Riggs Flies Over The Cuckoo’s Nest In Lethal Weapon 2.13
by Ben Martin
[PLEASE NOTE: This recap of Lethal Weapon: Season 2, Episode 13: Better Living Through Chemistry DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS. It is assumed you have already viewed the episode. If you have not, it is recommended you do so. Episode 13: Better Living Through Chemistry can be seen on Fox On-Demand or via your preferred streaming service.]
If you’ve been keeping up with my recaps for Season 2 of Lethal Weapon, you know I felt the series recently hit a bit of a slump. That was until Episode 2.12: Diggin’ Up Dirt (you can read that recap here) pulled the series out of the said slump like a good tow-truck. ‘Diggin’ Up Dirt,’ provided all the hallmarks of the best Lethal Weapon episodes: Action, comedy, an interesting case, and most importantly, character development. By the latter of character development, I mean giving already established characters the room to grow and evolve emotionally. Episode 2.12 did so beautifully, leaving the series primary protagonist, Riggs (Clayne Crawford) at a turning point. With the seeds laid by its predecessor, the episode in review here, 2.13: Better Living Through Chemistry, manages to continue the character’s evolution, as well as that of the series.
Afroman’s classic, “Cuz’ I Got High” opens this episode as it plays over the scene of young RJ (Dante Brown) floating in the Murtaugh family pool. Apparently, he’s made a habit of almost solely engaging in this activity since dropping out of college. As someone who experienced depression in college, I can tell you that doing such a lackadaisical thing is a clear sign of the college blues. Such evidence of the collegiate blues is also clear to Murtaugh (Damon Wayans) and Trish (Keesha Sharp) as they both peer at their first-born through the window. Rightfully, Trish contends that their son is depressed and needs to see a therapist. Despite protesting at first, Murtaugh quickly changes his tune when his when his wife points out that he has been to therapy. And for “a bedroom glitch,” of all things.
While RJ may be dealing with depression; Riggs is dealing with repression. Once again, he is plagued by terrible memories in his sleep. This time, he is taken back to his adolescence, when he rushed into his sick mother’s room as she cried for his help. However, once he arrives in her room, a gunshot ends the memory with Riggs waking in fright. At this point, Riggs goes about his day the only way he knows how to, more often than not. That is being buzzed on booze; which in this case comes in the form of a “Hangover cure.” Later that morning, our hero stands by his parked truck, gargling a disgusting mix of beer and tomato juice.
Finishing the ritual, he absentmindedly spits the concoction in the window of the person parking in the space beside him, hitting the driver squarely in the face. Understandably, the gentleman driver is upset and Riggs attempts to apologize in order diffuse the situation. His attempt is in vain, as the spurned driver’s anger only escalates. Matters aren’t helped when Riggs accidentally scratches the gentleman’s car either. Frustrated, Riggs just hops in his truck, rams the back of the other man’s vehicle and drives off.
Meanwhile, Cahill (Jordana Brewster) is checking in on a patient of hers, Stanley Oliver (Luis Jose Lopez). Stanly is currently under the care at the local psychiatric facility. According to Dr. Samuels (Matt Malloy), who is in charge of the mental hospital, Stanly may be at risk for suicide. Such an opinion doesn’t make any sense to Cahill as her patient had been making progress. However, early that morning, Stanly apparently put his fist through the glass pharmacy window. Cahill goes into Stanley’s room to check on him; alas she has the tables turned on her when Stanly takes the good doctor hostage, putting a scalpel to her throat. Having no other choice, Cahill escorts her disturbed patient out of the facility. Some people have problematic patients; others have problematic employees. Avery’s (Kevin Rahm) face wears a grim and annoyed expression as he watches video footage of Riggs’ vehicular assault.
Riggs tries to defend it as “A fender-bender,” not surprisingly, his captain’s not having it. As both men’s phones start the ring off the hook, Bailey (Michelle Mitchenor) burst in saying there’s a situation. This situation turns out to be Cahill locked in the trunk of car on the shoulder of a bridge. Riggs lets her out, while mere feet away, Murtaugh finds Stanly dead under a pile of garbage. Back at the station, Cahill tells the boys that she heard Stanly making a call. Although, all she heard was her patient yelling, “BRING ME MONEY!” Understandably, Cahill’s shaken, despite our protagonists best efforts to cheer her up.
Across the hall, in his office, things haven’t gotten much better for Avery. After Riggs’ incident that morning, Santos (Michelle Hurd) is once again on the captain’s case about his officer. While all this is going on, Bailey finds an individual with a potential grudge against the now late Stanly. Carl Edwards (Craig Gellis) was a former orderly at the mental hospital; who in his tenure there, threatened Stanley’s life. The boys go to question Edwards, which lands them at a biker bar. Murtaugh tells the bar patrons that they’re looking for Carl Edwards. The bikers don’t make their quest easy as they all claim to be Edwards. This ridiculous situation quickly escalates into a fight, which Riggs uses as an excuse to exercise what is an increasing anger problem. Things eventually calm down, which lead the officers to go through every patron’s I.D. That is, until Carl himself emerges from the restroom. Upon hearing of Stanley’s death, Carl’s happy to get such news. Back in interrogation, Carl proves himself innocent.
Oddly enough, he couldn’t have murdered Stanley because, at that time, Carl was a contestant on The Price is Right. Unfortunately for Carl, he just walked away with a jet-ski on which he can’t afford to pay the taxes. According to him, his financial straights are largely thanks to Stanley. Carl says that he and Stanley did a job together, ripping off some rich guy in Pasadena. Alas, Carl was left without a partner or a fence when Stanley was carted off to “The looney bin,” Carl’s words, not mine. However, Carl does manage to find a fence. While the suspect may be getting off the hook, but it doesn’t seem the good therapist is so lucky. Santos has shifted her pressure to Cahill regarding Riggs. It’s now up to the therapist to decide whether or not she should sign an affidavit, attesting to Riggs’ mental stability.
Carl’s fence is soon revealed to be Jose Esparza (Gabriel Nunez) and was also who Stanly was calling. Upon hearing this, Cahill frowns, for Jose was also one of her patients. Cahill quickly calls Jose, requesting an appointment with him. Her former patient happily agrees. Thirty minutes later, the boys and Cahill are in the field, out on the street. Unfortunately, Jose quickly spots our heroes and runs for it. The chase leads to him climbing up on to a steel beam, with Riggs in hot pursuit. Riggs tries to talk to the patient, the two of them precariously balancing on the beam. Panicked, Jose slashes at the air with a knife; causing him to lose his balance and fall to his death.
The day has proven to be long for all of our characters. Not to mention it was also a bit traumatic for Cahill. But, the good doctor isn’t currently seeing a therapist of her own. Meanwhile, the Murtaughs are waiting for RJ to get out of his therapy session (with a different therapist, of course). Their son soon comes out of his session, looking much better. Now, it’s Murtaugh and Trish’s turn to speak to the therapist. This scene leads to a nice, comedic back-and-forth, but nothing more. However, therapy proves not to be the only place where breakthroughs occur. Upon doing Stanley and Jose’s, respective autopsies, Scorsese (Johnathan Fernandez) finds that each of Cahill’s former patients respective toxicology reports came back clean.
Such results should be impossible as both men were being prescribed Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) by Dr. Samuels. Meanwhile, Cahill’s self-medicating in her office with a bottle of scotch. Riggs joins his therapist and reveals that neither of her now deceased patients were taking their meds. This fact only depresses her more as Cahill feels she is unable to do her job, particularly with Riggs properly. However, Riggs reassures Cahill that the case is quite the opposite, despite his anger. After having expressed this sentiment, Riggs finds that the good doctor has fallen asleep on her couch.
The next morning, Riggs treats Cahill to his hangover cure, who is in dire need of it. Despite her hungover haze, Cahill recalls Riggs mentioning that her patients weren’t taking their prescriptions. Such a realization quickly leads the department to call in Dr. Samuels. Unbeknownst to Samuels, they discovered that the doctor was pocketing his patient’s scripts and selling them on the side. The issue, however, is their lack of evidence. At the same time Cahill signs the affidavit in Riggs favor, the boys have cooked up a scheme to get Riggs inside the mental institution. As Dr. Samuels is preparing to exit, Riggs takes a swing at Avery, who’s dreading the planned impact. Thankfully, for the captain, Riggs accidentally makes contact with Murtaugh’s face instead.
The plan goes off without a hitch as Riggs is promptly admitted to the mental facility. Once on the inside, Riggs goes looking for the placebos to prove that Samuels has been selling the legitimate meds. Our hero finds what he’s looking for; unfortunately, he’s no match for a powerful taser. Following that, things get worse for Riggs when ends up in a padded cell, wearing a straight-jacket. Beyond that, he’s been injected with a tranquilizer. In a drug-induced haze, Riggs flashes back to his father (Rex Linn) trying to tell him that his mother is struggling. This hard conversation is interrupted by a gunshot (the same one from earlier) as a young Riggs runs in to find his dead mother. Riggs is pulled back to the reality of the present by Murtaugh and Cahill. As Riggs comes to, he cracks a smile and says, “You guys finally got me in a straight-jacket.”
When all is said and done, Despite Santos’ option to change her mind, Cahill maintains her statement on the affidavit. Elsewhere, to “Balance the universe,” Riggs lets Murtaugh punch him. Alas, the opportunity is botched when Avery is mistakenly hit instead. Outside of work, RJ seems to be better adjusted as the Murtaughs spend the evening together, as a family. Riggs, on the other hand, spends his evening talking with Cahill on the phone. Granted, he’s doing so, unbeknownst to her, sitting on the edge of that steel beam as the episode comes to a close. There’s no need to worry about Riggs jumping, though. The heroic daredevil just enjoys the peace of the air up there.
As you might have deduced from the opening of this recap, I enjoyed this episode. ‘Better Living Through Chemistry’ is, seemingly, beginning to deliver on what we were promised would be coming soon for this series: an evolution. Riggs’ anger and overall inner-turmoil are at an all-time high; though he is managing reasonably well considering. I feel that what we saw in this episode are the evolution and turn(s) that are coming for Riggs over the remainder of this season. Aside from that, the subplot involving the Murtaughs was humorous. Therefore, it served as good counter-balance to the more emotional A-story. In closing, I think the rest of this season has great potential, and I look forward to seeing what unfolds.