Lethal Weapon “Lawmen” was not just about the good guys and the bad guys, aka good cops and bad cops, it was about partnerships, loyalty and doing what is right. It was also about owning the things we do wrong and then living with the consequences.
The episode starts with a Texas Ranger being killed in transit with a prisoner. Riggs, being from El Paso, feels an affinity with the dead lawman. Later, when the Ranger’s commander comes to LA to bring his man home, the two men make a connection.
A well-to-do prisoner paying for an armed escape points back to the Sheriff’s department, where the transport route was approved and leaked to the killer. Murtaugh and Riggs are told to track down the source of the leak.
Cruz and Bailey head over to the department to get a name. It is revealed that Cruz, who was a gangbanger back in the day, is well known by the Sheriff department’s staff. Bailey rises to the occasion and sticks up for her partner.
They get a point of contact. Riggs and Murtaugh go to question the woman who is attending a charity bowling match being put on by the department. Roger turns out to be a bowler and having bowled a perfect game, his picture is on the wall.
There is a good deal of animosity between the two law enforcement agencies. Roger is also accused of faking his perfect game. The contact over at the Sheriff’s department gives up a name and tells them a story of a deputy who shot a colleague’s labrador for talking too much.
Avery tells his two detectives not to give up until they find who killed the Ranger. The captain knows the department is dirty. He has a history with Reed the man who runs the office. Brooks also has a secret. Later in the episode he approaches Trish with it.
10 years previously, due to a mistake at the forensic labs, a man who raped and killed a little girl had DNA evidence that proved his guilt become compromised. Brooks was allowed to collect new evidence from the perpetrator who was in jail. Avery falsified evidence to put the man away.
*Sidenote: If this sounds a little familiar it should. Another captain in another precinct also had a skeleton in his closet. Not quite falsifying evidence but it dealt with sexual abuse of a child and a cop beating the wrong man up for it. The other police captain was Ira Hornstock and the show was Rosewood. This peccadillo got Ira fired. In Lethal Weapon Avery has become closer to his former partner, Roger Murtaugh. Points off for lack of originality chaps.*
Roger and Martin play cat and mouse with the bad cops, aka the deputies and the main bad man, Green, implicates himself. He is saved, however, by his right-hand man Bracken, who killed the Texas Ranger.
This episode of Lethal Weapon was a bit gentler with its humor quotient and some of the gags had a purpose. For example: After the Ranger is killed, we see Riggs in the park with his dog. The animal is not on a lead. Two “bike cops” come up to read the disheveled detective the riot act.
Riggs shows his badge and the cops ticket him anyway. Why? Because he was breaking the law. Later, Martin and Roger talk about it and Murtaugh tells his partner that the park cops were right to ticket him. Thus setting the stage for the confrontation between Roger and Avery, the LA police and the Sheriff’s department and ultimately the bowling challenge.
The entire episode was full of examples of cops playing loose with procedure. While Roger is ripping into Avery for his sins, Riggs fakes a break-in at Bracken’s house to collect evidence. It looks like Roger keeps attracting partners that “bend” the rules.
On top of all this rule manipulation, the episode also shows Martin and Roger bonding even more. Rigg’s stands up for Roger twice, three times if one counts the very end of the episode. Once when the deputy accuses Murtaugh of cheating, which leads to a fight in the bowling alley. The second time is when Bracken “threatens” Trish.
Each time Martin takes the offensive for his partner and his surrogate family. Riggs also shows his crazier side in this episode with a “Dirty Harry” type stunt.
When Bracken has Avery in the sex offender’s house Riggs and Murtaugh track their boss to the location. Inside the house the offender is about to shoot Avery. As his two rescuers approach in their car, Martin asks his partner how they should handle the situation.
“Delicately,” replies Roger. Riggs responds by driving the car through the front of the house. (The Dirty Harry reference comes from the 1976 film “The Enforcer.” At the start of the movie, some bad guys have taken people hostage inside a store. Harry arrives and learns that they have demanded a car. Harry gets behind the wheel of a vehicle and his boss asks what he is doing. “Giving em one.” He then drives through the front of the shop.)
Show creator Matthew Miller can be forgiven the “Ira Hornstock” storyline since he has given us a cop team that are becoming buddies and have brilliant chemistry together. There is a touch of irreverence in Riggs that is actually endearing. It becomes acceptable because we know that Martin is looking out for the little guy and the victims. Roger does as well, but he is the “grown up” in this partnership.
“Lawmen” gave us a moral quandary, a good cop dying at the hands of a badman, a decent shoot out and a comic ending. This is brilliant television and it is nice to see something that is not just another carbon copy of NCIS.
Lethal Weapon airs Wednesdays on FOX. Tune in and catch a great small screen version of the film franchise that is actually overtaking its source material.
- Clayne Crawford – Martin Riggs
- Damon Wayans – Roger Murtaugh
- Jordana Brewster – Maureen Cahill
- Keisha Sharp – Trish Murtaugh
- Floriana Lima – Miranda Riggs
- Dante Brown – Roger Murtaugh Jr.
- Kevin Rahm – Brooks Avery
- Chandler Kinney – Riana Murtaugh
- Michael Raymond-James – Chad Jackson
- Richard Cabral – Cruz
- Michelle Mitchenor – Sonya Bailey
- Johnathan Fernandez – Scorsese