Lethal Weapon 3.13 Takes A Trip To The Border

by Ben Martin

[PLEASE NOTE: This recap of Lethal Weapon: Season 3, Episode 13: Coyote Ugly DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS. It is assumed you have already viewed the episode. If you have not, it is recommended you do so. Episode 13: Coyote Ugly can be seen on Fox, On-Demand or via your preferred streaming service.]

I may be in the minority, but I sure do get tired of networks taking those odd post-New Year hiatuses. This year, as with every other, new TV episodes are put on hold for sporting events. Or worse yet, some dude with a bad wig sputtering on about some silly wall he wants. Thankfully, all that alternative television programming has had its day on the air, and new episodes of all of your favorite shows can resume. Which of course brings us to the latest episode of Lethal Weapon.
Episode 3.13: Coyote Ugly, opens in The Mojave Desert with a group of immigrants being illegally transported across the Mexico/US border. Upon stepping off the transport truck, a father and daughter make a run for a nearby car driven by an American college student. Almost immediately, the car is pursued by a couple of large black trucks, outfitted with spotlights. Upon the father’s insistence, the car pulls over. At which point, this father shoves his daughter out of the vehicle; telling the teenager that he will back as soon as he can. With that, he hands her a backpack which she must hold on to at all costs as the car speeds off and the young lady hides behind an old junker.
The next morning, we see that Maya Cole’s (Shay Rudolph) latest homework assignment is making a family tree; thus, she asks her dad, Wesley Cole (Seann William Scott) about his family. Cole answers his daughter’s question by saying he had an unconventional childhood; as he flashes back to being raised by his mother, Gillan (Louise Lombard) in El Salvador. Meanwhile, The Murtaughs are preparing to be vetted prior to Trish Murtaugh’s (Keesha Sharp) embarking on her campaign for district attorney. Across town, Cole’s ex-wife and Maya’s mother, Natalie Flynn (Maggie Lawson) has called our hero to introduce him to the father from the beginning of this episode, Jose Mendoza (Yancey Arias), who is now recovering from a gunshot wound. Natalie and Jose explain that Jose’s daughter, Ana (Marisela Zumbado) is still in the desert. Without hesitation, Cole agrees to find the teenage girl.
About this same time, Roger Murtaugh (Damon Wayans) arrives at the crime scene just outside the desert to find the young college student’s car crashed into a telephone pole, leaving her dead in the driver’s seat. However, she wasn’t killed in the crash, but a long-range gunshot to the head. Back at the station, the team interviews a border patrolman named Wells (Myk Watford). The border agent confirms that a father and daughter were missing from the group of detainees and that they were most-likely smuggling something across. Meanwhile, out in The Mojave, Cole tracks Ana down. However, the pair are soon chased by those trucks again, and this time they’re firing machine guns out of the windows of the vehicle. Cole and Ana manage to evade their pursuers; however, Cole’s shot and wounded in the process.

Soon, Cole and  Ana find refuge in a deserted shack. Unbeknownst to the stranded duo, help is on the way, as Natalie has explained Cole’s absence to his partner. Before long, Murtaugh and Sonya Bailey (Michelle Mitchenor) trek out to the desert, where they find Cole’s truck being rifled through by a man with a machine gun. Of course, this guy promptly opens fire on Murtaugh and Bailey; who crash their unmarked car while attempting to escape their enemy. Fate soon finds all the good guys reunited in the deserted desert shack. Unfortunately for our protagonists, they only have moments before bullets turn the place into wood chips. That is, until an LAPD helicopter with Brooks Avery (Kevin Rahm) and Gutierrez (Paola Lazaro) onboard flies onto the scene, running the shooters off.

Bullet wounds don’t pose as much of a threat when your ex-wife is a masterclass surgeon. Alas, Ana is still not out of the woods just yet. To minimize the teen’s risk of deportation, Murtaugh agrees to house her for the time being. However, Murtaugh’s household does not offer the solace he expects. See, the political vetting drudged up the fact that Trish had been married previously, albeit, briefly. An event to which  Murtaugh and the kids had not been privy. As happens in Lethal Weapon, this unexpected personal development has to be put on hold; mainly since Ana steals Murtaugh’s car.
Meanwhile, a car’s not the only thing that has been taken unexpectedly, as Wells takes Jose into custody a day early. Being good detectives, Cole, Bailey, and Gutierrez all respectively realize that border patrol agent Wells and his crew are the men who’ve been trying to kill them. Meanwhile across town, Murtaugh catches up to Ana at The LA Tribune office. Not surprisingly, the backpack contained a hard drive with information on a corrupt network of border agents and coyotes which a journalist at the paper is willing to expose. Elsewhere, in the hospital parking garage, Cole stops Wells and his crew from absconding with Jose, by throwing himself on their vehicle and causing it to crash. As the corrupt border agents are arrested, Cole’s is taken back into the hospital to have his ever-growing number of injuries treated.

With the case resolved, the story is published, thus exposing the corrupt parties. The Mendoza’s are reunited, meaning the boys can finally tend to their family matters. Murtaugh and Trish reconcile after he forgives her for keeping her brief forte night’s worth of a first marriage a secret. After being discharged from the hospital, Cole is also able to help Maya with her family tree assignment. To do so, Cole takes his daughter to an art museum where her late grandmother (Cole’s mother) is exhibited. As the two of them stare at a photo from Cole’s unconventional childhood, it’s clear that our hero has finally managed to find some closure regarding his mom.
As I’ve said in my last couple of episode recaps, I feel like Lethal Weapon has been on a real hot streak. However, with Coyote Ugly, I think the heat has finally cooled off a bit. Don’t get me wrong, the episode in recap is perfectly entertaining. Alas, it also strikes me as being the a filler episode. First-and-foremost, this episode’s topical as it deals with illegal immigration, coyotes, border patrol, etc. I prefer that fiction only tackle such real-world subjects if they have good enough stories to tell regarding it; otherwise, you’re stuck with mean-spirited narratives like  Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018). Thankfully, the episode in recap features illegal immigrant characters who are given dignity, as opposed to simply story devices.
Alas, the problem is that there’s barely enough story here to comprise an episode. The first-half of Coyote Ugly manages to move quite swiftly. Unfortunately, the latter-half proves to be a real slog; one padded with familial B-plots that seem to have no real purpose otherwise. On the upside, the show’s cast is at the top of their game here, with everyone turning in stellar performances! The action sequences in this episode are decent as well, albeit, repetitive.
Ultimately, Coyote Ugly is a decent filler episode. Any real drama remaining in Season 3 is undoubtedly being saved up for the last two episodes. (Apparently, this third season is comprised of only 15 episodes.) Having enjoyed the majority of Lethal Weapon’s run this year, I’ll be curious to see how things wrap-up with this season in the next couple of weeks. I’m predicting that things will end happily for the show’s charismatic buddy cops. Then again, I have a sneaking suspicion that Murtaugh could still be written-off the show unceremoniously. But with only a couple more episodes, we’ll all find out soon enough.

Episode 13: Coyote Ugly can be seen on Fox, On-Demand or via your preferred streaming service.
Episode 14: A Game of Chicken Will Air Tue., Feb. 19 on Fox!

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