This Lethal Weapon review contains spoilers.
Lethal Weapon Season 3 Episode 8
“That’s not some moron. That’s my moron.”
Friendships and families—both of a literal and metaphorical nature—are once more the focus of Lethal Weapon. This is absolutely not new territory for the series and if anything this show often stumbles over itself with how often it tries to reinforce these topics. This territory is typically reserved for Murtaugh and Cole’s off hours, but “What the Puck” inserts this into the police work and finds success.
This round look at friendships gives “What the Puck” a strong center, but witty dialogue, surprising plotting, and enjoyable guest characters help make this installment one of the stronger episodes of the year.
Arguably “What the Puck’s” largest concerns are Cole and Natalie’s romantic prospects. Cole doesn’t want to waste any time after their momentous kiss from the last episode and he’s eager to talk to her about all of this while the iron is still hot. Cole is quick to want to put a label on all of this, but Natalie houses a lot more hesitation on the matter and is still caught up on her boyfriend, Andrew, who is clueless about her certain indiscretion.
Cole also finds himself sidelined by a new ADA, Erica, who he immediately ruffles feathers with, which is actually pretty much par for the course with Cole. Cole appears to almost go out of his way to get in Erica’s face, which naturally results in the two of them begrudgingly stuck together through much of the episode. There’s a very flirtatious vibe between the two of them that’s present with most of Cole’s interactions with female characters, but since his whole storyline is to patch things up with his ex-wife, it’s an extraneous element, especially since it doesn’t go anywhere.
Later, when Cole attempts to put the gas on the Natalie situation a little, he crashes and burns and just when it looked like he and Natalie were finding their way back together, they now may be permanently apart. The blowout between the two of them is consistent with both of their behaviors, but what is surprising is when Andrew eventually shows up at work to ambush Cole.
Instead of fisticuffs, Cole gives Andrew the final push that he needs to propose to Natalie, which is sweet in its own way. However, the fact that the final piece of the crime’s puzzle happens to take place at the same location where Andrew proposes to Natalie is a little on the nose.
The LAPD’s work here kicks off to a rather suspenseful introduction where the case of a car getting towed turns into something surprisingly more explosive. It properly sets the tone for the episode. These events result in Erica’s enlistment of the LAPD and she informs them that the crooked Tony Corsetti tried to blow up Elliot because he’s a witness to his ill deeds. Rather than take down Corsetti—which is specifically not their mission—Murtaugh and Cole are staffed to keep an eye on Elliot and keep him safe.
It’s decidedly less exciting work, but their protection duty of Elliot also happens to conflict with Cole’s plans to talk with Natalie. So rather than let this get in his way, Cole goes rogue and allows Murtaugh to take this one solo. It’s actually a little refreshing to see Lethal Weapon set up such hackneyed obstacles, only to then immediately ignore them.
“What the Puck” is a smart episode that tries to buck convention as much as possible. Even the action scenes pack a surprising punch because they contain fairly graphic deaths. Things don’t usually get this out of hand on the show and it’s a good look for the series.
Off of the job, Murtaugh struggles with some fairly low stakes stress at home. Trish throws a girls’ night with her crew, which means that Roger—a male—is banished from the premises for the evening. Accordingly, Murtaugh finds a friendship in an unexpected place with Elliot, the witness that Cole sticks him with, which turns into a rather entertaining story for the guy.
These characters can get rather boxed in with who they do scenes with, so it’s always appreciated when something like this happens and it allows a different side of the character to be seen. There’s a real chemistry between these two that really sells the material. The same can be said for when Murtaugh switches off with Cole and he gets to spend time with the character. He’s a great foil to both of them, although I doubt that we’ll ever see him again.
It’s nice to initially see Murtaugh turn to Cole and Avery in his pursuit of a friend, and fun as all of this material with Elliot is, what the hell is this show doing with Scorsese? Couldn’t he have been the person that Murtaugh gets stuck spending his time with? It’d yield the same rewards, but also give another main character something to do. What’s even worse is that Scorsese is repeatedly addressed as a possible hang out partner for Murtaugh, but he continually balks at the idea. Give the guy a shot!
Trish’s need for Roger to not be home through all of this is less about his ability to make friends, but actually about how she needs space from him and how that shouldn’t be a problem. Roger, as usual, is the immature one here, but he seems to figure out what she means by the end of all of this. It’s still kind of ridiculous that this needs to get explained to him at all. Furthermore, it’s pretty awful that Trish’s night with her friends gets interrupted by not only Roger, but also Cole, and she just has to accept it.
“What the Puck” is more interested in its character dynamics than the machinations of its major crime, but the case still takes plenty of turns, like the early execution of Tony Corsetti. It constructs a layered, evolving crime that plays both Murtaugh and Cole to their strengths. There’s also a suspect who’s a redneck explosives expert who’s wandered straight in from an episode of Justified, an even more over the top villain whose weapons of choice are grenades, and a final act that’s set at a hockey game (although unfortunately nary a Goon reference in sight).
It’s also a significant installment as it’s one of the funniest episodes of the season, both in terms of its character interactions, but also absurdist elements, like a truck full of fish emptying out on Cole and Erica. This episode doesn’t present a remarkable crime, but it’s the tiny details in “What the Puck” that helps this episode stand out. It’s an unexpected highlight from the season that is certainly one of the few that’s worth a re-watch.
Maybe plan your second viewing during the next girls’ night.
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.