[PLEASE NOTE: This recap of Lethal Weapon: Season 2, Episode 2: Dancing in September DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS. It is assumed you have already viewed the episode. If you have not, it is recommended you do so. Episode 2: Dancing in September can be seen on Fox, On-Demand or via your preferred streaming service.]
Last week’s Lethal Weapon Season 2 opener was strong. If you missed it, you could read my review here.
Having said that, I think it pales in comparison to this week’s episode, “Dancing in September.” The cold-opening might make one believe they are watching Nip/Tuck. A plastic surgeon named Dr. Harris is partying hard at his mansion, and he’s not at a loss for entertainment. His hot tub is filled with bikini-clad women, and there are copious amounts of cocaine available for consumption. Alas, it seems the plastic surgeon partied too hard after his companions find his body floating in the hot tub with a needle in him; looking like an apparent drug overdose. Even so, Riggs (Clayne Crawford) and Murtaugh (Damon Wayans) are put on the case.
Before the boys tackle work, we’re introduced to their respective issues in their personal lives. Murtaugh’s one and only son, Roger Jr., “RJ” (Dante Brown) is getting ready to leave for college. Murtaugh’s having some trouble with the transition, as does RJ, unbeknownst to his parents. Meanwhile, the matriarch of the house, Trish (Keesha Sharp) seems to welcome it. But, the emotion of such a transition isn’t Murtaugh’s biggest problem once he hurts his back while helping RJ move boxes. Meanwhile, Riggs is dealing with a whole new set of issues. However, they’re quite the opposite of what he usually wrestles with.
Since everything went down in Mexico, Riggs finds himself feeling “normal.” In other words, he’s showing up to work early, has an abnormal amount of energy, and is thinking more logically as opposed to the daredevil who doesn’t think but acts, which he usually is. Most of all, Riggs finds himself pining for DEA agent Karen Palmer (Hilarie Burton). The two worked together extensively in the previous season in more ways than one. They eventually became friends with benefits before drifting apart. Needless to say, Riggs doesn’t know how to respond to all this.
All of the duo’s personal issues will have to wait though as hot tub water proves to be thicker than silicone. When Riggs and Murtaugh are tasked with getting to the bottom of the plastic surgeon’s death, it initially looks like a cardiac arrest brought on by cocaine abuse. But, it’s apparent to our heroes that there’s more to the story. However, the investigation is interrupted when they find the department, themselves and Avery (Kevin Rahm) are being observed inter-department by Deputy Chief Gina Santos (Michelle Hurd). Murtaugh’s worried about Santos, but not for the reasons you might think. About a decade earlier, the two were briefly partners.
During this quick stint, they were on a stakeout, and they had the radio on to keep themselves occupied. The song, “Dancing in September,” came on and they both reached to turn the volume up at the same time. Their fingers touched, and Murtaugh thinks that Santos touched his finger a few seconds too long. He paranoidly refers to this as a “finger-linger.” When Murtaugh expresses his concern to the guys that Santos might still have eyes (or fingers) for him, they understandably laugh it off. Santos had legitimate concerns about the department and initiated a policy that requires all officers to wear body cams. After begrudgingly attaching their cams, Riggs and Murtaugh get back on the case.
Picking up where left off, the boys decide to investigate the late surgeon’s business partner, Dr. Paulo (Huse Madhavji). Upon doing so, they find themselves in a posh surgical spa. While talking to Dr. Paulo, our heroes also encounter a pretty, young woman who works there as a CPA named Sara Barnes (Brooke Nevin). Everything seems copacetic until Riggs spots people in the back moving steroids around. As is his way, Riggs approaches one of these goons, and that breaks into a fight. Murtaugh gets in on the action as well, neither of them holding back in defending themselves, despite their body cams; naturally, they catch heat from the Santos for this as well. After this, Riggs decides to take the intel regarding the steroid ring to Palmer. Unfortunately, Palmer’s not receptive due to Riggs’ intel. This is mainly because Palmer has been assigned a desk job after having given Riggs the Flores file at the end of the first season.
Following Palmer’s rebuttal, Riggs decides to investigate further, sans her assistance. Upon doing so, he finds that the drug ring has ties to the Russian mob, which leads him and Avery back to the spa to question the remaining doctor further. Alas, they are unable to do so as the doctor has been killed by one of the men Riggs previously fought, Surgay Kriav. The pair pursues him for questioning, along with Murtaugh, who unbeknownst to them, was there for a spa treatment. Despite their efforts, Surgay is intercepted by Palmer, who takes him into custody. It turns out; she used the Riggs had given her to do so. Once in Palmer’s custody, she and Riggs become competitive, one trying to elicit more information from Surgay than the other. Through this Moonlighting-esque back and forth, they one piece of information. That being that Russian mob boss, Christian Orlov is heading up this drug ring.
However, all this new information is put on hold when they encounter Sara Barnes when questioning a pharmacist about the steroids they found. Sara is questioned and reveals that she worked as a CPA for the spa & Orlov’s textile company. During her tenure, she saw manifests that revealed the drug shipments. After this discovery, she quickly resigned, feeling her life was now threatened by Orlov. In addition, she also had plastic surgery to change her appearance. Murtaugh lays all this new information out for Santos, who suggests an operation between themselves and the DEA. Then, not being able to resist, Murtaugh brings up the “finger-linger” to Santos, who promptly denies it.
Since Orlov would be unable to recognize Sara due to her new appearance, Palmer goes undercover, posing as Sara. Orlov requires Palmer to come out to sea and meet him on his boat. She does so with Riggs, Murtaugh, and Avery tailing her. Alas, things escalate when Orlov forces Palmer to come inside of the ship. Once inside, she has to get rid of the wire she was wearing, which is the least of Palmer’s problems when Orlov and his goons attempt to torture and kill her. Without hesitation, Riggs jumps off Avery’s boat and uses his old military training to get onto Orlov’s. Once onboard, Riggs takes out as many of Orlov’s men as he can in hand-to-hand combat as he has no gun on him. At the same time, Murtaugh provides cover by shooting other goons from Avery’s boat. This maritime pursuit comes to a head when Orlov gets the upper-hand on Riggs, putting a gun to Palmer’s head. Thankfully, they’re all saved when Murtaugh shoots a fishing spear through Orlov.
Due to everything that’s happened, Santos ends up (at least temporarily) taking over Avery’s position. Before Murtaugh leaves her new office, Santos admits that she did indeed “finger-linger” all those years earlier. Murtaugh leaves work with a smile on his face, ready to take RJ to college. Meanwhile, Riggs seems prepared to face a brighter future. He admits to Cahill (Jordana Brewster) that he’s intentionally stayed busy to distract himself since Mexico. Of course, Cahill already knows this; but it still shows excellent progress on Riggs’ part. The episode wraps up with Riggs and Palmer rekindling their romance.
In my opinion, this episode is one of the series best, thus far. I think a large part of this is because it captures the spirit of the movie franchise on which it’s based. Meaning it balanced cop action and family sitcom in equally balanced portions. Moreover, it gives Murtaugh just as much to do as Riggs. I was pleased with this as I found the series sometimes shortchanges Murtaugh, letting Riggs steal the show. Personally, I think the opposite was true with this episode, which was a nice change of pace.
However, this episode does have a sole problem. I just found it to be a little too crowded plot-wise. (In fact, you might have surmised that from the synopsis.) In my opinion, a scene or two could have been cut or at least shortened. Other than that, I felt this installment was a bit of evolution for the show. It’s my hope that this development continues, getting every aspect the show as nicely balanced as Dancing in September was.
Episode 3: Born to Run will air on Tuesday, October 10 at 8:00 on FOX.