This Lethal Weapon review contains spoilers.
Lethal Weapon Season 3 Episode 4
“Everyone makes mistakes…”
Hindsight is a hell of a thing. People like Murtaugh and Cole are required to regularly make high-pressure decisions that will have dire consequences regardless of what they choose to do. Work of this level of importance should involve a certain degree of assurance, but sometimes it’s impossible to be completely positive over what’s the “right” thing to do.
Murtaugh and Cole try their best to be shining beacons of justice that never make mistakes, but they’re only human. “Leo Getz Justice” marks a particularly compelling take on hindsight as it looks at both Cole and Murtaugh’s attempts to atone for past mistakes.
Last week’s Lethal Weapon put Murtaugh and Cole down parallel paths when it came to their domestic problems at home. This episode follows a similar pattern, but instead focuses on the police work and links Murtaugh and Cole through their missteps in justice. Murtaugh is stuck in a real moral crisis when a recent murder brings to light some evidence that seems to contradict one of his arrests from a years back. Any wrongful conviction on Murtaugh’s part would be a rough blow for the proud officer, but it stings particularly bad that this is that white whale of criminal justice, a serial killer. It’s terrible news that a deranged murderer is out on the streets, but Murtaugh is just as shook that he may have ruined an innocent man’s life. Although it does take him a while to swallow his pride and accept that his police work isn’t perfect and that’s made an error (the fact that he tackles an innocent homeless man moments later helps bring down his ego a little).
When it comes to Cole, his past returns to haunt him in the form of an old contact from his CIA days, Rafi Rahal. Cole may not have a vengeful serial killer on his hands, but this guy is just as hotheaded and looking for trouble. Cole is stricken with grief over how Rafi’s brother died on his watch, but he’s not at all receptive to Cole’s payouts to help absolve himself. Even though Rafi would rather be left alone, Cole continues to be the angel that looks over his shoulder. This doesn’t exactly mesh with the larger serial killer story that consumes the LAPD, but it does help shade in a little more of Cole’s tortured past.
Seann William Scott continues to comfortably settle into the series and even though he was a natural fit from the start, his scenes with his daughter or Natalie are starting to pop as much as the material between Murtaugh and his family. His “powdered donut analysis” scene is a sublime example of the spark that he brings to this show that’s absent in someone like Murtaugh, and even Riggs.
If all of this wasn’t enough, Leo Getz also makes his first appearance of the season and weasels his way into Murtaugh and Cole’s business. Getz just so happens to be elbows deep into investigating the pivotal Dan Harrison case from Roger’s past, but it’s Trish here that he’s really interested in. Getz believes that Trish is uniquely qualified to lend him a hand, which presents her with an interesting opportunity and presents Roger with something else to stress over. But hey, at least it’s not Scottie Pippen.
Trish helping Leo prove his client’s innocence wouldn’t typically be that big of a deal, but her work here would happen to prove Roger’s negligence all those years ago when he sent an innocent man to prison. Trish is in no hurry to pick Getz over her husband, but Leo does bring his scoop over her as an olive branch of sorts. Roger’s error will bite him in the ass a lot softer if Trish and Leo can get to it first and massage the details. It’s actually a rather brilliant plot development that Leo Getz has been running a successful Serial-esque podcast in his spare time. God bless the rising trend in armchair detectives.
Getz orbits around the Murtaughs for the majority of this installment, but it’s still fun to witness his first encounter with Wesley Cole (“Holy Magic Mike,” indeed). Needless to say, Cole isn’t Getz’ biggest fan, which means that these two need to get locked together in an elevator for a bottle episode, stat.
As is usually the case with Lethal Weapon, Murtaugh and Cole’s investigation into Dan Harrison’s innocence takes a few left turns and remains unpredictable. Sometimes Lethal Weapon can let its case of the week percolate in the background, but “Leo Getz Justice” finds a compelling crime that’s much more complicated than it originally seems. Roger, Leo, Cole, and Trish all offer up a unique perspective on the case and it actually puts Roger in one of the more complex problems of his career.
This remorseful, unsure attitude works well for “Leo Getz Justice.” It’s satisfying to see these reactionary individuals take a step back and adopt some self-doubt. Their job moves pretty fast and it’s appreciated that this episode gets in their head and attempts to break down their explosive process.
That being said, this whole premise could have been even more effective if it was spread out over the course of the season. Lethal Weapon isn’t the type to embrace deeply serialized storytelling, but a serial killer on the loose that the LAPD checks in on every few episodes could have given this season a stronger narrative drive (especially on a shorter season like this one). The confrontation that Murtaugh finally has with Harrison is a powerful moment, but picture how much harder it could have hit if it came after a season of build up.
“Leo Getz Justice” also finds a healthy balance between its humor and action. Episodes that contain Leo tend to skew to the funnier side and this one is no exception, but it also turns up the violence in some unexpected ways. Cole’s expertise with throwing knives is so impressive that you almost block out the gnarly wound that it inflicts. There’s also not enough that can be said on the brutal realism of Cole’s efforts to hang onto Roger and not let go of that rope. His hands just look shredded by the end of the ordeal and it’s one of the more gruesome visuals that Lethal Weapon has pulled off. Murtaugh’s going to have to be the one that beats up the vending machine while Cole’s hands heal.
“Leo Getz Justice” places Murtaugh and Cole in fallible positions of contemplation, which helps emotionally ground the episode. Lethal Weapon has its formula down to such a science at this point, but this entry still finds opportunities to surprise the audience and buck conventions during the action scenes. Murtaugh and Cole learn that they can correct their mistakes from the past, but they still need to be careful that their new cases won’t eventually be a problem five years down the road. “Leo Getz Justice” illustrates why hindsight is an essential skill, but it also speaks to the fact that it’s important to not get lost in the past and forget what counts in the present.
Like true-crime podcasts that are hosted by ambulance-chasing attorneys.
Daniel Kurland is a published writer, comedian, and critic whose work can be read on Den of Geek, Vulture, Bloody Disgusting, and ScreenRant. Daniel knows that the owls are not what they seem, that Psycho II is better than the original, and he’s always game to discuss Space Dandy. His perma-neurotic thought process can be followed at @DanielKurlansky.
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!