[PLEASE NOTE: This recap of Lethal Weapon: Season 2, Episode 12: Diggin’ Up Dirt DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS. It is assumed you have already viewed the episode. If you have not, it is recommended you do so. Episode 12: Diggin’ Up Dirt can be seen on Fox On-Demand or via your preferred streaming service.]
This week’s episode of Lethal Weapon brings back something that this writer feels is much needed. Finally, Episode 2.12: ‘Diggin Up Dirt’ doesn’t present us with an overload of overused genre tropes. Nor, does it crib a large part of its plot from a popular movie. No, with this episode the series instead gets back to what it does best. That is, giving the viewer an original enough episode, carefully calibrated with the right mixture of action, comedy, and most importantly, character arcs and depth. Just like the film franchise that bore this series, ‘Diggin’ Up Dirt’ gives us all of those things.
Apropos of its title, it opens in the past, with Riggs (Clayne Crawford) and his wife, Miranda (Floriana Lima) having just engaged in some “Morning Delight.” Merle Haggard’s ‘Sing Me Back Home’ plays softly in the background as the happy couple cuddle in their marriage bed. However, the bliss is briefly interrupted when Miranda’s cell phone rings; it’s her father, Ronnie (Tony Plana) calling. She chooses to ignore the call and instead takes the opportunity as a segue to talk with her husband about a subject he’s rather mum on, his father. Riggs response when his wife questions him about his dad is simple. He lays out the plot of the Sylvester Stallone/Cannon Pictures “classic,” Over the Top (1987). Without missing a beat, Miranda sees through husband’s fib. Then and with a good-natured, she asks that Riggs never lie to her again. Like any good husband, he obliges. In cutting to the present, we see that this memory has shot to the forefront of Riggs’ mind as he sits in a bar, downing shots of whiskey.
The next afternoon, Trish (Keesha Sharp) is having lunch with an old colleague, Gene Nakahara (C.S. Lee). It seems the legal game isn’t enough for Trish’s old friend any longer as Nakahara tells her intends to run for mayor. He’s doing so despite the fact that his competition will be stiff; coming in the form of the highly-renowned, Councilman Sean O’Brien (Michael Reilly Burke). This nice lunch is interrupted by Leo Getz (Thomas Lennon) as he, in his own charming way attempts to solicit his services to Nakahara. As one might expect, such a solicitation is politely rejected. Meanwhile, there’s a more familiar face getting into politics. Since O’ Brien’s city council seat will be freeing up, Avery (Kevin Rahm) has decided to run for the now vacant position.
Of course, doing so will require that he step down from his position as a police captain. To help expedite the process of finding someone to fill his spot, Avery brings in Murtaugh (Damon Wayans). Not to take his place, but to help him come up with a list of potential candidates. Upon hearing this, our hero is immediately dismayed that he wasn’t the first-choice, seeing no need to find other candidates. Avery quickly reminds Murtaugh that he had previously expressed no interest in becoming captain. While Murtaugh admits this was once true, he maintains his stance on the matter has changed; notably, since he was partnered up with Riggs. Finding this to be an understandable change of heart, Avery allows Murtaugh to throw his hat in the ring for the position.
Around this same time, Trish and Nakahara are wrapping up their lunch. As the pair leave, Leo makes one last attempt at getting some face time with Nakahara. Once again, he is politely refused. All seems well as the three go their separate ways into the remainder of the day. That is until Nakahara’s car explodes with him inside of it. Both Leo and Trish are stunned and saddened by this as they witness the explosion; though, neither of them are injured. Conveniently, our boys are tasked with the case; this will be especially helpful to Trish; who is understandably distraught after seeing the murder of her friend. However, like most good lawyers, she still has her wits about her. Enough so in fact, that she tells our heroes that Nakahara was working on cartel case, citing that as a possible connection. Having found that an IED was used, Riggs agrees that it certainly would match the general cartel profile for such crimes.
Being present at the bombing himself, Leo is quickly taken into the interrogation room for fleeing the scene. Moreover, there is the fact that they found Leo’s comb, as identified by Trish. Unfortunately, the boys have to question the attorney thanks to his consistent, high-volume calls to Nakahara’s office in the weeks leading up to this incident. Having done their due diligence, Murtaugh and Avery release Leo from custody. During the interrogation mentioned above, Bailey (Michelle Mitchenor) managed to find out who Nakahara was getting ready to see in prison.
The deceased’s incarcerated client is surprising, Riggs’ former father-in-law, Ronnie Delgado. It seems Ronnie was sentenced to prison for his ties to the cartel. Interestingly, this is something the series as a whole has largely glossed over, thus far. With this information, Riggs and Murtaugh go to question Ronnie in prison. Alas, during a riot, Ronnie is shanked. Thankfully though, he is saved and is put in the infirmary. Ronnie appreciates his former son-in-law is there for him; citing that no one had come to visit him since he went to prison. Having little-to-no sympathy, Riggs states that, “That’s what happens when people find out you’re workin’ for the cartel.” Despite this, Ronnie feels the two are still family, partly thanks to Riggs virtually non-existent relationship with his father.
The following day at Nakahara’s funeral, Trish and Leo draw Murtaugh’s attention to a man they spot there. They tell him that the man was also present at the restaurant the day of the bombing. Connecting the dots, the two attorneys feel this man may be responsible for the murder. After doing some research, Murtaugh identifies this man to be Mike Serrano (Tim Kang), a known criminal and political fixer of sorts. Avery tells Murtaugh that the suspect holds court at a local dumpling bar. With haste, Murtaugh, and Riggs head for the dumpling joint to question Serrano. Not surprisingly, the fixer isn’t giving up the ghost, stating that he’s “A licensed P.I., who simply acquires information for his clients.” Not liking his attitude, Riggs presses Serrano. However, the P.I. quickly turns the tables when he reveals to our hero that he was once employed by his (Riggs’) late wife. According to Serrano, Miranda came to him to do a deep-dive on her husband’s background. In anger and probably feeling a bit betrayed, Riggs slams Serrano’s head down on the table and fires a round into the nearby aquarium, leaving a flood of water and fish in his wake as he and Murtaugh leave.
Later that night, we see Riggs in the midst of what appears to be a nightmare. However, our hero is instead experiencing a nocturnal memory. He recalls when his wife tried to push for information again, just before their baby shower. His memory and sleep cease when Murtaugh comes to see him. Wanting to check on his partner following the afternoon’s events, he finds his instincts are correct. Indeed, Riggs is surprised by his late wife’s resourcefulness. At the same time, he is also shocked that, knowing the information she did, Miranda not only repeatedly gave her husband a chance to come clean; she also never let this information affect their relationship. Murtaugh quickly gets Riggs on his feet by telling his partner that they are going to go stakeout Serrano and see for whom he’s working.
It seems the night doesn’t yet hold any sleep for our lawyers in league either. When going through Nakahara’s case files, our resident attorneys find that their late mutual acquaintance had been doing opposition research on Councilman O’Brien. Said opposition research comes in the form of a photo of the councilman and a pretty young lady named Monica Jones. It seems that she, for the purposes of career advancement, had been having an affair with O’Brien. Trish hypothesizes that O’Brien might have known of Nakahara’s plans to sully him with this affair and hence, had a motive to orchestrate Nakahara’s murder.
Meanwhile, while on stakeout, the boys see Serrano and O’Brien meeting in the street. Alas, our heroes’ covert op is interrupted when the two legal eagles, who were coming to question O’Brien accidentally hit Murtaugh’s car. This fender-bender, of course, causes a commotion, which leads the suspects to flee. Back at the station, the cops and the lawyers try to explain everything to Avery. Taking a closer look at one of the photos, Riggs recognizes Ronnie’s house in the background. Riggs questions his ailing former father-in-law, who reveals that he merely let O’Brien use the house for cases sometimes. Satisfied with that answer, Riggs then ask Ronnie about why he sent Miranda to Serrano. Ronnie responds by telling Riggs that it’s because she loved Riggs and wanted to know the truth. The night holds no sleep for any of the characters as the relative peace at the Murtaugh household is disturbed when Leo drops by unannounced. He tells Murtaugh and Trish that he believes, based on evidence that O’Brien had Monica Jones murdered.
Having had a similar suspicion, the next morning finds Riggs digging for evidence in front of the house in the photo. As Riggs is digging, Murtaugh is speeding, en route to back Riggs up; fearing trouble may be coming for his partner. Unfortunately, though, he’s not able to make it before Serrano, and the rest of his crew have guns to Riggs’ head. The evidence abounds as Trish and Leo lay out all the proof for Avery. However, they are interrupted when none other than Councilman O’Brien himself storms into the captain’s office. O’Brien attempts to complain about the stakeout situation, but the lawyers quickly take advantage of the encounter. They interrupt him, firing off questions about Jones; which Avery insists he answers. O’Brien declines, requesting his attorney. Things are a little worse for wear for Riggs; particularly since a loose noose is being put around his neck. After bagging Jones’ dug-up corpse for disposal, Serrano and his men will hang Riggs. The criminals are beginning to do the latter, as Murtaugh is still driving like a bat out of Hell. As he struggles to maintain his life, an oxygen addled Riggs flashes back to when he and his bride were wed. This memory is short lived as Murtaugh runs his car over a goon and into the tree, freeing his partner from the noose.
In the end, both Serrano and O’Brien are arrested for their crimes. Avery however, chooses not to take advantage of such fortuity. Instead, he decides to remain in his position as police captain. A bitter-sweet decision because, as Avery puts it, he was grooming an excellent replacement. Meanwhile, Riggs sits on Cahill’s (Jordana Brewster) couch, regretting that he had not been more upfront with Miranda about his past. Riggs says that he’s forgiven Miranda and Cahill suggest that he now forgive himself. Taking the first step in doing so, our hero goes to see Ronnie, only to find that his former father-in-law has passed away due to complications from surgery.
As you read, this episode ends on a somber note. Personally, though, I think that’s a good thing. At the beginning of this article, I alluded to the fact that the show’s past several episodes have been fine. However being “fine” came with all sorts of derivativeness, that of course, was lacking in creativity. With such lackluster trends occurring, I was beginning to think that Lethal Weapon was just comfortably settling into some lazy buddy cop/police procedural TV show pattern. Thankfully, however, the episode in review has changed all of that. Finally, the series has returned to a near perfect episode.
“Diggin’ Up Dirt” was not only entertaining an episode but one that contained all the proper elements. More importantly, though, it had an emotional core. In recent weeks, Riggs’ mental and emotional state has been testing the character’s stability. One bad event here, a repressed memory there, anger all over; it all seems to be leading to something. Unlike the previous episodes of the last month or so though, 2.12 made that fact quite clear. All this drama for one of the show’s main protagonist’s seems to be hinting at evolution for the remainder of Season 2. I hope that I’m correct about that as I’d hate for my fear of the series becoming stagnant to be true. If the majority of this season’s remaining episodes can be as entertaining and emotionally-charged one, the season and the future of the series should be in good shape! I suppose we shall see in the coming weeks though.