This Lethal Weapon review contains spoilers.
Lethal Weapon Season 2 Episode 6
The opening scene of this episode of Lethal Weapon begins with the peculiar double feature of Heat and Grumpier Old Men at a cineplex. The image flies away before it has much of a chance to register with the audience, but it feels representative of something larger here. A double feature of Heat and Grumpier Old Men shouldn’t go together. It shouldn’t be something that works. However, against better judgment, people still give this double feature a chance. This optimistic, “What’s the worst that could happen?” attitude is very much present in how Riggs treats his friend and ex-con, Jake Voss. Riggs should know better, but he still buys that movie ticket.
“Gold Rush” starts back in 1996 and continues with a number of choice moments from Riggs’ childhood. The episode details his days as a juvenile joyriding carjacker, and albeit brief, it makes for enjoyable material. Even in Riggs’ younger years, he’s evidently still a pro at wonton destruction and chaos. Somewhere a young Avery shivers in his sleep. Past instances in this season have used these flashbacks to shine a light on Riggs’ tumultuous relationship with his father. That still happens here, but more of the focus is on Riggs’ childhood bond with Jake Voss, who is now back in his life in a big way. There’s a robbery homicide suspect on the loose and a lot of the evidence points to dear old Jake.
This episode also plays into a nice parallel in the ways that both Riggs and Murtaugh abuse their positions in the police department for personal gain. Murtaugh’s reason is far more petty, but Riggs’ is much more illegal. Riggs gets his old buddy Jake out of jail by telling a massive lie during his parole hearing about how Jake’s an informant for him. Riggs is all too eager to get the old band back together as he also hooks up with Molly Hendricks, another face from his past. Riggs hopes that Molly can help him find Jake when he becomes pretty certain that this dog is up to his old tricks. The fun in all of this revolves around how Riggs needs to operate behind Murtaugh’s back and solve the case before he does in order to keep his friend out of prison. Riggs wants to help his old friend, but he also wants to make sure that his friend isn’t actually the murderer in question here.
Jake definitely has some involvement in all of this, but the mystery lies in figuring out just how deep. Furthermore, Jake has some juicy piece of collateral on Riggs that he hangs over his head for the bulk of the episode. Naturally, this piece of character development gets revealed by the episode’s end, but “Gold Rush” has fun as it draws it out and rakes Riggs over the coal. It also doesn’t disappoint. With all of the attention that Riggs’ childhood has enjoyed this season, this makes for another welcome piece of the complicated puzzle that is Martin Riggs.
As Riggs and Murtaugh get further long, it continues to look like Jake is guilty, especially when he crashes Murtaugh’s car and points his gun at his head. Unsurprisingly, Jake isn’t totally off the hook by the end of all of this, but “Gold Rush” knows how to play with expectations and keep things interesting until the final act. He has his reasons for his evasive behavior, but it’s still clear that he’s someone that Riggs needs to cut out of his life. Riggs is really growing this season and learning that he no longer has room in his life for the people that drag him down and enable his bad habits. The tragic thing is that Jake truly did help Riggs back in the day. The big reveal is that Riggs didn’t kill his father, but that Jake actually did, went to prison for it, and that it was all to save Riggs’ life. This certainly makes Riggs’ debt to Jake a complicated one, but kudos to the show for not dragging out the whole “gun mystery.”
In the episode’s B-story, Murtaugh finds a joint in his house, which he deduces must belong to either RJ or Riana. When neither of them come clean, Murtaugh opts to take hair samples and bring them to Scorsese to analyze. This shouldn’t be as entertaining as it is, but somehow it works. Murtaugh’s comment that if either of his children are getting high then it’s because “Riggs taught them it was cool” is pretty great. It also acts as a helpful reminder that Scorsese does still exist and has some sort of purpose to serve on this show. This is such a buddy cop program that the team angle that attempts to make this an ensemble vehicle always feels half-assed. The show should either find a more dedicated purpose for these ancillary characters (like this episode does), or slowly phase them out until it’s a sleek team of necessary characters.
On that note, there’s also a delightful C-story where Bailey accidentally sends Bowman a sext and he rejects it. Between all of this it feels like everyone has a full plate in this installment, which contributes to a more chaotic tone throughout. It doesn’t amount to much, but it still points to the show learning how to better use its characters.
“Gold Rush” boils down to an ending that is deeply honorable but also pretty tragic in its own way. It’s an episode that never feels like it drags, finds lots for its characters to do, and also highlights a more noble side of Riggs at that. There’s also a generally impressive script present for this one. Many simple moments pop, like a scene where Murtaugh mentions how there’s no honor among thieves and then Riggs interjects about Robin Hood. “Gold Rush” is Lethal Weapon at its slickest and it manages to fit in some heavy character moments at the same time. In the end, don’t we all just want someone to eat crackers and spread cheese with?