbyes when we now know that Clayne Crawford is officially out of the program. This finale was shot months ago and before the initial accusations against Crawford even went public, but there is still an odd synchronicity to all of this. At least Crawford does get to say goodbye to everyone, even if that wasn’t this episode’s true intention.
Lethal Weapon’s future is unpredictable at the moment. A few months ago a startling cliffhanger where Riggs gets shot at point-blank range at his wife’s grave would have been powerful, but it would still speak to the series’ uplifting attitude. Now it looks like Riggs might actually bleed out over the summer months as the show morphs into a very different vehicle. At one point in “One Day More” Riggs gets asked what’s keeping him in Los Angeles because wherever he goes there’s still going to be people that want to assassinate him. In the case of Lethal Weapon, the fans know what’s keeping them here. Hopefully FOX and the series understand that, too.