[PLEASE NOTE: This recap of Lethal Weapon: Season 2, Episode 1: El Gringo Loco DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS. It is assumed you have already viewed the episode. If you have not, it is recommended you do so. Episode 1: El Gringo Loco can be seen on Fox, On-Demand or via your preferred streaming service.]
Well, I never thought I would be reviewing/recapping this show. Unfortunately, I have to admit that I initially was very close-minded about the idea of a Lethal Weapon TV series. In fact, I remember when it was first announced that the property was going this direction, I just shook my head. This announcement came after years of trying to continue the Lethal Weapon franchise in some shape or form.
The first attempt was going to be the fifth installment. It was set to star the original cast, be helmed by Richard Donner, who had directed all the films in the franchise and was being written by the film series creator, Shane Black (Iron Man 3, The Nice Guys, and the upcoming Doc Savage.) The plot would have followed Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Murtaugh (Danny Glover) over the course a 24-48 period during a case, and it was rumored that this would be executed in a “gritty, found-footage style.”
I was supportive of this idea since it would be a continuation of the films; I thought the found-footage approach was a terrible idea though, particularly for Lethal Weapon. This idea died on the vine quite quickly; almost as fast as the concept of a remake of the 1987 original with Bradley Cooper (War Dogs, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2) as Riggs did. Since the first two Lethal Weapon movies are among my favorites, I also have a soft spot the other sequels as well. Thus, I hated the idea of a remake. I had the same opinion on the idea of a TV series and couldn’t be bothered with it when it aired. However, as its first season progressed, I heard nothing but positive reviews. By the time the first season was available in its entirety On-Demand, I had decided I would give it a shot.
The first season of the show follows the brand-new partnership of our protagonists. Roger Murtaugh (now played by Damon Wayans) is a veteran detective with the LAPD. Murtaugh’s good at his job and does things by the book. He only wants to do things the right way to, hopefully, make it home to his loving family. But Murtaugh’s routine gets shaken-up when he’s assigned a new partner in Martin Riggs (Clayne Crawford), an ex-special forces Marine and seasoned detective…with a death wish. Riggs transferred from Texas to LA after his wife Miranda (Floriana Lima) was killed in a car accident.
Now Riggs feels he has nothing to lose and brings that attitude to his work. His style clashes with Murtaugh’s, but they make a good team, and they get the job done. While doing his new job, Riggs must also attend therapy sessions with police psychiatrist, Maureen Cahill (Jordana Brewster). Throughout the first season, Riggs and Murtaugh bond as both partners and friends. All the while Riggs works through his depression and alcoholism due to losing Miranda. A vast majority of the duo’s cases relate to a drug cartel, thus having them work with a DEA agent, who has a role similar to that of Rene Russo’s in the movie franchise. The end of the first season culminates with Riggs discovering that Tito Flores (Danny Mora) and the cartel are responsible for his late wife’s death.
I realize that was a rather brief encapsulation of the show’s previous season. However, I think you all get the idea. I must fully admit, my initial opinions of the show, having not watched it, were completely wrong. It turns out that not only is Lethal Weapon a good action-comedy, buddy cop series, but it also goes one step further. The show manages to capture the feeling and spirit of the movies on which it’s based. Even the show and its cast interpretation of Lethal Weapon’s characters ring true. As a pretty big fan of the movies, I was blown away by how well the show handled these characters and material that I’m so familiar with while managing to put a new spin on it. True, no one will ever deliver quite what Gibson, Glover or Joe Pesci did in the movies. Then again, they don’t need to as the show is its own thing while feeling part-in-parcel with the original franchise.
The Season 2 Premiere begins two weeks after the previous one ended. Riggs is in Mexico, set on killing Tito Flores. Meanwhile, Murtaugh is on his partner’s trail; hoping to stop him before he can do too much damage. Both are in Mexico in an unofficial capacity. Riggs has not made himself easy to find. Therefore, Murtaugh has been looking for him for these couple of weeks. Two weeks has been a long enough period that his wife, Trish (Keesha Sharp) and his kids, are starting to give Murtaugh guff about being gone so long. Soon enough, Murtaugh finds his partner when a gunfight erupts in the nearby hotel.
By the time Murtaugh gets to the scene, Riggs has killed several cartel members. Now, nothing stands between Riggs and Flores, with Riggs holding a gun to the cartel leader’s head. After a little back-and-forth, Murtaugh convinces Riggs not to kill his wife’s killer. Murtaugh does so by citing that he does not want Riggs to ruin his life and that he loves him. Instead, the two decide to take Flores back to America, where he can be prosecuted. That’s easier said than done though as a small cartel kill squad attacks. The boys manage to defeat their attackers with guns and a grenade. They escape, putting Flores in Murtaugh’s trunk. They almost come out all this unmarred, until Riggs accidentally slams the trunk on one of Murtaugh’s fingers; cutting it off. Thus, giving us an action-packed and humorous cold-open.
Once they get back stateside, Roger gets his finger re-attached by a nice nurse named Denise Barnes (Katie Walder). Not all is well, though, as the boys are being investigated by Internal Affairs. Not that this is surprising, considering all the damage the duo cause each week. However, the crux of IA’s investigation is all the unsanctioned business south of the border. Police Captain Brooks Avery (Kevin Rahm) is doing his best defend his officers’ actions and keep them out of hot water. Despite his efforts, IA suspends Riggs and Murtaugh. The boys attempt to redeem themselves by taking Avery to Flores. Alas, upon opening the trunk, they find Flores dead with a bullet to the head. Riggs, in particular, is in more trouble now as he’s suspected of the murder. Deciding to cut his losses, Riggs says he’ll leave the force and turns to the bottle.
To get some real answers, Murtaugh returns to the hospital. He asks the nurse, Denise if she told anyone else about Flores being in the trunk. She admits that she did tell her brother, Gordon (Eric Ladin) about everything because he’s a border patrol agent. This fact has not gone unnoticed by the cartel as Murtaugh and Denise are soon descended upon by the cartel. The pair is out-numbered and outgunned. That is until Riggs shows up and takes out the would-be assassins through using a sniper rifle and machine gun, respectively.
Immediately after the firefight, Gordon shows up at the station, wanting to turn himself in for Flores’ murder. It all seems like a cut and dry closed case. Riggs feels something is wrong though, so he goes to Gordon, one-on-one and off the books. Seeing that Gordon has no real emotion or passion regarding the murder, Riggs presses him. At this point, Gordon admits that he did not kill Flores. Instead, Flores’ second-in-command, Raul Mendez (Manuel Uriza) is responsible. Gordon has ties to Raul, so he filled him in on the trunk situation. Using the information, Raul killed Flores, framing Gordon and threatening that if Gordon refused to take the wrap, he would kill his family. However, the border patrolman has an ace in the hole as he recorded this whole conversation with Raul. In exchange for a stay in prison in order to remain out of the cartel’s reach; Gordon turns over the evidence to Riggs.
With that development, Riggs and Murtaugh head back to Mexico to retrieve Raul. Once they arrive, Riggs crashes Flores’ funeral in order to get Raul. In the way, that only Riggs can, he lays out what went down. Undoubtedly, the cartel sides with Raul, turning their guns on Riggs. The gringo’s moment under the glare of guns is short as Murtaugh fights off an attacker and manages to play the recording of Raul. Flores’ killer then goes white, asking Riggs to help him as the cartel puts the pair in their sites. Through a haze of gunfire, Riggs and Raul escape the church. They jump in Murtaugh’s car and head for the border. To ensure they aren’t followed Riggs fires a rocket launcher at the cartel, blocking them off.
Once back stateside, Raul confesses to Flores’ murder and agrees to testify against the cartel. Upon delivering Raul, Riggs and Murtaugh are reinstated to the force by Internal affairs. Despite his impulse to resign Riggs decides to remain a cop. Beyond that, he continues his sessions with Dr. Cahill. Meanwhile, on the homefront, Murtaugh mends the fences with his family. Riggs, of course, doesn’t miss this as he’s been invited to a party the Murtaughs are throwing. The episode ends, leaving us open for more adventures with the buddy cops.
I felt this Season Premiere was quite satisfying. It provided plenty of action and humor, throwing the viewer right back into the world. More importantly, though, it had just enough human emotion and focus on relationships to help ensure we still care. To me, these elements are what a good Lethal Weapon installment does; be it in the form of a movie or a TV episode. I also enjoyed how this episode was intrinsically connected to the events of the first season. Taking this approach helps put the series in league with the best episodic TV. That being, the kind that demands you keep up with it. Though Lethal Weapon successfully manages to be an adventure/case of the week buddy cop show at the same time. In doing this, both the committed and casual viewer feel welcomed.
The only criticism I’ll level at this episode comes with its genre. What I mean is, this is a cop show, so it will occasionally feel repetitive. Apparently, that happens when you have the same cops solving a new case every week. In this episode, some of the gunfights felt repetitive as did a couple of Riggs’ emotional reactions. Beyond those things though, I enjoyed this season opener and I look forward to the rest of this season. If you haven’t given the series a shot, please do so. As I said, it’s easily accessible to any viewer!
Episode 2: “Dancing in September” will air this coming Tuesday, Oct. 3 at 8:00PM on FOX.