This Lethal Weapon review contains spoilers.
Lethal Weapon Season 2 Episode 3
“It’s how the world gets bigger, baby.”
Lethal Weapon is surprisingly one of the most romantic action franchises out there. There’s a lot of love to be shared around all of the whizzing bullets and car chases in both the films and the television series. This season of Lethal Weapon appears to be especially interested in digging into the romantic, gooey center of its characters and “Born to Run” makes this its focus, for both better and worse.
It was only last week that Riggs was talking about finding normalcy in his life and he already finds a brunch schedule for himself. Furthermore, the hints at a romance between Riggs and Karen Palmer have now blossomed into a full-blown relationship. The two are already cringing together through couples’ hangouts with the Murtaughs. “Born to Run” knows how to properly play these brunch scenes and it makes these awkward get-togethers as fun as possible while not going too far into camp. Riggs basically gets to be the butt of everyone’s jokes, which is a good time for everyone involved. At least Trish has a new friend to drink Chardonnay with now.
Riggs and Palmer really get it from both angles this week. This episode makes it seem like Riggs and Palmer need to be the world’s best super couple or love itself may go extinct. It’s certainly clunky material, especially when aspects like an adulterous murder suspect can cue Murtaugh into monologues about the do’s and dont’s of relationships. All of this is in service of turning Riggs into more of a well-rounded character though so it manages to be tolerable. The guy is even washing his hair now, so this is significant stuff here.
As much as I might roll my eyes over the premise of tonight’s episode—a pop star named Shaye whose bodyguard suddenly winds up dead—that opening scene is pretty damn cool. Lethal Weapon actually takes a few pages from the horror notebook, rather than its typical action repertoire, to pull off a surprising, frightening introduction. The episode starts off on an insane note and only builds from there. Get ready for naked adulterers falling off of balconies into wedding cakes, people.
Once Riggs and Murtaugh begin to question Shaye and attempt to piece this case together, it’s quite satisfying to see just how quickly the two of them are able to cut through the bullshit. Shaye attempts to cloud the truth and keep her relationship with her deceased bodyguard a secret, but within seconds Riggs and Murtaugh are deep into their own timeline of what actually happened. It can be difficult to continually make these crime scene interrogations feel unique, but Lethal Weapon’s tendency to show Riggs and Murtaugh improving at their job keeps these perfunctory scenes feeling fresh.
Riggs and Murtaugh find themselves at uniquely different vantage points when it comes to the person that they’re trying to protect. Riggs is completely oblivious when it comes to all things Shaye, whereas Murtaugh understands that the pop icon is a crucial piece to gaining some serious cred with his daughter. This leads to a number of entertaining scenes where Riggs tries to use his job as leverage with his daughter, typically to middling results. Matters on the case aren’t that much more exciting as the LAPD finds themselves on babysitting duty with the diva.
Murtaugh and Riggs may feel useless with the work that they’re forced to do with Shaye, but Riggs suddenly gains a new interest in all of this when he picks up on her nasty bruises. Riggs unfortunately gets a little too passionate for his cause and the case becomes more complicated after he bends the rules to protect Shaye and strikes a suspect. Riggs’ behavior leads to some heavy, and arguably necessary, dissection from Deputy Chief Santos. Not only is she far too tired of Riggs’ loose cannon “act,” she seems genuinely worried that if he keeps it up there are going to be some pretty heavy consequences. It’s not as if this is the first time that an authority figure has had a chat of this nature with Riggs, but this time it looks like Riggs is actually alarmed by his behavior. “Born to Run” does a good job at illustrating this growing pressure within Riggs and how it feels like the many changes that he’s dealing with are about to culminate in some dangerous release.
Santos takes plenty of opportunities to talk to Riggs about his performance this week, but her all-seeing eye continues to be felt even when she’s physically absent. Her latest development involves sending a new officer to work cases with the LAPD. Murtaugh isn’t pleased about Santos’ continued meddling with their well-oiled machine, but the new kid on the block, Bowman, makes a strong first impression. The guy understands the powers of a good soup. Bowman might mostly be played for laughs at this point, but I’d be surprised if he doesn’t develop into a more crucial component of this team, even if Murtaugh isn’t for the idea. Lethal Weapon has the Riggs and Murtaugh dynamics down to a science, so it’s never a bad move when the show attempts to spread its focus.
As Riggs and Murtaugh make progress in their case, Shaye herself continues to set up obstacles for them. As much as she needs help from the LAPD, she’s clearly petrified to step out of bounds and put herself in danger from the men in her life that are controlling her. It’s a painful display, especially considering that Riggs and Murtaugh know exactly what’s going on but can’t do anything about it. Even though the episode’s plotline neatly follows a cycle of abuse, there are still some surprises that go down in the final moments that help the story land a little stronger.
The episode’s final act nicely calls back to the disturbing horror present in the cold open. The conclusion deals with rabid ex-lovers, morbid murder attempts, and automobiles plummeting off cliffs. All of this helps to reiterate the episode’s broad theme of “relationships are difficult.” It should only be fitting then that the power couple of Riggs and Palmer meets some rough waters and capsizes. The silver lining here seems to be that Riggs at least has learned something from the experience. He’s maybe even grown.
Speaking of which, with all of the relationship advice that Murtaugh doles out to Riggs, it’s a little surprising to see the appalling way in which Roger acts towards his wife when he needs some information from her. It’s pretty demeaning behavior, but naturally all is well in the Murtaugh home by the end of the episode. These tonedeaf moments are never too overpowering but there are certainly gender dynamics here that need to get some attention. On that note, here’s hoping that next week’s case doesn’t involve another frail woman in distress.
Even though “Born to Run” might get too silly for its own good at times, the episode does contain a number of the season’s most memorable visuals. The episode’s story is far from groundbreaking, but it does get to use it as a platform for discussing abuse and its heart appears to be in the right place. These early episodes of Lethal Weapon’s second season are still setting their ground work and preparing the characters for what’s to come. As long as the series remembers to maintain a balance and never get too melodramatic, it should do just fine. It’s when the show begins to call a pancake a frittata that you’ve got to worry.