[PLEASE NOTE: This recap of Lethal Weapon: Season 2, Episode 6: Gold Rush DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS. It is assumed you have already viewed the episode. If you have not, it is recommended you do so. Episode 6: Gold Rush can be seen on Fox On-Demand or via your preferred streaming service.]
In 1996, I was just a seven-year-old, running VHS copies of the OG versions of The Star Wars Trilogy (1977-1983) and Batman Forever (1995) on near constant loops. Not very exciting I know, but between those, comic books and a SNES, I was happier than a clam. However, my mundane existence paled in comparison to that of a teenage Martin Riggs (Chase Mangum). Last week’s episode, ‘Gold Rush’ opens in the summer of that year with young Riggs and his friend Jake (Austin Kane) boosting a Corvette. Their adolescent joyride is short-lived when the cops take chase resulting in the boys crashing the car. When the teens run for it, Jake ends up taking the fall while Riggs gets away.
In the present, the childhood friends situations have been reversed. Jake (Linds Edwards) is at his parole hearing; having just finished a three-year bid. He’s doing his best to plead his case, saying his life of crime will be behind him once he gets out. Alas, from the look on the judge’s face, no quarter will be given. Thankfully for Jake, Riggs (Clayne Crawford) saves the day. He steps in and tells the judge that Jake has served as an informant for the police and in Riggs’ professional opinion has also been rehabilitated. Apparently, an officer’s opinion is all that is needed as Jake’s parole is granted.
Albeit, the judge doesn’t know that half of what Riggs said was a lie, nor is known that he and Jake are friends. Upon Jake’s release, he and Riggs catch up in the jailhouse parking lot. Jake assures Riggs that he’s going straight for his wife Molly (Kristen Gutoskie) and young son Ben (Duncan Joiner). Such an assurance is quickly undermined when Kenny, a fellow recently released prisoner, comes to pick Jake up. Rushing off, the parolee and our hero’s longtime friend says he has an appointment with his parole officer.
Meanwhile, Murtaugh (Damon Wayans) suspects some criminal activity is occurring under his roof after finding a joint in a box of half-eaten cookies. Immediately RJ (Dante Brown) and Riana (Chandler Kinney) are figured to be the resident Cheech and Chong. Despite their father’s intuition, the kids deny having “Invited Mary-Jane into his house.” Not buying his children’s claims, Murtaugh takes things a step further. In one swift motion, he plucks hairs from each of their heads to test in the crime lab. After getting over the slight surprise of such a move, RJ and Riana laugh their dad off. After all, he has actual severe crimes with which to be concerned.
Such a crime is the theft of gold bars from a safe; which he and Riggs are tasked with investigating. The robbery victims are a wealthy married couple, Albert (Spencer Garrett) and Candi (Pooja Batra). Albert had recently had the bright idea of converting the majority of their cash assets into gold bars. Bolstered by the fact that this couple lives in a mansion, such a conversion evokes eye-rolls from the other characters and me. They find a thief lying dead near the open, empty safe.
From the outset, it looks like a two-man job that went wrong, ending in a double-cross. The plot thickens however when Riggs realizes that the dead thief is none other than Kenny. Riggs keeps the information to himself. Alas, he won’t be able to do so for long. When Scorsese (Johnathan Fernandez) does Kenny’s autopsy, he finds Molly’s number written on the dead man’s hand. Murtaugh says they’ll look into it. He then takes the opportunity to have Scorsese test the hairs, on the down-low.
Hoping to get ahead of the case, Riggs goes to see Molly, wondering if she’s heard from Jake. To neither’s surprise, she didn’t even know that her estranged husband had been granted parole. After Riggs and Molly catch-up, having not seen each other since childhood, Jake shows up. This reunion of the Texas trinity doesn’t last long, though. Upon seeing Riggs, Jake takes off which leads to a car chase. Reaching back to the hot pursuits of his adolescence, Riggs catches up, stopping his old friend by bumping him. In anger, Riggs slams Jake up against the car, questioning him.
Jake claims not be responsible for Kenny’s murder. About that time, Murtaugh shows up, having passed them during the chase. As the two lawmen and the criminal stand there, the tension can be felt as Jake explains that there was “A third guy,” who must be responsible for the murder. Jake’s revelatory claim is interrupted when Avery (Kevin Rahm) sends Riggs a text demanding that he, “Get the duck back to the office.” Thus, Riggs follows suit while Murtaugh takes Jake into his custody.
Back at the office, Riggs and Avery meet Robert McKoy (Michael James Lazar), Jake and Kenny’s parole officer. Oddly, not much comes of the meeting, but it seems inevitable that will change later in the episode. After McKoy takes his exit, Avery reveals that he knows of the more pertinent connection between his officer and the criminal they’re chasing. The captain is also aware that Riggs owes Jake and knows why. Whatever the reason, it’s valid enough that Avery cuts Riggs some slack about the mismanagement of the case thus far.
While Avery is aware of whatever this debt is owed, Riggs’ partner isn’t. Thus, he wants to get to the bottom of it. Murtaugh attempts to do so as he is driving Jake around. Alas, his attempts don’t work as the criminal in custody has other things in mind. Primarily his thoughts are centered on causing a car crash to escape. Jake does just that, distracting Murtaugh and causing him to crash into a parked car. Not missing a beat, Jake forces Murtaugh to cuff himself to the steering wheel and flees.
Murtaugh’s day doesn’t get much better when he finally makes it home. After the kids’ drug tests come back with negative results, he assumes the ganja must belong to Trish (Keesha Sharp). She does not take his accusation well, insisting that he follow logic. Who else could the grass belong to but Riggs? As if a light bulb went off above Murtaugh’s bald head, he agrees with his now angry wife. It’s too late though, as Trish has already stormed off.
As usually happens when Riggs falls asleep in his truck, we’re treated to a flashback. In this trip back to ‘96 we finally discover why Riggs owes Jake. After they stole the car, Riggs’ Dad finds out about it. From previous episodes, we know that there is only one way Nathan Riggs (Rex Linn) parents. That being through the means of alcoholic, abusive rage. As a punishment for the car theft, the teenage Riggs’ father starts beating him…with no signs of intention to stop. Young Jake, however, does put a stop to it; shooting Riggs’ father in the neck with the Winchester rifle. (The same one that Riggs said killed his father in Episode 4: Flight Risk.) Because of Jake, Riggs avoided getting beat to death. That is indeed a debt worthy of eternal gratitude and loyalty.
With one revelation comes another, as there is finally a break in the case. It turns out that the gold bar robbery was an inside job orchestrated by Albert. In retaliation for his wife Candi cheating him, Albert wanted to make sure she would have no assets once they divorced. To ensure as much, the scorned husband hired Kenny to take the gold from the safe, making it look like a robbery. Because Albert had done time for a white-collar financial crime, he was on parole. Coincidentally, he had the same PO as Jake and Kenny, Robert McKoy. When Bailey (Michelle Mitchenor) and Boman (Andrew Creer) investigate McKoy’s office, they find the parole officer has a hidden recorder. They deduce that he had been recordings his parolees in the waiting room and blackmailing them to get in on their scores.
The discoveries keep coming as the team figures out that Jake still has the gold bars. More precisely, he has them in the back of the car which is headed to Molly. When Jake finally makes it to his distant bride, he finds that she has turned him in. She, Riggs and Murtaugh show up to take him into custody. Alas, justice is interrupted as gunshots ring out. Emanating from McKoy, who’s trying to kill them all for the gold. The open fire results in Jake getting shot in the shoulder and McKoy getting taken out by Murtaugh.
As Jake slumps to the floor, Riggs tells his longtime friend to hit him. Puzzled by this demand, Riggs explains to Jake that the two of them need to put on a fight. This way, he can let Jake go in exchange for leaving the gold behind. With many friendly fist-fights behind them, they engage in another one and Riggs follows through on his debt. Molly stays behind as it’s become clear she’s the only one between her and Jake capable of being a parent. Later, back at the station, Murtaugh asks Riggs why he let Jake go. In a simple response Riggs says, “When I was at my weakest and couldn’t fight back, Jake saved my life,” not elaborating beyond that. Nor does he need to, as Murtaugh accepts the esoteric explanation.
There is one mystery left to solve, though. That being, to whom does the single joint belong? Murtaugh and Trish determine that the weed belongs to cousin Connie, who brought her “Special medicine,” for her glaucoma with her when she came to visit recently. Of course, by the time they solve this mystery, Murtaugh had eaten 15 weed gummies. As such, he is laughing hysterically and eventually transitions to vegging out on his couch. The episode closes with a sweet scene where Riggs, as an experienced stoner shows up to babysit Murtaugh while he sobers up.
All-in-all, I felt this was an entertaining enough episode. Such is largely thanks to the fact that it wrapped up Riggs’ adolescent subplot and a fun, comedic B story involving the single joint. It was nice to get an answer to what became of Nathan Riggs, finally. Indeed, the rifle we were introduced to in Episode 4 of this season did kill him; just as Riggs said it did. But, not in the way we were led to believe. The main issue I had with this episode was the A story and the case it revolved around.
This episode marks another one of those occasions in which we’re treated to a combination of stories we’ve seen a million times over. The crime genre is filled with more than its share of gold heists and misguided life-long friends. As you read, this episode was as well, but brought nothing new to those tried and true tropes. While ‘Gold Rush’ was entertaining enough, it’s most definitely not one of the season’s stronger episodes. I hope that the next episode will be a more balanced one, utilizing both our heroes.